In a recent case of interest 1 the Commercial Court confirmed that the one year time bar for bringing claims against a carrier under Article III rule 6 of the Hague-Visby Rules (the HVRs) can apply to claims for mis-delivery after discharge has taken place.
Prior to this judgment there had been uncertainty as to whether the time bar under the HVRs applied in cases where the cargo is delivered at a time subsequent to discharge of the cargo from the ship. This situation often arises in the shipping industry where a carrier agrees to discharge cargo pursuant to a letter of indemnity without production of the original bills of lading. In such cases, following discharge, the cargo may be stored in a warehouse or on the quayside pending delivery of the goods. Does the carrier have the protection of the HVRs time bar in that situation?
In this case the Court ruled that the HVRs do extend beyond discharge from the ship to delivery of the cargo and therefore that the carrier would be protected by the time bar in that situation. Further, the court decided that the wording in clause 2(c) of the Congenbill form bill of lading providing that “The Carrier shall in no case be responsible for loss and damage to the cargo, howsoever arising prior to loading into and after discharge from the Vessel…” did not disapply the HVR in respect of the period after discharge.
The Court therefore made it clear that the one year time bar under the HVRs applies to the carrier’s responsibilities for the cargo not only during the carriage of the goods by sea, but also during the time the goods are stored on shore following discharge, up to the time of delivery.
This judgment will be welcome news to shipowners and carriers under bills of lading. This judgment applies to the HVRs (rather than the Hague Rules) but given the general reasoning of the judge, there is a good chance that this would also apply to cases involving the Hague Rules.
- FIMBank p.l.c. v KCH Shipping Co., Ltd  EWHC 2400 (Comm)