Insurer warns on court dangers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 March, 1993, 12:00am

AN insurer has warned shipping lines and freight forwarders that courts worldwide are increasingly treating shippers as private consumers, disregarding many safeguard clauses in standard commercial contract terms of carriage.

The TT Club, an insurance specialist, said this was important with regards to liability insurance involving carriage of goods belonging to individuals.

''Whenever accepting cargo, no matter whether it be a yacht or a suitcase, if it is the property of a private individual, then it should always be made clear that the terms of carriage do not include insurance,'' the club warned.

The club cited a case of a yachtsman, whose yacht was damaged while being shipped from Australia to Europe without an independent insurance cover. He sued the carrier and forwarder for compensation.

The company put up a strong defence claiming it had performed its duty with due diligence and that the damage could not be attributed to any negligence on its part.

In the past, the courts would have ruled in favour of the carrier but recently there had been a noticeable trend for courts to take the side of the ''little man'' against the ''big business'' opponent, despite the fact that the forwarder or carrier mighthave performed their duty without negligence, the club said.

''Any action that alerts the shipper to the fact that the standard conditions of carriage do not incorporate insurance cover are to be encouraged,'' says the club.

Should an accident occur, liability was limited by the company's conditions of business, it said.

It also was important that carriers confirmed in writing any offers made to private individuals before the movement commenced, it added.

In a move to overcome this problem, several carriers and forwarders were now offering to arrange, through third-party insurance brokers, comprehensive cover for shippers, both commercial and private.