London Club Points to Potential Problems

Friday, August 30, 2002
London Club Points to Potential Problems The London P&I Club says that increasing levels of global investment and bilateral trade involving China are likely to increase demands on the legal system there. And it says it continues to see examples of shipping practices that can lead to claims. In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the Club notes that, with regard to bulk cargo discharge, "The Chinese courts place heavy reliance on inspection certificates issued by surveyors acting for the state-run Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Organization (CIQ) attesting to, among other things, cargo discharge weights. Very often, these certificates rely on the recording of individual truck weights over a weighbridge which is said to be 'tested', and yet it is not usually possible for vessel interests to verify for themselves the accuracy and calibration of the machinery used, despite the considerable scope which exists for error." In the Club's experience, in addition to undertaking a draft survey at the load port, the vessel's position can be markedly improved if the crew carry out assessments of the quantity of cargo remaining on board by taking a full set of all-round drafts at least once a day, where practicable. The Club adds, "When the CIQ wants to rely on a draft survey for the purposes of the inspection certificate, this should take place in the presence of a senior ship's officer, and surveyors should be asked to confirm their identity in writing and the reason for their presence on board." The Club was recently alerted to a case where a draft survey showed the vessel to have arrived with a cargo weight in excess of the bill of lading figure. The CIQ surveyor reportedly refused to sign the draft survey, and a shortage claim was later received, based on readings from a weighbridge. Members faced with difficulties of this nature are advised to lodge an immediate protest to the appropriate parties, reporting the outcome of the draft surveys.
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