Précis: A defendant carrier cannot limit liability where it is aware of the value of the goods, represented it had sufficient insurance and the bill of lading referred to an invoice containing the value of the goods.
The plaintiff hired the defendant to transport goods by truck from Toronto to Calgary. The goods were stolen while in transit and the plaintiff commenced this proceeding to recover the value of the goods. During discussions between the plaintiff and defendant, the plaintiff advised the defendant the goods had a value of between $250,000 and $263,000 and inquired whether the defendant had sufficient insurance. The defendant confirmed there was sufficient insurance.On the day of the shipment a bill of lading was filled out by the plaintiff to which was attached an invoice showing the value of the goods to be $263,000. The plaintiff’s bill of lading was given to the defendant but the defendant also filled out its own bill of lading which referenced the invoice number. The defendant’s bill of lading was signed by both parties.Neither bill of lading contained a declaration of the value of the goods. The main issue in the case was whether the defendant could limit its liability to $4.41 per kilogram as provided in the applicable Ontario regulations. The limitation amount would have been approximately $100,000.
Decision: The defendant is liable for the full value of the goods stolen.
Held: The contract of carriage is not limited to the contents of the bill of lading. The contract of carriage includes the oral representation by the defendant as to insurance as well as the bill of lading prepared by the plaintiff and the invoice that was attached to it. A declaration of value need not be set out in the space provided in a bill of lading. The intent is to provide the carrier with notice of the value of the goods. Given that the defendant’s bill of lading contained a reference to the invoice which contained the value of the goods, there was a sufficient declaration of value on the face of the bill of lading and the defendant cannot limit its liability.