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Should the Freight Forwarder be Liable for Damage to the Goods Caused by the Force Majeure?

Should the Freight Forwarder be Liable for Damage to the Goods Caused by the Force Majeure?

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. Many clients encountered with such problems and come to us for help.



  • Who is liable for the losses, the freight forwarder or the carrier?

In practice, the freight forwarder is usually not the actual carrier. Those operating the non-vessel shipping business shall make the registration of bill of lading with the department in charge of transportation under the State Council, and shall pay the security deposit. If the freight forwarder fail to fulfill the duty of prudence to confirm if the carrier makes the registration, thus causing losses to the consignor, he shall assume corresponding liability for compensation. After assuming the liability, the freight forwarder still has the right to recover compensation from the carrier.

  • How to prove force majeure?

According to the Maritime Code of the PRC, the carrier has the burden of proof for the causal relationship between various accidents, natural disasters, political events and cargo damage, except fire. Under China Civid Law, if it can be proven that the damage was caused by force majeure, the carrier is not liable and may not request payment of freight. Even if payment has been made, it should be returned.