Allchem Industries Industrial v. CMA CGM Florida (Vessel)

In Admiralty Practice, Service on (Updated )

Précis: The court held that service of a statement of claim on a freight forwarder, who sometimes acted as agent for the defendant and who was identified as an agent on the defendant’s website, was valid service.

Facts: The plaintiffs were the owners of cargo loaded on the “CMA CGM Florida”. The cargo was damaged when the vessel was involved in a collision. The plaintiffs purported to serve the statement of claim on Topocean, one of the defendants, by serving a freight forwarder. The freight forwarder sometimes acted as agent for Topocean but had not acted as such in relation to the cargo on the “CMA CGM Florida” or in relation to any services ever rendered to the plaintiffs. Topocean brought this application to set aside the service.

Decision: Motion dismissed.

Held: Given the admission of Topocean that the freight forwarder is an agent for shipments with a Canadian connection, it is clear that the forwarder carries on some integral part of Topocean’s business in Canada. The fact that the forwarder was not utilized in this capacity for this shipment is not important. Further, the forwarder considered it had a duty to bring the statement of claim to the attention of Topocean and promptly forwarded the document. Additionally, Topocean’s website identifies the forwarder as an agent. “Topocean has put forward no evidence to contradict the impression created by the website’s statements.” Accordingly, the service is valid.