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Bill of Lading, Nature of

Fraudulent Representation

Good Order (Apparent Good Order)

Law and Sea.
Bill of Lading. Fraudulent Representation - Date, Cargo Quantity & Quality Statements

It is necessary to remember that, when the master issues a bill of lading containing cargo figures or description which he knows to be false, he issues dishonest bill and by doing so, makes fraudulent representation for which an action for deceit will most probably lie.

The RETLA clause
Last updated: 06-Oct-2014

Per Simon J in Breffka & Hehnke GmbH & Co KG & Ors v Navire Shipping Co Ltd & Ors [2012] EWHC 3124 (Comm) at para 44:

RETLA CLAUSE: If the Goods as described by the Merchant are iron, steel, metal or timber products, the phrase ‘apparent good order and condition’ set out in the preceding paragraph does not mean the Goods were received in the case of iron, steel or metal products, free of visible rust or moisture or in the case of timber products free from warpage, breakage, chipping, moisture, split or broken ends, stains, decay or discoloration. Nor does the Carrier warrant the accuracy of any piece count provided by the Merchant or the adequacy of any banding or securing. If the Merchant so requests, a substitute Bill of Lading will be issued omitting this definition and setting forth any notations which may appear on the mate’s or tally clerk’s receipt.

The RETLA clause can and should be construed as a legitimate clarification of what was to be understood by the representation as to the appearance of the steel cargo upon shipment. It should not be construed as a contradiction of the representation as to the cargo’s good order and condition, but as a qualification that there was an appearance of rust and moisture of a type which may be expected to appear on any cargo of steel: superficial oxidation caused by atmospheric conditions. The exclusion of ‘visible rust or moisture’ from the representation as to the good order and condition is thus directed to superficial appearance of a cargo which is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid. It is likely to form the basis of a determination as to whether there has been a further deterioration due to inherent quality of the goods on shipment under s.4(2)(m) of US COGSA, or Article 4(2)(m) of the Hague-Visby Rules.

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