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Accidents Preventing the Loading

Law and Sea.
Obligation to load and later to discharge the goods.

At common law the obligation to load, stow and discharge the cargo rests solely on the shipowner, but due to the fact that the loading is a particular operation in which both parties have to concur, the shipowner’s duty does not begin until the goods are under his charge.

Last updated: 21-Jun-2015

Per Earl of Selborne LC, giving the main speech in Grant v Coverdale, Todd Co (1884) 9 App Cas 470 at 475-476:

There are two things to be done – the operation of loading is the particular operation in which both parties have to concur. Taken literally it is spoken of in the early part of this charterparty as the thing which the shipowner is to do. The ship is to "proceed to Cardiff East Bute Dock, and there load the cargo." No doubt, for the purpose of loading, the charterer must also do his part; he must have the cargo there to be loaded, and tender it to be put on board the ship in the usual and proper manner. Therefore the business of both parties meets and concurs in that operation of loading. When the charterer has tendered the cargo, and when the operation has proceeded to the point at which the shipowner is to take charge of it, everything after that is the shipowner’s business, and everything before the commencement of the operation of loading, those things which are so essential to the operation of loading that they are conditions sine quibus non of that operation – everything before that is the charterer’s part only.

Per Longmore J in The Apostolis (2) [1999] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 292 at p.300:

Once it is established that loading and stowage are the responsibility of the merchant it must follow that the merchant must do the operation of loading and stowing with reasonable care. That is a constructional implication of the type recognized in LC. There is no point in imposing an obligation on one party or another to a contract if he is to be allowed to perform that obligation in a careless manner.

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