A shipping contract, also known as a contract of carriage, is a legally binding agreement between a shipper and a carrier detailing the terms and conditions for transporting cargo from one place to another. It is an essential document that outlines the rights and obligations of both parties to minimize risks and resolve disputes.
Key Elements of a Shipping Contract
Shipping Contract Parties Involved
The shipping contract specifies the full names and addresses of the shipper (the party dispatching the cargo) and the carrier (the party transporting the cargo by land, sea or air). It may also include third parties like freight forwarders, Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs) and warehouse operators.
Description of Goods
The contract provides accurate details about the cargo such as quantity, type, packaging, unique identifying marks, weight and measurement. This is essential to determine freight charges and assess any damages.
Origin and Destination
It states the pick-up and drop-off addresses, ports and/or airports including any transit points in between. Special instructions for multimodal transport are also specified.
The applicable rates for transporting the goods, payment terms, applicable surcharges and other costs are clearly spelled out. References may be made to tariffs or rate sheets for detailed charges.
Liability and Insurance
The contract limits carrier liability for damages and sets compensation amounts. It also indicates if cargo insurance must be procured and who bears the costs.
Expected timeframes for pick-up and delivery are committed along with details on demurrage and detention fees for late operations.
Shipping Contract Additional Clauses
Accepted payment methods, due dates and consequences for delays are specified.
Exemptions are made for delays or non-performance due to unforeseeable circumstances beyond carrier control like weather, political instability etc.
Applicable local, national and international trade laws and conventions like the Hague-Visby Rules are acknowledged.
Agreed mechanism like arbitration or litigation and choice of jurisdiction are lined out in case issues arise.
Key Contract Types
Bill of Lading (B/L)
Used for ocean/sea freight, it serves as a receipt, a document of title and a contract. Its variations include liner B/L, house B/L and marine B/L.
Air Waybill (AWB)
Acts as the contract for air cargo shipments between the shipper and carrier similar to a B/L.
Road Consignment Note (CMR)
Regulates road transport operations across Europe based on the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road.
Multimodal Transport Operator (MTO) Contract
Covers combined shipments using multiple modes like road-sea-road under a single document.
Tips for Shipping Contracts
- Use simple language for clarity
- Avoid ambiguous terms and define all specifications precisely
- Follow standard contract templates and clauses for familiarity
- Get appropriate legal advice before finalizing
- Store documents safely online and offline for future reference
Shipping Contract Parting Words:
A well-drafted shipping contract establishes contractual obligations, minimizes risks and streamlines dispute resolution between supply chain stakeholders.
Regularly reviewing terms helps adapt to changing market dynamics. With global trade growing complex, such agreements ensure seamless transportation of cargo as per expectations.