Electronic communication is not totally secure despite a seemingly bug-free transition into 2000, warns The International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC). E-mail systems may help in reducing communication costs but they can still lead to substantial losses at the touch of a button.
The latest issue of ITIC's Claims Review reports the case of a charterer who had invited tenders for a long-term charter. A shipbroker sent his principal's bid via an industry message system to the charterers' mailbox in the U.S. using an address code for the charterer. Unfortunately, the American system interpreted the code as a mailing list and the bid was circulated to a number of other owners. The principal did not secure the bid, claiming it was undercut as a result of its inadvertent publication.
In another case, a shipbroker in Scandinavia was instructed by his principal to confirm re-delivery of a ship to its owners. He sent the notice of re-delivery to the owner's broker in the Far East by e-mail and requested confirmation of receipt. The owner's broker received the message but when he viewed it, it was blank and he had no idea what the message concerned. The system confirmed receipt to the Scandinavian broker who assumed the re-delivery notice had been received and accepted. The owners refused to accept re-delivery of the ship and a substantial claim was made against the Scandinavian broker.
As part of its loss prevention services, ITIC has launched a survey in its latest Claims Review, addressing the use of electronic communications. Looking at the type of information sent via e-mail, frequency of use and problems encountered, the survey is designed to gauge the extent to which e-mail is currently used as a communication tool.
The arrival of 2000 also brought a celebration for ITIC. Founded in 1925 as the Chartered Shipbrokers Protection Association, the club celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. In 1983, the Association joined forces with the International Ship Brokers
and Agent's P&I Club Ltd (ISBA) to create the Chartered and International Ship Brokers Protection
& Indemnity Association Ltd (CISBA). CISBA then merged with Transport Intermediaries Mutual (TIM) in 1992 to form the International Transport Intermediaries Club.