Maritime Litigation: A Primer on Cargo Claims and Recent Developments


Most cargo disputes arise out of either damage to the goods during shipment, failure to deliver the goods (due to theft, sinking, etc.), or late delivery. The litigation of such claims is almost entirely insurance-driven: the folks whose goods are lost or damaged are typically insured for the loss. It is the cargo insurer who, unable to settle the case on its own, turns to the cargo litigator to pursue a remedy under familiar principles of subrogation.

This paper is designed to provide helpful information to maritime attorneys who are new to cargo litigation, as well as to more experienced cargo practitioners. The paper is structured first as a primer on common carriage; it provides a level of basic information for the new or occasional cargo claims practitioner. However, the paper also includes a review of recent case law affecting cargo litigation, which will hopefully aid the accomplished cargo litigator in navigating the latest decisions affecting carriage of cargo.

It is important to note at the outset what this paper does not cover: private carriage under charter parties or other agreements, international conventions relating to the carriage of cargo, general average, and cargo insurance.

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Shawn Voyles
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin

My practice includes a broad range of civil litigation matters representing clients in federal and... View Profile »

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