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Transport

Carrier only liable for the contamination of one out of three loads of grain

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Legal news
calendar 19 March 2020
globus Denmark

During carriage of three different loads of grain, the last load was contaminated because of the driver’s lack of cleaning of the truck after carrying metal scrap. Following the contamination, the cargo owner decided to destroy all three loads of grain. The cargo owner claimed compensation for the loss of all three loads from the carrier and refused to pay the freight. The Court found that the cargo owner did not have any basis for assuming that the two first loads were contaminated, and so the carrier could not be held liable for the loss of these two. The carrier was thereby only liable for the loss of the third load and therefore obliged to pay damages, whilst the cargo owner was required to pay for the freight of the two first loads.

A food company had entered a contract of carriage with a contracting carrier, who was to handle road carriage of three loads of grain from Sweden to Denmark. The first two carriages went smoothly, but during the third carriage, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration performed an examination of the carrier’s truck and it was found that it did not comply with the DVFA’s regulations on hygiene.

The truck in question had most recently been carrying metal scrap and since it could not be proven that it had been properly cleaned, the third load of grain was contaminated and not suitable for feed. An examination of the grain from the third load itself led to the same conclusion. The cargo owner, therefore, decided to destroy all three loads of grain and then claimed damages from the carrier for the loss all loads. Furthermore, the cargo owner refused to pay the carrier for the freight of the loads.

The carrier refused to compensate for all three loads and alleged that there was no proof of contamination in the first two loads. The carrier could not be held responsible for the cargo owner himself having decided to destroy the grain. The carrier also demanded payment for the freight of the loads.

Conflicting assessments were made by the relevant authorities as to whether the first two loads were to be considered contaminated.

The Maritime and Commercial High Court: Only carrier liability for the third load of grain

The Court found that the third load of grain was contaminated, and that the cargo owner, therefore, was entitled to destroy the grain. Consequently, the carrier was also liable. On the other hand, it was not proven that the first two loads were contaminated, and accordingly the cargo insurer had no basis for holding the carrier liable for the loss resulting from the destruction of these first two loads.

It followed that the carrier was to pay compensation for the loss of the third load to the cargo owner and the cargo owner was not obliged to pay for the freight of that load.

By contrast, the cargo owner was obliged to pay for the freight of the first two loads, whilst the carrier was not required to pay compensation for these.

IUNO’s opinion

The Court found, upon a specific assessment of the facts, that there was no evidence of damage to the first two loads. Perhaps the case can also be seen as a moderation of recent case law on which evidence should be adduced to prove damage, in this case at least the court rejected that damages were established even though there were certain – but also contradictory – indications of this in the evidence.

[The Maritime and Commercial High Court’s ruling in case BS 8503/2019]

A food company had entered a contract of carriage with a contracting carrier, who was to handle road carriage of three loads of grain from Sweden to Denmark. The first two carriages went smoothly, but during the third carriage, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration performed an examination of the carrier’s truck and it was found that it did not comply with the DVFA’s regulations on hygiene.

The truck in question had most recently been carrying metal scrap and since it could not be proven that it had been properly cleaned, the third load of grain was contaminated and not suitable for feed. An examination of the grain from the third load itself led to the same conclusion. The cargo owner, therefore, decided to destroy all three loads of grain and then claimed damages from the carrier for the loss all loads. Furthermore, the cargo owner refused to pay the carrier for the freight of the loads.

The carrier refused to compensate for all three loads and alleged that there was no proof of contamination in the first two loads. The carrier could not be held responsible for the cargo owner himself having decided to destroy the grain. The carrier also demanded payment for the freight of the loads.

Conflicting assessments were made by the relevant authorities as to whether the first two loads were to be considered contaminated.

The Maritime and Commercial High Court: Only carrier liability for the third load of grain

The Court found that the third load of grain was contaminated, and that the cargo owner, therefore, was entitled to destroy the grain. Consequently, the carrier was also liable. On the other hand, it was not proven that the first two loads were contaminated, and accordingly the cargo insurer had no basis for holding the carrier liable for the loss resulting from the destruction of these first two loads.

It followed that the carrier was to pay compensation for the loss of the third load to the cargo owner and the cargo owner was not obliged to pay for the freight of that load.

By contrast, the cargo owner was obliged to pay for the freight of the first two loads, whilst the carrier was not required to pay compensation for these.

IUNO’s opinion

The Court found, upon a specific assessment of the facts, that there was no evidence of damage to the first two loads. Perhaps the case can also be seen as a moderation of recent case law on which evidence should be adduced to prove damage, in this case at least the court rejected that damages were established even though there were certain – but also contradictory – indications of this in the evidence.

[The Maritime and Commercial High Court’s ruling in case BS 8503/2019]

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Mads

Poulsen

Partner

Aage

Krogh

Partner

Lars

Rosenberg Overby

Partner

Mads

Christopher Whitta-Jacobsen

Associate

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