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26 February 2014
In a recent decision of the Tribunal of Genoa, the court applied established principles on the liability of sub-carriers towards cargo claimants in circumstances where a freight forwarder is charged with the transport of goods and thereafter instructs the sub-carrier. In particular, the court addressed potential direct liabilities towards the cargo interests of the sub-carriers involved.
The case involved the multimodal carriage of six trailers of commodities. The shipper had contracted the freight forwarder to arrange for the transport of the trailers from Portovesme, Sardinia, to different destinations in Italy, whereby the first part of the carriage was to be conducted by sea and the second by road. Thus, the freight forwarder made arrangements with several sub-carriers, concluding different sub-contracts of carriage for each leg of the transport.
Once the trailers reached Genoa – where they were discharged from the MV Altinia – they were left at the terminal until the sub-carriers in charge of road transport could collect them, but were subsequently stolen.
The shipper commenced proceedings before the Tribunal of Genoa against the sea sub-carrier, which in turn extended proceedings to all road sub-carriers. No details were given as to why the shipper did not sue the freight forwarder.
Among others, the court was asked to determine the following issues:
In light of these considerations, the court dismissed the claimant's claim and held that, on the evidence before it, the freight forwarder was the main carrier and counterparty to the shipper in the contract of carriage.
Consequently, the shipper – by entrusting the freight forwarder with transport of the cargo – had identified the freight forwarder as the carrier. Thus, the shipper was found not to have an action against any of the sub-carriers to which the carrier eventually sub-contracted the carriage of goods.
For further information on this topic please contact Lawrence Dardani at Dardani Studio Legale by telephone (+39 010 576 1816), fax (+39 010 595 7705) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Dardani Studio Legale website can be accessed at www.dardani.it.
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