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Transport

On unclear suspensions of time

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Legal news
calendar 21 February 2020
globus Denmark

A claim for compensation for the value of stolen cargo was settled the day before trial and the Court was to decide whether the subcarrier was to pay compensation for the customs duty on the cargo. The parties had made an agreement suspending suit time for the claim for compensation, and the question for the court was whether this suspension also applied to the duty. Since the customs duty had not been specified sufficiently in the correspondence postponing the limitation period, the Court found that this part of the claim was out of time.

Following theft of cargo, the carrier’s insurer claimed compensation from the subcarrier, as the cargo was in the latter’s custody when it was stolen. Furthermore, compensation was also claimed for the customs duty imposed on the carrier subsequent to the theft. The day before trial, however, the parties settled, and the subcarrier paid the claim for compensation for the cargo value. Therefore, the Court was only to decide whether the subcarrier was to compensate the customs duty.

In an email between the parties, they had agreed to postpone the limitation period for the compensation claim. The dispute concerned whether this postponement also included the customs duty. The insurer maintained that the limitation period was postponed for the entire claim, while the subcarrier found that the claim for the customs duty was not included in the agreement and thereby out of time.

The Maritime and Commercial High Court: Customs duty not covered by the delay

The Court found that the customs duty was not included in the time extension. The Court emphasized that the email correspondence leading to the suspension, whilst mentioning the duty element in a context where the carrier asked the subcarrier for assistance in handing this, did not adequately specify and cover the customs duty. The claim for customs duty was therefore out of time, cf. the CMR act s. 41.

IUNO’s opinion

The case shows that the discussion of a claim is not enough for it to necessarily be covered by a subsequent agreement to extend a time bar. It therefore illustrates the importance of suspension agreements being clear.

 [The Maritime and Commercial High Court’s ruling in case BS 34762/2018-SHR]

Following theft of cargo, the carrier’s insurer claimed compensation from the subcarrier, as the cargo was in the latter’s custody when it was stolen. Furthermore, compensation was also claimed for the customs duty imposed on the carrier subsequent to the theft. The day before trial, however, the parties settled, and the subcarrier paid the claim for compensation for the cargo value. Therefore, the Court was only to decide whether the subcarrier was to compensate the customs duty.

In an email between the parties, they had agreed to postpone the limitation period for the compensation claim. The dispute concerned whether this postponement also included the customs duty. The insurer maintained that the limitation period was postponed for the entire claim, while the subcarrier found that the claim for the customs duty was not included in the agreement and thereby out of time.

The Maritime and Commercial High Court: Customs duty not covered by the delay

The Court found that the customs duty was not included in the time extension. The Court emphasized that the email correspondence leading to the suspension, whilst mentioning the duty element in a context where the carrier asked the subcarrier for assistance in handing this, did not adequately specify and cover the customs duty. The claim for customs duty was therefore out of time, cf. the CMR act s. 41.

IUNO’s opinion

The case shows that the discussion of a claim is not enough for it to necessarily be covered by a subsequent agreement to extend a time bar. It therefore illustrates the importance of suspension agreements being clear.

 [The Maritime and Commercial High Court’s ruling in case BS 34762/2018-SHR]

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Mads

Poulsen

Partner

Aage

Krogh

Partner

Lars

Rosenberg Overby

Partner

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