Canadian Pacific Forest Products Limited et al. v. The "Beltimber" et al.

In Carriage of Goods by Sea on (Updated )

This was an appeal from a decision of the Trial Division. The case involved the loss of a part cargo of lumber carried on deck from Canada to Europe. The bills of lading were claused "on deck at shipper’s risk" and clause 8 of the bill of lading was a "liberty" clause which specifically allowed the carrier to stow goods on deck. It provided that: "Goods stowed on deck shall be at all times and in every respect at the risk of the shipper/consignees. The carrier shall in no circumstances whatsoever be under any liability for loss of or damage to deck cargo, howsoever the same may be caused…". The Plaintiff argued, inter alia, that this clause did not protect the carrier as it did not include an express reference to negligence. The trial judge agreed with the Plaintiff and further noted that the express references to negligence in the "Both to Blame" and "Transshipment" clauses of the bill of lading implied negligence was not excluded in clause 8. On appeal, the Federal Court of Appeal agreed with the Trial Judge that negligence was not excluded. The Federal Court of Appeal held that the liability of a carrier of goods by sea is not confined to acts of negligence. Such a carrier is liable for failing to deliver the goods safely and for breach of the implied warranty of seaworthiness as well as for negligence. Because of the existence of these other heads of liability, the failure to include an express reference to negligence in the exclusion clause was fatal. The Federal Court of Appeal expressly distinguished the case of Mackay v Scott Packing and Warehousing Co., [1996] 2 F.C. 36 (C.A.) in which a similarly worded clause was held sufficient to exclude liability for negligence. In doing so, the court noted that the Defendants in the Mackay case were freight forwarders who did not have the common law liabilities of a carrier by sea.