TT Club Calls for ‘Utmost Good Faith’ in the Container Supply Chain
TT Club has long championed a variety of measures designed to increase safety throughout the container supply chain. In Rotterdam last week, Kevin King, the Club’s Regional Director EMEA took the opportunity to address an audience of container operators, port and terminal executives and logistics professionals to highlight the crucial importance of an under lying principle of best practice, which would improve the industry’s safety record.
“As articulated in the UK MAIB’s report into the loss of MSC Napoli, safety margins are being eroded or eliminated,” said King. “In the context of international trade, all should take up their responsibilities and perhaps abide by the legal doctrine known as ‘utmost good faith’, meaning that all parties must make a full declaration of the material facts.”
King’s speech detailed the issues that impinge on container safety and that are currently being addressed in various ways by regulatory bodies and the industry as a whole. The Code of Practice for Packing Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code), which was prepared by three UN bodies (ILO/IMO/UNECE) and approved by the IMO at the end of last year, provides guidelines for all aspects of loading and securing CTUs (including trailers, swap bodies and railcars as well as containers). Although the Code doesn’t have the force of law at this point it can be brought into litigation as describing industry good practice. “Once a unit is packed there is less scope to correct things,” highlighted King.
Details within the SOLAS Convention (Safety of Life at Sea) concerning verification of gross mass for containers has now been adopted and will become mandatory in July 2016. This relatively modest amendment in essence reiterates the shippers’ responsibility to declare gross mass accurately. King also pointed out, “It is to be noted that if the ship or terminal loads a container without having required a verified gross mass, they assume the liability in addition to the shipper.”
Additionally, King spoke of the ISO standards to which container manufacturing and maintenance integrity must be adhered and further advised that there is on-going work relating to the design and operation of twistlocks, as well as other ship lashing equipment.
He concluded, “Bringing all issues together concerning the interactions between ship, lashing, container and cargo are vital for safety and profitability in the maritime supply chain and help enhance the understanding of the responsibilities held by all parties in that supply chain. Whatever is in the ‘box’, how it has been placed there and how it is handled on its journey is so much a matter of trust – each party must act with utmost good faith.”