Shippers Seek Rate and Liability Reform

Meeting in Margaux, France, the Tripartite Shippers Group supported "valid and impartial justification for all surcharges at all local, national, and international levels" and said such charges should not be used as mechanisms to impose general rate increases. It further asked that terminal handing charges (THC) be reincorporated into ocean freight rates.

"Assuming the THC is part of the overall freight, it should be collected from the party that pays the freight," the group declaration said. The group also reported that negotiations with the UNCITRAL Working Group on Transport Law could result in a new convention on cargo liability. Among the positions the Tripartite Shippers Group urged members' national governments to support were:

  • A door-to-door regime applied on a uniform liability basis between the contracting parties
  • Substantive liability rules for "maritime performing parties"
  • Elimination of Nautical Fault/Error of Navigation Freedom of Contract for Ocean Liner Service Agreements (OLSA)
  • Forum Selection should permit the claimant to choose place for litigating or arbitrating claims (similar to provisions of the Hamburg Rules)
  • Compensation for delay (unless otherwise agreed upon) should be limited to physical loss or damage
  • Shipper load and count clauses should be treated as valid under the convention
  • Burden of Proof - support for a more balanced and workable approach towards dealing with partial carrier fault.

The full report of the Tripartite Shippers Group meeting is available at

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