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Carriage of Goods Act

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Carriage of Goods Act

Goods that are carried by sea are usually covered under the following acts:

  • The Carriage Of Goods By Sea Act Of 1925
  • The Indian Bills Of Lading Act
  • The Merchant Shipping Act Of 1958 and
  • The Marine Insurance Act Of 1963

We will discuss the details regarding the first 2 acts. When a contract is made to carry goods by sea, it is called a contract of affreightment. The goods are usually referred to as freight. If it is a charter party contract, the entire ship is usually hired to carry the goods. If the goods are proposed to be carried by a general ship that anyone can use, it is generally called a bill of lading. No matter what the type of contract, the ship owner in both the cases undertakes to carry the goods in a safe and protected manner.

Implied Considerations

When a contract is made for such a carriage, the following considerations are automatically assumed:

  • Seaworthiness-this implies that the ship is in a condition to undertake the natural dangers present at sea. The ship owner guarantees this unequivocally. Of course, the term is relative in nature. It just implies that the ship is ready for that particular voyage and that specific cargo.
  • Commencement of travel-the ship will load the cargo, depart and reach its destination in a reasonable time frame and a secure manner.
  • No irrelevant alternate routing of the goods from the accepted route of transportation will be accepted.
  • No alternate routing-it implies that if the ship undertakes an alternate route to the one agreed upon at the time of the contract, the contract becomes void. How much and what deviation was taken is irrelevant in such a case.
  • The carrier must deliver the said goods within the time agreed upon and at a place previously decided.
  • Shipping of dangerous goods- if the owner of the ship transports dangerous objects, and the goods suffer any damage due to such a carriage, the goods owner will have full right to recover the damages from the ship-owner.

What is A Charter Party?

Itís a contract that implies the hiring of an entire ship. In an implied sense, the ship becomes leased to the person hiring it under such a contract. Both the crew and the master are then the employees of the charterer. A charter contract may be for a specific period of time (a time charter party), or for a particular voyage (voyage charter party) also. The voyage party does not have a fixed nature-it usually varies from one to the other.

Bill of Lading

This is issued when a general ship is presented with some goods for transportation. In this case, the ship owner is just a common carrier. The bill may even be used in case of a chartered ship. The bill is issued as an acknowledgement of receipt of goods.

So, a bill of lading is both an acknowledgement document for receipt as well as a contract. Such a contract is transferable if it is endorsed. This makes it somewhat similar to a negotiable instrument. However, it is not negotiable in a technical or legal sense-only in an implied form.

Goods Delivery

The most important duty of the ship owner is to transport and deliver the goods safely to the owner of the bill of lading. Of course, it assumes that a proper payment was made. The bill of lading has 3 copies. It is presented to the following:

  • The Consignee
  • The Consignor
  • The Master of the Ship

Provisions Under Ship Owners Lien

If the goods owner has not paid the required charges, the owner of the ship has a right of lien over the cargo. He may keep the goods under his control till the payment has been settled. This right is not negotiable-and ends once the goods have been delivered.

Related Topics:

  • Carriage of Goods by Land Sea Air

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