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Can Consignors Seek Compensation for Lost Containers without Insurance?

On the night of Nov. 30, ONE's large container ship "ONE APUS" with a capacity of 14,052 TEU was lost in the Pacific Ocean at 1,600 nautical miles northwest of Hawaii due to bad weather, resulting in collapsed stacks and damaged containers overboard. The accident caused 1816 containers damaged or lost.

It is possible that a consignor’s goods are damaged by bad weather, such as pouring rain or huge waves, during transportation. If the goods are not insured, can a consignor claim compensation under China’s laws?

According to Articles 54, 60, 61 and 63 of the PRC Maritime Law (中华人民共和国海商法), and referring to the cases of Guangdong Higher People's Court and Shandong Higher People's Court, if the goods are lost due to bad weather during transportation, a consignor has the right to sue the freight forwarder and carrier in the Chinese court, demanding that they jointly bear the compensation liability to him/her.

It should be noted that according to Article 832 of the PRC Civil Code (中华人民共和国民法典), if the freight forwarder and the carrier can prove that the loss of the goods is caused by force majeure, the freight forwarder and the carrier do not need to bear the liability for compensation.

With regard to force majeure, according to Article 180 of the PRC Civil Code, force majeure is an unforeseeable, unavoidable and insurmountable objective situation.