A Danish court recently found a freight forwarder to be vicariously liable to a Danish company for fire damage caused to cargo carried by a subcontractor. The judgment suggests that a contracting carrier may incur liability where a general average situation is deemed to have occurred if it fails to provide information to its customer about the concrete circumstances that give rise to the general average situation, even when the contracting carrier holds no information about said circumstances.
The effort to make lashing a cargo-handling activity rather than a crew activity is set out in the so-called 'dockers' clause', contained in collective agreements covering some 15,000 seagoing vessels worldwide. A recent decision by the Rotterdam Court rejected the claimants' request to immediately prohibit lashing by seafarers in advance of the results of main proceedings. The court also raised the possibility that the clause could prove to be against the principles of reasonableness and fairness, as well as anti-competitive.