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Maersk Line wins US$1m claim against Falcon Foods

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FALCON FOODS (PVT) LTD will part with over US$1 million in demurrage charges after failing to collect its goods shipped by a leading shipment and logistics company, Maersk Line, from the port of delivery.

Maersk Line is a Danish international container shipping company and the largest operating subsidiary of Maersk, a Danish business conglomerate.

 The company is incorporated in accordance with the laws of Denmark while defendant is a company duly incorporated in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe. The company issued summons against Falcon Foods, claiming payment of demurrage charges in the sum of US$632 580 or its Zimbabwe dollar equivalent at the inter-bank exchange rate.

 Falcon Foods had failed to collect its goods from the port of delivery upon the lapse of the agreed period of collection. Maersk also claimed inland haulage charges in the sum of US$41 265. The inland haulage charges were incurred by Falcon for the shipment of its goods from Beira Port in Mozambique to Harare, Zimbabwe.

 The plaintiff also claimed interest on the above-mentioned sums of money, collection commission, and costs of suit. Court papers show that sometime in 2018, the parties entered into an agreement for the transportation of Falcon’s goods by sea from Port Qasim in Pakistan to Harare.

 Maersk performed its side of the bar[1]gain and the goods arrived in Harare on various dates between 18 September 2018 and 6 November 2018. Falcon Foods did not collect its goods within the stipulated 21 days, causing the demurrage charges to begin to accrue on the 22nd day until the goods were collected in April 2020.

At the trial, it emerged that in issue between the parties is only the currency of payment of the demurrage charges owing or the applicable rate of exchange between the US$ and the ZW$ thereto. Falcon rightly conceded that Maersk had the right of lien over its goods.

Parties had agreed that all sums pay[1]able to the carrier are due on demand, and shall be paid in full in US dollars or, at the carrier’s option, in its equivalent in the currency of the loading or of dis[1]charge or the place of receipt or of delivery or as specified in the carrier’s tariff.

” In all probability, it is on the basis of clause 16.3 that the inland haulage charges were paid in South Africa and in the rand currency. In delivering his judgement, Justice Bongani Ndlovu sitting at the Harare High Court said it is important to note and appreciate that this contract was concluded outside Zimbabwe, in Paki[1]stan, and that the plaintiff is a foreign company.

“It is trite law that courts should respect the contract made by the parties and give effect to it. The defendant’s contention that because the demurrage took place in Zimbabwe this was therefore a local transaction falling within the purview of Statutory Instrument 33/19 making the obligation payable in ZW$ at a rate of 1:1 to the US$ is un[1]tenable and must be evacuated without further ado.”

 “Plaintiff [in the main matter), therefore, succeeds in its claim for demurrage charges as amended which charges had accrued to the amount of US$I 307 000 at the date when the goods were released and the Defendant fails in its counter-claim and it is ordered as fol[1]lows: – “Defendant shall pay Plaintiff the sum of US$1 307 000 or its ZW$ equivalent at the inter-bank exchange rate applicable at the time of payment being demurrage charges due and owing to plaintiff by defendant,” he ruled. — STAFF WRITER.

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