This was a hearing of a preliminary issue on a not-unfamiliar cargo claim arising out of loss and damage to bagged cargoes delivered to West African ports where the central issue related to stevedore damage. The bills of lading incorporated the terms of a Synacomex 90 charter which provided that "Cargo shall be loaded, rimmed and/or stowed at the expenses and risk of Shippers/Charterers… discharged at the expenses and risk of Receivers/Charterers…Stowage shall be under the Master's direction and responsibility …".
The issue was whether the carriers or the cargo interests were responsible for stevedore loss and damage in loading and discharging, as distinct from stowage. Flaux J performed a detailed review of the authorities and adopted the principles stated in Voyage Charters (4th Ed) in concluding that "risk" in this context was to be equated with "responsibility" and whereas stowage was within the responsibility of the carriers, loading and discharge were within the responsibility of the cargo interests.
This is an important decision in relation to cargo claims in some parts of the world where stevedoring practices are sometimes rather questionable.
Timothy Young QC appeared for the first defendant (instructed by Lax & Co)