International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) says it still regularly deals with claims resulting from errors by agents involving transhipment cargoes.
In one case, an agent in Argentina failed to declare a cargo as transhipment cargo within fifteen days of the vessel’s arrival at Buenos Aires. This was the result of a simple oversight in the agent’s office. The obligation to make the declaration was strictly enforced and an automatic penalty of one per cent of the value of the goods was immediately imposed, amounting to USD122,204. The agent who had failed to make the necessary declaration had to pay the sum demanded by the authorities.
In another case, an agent in the Dominican Republic was involved in the transhipment of two containers arriving from Cuba with a final destination of Haiti. Under Dominican customs law, in common with many customs regimes, cargo awaiting re-exportation can only be held in storage without paying the relevant customs duties if time limits and other regulations are complied with.
The agent maintained regular contact with the shipper, who was waiting for relevant documentation to be provided by the consignee in Haiti. The agent also obtained an extension of the time limit for storage of the containers, but unfortunately made a typographical error in an email sent to the shipper which noted that the extension expired on 26 January, when it should have stipulated 6 January. As a result, the cargo was impounded by customs when the containers were not exported before the deadline. Ultimately, a penalty of just over USD25,000 was settled by the agent.