QCR Autumn 2020: The Chairman, Board of Trustees, Cochin Port Trust v M/S Arebee Star Maritime Agencies Pvt. Ltd. & Ors.


The Supreme Court of India decides that ports have to look to consignees and their agents - not shipowners and their agents - for storage and demurrage charges incurred in respect of uncollected/ abandoned cargo

Cargo left uncollected at terminals, particularly during economic recessions when buyers walk away from unwanted purchases, has always been a big problem for the parties involved in the supply chain including the container terminals, the container lines, the lines’ local agents and cargo interests.

We have seen an escalation in this problem during the current Covid-19 pandemic. The strain on ports’ ability to clear out the abandoned cargo and to return empty containers to the lines promptly has led to disputes over inter alia storage, demurrage and handling charges.

The Supreme Court of India has now helpfully clarified several questions of law relating to the parties’ responsibilities, and hence liabilities for such charges.  

Jacqueline Tan

Legal Services Manager