Vessels in quarantine, both empty and laden containers with restrictions on movement stuck in terminals, no boxes available on the market, country border lockdowns. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has already had a huge impact on the maritime industry worldwide, leading in many cases to delays or no deliveries at all, hence losses in production and an overall hit to the economy. As such, carriers will, in all probability, face a rising wave of claims against them. lnvoking force majeure will probably be their primary line of defence. However, it’s not a silver bullet that can be shot absent-mindedly.
The principle of liability law is that the opposite party usually isn’t convinced by simply claiming something. The claim should be substantiated with arguments en documents. Although the liability regime of some relevant international conventions regulating i.a. maritime claims handling might seem clear, especially the amicable/pre-court phase might surprise the non-regular claimant.
Delay related claims are a significant part of the maritime cargo claims. In my previous role defending the interests of the carrier as well as in my current role acting on behalf of the cargo interests, I have had interesting discussions with the counter party on the cause of delay and the merits of claim.