• Shipment, Bags, Bulk, Delays, On-carriage, Shipping Advice, Documents


    Shipment must be made at the vessel's last scheduled call at the port of shipment before commencing the final voyage. This is reminiscent of when traditional break bulk vessels used to discharge and load cargo at a range of ports in the same region and in so doing might call at the same port on the way in and on the way out. Modern container vessels rarely if ever do so but the stipulation is nevertheless a valid one and applies to both ECC and GCA.

    Shipment must be made by conference line or other acceptable vessel (ECF), or metal-hulled, self propelled vessels which are not over 20 years of age and not less than 1,000 net registered tons, classed A1 American Record or equivalent,operating in their regular trade (GCA). This prevents shippers from using any old tramp vessel that happens to be available. (Tramp vessels make irregular port calls to discharge and look for new cargo, i.e. the exact opposite of liner vessels.) Note also that at some future stage European Union authorities may introduce legislation covering the type, class, condition and age of ships that may enter European Union ports. *

    Shippers will pass on to the shipping line all relevant instructions received from buyers.These apply equally to shipment in bags in containers, and to shipments in bulk.

    Shipment in bags

    Shipment in containers, suitable for the transport of coffee, shall be permitted under LCL/FCL conditions, whereby the shipping company is responsible for the number of bags and the condition and suitability of the containers.

    However, shipping lines increasingly discourage LCL/FCL (or LCL/LCL) and in future shippers may not always be able to satisfy buyer's wishes in this regard. In this case their only option will be to effect weighing and stuffing under independent supervision at their expense since all other shipments in containers shall require agreement of the parties. Again, GCA leaves the matter of the shipment basis to the parties to the contract.

    LCL, or less than container load: the shipping line accepts responsibility for the number of bags. FCL, or full container load: the line accepts responsibility only for the container, not for the contents, by stating for example, STC (said to contain) 300 bags of coffee on the bill of lading. See also 05, Logistics and Insurance.

    Shipment in bulk

    Unless otherwise agreed, shipment shall be made under FCL/FCL conditions. This reflects the move from break bulk to almost universal containerization. The 1991 edition of the ECC still stipulated that only LCL/LCL was acceptable and that shipment in bulk required prior agreement. Unless otherwise stated, FCL/FCL is now the norm. This means that bulk is increasingly, if not always, loaded and weighed under independent supervision, but shippers still have to pass on to the shipping line all relevant instructions received from buyers, and in case of damage may be asked to provide proof of having done so. GCA leaves the matter entirely to the parties, who must stipulate the agreed shipping basis in the contract.

    Delay in shipment

    Sellers shall not be held responsible if they are able to prove their case. The most important point this article makes is that the buyer must be kept informed at all times without undue delay. This is absolutely essential. Delays in shipment usually affect buyers adversely and they must be enabled to take measures to protect themselves. Failing to respect this clause not only is entirely unprofessional but can also result in unforeseen consequences, possibly even cancellation of the contract.

    On-carriage of containers

    Buyers may discharge containers at inland destinations. The point of containerization is to minimize handling and the only object of this clause is to permit receivers to bring the coffee without unnecessary handling as near to its final destination as possible, for example a roasting plant. In case of weight claims buyers have to prove weighing took place under independent supervision. GCA permits the same. In addition it defines the port of entry as all dock and warehouse facilities within a 50-mile radius of ships berth that are used for the discharge of ships cargo (or all freight facilities within a 50-mile radius of a border crossing).

    Advice of shipment

    Both ECC and GCA require that advice of shipment must be transmitted as soon as known. In practice only gross negligence could explain why one would not advise buyers as soon as possible, which only leaves the question of whether or not the advice actually reaches them promptly. But ECC and GCA approach this question very differently. ECC considers it may not be within the sellers control and so, in theory, it suffices if buyers receive the notice before the vessel arrives at the port of destination. Only someone with no interest in good business relationships would consider this normal practice, however.

    E.FCA.CC on the other hand stipulates that advice of delivery must be transmitted within 2 calendar days of the date of delivery.

    There is an important provision in the articles dealing with advice of shipment and/or delivery. If a shipping or delivery advice is not received by noon on the fourteenth calendar day after the expiry of the contractual shipping or delivery period, and if there has been no notification of a delay and no force majeure has been pleaded, then damages may be claimed or the buyer may cancel the contract altogether. This could leave a forgetful exporter with an unsold and most likely uninsured shipment. See Article 13(d) of the ECC and Article 12(d) of the E.FCA.CC for full details.

    GCA on the other hand states that for FCA, FOB, CFR, CIF and EDK contracts, written advice with all details must be transmitted not just as soon as known, but not later than on the day of arrival of the vessel at destination and/or five business days from bill of lading date, whichever is later. The advice may be given verbally with email or fax confirmation to be sent the same day. This is included because of the close proximity of many Latin American producing countries to the United States, but it applies to all contracts.

    Shipping documents

    Sellers must provide shipping documents in good time (including a full set of clean on board bills of lading, i.e. bills stating that the goods were received on board ship in apparent good order), enabling the buyer to clear the goods upon arrival. Failure to provide documents in time will incur demurrage and other costs, and could even lead to cancellation of the contract under both ECC and GCA. Delivery documents under E.FCA.CC are to be made available promptly but latest within 14 days of the carrier's receipt, otherwise penalties or in extreme cases cancellation may apply.

    ECC Article 18 and E.FCA.CC Article 17 stipulate the documents buyers are entitled to receive and those they are entitled to request.

    * Editor's note: Information on vessel registration and vessels themselves is available atwww.lloydsmiu.com, however by subscription only. 

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