H. Paulin & Co. Ltd. v. A Plus Freight Forwarder Co. Ltd.

In Carriage of Goods by Sea on (Updated )

The issue in this case was whether the receiver of cargo under “freight Pre-paid” bills of lading was liable for non-payment of freight. The parties were: H. Paulin, the receiver/consignee; A Plus, a local forwarder who issued bills of lading and was held to be a NVOCC; Scanwell, a forwarder who had contracted with A Plus and who issued “freight prepaid” forwarders receipts; and OOCL, the ocean carrier, who had been hired by Scanwell. H. Paulin paid freight to A Plus and Scanwell paid freight to OOCL but A Plus did not pay Scanwell’s freight bill. Scanwell claimed the freight against H. Paulin. The first issue was the meaning of the term “freight prepaid”. The Court noted that, although the statement would not preclude an action for freight as between Scanwell and A Plus (the carrier and shipper), the statement was effective to prevent either a claim in rem against the cargo or in personam against H. Paulin. The Court next considered whether principles of agency could apply to make H. Paulin liable for the freight, however, it was held that A Plus acted as principal for its own account. Accordingly, Scanwell’s claim against H. Paulin was dismissed.