The advent of globalization and the evolution of international trade has placed shipping, ships and ports at the forefront of international transportation and delivery of goods. The ocean transportation of goods will most often be complimented by prior inland waterways transportation, road or rail transportation services. These have necessitated the creation of international rules, regulations, and laws that govern the relationships between the various actors and operators in the international trade and transport sectors.
Whilst the International Chamber of Commerce has published the International Commercial Terms (INCOTERMS) 2020, which define the responsibilities of buyers and sellers in international trade, the International Maritime Organization has enacted binding laws that all maritime operations must conform to so as to guarantee the safety of life at sea, preservation of the marine environment and the security of ships and of port facilities. The Comite Maritime International compiles the rules that govern the international transportation of cargoes and passengers by sea.
Bill of Lading and Charterparties
The bill of lading represents more than a document that is issued when goods are transported by sea. This is further complicated to understand and apply when the vessel is a vessel under a charterparty agreement, with an owner or operator and a charterer. Our role in this area is to advise clients on the responsibilities of the various parties to a contract of carriage evidenced by a bill of lading, as well as the responsibilities of owners, charterers, operators, shippers and consignees when a bill of lading is issued subsequent to a charterparty agreement. We assist in the handling of claims and resolution of disputes by applying the appropriate applicable law or rule to arrive at a satisfactory settlement of the issues.
Loss of or Damage to Goods
When goods are lost or damaged during ocean transportation or at any stage before delivery, the first task is to identify the party responsible for the loss or damage, the second is to identify the applicable law that governs that particular contract of carriage. The final task is to identify the competent jurisdiction that should resolve the dispute. We provide legal guidance on all the above and assist in the resolution of the dispute, bring a claim or defend against a claim.
Maritime Liens and Limitation of Liability
Casualties happen due to the negligence of operators and managers or an act of God beyond the control of the managers or operators. The resulting damages would give rise to a lien on the vessel, which if not properly handled can lead to an arrest of the vessel to enforce the right occasioned by the lien. A justification of these occurrences may entitle the manager or operator to limit their liability to a maximum amount, or enforce the rights of the lien holder. We understand the various scenarios and will advise our clients appropriately if they are involved in any such or similar situations.
International Trade and Letters of Credit
We advise clients on the correct INCOTERM to use for their international sale or purchase and the transportation of these goods, while directing on how letters of credit function to guarantee payment, quality and delivery of the exact product purchased or sold.
CIF – Cost, Insurance and freight; and FOB – Free on Board, allocate different responsibilities to shipowners or operators, as well as to shippers and cargo owners.
H & M Insurance – Hull and Machinery; and P & I Insurance also provide different forms of coverage to shipowners.
When there is damage of or loss to cargo, a collision at sea or port area, spill of any kind that degrades the marine environment, death on a vessel, unpaid suppliers and service providers, crew unpaid wages, etc. we assist the parties identify the party responsible for indemnity purposes as well as defend against wrongful claims. We also advise clients on the proper insurance to subscribe to in relation to their particular operations.
Tanker Vessel (Crude oil and Product Carrier)
Maritime Safety and Marine Environment Protection
We assist clients to enforce their rights or defend against claims that arise under the IMO safety and marine environment protection conventions, including claims under national and reginal safety and environment protection regulations.