No matter how certain an outcome of the transaction may seem, it is still inevitable sometimes to confront some problems which have not been anticipated at the threshold of freight forwarding negotiation. As such, one of the most crucial responsibilities that a company should perform is outlining the contingency plans in case some situations would go beyond their control. This is a case-to-case basis though just like when one is involved in shipping transaction in which there are a number of things to be considered. But perhaps the most important of those regardless of the carrier or business priorities is the safety of goods as the damage on them may not only result to delay but also to the liability of the freight forwarder. And thus, if not prevented or avoided, the liability of such professional can be predicated upon the following justifications:
Duty of Care
Sufficient or proper care of the shipping items is a crucial duty entrusted to and should be performed by a freight forwarder during the transport of materials. This means that taking all measures to ensure that the goods are not damaged while being delivered is necessary. Thus, to make sure safety, the items should be handled carefully by the staff and placed in the carrier accordingly. Further, if it is noticed that a particular situation could lead to damage, a freight forwarder should take corrective measures like informing the importer or exporter about the matter.
Ensuring the Goods
Aside from the above-explained duty, the freight forwarder should likewise ensure that the materials are protected from various risks during transportation. But in case doing the same is not feasible, the owner should be informed beforehand. Nonetheless, if the goods have marine cover but got damaged along the way, it could be compensated by the insurance company depending on the stipulations. However, if the freight forwarding company has no insurance to cover, the owner can require them to pay for the damage.
Terms of Contract
It should be noted that the liability for damage of goods by the freight forwarder is limited only to the services that are being offered. Thus, if it is not specified in the contract the liability to be shouldered, the forwarder cannot be held liable. But if it is indicated in the agreement that the liability covers damages to goods, the cost of the damage should be paid.
Scope of Liability
There is usually a range to which the freight forwarder can be held liable for damages depending on the contract of shipment or laws governing the same. For instance, the forwarder can be made liable for any wrong doing or omissions done in the process, or be included in the individuals who have liability for a damage. However, there are some cases where the freight forwarder cannot be held responsible for the damage; for example, when the damage is a result of the instruction from the owner to load or offload the goods.
Given the aforementioned duties and liability of Ocean Freight Forwarder when the goods are damaged during transportation, it is indeed quite crucial for the shipper to ensure that s/he is working with a reliable one.