Canadian law firm writes on undeclared on-deck carriage liability case

Canadian law firm Borden Ladner Gervais has written on the case of De Wolf Maritime Safety BV v Traffic-Tech International Inc, in which the shipper, De Wolf, entered into a contract with the carrier, Traffic-Tech, for the transport of its cargo from Vancouver, Canada to Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Although the shipper alleged the true value of the cargo was almost C$100,000, no value was declared and the carrier issued a clean bill of lading. The cargo was loaded aboard the M/V Cap Jackson in Vancouver, but never made it to Rotterdam. At some point during transit, the cargo was swept overboard and lost.

De Wolf sued Traffic-Tech for the full value of the cargo. The carrier moved for a preliminary determination of a question of law under rule 220(1) of the Federal Court Rules. The Court considered whether the undeclared on-deck carriage of the cargo under the bill of lading prevented the carrier from relying on the Hague-Visby Rules and, if the answer to this was “no”, then what would be the limitations applicable to the contract of carriage pursuant to the Hague-Visby Rules?

The Court found that the that the cargo must be declared to be carried on deck and that it is in fact carried there. Accordingly, as the cargo in this case was not declared to be carried on-deck, the exception did not apply and the contract of carriage was subject to the Rules.

The Court also found that the contract of carriage was subject to the Rules and the carrier was entitled to rely on the limitation of liability provided by Article IV(5)(a).


Robin Squires: [email protected]

Sarah Sweet: [email protected]