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are, however, a few changes which I would ask you to consider. Article 3, “Responsibilities and liabilities,” section 6, beginning the middle of the sixth line. The same reads as follows:
“If the loss or damage is not apparent the notice must be given within three days of the delivery of the goods."
In many cases, as the records will show, it is absolutely impossible to give a notice until the goods actually come into the possession of consignee—Rio de Janeiro, for example - it frequently happens the goods are held in the customs for 30 days after discharge by the steamer.
It is, of course, unfair to the consignee to require certain facts which he could not give, and should this be insisted upon it would undoubtedly, result in a notice of damage to the steamship company on every shipment whether damaged or not, otherwise the consignee would have no protection.
I would suggest this sentence be changed to read as follows:
“If loss or damage is not apparent the notice must be given within three days after delivery of the goods to the consignee.
Article 4, "rights and immunities,” section 2-A, reads as follows:
“Act, neglect or default of the master, mariner, pilot, or survance of the carrier in the navigation or in the management of the ship.
Although it is our understanding that the shipowner is protected under the Harter Act, it is nevertheless unjust, and, if possible, should be eliminated.
Section 6 reads as follows:
“Neither the carrier nor the ship shall be responsible in any event for loss or damage to or in connection with goods if the nature or value thereof as shown on the B/L has been willfully misstated by the shipper on the B/L.”
It seems to us that this is rather a strong provision, which is sure to cause more or less controversy between the shipper and the carrier. The words “willfully misstated,” while no doubt intended to cover only irresponsible shippers, can be so construed as to make it possible for the carrier to waive liability for mistakes, omissions, etc.
It does not seem to us that the carrier should be entirely relieved of responsibiliy.
Article 7, “limitation cf the application of these rules.” It seems to us there should be a supplementary clause reading substantially as follows: “Acceptance of B/L by the shipper does not force the shipper or holder of B/L to accept the conditions of this article."
Thanking you for the opportunity of giving these matters further consideration, I remain, Yours very truly,
C. B. BALDWIN, Manager, Transportation Department.
AMERICAN EXPORTERS AND IMPORTERS' ASSOCIATION,
New York, February 2, 1923. Hon. GEORGE W. EDMONDS, Committee on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries,
House of Representatives. In re Hague rules, revised.
DEAR SIR: Thank you for your letter of January 23 on above subject, inclosing a copy of the rules as revised at the London conference and the Brussels convention.
These papers were given careful study by our freight committee and our board of directors, which passed favorably upon the report submitted by the freight committee.
A copy of this report is attached and we trust it may prove of value to you.
AMERICAN EXPORTERS & IMPORTERS ASSOCIATION,
REPORT OF FREIGHT COMMITTEE.
Referring to the matter of Hague rule re bills of lading as adopted at Brussels October 26, 1922, would say that the draft of these rules as finally adopted, has been examined by your committee with the following results. With the one exception noted below, we consider the proposed convention a great improvement on the present state of affairs, as
1. When adopted it will provide a uniform set of conditions for all bills of lading. This is a very decided gain.
2. Because the limit of liability of a carrier is raised to £100 per package. This is a more equitable maximum than heretofore.
3. In many minor ways the liability and rights of both carrier and shipper are defined to the great benefit of all concerned.
While expressing our general approval as above, we wish to say that in one important respect the draft of the rules as submitted needs modification. We refer to Article III, Section 6. As drawn, this section would make it difficult, if not impossible, for a shipper or consignee to collect any claim against a ship, and in our opinion the provisions of this article are so unfair to the shipper that its adoption as drawn will mean that it will not be enforced by the courts as it will be considered unreasonable. The article is not worded clearly, but as nearly as we can determine it seems to provide:
1. As to cargo discharged in such condition that it is evident that it is damaged: A claim must be made at the time such packages are discharged from the carrier into the custody of the person entitled to delivery thereof. This notice must be in writing at the time the goods are received. It is not clear whether if the goods went from the ship to a customhouse, they would be deemed to be delivered into the custody of the consignee, but this would seem to be the meaning, the question here hinging on whether delivery to a customhouse would be into the custody of the person entitled to delivery thereof. We think this part of the article should be made clear on this point and also should be changed so as to give consignee some time in which to make his written claim.
2. As to cargo discharged in such question that no damage is apparent: In this case, the convention is not only vague but seems to directly contradict itself. It says that the consignee is to have three days in which to give notice in writing that the goods are damaged, but there is nothing to show that if goods are discharged into a customhouse the three days would not begin to count immediately the customhouse took delivery; so that even if three days were enough time in which to give notice of damage, it would be utterly inadequate if the time while the goods are in the customhouse is to count as a part of the three days. But the section goes on to say:
“Notice in writing will not be admissible if the state of the goods has at the time of receipt been agreed to be otherwise than as stated in the notice."
This seems to mean that if goods are in apparent good condition and are signed for as received in that way, no matter how they turn out upon unpacking, no notice of damage is of any avail, which is directly in conflict with the statement that the consignee is to have three days in which to advise of a claim. Altogether, this article is unsatisfactory on account of
(a) Its being entirely too vague as to who is to give notice of damage and whether a receipt by a customhouse is to bind the consignee.
(b) Inadequate time for the filing of the claim—"immediately” in case of goods which show damage and “three days” in case of goods which do not show damage on the outside.
(c) Question as to whether the latter part of the article does not cancel entirely the three-day provision.
In view of the importance of this matter of filing claims, your committee suggests that the following be substituted for Article III, section 6:
“Unless notice of loss or damage and the general nature of such loss or damage be given in writing to the carrier or his agent at the port of discharge within 10 days after the delivery of the goods into the custody of the consignee or his agent, or other person entitled to delivery thereof under the contract of carriage, the acceptance of such delivery shall be prima facie evidence of the delivery of the goods as described in the bill of lading: Provided, That should delivery be made to a government agencye. g., a customhouse—the 10 days not to begin to count until such time as the Government agency will allow the goods to be withdrawn by the person entitled to take delivery thereof.
“In any event the carrier and the ship shall be discharged from all liability in respect of loss or damage unless suit is brought within one year after delivery of the goods or the date when the goods should have been delivered.
“In the case of any actual or apprehended loss or damage the carrier and the receiver shall give all reasonable facilities to each other for inspecting and tallying the goods.”' Respectfully submitted.
NORMAN M. WARD,
FEBRUARY 9, 1923. Hon. GEORGE W. EDMONDS,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. Sir: As I find it impossible to attend the hearing on the Hague rules which is scheduled for next Tuesday, I am taking the liberty of again pointing out to you, as I did on May 15, 1922, that the adoption of a uniform ocean contract of carriage appears to be of vital importance to the two organizations which I represent the commercial credit committee of the American Acceptance Council (which will be represented in person by Mr. Robert H. Bean, its executive secretary) and the subcommittee on pilferage and uniform bill of lading of the foreign credit executive committee, National Association of Credit Men.
The situation which I previously pointed out to you continues to exist, and, in fact, recent decisions have tended to heighten the utter confusion which has existed with reference to so many phases of ocean contracts of carriage—that is, banks simply can not regard a documentary foreign draft as affording them absolute security so far as the merchandise is concerned. They also encounter this problem in the extensive commercial credit business they now do by making payments against delivery of documents for account of foreign banks. The net result of this situation is to deprive American shippers of the facility of utilizing merchandise in transit to foreign ports as a basis for bank accommodation. This is, of course, a very severe handicap on the future of American foreign trade, and if there are those who have objections to the Hague rules in their present form they would do well to count whether these objections are, after all, as serious as the situation which would be ended if only some measure of uniformity were an accomplished fact. Very truly yours,
WILBERT WARD. (The hearing was thereupon adjourned.)