The importance of ensuring that the condition of the cargo is accurately recorded in the bills of lading was recently highlighted in the Saga Explorer, involving the shipment of a steel cargo that was found on outturn to be rusty, notwithstanding that clean bills had been issued. Cargoes such as steel and timber will usually contain a certain degree of superficial rust and the carriers in this case considered that it was not necessary to qualify the statement that the steel had been shipped in apparent good order and condition. The English High Court considered, for the first time, the effect of the “Retla Clause” in the bill of lading and whether it covered all rust irrespective of whatever severity. It found in favour of cargo interests.
This seminar reviews the Saga Explorer decision and considers its importance, particularly in emphasising the Master’s duty to form an honest and reasonable non-expert view of the cargo as he sees it and also in highlighting the risks involved in issuing LOIs in return for clean bills, in circumstances where owners know the cargo is not in good order and condition. The seminar will further include expert advice on the verification of the pre-shipment condition of steel and other cargoes.
There will also be a review of recent decisions, including the decision of the High Court of Singapore in The Dolphina, on the difficulties arising out of spent bills of lading and some complex title to sue issues.