This is because shippers are not in the business of making claims but rather of making “widgets, beer” and other products, he added, so owners should look for the “earliest possible evidence” that shows exactly when the damage took place.
“Shipowners know this and will be asking questions left, right and centre,” declared Newman, who noted that proving a loss and recovery of claims cannot be sought in isolation.
“This may involve the need to appoint an appropriate expert surveyor, which can be costly, but is worth it,” he said. “What they are interested in is recovering the entire chain of supply.”
A credit crunch will bring an upturn in larger claims, he cautioned, so “getting the right surveyors at the right place at the right time” is crucial, with one loss possibly ending up sparking in multiple recoveries.
Further, unless the right authorities are hired within 24 hours of a cargo loss, contractual terms can become ambiguous, he added. Over time, the burden of proof becomes negligible – particularly if a party becomes insolvent.