A Danish manufacturer of plastic pipes and cables (A) bought polyolefins from B. B booked transport of the goods from Belgium to A's address in Denmark with a contracting carrier (C), which in turn subcontracted to a performing carrier (D).
D collected the consignment in trailer ON11LS in Belgium on 16 September 2015 together with trailer ON43TK. Both trailers were to be delivered to A's address.
A had an established practice whereby trailers were weighed on receipt before and after unloading. The relevant documentation verifying weight had to be presented to A before it would confirm the receipt of goods and sign off on the transport document.
This standard practice was followed for trailer ON43TK on 18 September 2015. However, the practice was not followed later the same day for trailer ON11LS and D left A's address without A having signed off the transport document.
A dispute arose as to whether the consignment in trailer ON11LS had been delivered to A. A claimed not to have received the consignment in trailer ON11LS, which resulted in B arranging redelivery. B's cargo insurer (E) covered the cost of the redelivery and instigated legal proceedings against A and C.
E submitted that A and C were liable to pay Dkr252,747.49 to E jointly and severally, with the addition of interest.
A rejected E's claim and submitted that C should indemnify A. C also denied E's claim and submitted that A should indemnify C.
The Maritime and Commercial Court found C liable. The court stressed that the driver had followed A's established weighing practice for trailer ON43TK but not for trailer ON11LS. Further, the court underlined that the driver had not had the transport document signed as a receipt for the goods in trailer ON11LS before leaving A's address. This was contrary to what is considered standard practice in the industry and to A's practice.
Due to the lack of convincing evidence of delivery, the court found that it was unclear that delivery had taken place. As the carrier, C was found liable for the missing delivery and A did not need to indemnify C.
The Maritime and Commercial Court's ruling shows the importance of carriers getting transport documents signed as receipt for goods delivered. A signed transport document is the carrier's proof of delivery. Hence, in case of doubt as to whether delivery has taken place, the transport document serves as compelling evidence.
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