Filing demurrage claims electronically could be costing shipbrokers
significant sums of money, according to International Transport
Intermediaries Club (ITIC). While e-mail may be quick, cheap and easy,
brokers are being urged to ensure they have a system in place to confirm
receipt of not only demurrage statements but all time sensitive documents.
In the past, brokers have used courier services
to send claim documentation
to charterers. According to ITIC, principals are increasingly adopting a
policy for claims to be sent electronically. Although this can save on
costs, it can also be unreliable.
"It is not enough for the broker to simply send the message and forget about
it," says the Club. "A common suggestion is that if the broker has not
received an acknowledgment within 48 hours then the broker should telephone
the principal to check that the message has been received. The cost of a
call is minimal compared to the amount at stake."
Each year ITIC pays claims caused by shipbrokers which
could have been
prevented by a simple phone call. In some cases, by the time the problem was
discovered, the claim had become time barred under the terms of the relevant
charterparty. "This is the most common cause of claims against tanker
brokers and with high freight levels these can be for significant sums of
money," says ITIC.
Faced with the charterer's denial that the claim ever reached them, all that
the broker may be able to prove is that its Internet Service Provider
forwarded a message. This does not confirm receipt. "The majority of
principals who have asked brokers to use e-mail have said that they will
acknowledge the claim. The implication is that without such receipt, the
principal will not accept that the claim has been delivered," warns the