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  • QA 218
    Question:
    Who is responsible when bags go missing from an LCL/FCL shipment?
    Background:
    On arrival one bag was found missing from a container shipped to Antwerp under LCL/FCL. We have a tally sheet showing that the correct number of bags was loaded but on arrival the Belgian tally company reported one bag short. Who is responsible to compensate for this missing bag?
    Asked by:
    Exporter - Vietnam
    Answer:

    Shortages from shipments on LCL/FCL Bills of Lading are the carrier's responsibility.

    In this case the Bill of Lading you provided us with states "320 bags coffee, CFS/CY, clean on board". We would point out here that the terms LCL (Less than Container Load) and CFS (Container Freight Station) have the same meaning:  the goods are received and the container is stuffed under carrier's responsibility - this means the carrier is responsible for the number of bags (but not for the contents nor for the weight). The terms FCL (Full Container Load) and CY (Container Yard) are also identical in meaning: container is delivered.

    When a shortfall or damage is found it is the receiver's duty to hold the carrier responsible and to lodge the necessary insurance claim. In our view this matter is entirely between the buyer, the carrier and the buyer's insurance company if the carrier for some reason was to reject the claim. In this case, the Bill of Lading clearly specifies the contents as 320 bags - it does not say that the container is 'said to contain 320 bags' and it is difficult to see how the carrier could reject the claim.

    Assuming that the coffee was sold basis FOB (Free On Board = the buyer has to insure) the usual procedure would be that the buyer claims from his insurance company who in turn claims from the carrier and finalises the matter.

    It is important to know though that receivers are responsible to notify the carrier of any shortfall or damage within the time limits set by the shipping laws of the country of arrival. If they do not adhere to these a carrier may attempt to reject a claim.

    Finally, we would mention that the terms FCL and LCL are common in most coffee producing countries but may not always have exactly the same meaning. Combining FCL with the term CY (Container Yard: container is received), and LCL with CFS (Container Freight Station: goods are received) removes any room for confusion.

    Posted 24 April 2009

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    Q&A 058, 061, 145, 215