Supreme Court gives the UK ruling on proof for cargo damage negligence cases

Supreme Court gives the UK ruling on proof for cargo damage negligence cases

January 4, 2019 Off By Surid1939

Andrew Nicholas and his team at Clyde & Co. LLP had appealed to the UK Supreme Court for the clarification of the nature of burden taken by the Good carriers transporting via sea routes. The UK Supreme Court clarified the nature of the burden under Article IV.2 of the Hague Rule and provide the decision in favor of Andrew Nicholas and his team.

Background of the Case

The issue started when cargo interests filed a case against CSAV as a carrier for damaging the transported goods.

Issue – The carrier was transporting coffee beans from Columbia to Germany. During transport from warmer climate condition to colder climate condition condensations occurred on the walls of the container causing wet damage to the transported goods. The cargo should have been packaged with absorbent lining like kraft paper to absorb the excess condensations occurring during the transport.

Cargo interest filed case against the cargo’s incapability to transport the goods in proper conditions, similar to its dispatch condition. On the other hand, the carrier services disagreed stating that the coffee beans were unable to sustain simple od condensations occurring during transport of such huge distances. To and fro debate continued among the two waging parties as the case rolled to the high court of UK.

The case rolled from the high court to the supreme court in the UK, with the involvement of professional negligence solicitors‌‌, where the final verdict was released last week.


The supreme court ruled its decision in favor of the cargo owner’s appeal. They stated that the cargo owner is fully responsible to protect the cargo from all kinds of damage. The nature of damages can be varied even the inherent nature of the cargo must be taken into account while transporting them with care.

The decision was taken in two stages. Initially, the cargo had to determine the proper nature of the burden. The court had to prove that the nature of the burden lies with the cargo transporter or the courier.

The second important factor for the decision was the exceptions of the liabilities of a cargo transporter. Even though they must prove with the necessary evidence regarding the case, the exception relies on the ability of the cargo owner to prove the negligence caused by the carrier.

After due considerations of all the available evidence provided by both the parties, a unanimous decision was provided by the Supreme Court of UK.

The Supreme court took a major decision with respect to the issue as it forms a milestone where all future cases pertaining to similar manner can refer to. The nature of the burden of the carrier and the cargo owner is well defined now and there can be no future debate regarding the same issue.