The complexity of charter agreements can cause any number of legal and business headaches for players seeking to maximize economic and operational efficiency in their ocean transportation arrangements. It often is extremely difficult to piece together and document multi-party deals which include daisy chains of charterers and sub-charterers presenting vessels to successions of brokers, forwarders, agents and, ultimately, shippers.
But the real migraine comes when you try to sort out who is wearing what hat for purposes of cargo liability under the U.S. Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA). A case in point is importer QT Trading’s recently adjudicated lawsuit against the vessel SAGA MORUS and umpteen other defendants. You’ll need your pad and pen for this one.
QT booked shipment of a large load of steel pipes from China to Houston by way of a charter party it entered into with Daewoo Logistics on the M/V SAGA MORUS. Patt, Manfield and Company (Patt) served as the SAGA MORUS’s operator and manager. Daewoo had chartered the vessel from Saga Forest Carriers International. Saga, in turn, had chartered the vessel from its actual owner Attic Forest AS. The Daewoo-Saga charter party provided that the charterer QT would load and stow cargo, and that the vessel’s captain would issue bills of lading “in conformance with Mate’s and Tally Clerk’s receipts.” It also authorized Daewoo to sign such bills of lading on the master’s behalf.
Ref: QT Trading, L.P. v. M/V SAGA MORUS, et al., 2011 WL 1792071 (5th Cir. 2011)
Before proceeding, please note: If you are not a current client of Lane Powell PC, please do not include any information in this email that you or someone else considers to be confidential or secret in nature. Prior to the establishment of a lawyer-client relationship, unsolicited emails from non-clients containing confidential or secret information cannot be protected from disclosure.