Kanematsu GMBH v. Acadia Shipbrokers Limited et al.

In Carriage of Goods by Sea on (Updated )

This was an appeal from a motion in which the Plaintiff was granted summary judgment against the Defendant charterers for having induced the ship owner to deliver up the cargo to a third party without proper presentation of the bill of lading. The Defendants argued that the case was not appropriate for summary judgment as the facts were too complex. The motions judge, however, held that the fundamental issue was whether the cargo had been delivered without the surrender of the original bill of lading. As this was admitted, summary judgment was granted. On appeal, the Federal Court of Appeal set aside the order for summary judgment. The Court of Appeal held that the Defendants were not the ship owner and therefore were not prima facie liable for delivery of the cargo without proper presentation of the bill of lading. The case against the Defendants was for inducing breach of contract by the shipowner. This required proof that: (1) the Defendants knew there was a contract; (2) they induced its breach; and, (3) damages were suffered as a consequence. The Court of Appeal held that there was a real doubt whether the Defendants had knowledge of a contract between the Plaintiff, as holder of the bill of lading, and the shipowner. Further, the Court of Appeal thought there was doubt about whether the Defendants intended to induce a breach of the contract. These were serious factual issues which required a trial on the merits.