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Shipment information – should it be provided to 3rd parties?


Jagan - June 29, 2018 - 0 comments

  1. We have been advised by our clients (Carriers / Operators involved in bulk and liner trades) that they have received requests from various 3rdparties (mostly from ICC-International Maritime Bureau) seeking confirmation on the authenticity of documents together with shipment details. We had commented in our earlier article “Should Customers shipment information be provided to 3rdparties” that there is an implied duty of confidentiality owed by the Carrier to their clients and therefore information should only be provided on receipt of consent from their clients.
  2. 3rdparties such as ICC-International Maritime Bureau are engaged by Banks/Financial Institutions to conduct due diligence searches. While these checks are of benefit to the 3rdparties’ members/clients including combating fraud, this must be tempered with the implied duty of confidentiality that the Carrier owes to their clients. Accordingly, we would suggest the following steps to be conducted by the Carrier prior to the release of any information:
    1. Seek confirmation that the 3rdparty’s client hold the original Bills of Lading in their possession. Possession of originals bills by a lawful holder would entitle them to seek delivery of the cargo as and when they surrender the originals . However, a holder of the Bills of lading may not always wish to seek delivery but instead wish to sell the cargo to another buyer/trader by endorsing the Bills of Lading (this would be the case in a negotiable Bill of Lading). Accordingly, evidence that a party holds the original Bills of Lading should be considered adequate for the provision of information for both the  authenticity of the documents and the shipment details.
    2. If the request for information is only to conduct a due diligence search say by reviewing past shipments, the Carrier’s client should expressly consent to the release of such information. This can be accomplished by either the requesting party providing an express consent from the Carrier’s client or by the Carrier seeking confirmation from their client.
  3. We understand that the provision of such information is provided by the Carriers without collecting any charges. It is fact that the Carriers would be expending time and effort to provide such information. Given that 3rdparties do charge their clients to conduct such searches, it is submitted that Carrier’s should similarly consider charging for the provision of such information.
  4. In conclusion,
    1. While information can certainly be provided, this should only be provided to a party holding the Original Bills of Lading or having consent from the original party to the Bills of Lading contract.
    2. Carriers should consider charging a fee for the provision of information requested to recover at least their costs.

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