Nova Steel Ltd. et al. v. The “Kapitonas Gudin”

In Carriage of Goods by Sea on (Updated )

These cases were for damage to rolled coils carried from Latvia to Montreal. The coils were “pitted”, allegedly by sea water. The Defendants denied liability arguing the damage was caused by the excepted perils of peril of the sea (condensation), act or omission of the shipper (defective packaging) or inherent defect (mill defects in the coils). After reviewing the evidence, the Trial Judge considered whether the Plaintiffs had satisfied their initial burden of proving tender of the cargo in good condition and held that the Plaintiff had not met this burden. In so holding, the Judge noted that the bill of lading was claused “partly rust stained wet before shipment”. Further, there was no evidence of how the cargo was stored before shipment or how it was conveyed to the loading port. The fact that the Plaintiffs had not proven tender of the cargo in good condition did not, however, end the matter. The Judge held the Plaintiffs could still establish liability by showing by a preponderance of evidence that the Defendants were the proximate cause of the damage. The Judge held that the Plaintiffs had met this burden through “overwhelming” evidence that the coils were damaged by exposure to sea salt during the voyage. The Judge found that the Defendant ship was unseaworthy in that it was not watertight and had allowed sea water to enter the holds during the voyage. On the issue of damages, the Defendants challenged the allowances that had been established and agreed between the Plaintiffs and their insurers. The Judge held that these allowances were supported by evidence and represented the loss actually suffered by the Plaintiffs.