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Lighthouse - November, 2014.

Beware and Be Aware of Packing of Flexible Tank

(“Flexible tanks” or “Flexitanks” are a kind of storage equipment for liquids such as water, oil, wines etc.) continued …

PART 2

A Shipper in a standard bills of lading is responsible for the “Load, Stow and Count” of his cargo/consignment and hence if the Shipper intends on using a Flexitank to transport his consignment he should discuss with a flexitank operator the most suitable type of flexitank that will be compatible with the product to be shipped. Here the Shipper must also provide vital information detailing of the nature of the product and whether it could ‘solidify’, ‘taint’ or ‘damage’ the container in the event of a leakage, etc.

Though the carrier has a duty to “properly and carefully load, handle, stow, carry and keep, care for and discharge the goods carried” the task of proving the same is a different matter; in the event you are able to prove that the carrier is liable, keep in mind that most carriers have a limitation of liability clause in their respective Bills of lading which will not be sufficient to cover the claimed amount.

Therefore it is upon the Shipper/Freight Forwarder/packers to protect their interest by take pictures of the empty container and at various stages during stuffing. As these photographs can be relied upon, in the event of a claim and to prove that special attention and measures were taken in relation to packing, securing and protecting the Flexitank and consignment within the container. Further it is also essential to insist on adequate Insurance to be obtained for the cargo/consignment

It is far easier for the carrier to tactfully rid themselves of liability by taking a defense that the consignment was inadequately packed. In such instances all valid information that precautions were taken can definitely help to rebut this defense.

In the unfortunate event of leakage or a potential claim the party receiving the consignment must accept delivery under protest and immediately put the carrier and insurer on notice, calling upon them to attend a joint survey. As an added precaution it is also advisable to put the shipper, consignee and all parties involved in the carriage on notice.

As far as possible it is also better to open the container only at the time of the joint survey, in the presence of all concerned parties. Ensure that all the details pertaining to the damage are inspected and recorded before the container is returned.

In most claim cases pertaining to Flexitanks the carriers will also claim all incidental cost in relation to damages, cost for clean up, and other charges caused due to the leakage of the consignment; from the shipper and/or consignee and/or the booking party.

A note of caution to all freight forwarder and Non Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC), is to bear in mind that even though you may not be involved in the packing or stowing of the consignment, you can be faced with a claim for damage not only from the Shipper and/or Consignee but also from the Carrier. Hence it is always advisable to have an adequate insurance cover for such cases.

Ultimately the claims arising from the use of Flexitanks can be mitigated to a great extent by taking abundant caution and care and by engaging the services of a professional while exporting consignments using Flexible Tanks. It addition it is high time to have a statute to govern all aspects pertaining to Flexitank from the material to be use for manufacturing such tanks, to the packing, stowing, loading requirement, the specification on the load limit and the kind of container, proper labeling, etc, with the ultimate aim of roping in the packers and also holding them liable in case of potential claims.

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