A Freight Forwarder provides services to businesses that send packages, goods, containers, and other merchandise from one place to another. Forwarders often act on behalf of importers and exporters to get their client’s goods to their destination, both on time and in good condition. This could include booking cargo with shipping lines and airlines, as well as by rail or road carriers.
When a company or individual is entrusted with someone else’s goods, they take on a legal responsibility for taking all the necessary steps to protect and preserve that consignment, making them liable to the owner for any subsequent damage or loss to the goods. The forwarder is legally entitled to limit the amount they are liable for, provided this has been agreed upon in advance.
When goods are lost or damaged, it’s possible that, during the transportation, someone was negligent, and there is likely to be a demand for compensation. While the damage or loss might not have been the fault of the forwarder, they will still be found liable. A policy can, and should, be purchased that protects forwarders in the event that a claim is filed.
Freight Forwarders take on many obligations
There are instances where forwarders have their own road transport and may carry the goods themselves. Among a forwarder’s responsibilities is the preparation of bills of carriage, arranging insurance, and where necessary, arranging storage. This often involves a journey of several thousand miles, and may require using more than one mode of transportation.
The client should be aware of the forwarder’s trading conditions in order to make sure the client and the forwarder fully understand and agree on their responsibilities in the transportation process. This needs to be done before details of the contract are agreed upon, ideally when the forward is providing a quote for his or her services.
Trading conditions generally establish the circumstances under which any service may be provided and limits the forwarder’s liability in the event of a claim; however, failure to do this could leave the forwarder with unlimited liability, which would likely prove to be costly.
Trading conditions also include making sure the client knows their goods are not automatically insured, providing safeguards to help make sure the forwarder is paid once the job is done, and protecting the Freight Forwarder if the client fails to fully disclose the contents of a consignment, (for example, hazardous material or goods of an exceptionally high value).