Regelmäßige Teile Spezialisten Smallegange Rechtsanwälte ihr Wissen durch einen Newsletter mit. Im Folgenden sind die Beiträge in chronologischer Reihenfolge.

The ‘coordinating’ maritime court surveyor: a practical addition to the possibilities of obtaining maritime evidence!

On 4 April 2019 the project group ‘Setting course for permanent maritime court surveyors’ (Afkoersen of vaste maritieme gerechtsdeskundigen) presented its final report during the Dutch-Belgian Colloquium – Journée Schadee 2019 of the Dutch Transport Law Assocation. In the final report a number of suggestions are made for the expansion of the possibilities of appointing maritime court surveyors within the existing Dutch legal framework, including the ‘coordinating’ maritime court surveyor. 

Recently two of our attorneys (Julian van de Velde and Iris Regtien) applied the suggestions of the project group in practice and successfully obtained permission from the District Court in Rotterdam (the Dutch Maritime Court) to appoint a ‘coordinating’ maritime court surveyor. A maritime surveyor of the Belgian Nautical Commission was appointed as court surveyor. This court surveyor went on board of a vessel arriving in the Netherlands together with the parties’ surveyors and representatives, to collect information regarding the cause of an issue arising during the ocean voyage.

The ‘coordinating’ maritime surveyor was particularly well suited in this case, as our clients’ interest was to collect information and documentation on board of the vessel so they would be able to establish the cause of the issue on the basis of this information and documentation. Our clients were the charterers of the vessel and therefore had limited access to certain information and documentation. Further, the shipowner was not willing to cooperate with the investigation of the charterer’s surveyor. By appointing the ‘coordinating’ maritime court surveyor, our clients were able to obtain the necessary information after all.

The possibilities for using a ‘coordinating’ maritime court surveyor are not limited to cases of collection of evidence on board of a vessel by charterers or cargo interests. On the contrary, we think that this option would also be pre-eminently useful in inter alia collision cases where shipowners and their underwriters (H&M and P&I) have an interest in obtaining information and documentation located on board of the other vessel or vessels that were involved with the collision.

Would you like to learn more regarding the above? Or are you interested in finding out what other possibilities there are to collect evidence in maritime matters in the Netherlands, or perhaps you’re more interested in finding out how this can be prevented? If so, please feel free to contact one of our attorneys.

Until recently it all seemed like ‘science-fiction’, however, the self-driving truck and the self-sailing ship are now turning into reality. In October of last year the tech company Otto, a subsidiary of ‘taxi-company’ Uber, carried out the first test drive with a self-driving truck. It was a 200 km drive in the state of Colorado, United States. The cargo: 50.000 cans of beer. The driver simply drove to the freeway where after he engaged the system and the software took over for him.

In October 2016 our firm was involved in summary proceedings in which the return and reduction of a bank guarantee was claimed. The facts of these proceedings were as follows. In 2007 Belgian buyers ordered an inland barge with a Belgian shipyard. When the building of the hull was ready it was noted by the buyers that the hull showed several deficiencies. The buyers therefore refused to take delivery of the hull. This eventually resulted in proceedings between the buyers and the shipyard in Belgium.

On 18 January 2017, a new European Regulation enters into force which makes it possible for creditors to freeze bank accounts of non-paying debtors in the whole European Union, with the exception of the United Kingdom and Denmark. It remains to be seen how this “European Account Preservation Order” will work out in practice, but in any event, it is a welcome addition to the procedural toolbox for cross-border debt recovery.

Smallegange Lawyers are pleased to announce that as per 1 January 2017, we welcome Willem Boonk as partner in our firm. Willem started his career as a lawyer in Rotterdam in October 2005. He joined Smallegange as a senior associate in May 2015.

The FENEX conditions (the general conditions of the Dutch Association for Forwarding and Logistics) are a household name in the Dutch logistics sector. The majority of freight forwarders and logistics providers operate under the applicability of these terms and conditions.

The FENEX conditions deal with a number of topics relevant to the daily operations of a freight forwarder. For example the method of payment and payment deadlines, the obligation of the client to compensate costs such as container demurrage, pledge and lien, and the liability regime including the limit of liability.

In the (inter)national carriage by road the main obligation of the carrier is to deliver the goods in the same condition as in which he took receipt of these goods. Based on the articles 17 and 23 of the CMR convention , the carrier is liable for compensation when the goods are damaged or lost during the transport, or when they are delivered with delay. Any contractual stipulations which derogate from the CMR convention are null and void and impossible to enforce. It is possible that, besides this main obligation, it is agreed between the carrier and the shipper that the carrier will provide all sorts of other services. For example, arranging customs formalities, or providing information such as in which container a certain shipment has been stuffed/loaded. Some of these subsidiary obligations are governed by the CMR convention. The loss of customs documentation, as a consequence of which the shipper is unable to clear customs resulting in payable custom duties,  is for instance regulated in article 11 CMR convention. For a long time it has been uncertain under Dutch law, what the consequences are when other damage then damage to the goods arises under a contract of carriage which is subject to the CMR convention, with respect to a subsidiary obligation which is not regulated by the CMR convention. Is in that case the carrier liable for that damage (subject to national law), or is the carrier, based on the CMR-convention liable for damage/loss of the goods only?

The Rotterdam District Court informed us as follows. As of January 1st 2016 the Rotterdam District Court will allow certain types of civil cases to be conducted in the English language. The cases that will qualify for this pilot project are those involving maritime law, transport law and international sale of goods.

In its decision of 29 January 2016 de Dutch Supreme Court answered much discussed question in the literature whether the Supreme Court ruling in the so called “Hammock judgement” regarding liability of a co-possessor of a (defective) structure or building, also applies for the liability of a co-possessor of an animal.

Smallegange Lawyers are pleased to announce that Julian van de Velde has joined our firm as partner. Julian started his career in January 2007 as P&I Correspondent at Aus Ship P&I in Sydney, Australia. Subsequently, Julian moved to our firm in May 2008 when he started as lawyer. In 2011 Julian became associate.

On 1 January 2016, the new Dutch Maritime Accident Control Act (Wet bestrijding maritieme ongevallen, WBMO), entered into force. The new act replaces the North Sea Accident Control Act (Wet bestrijding ongevallen Noordzee, Wet BON) and provides for the implementation of the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks (2007) in the legislation of the Netherlands.

One of the services offered by Smallegange is arresting ships. If a client wishes to arrest a ship then Smallegange drafts an arrest petition through which the Court is requested to grant leave to arrest the ship. Prior to drafting the arrest petition Smallegange will then first determine pursuant to the applicable law and international conventions whether it is possible to arrest the ship. After the leave has been granted by the Court Smallegange will instruct the bailiff to arrest the ship.

In recent years it occurred several times that a ship collided into a bridge of which it was known that it would be replaced in the nearby future. For example the Dorkwerderbrug near Groningen has been hit several times in the past years. Also the Botlekbrug has recently been hit by a vessel. The building of the new Dorkwerderburg will be finalised at the end of 2015. The new Botlekbrug is already in use. In case such a bridge that is about to be replaced is hit by a ship, the question arises whether the owner of the bridge can claim payment of the costs that will be made in case the bridge would be permanently repaired or whether instead in view of the building of the new bridge only payment can be claimed of the costs made to temporarily repair the bridge.

Freight forwarding
The freight forwarder is at the heart of the (inter)national transport chain, a vital link between the shipper and the carrier. The freight forwarder enters into an forwarding agreement with its client (the shipper), where after it will enter into a contract of carriage with (inter alia) the carrier. If damage to the cargo would occur during the subsequent carriage the freight forwarder could remove itself from the equation regarding its client by issuing a ‘statement of forwarding agent’. The shipper can use that ‘statement of forwarding agent’ to go directly to the carrier to recover its damage/loss.

Recently, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice published a draft bill, which provides for further concentration of the handling of shipping cases. Once this bill is adopted by parliament, court cases on shipping and shipping-related matters will all be handled by the Court of Rotterdam.

The Netherlands is one of the State Parties to the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims and its Protocol of 1996 (after this: LLMC). The provisions of the LLMC grant the ship owners (and other parties mentioned) the right to limit their liability for certain specified claims by constituting one or more limitation funds. The Netherlands has implemented the LLMC in articles 8:750 u/i 8:759 of the Dutch Civil Code.

Anyone who visits the port every now and then will know them. Signs next to a gateway or along a quay pointing out 'entering this site is at your own risk' or, ‘the terminal is not liable for damage and / or injury ". It is obvious that such signs at least encourage vigilance. However, when for example during loading or unloading at a terminal a vessel or truck sustains damage the question rises whether the terminal by posting such signs can exclude its liability for such damage.

Abovementioned question could be asked after reading to the recent decision of the Supreme Court of 16 January 2015 (ECLI:NL:HR:2015:83) between (a predecessor of) TVM in its capacity of motor liability insurer and its policy holder, a driver of a car involved in a collision with another car. The other car became damaged and the driver of that car injured.

The rules on the limitation period for collisions has already lead to many discussions. A recent decision of the Supreme Court will undoubtedly lead to many new discussions (HR November 21, 2014, ECLI:NL:HR:2014:3350). The Supreme Court has held that the limitation period of two years for collisions does not apply if the accusations made by claimant are of a different nature than those associated with the use of ships and when the cause of the damage is not on board of a ship.

The Court of Rotterdam has recently rendered a, not (yet) published, judgment about the applicability of forwarding conditions. Normally, the forwarder invokes the forwarding conditions. In this case the principal relied on the forwarding conditions.

In relation to the majority of the cargo that in the past was carried by ship, a Bill of Lading would be issued by the carrier. Therefore, Book 8 of the Dutch Civil Code contains several articles that relate to carriage of goods under a Bill of Lading. However, nowadays in case of the majority of the shipments that concern carriage of goods by ship no Bill of Lading is issued, but instead a Sea Waybill. The question is therefore what the consequences are if goods are carried under a Sea Waybill for the title to sue of the consignee and the relation between the carrier and the consignee. The Court of Rotterdam had to consider this in the recent Court case FRIO HELLENIC, 30 April 2014, S&S 2014, 131. Below we will touch on this question by discussing the judgment of the Court. In that respect we will first briefly touch on the characteristics of a Bill of Lading and Sea Waybill.

It follows from the jurisprudence that the relationship between a stevedore and a vessel is not always rosy. Dutch judges often had to consider a in which a vessel was damaged during loading or discharging.
The Owner (or his underwriter(s)) will subsequently hold the stevedore responsible in order to receive payment for the damage sustained by the vessel. Recently, a similar court case of the District Court of Rotterdam was published (District Court of Rotterdam 27 November 2013, S&S 2013, 86). In this matter the District Court had to examine the question whether a stevedore was liable for the damage sustained by an inland vessel.