Responsibility of the owner
CA Aix-en-Provence, 8 October 2020, n° 17/15404
The Court held that the contractor may refuse to perform the promised service if the information transmitted by his client appears insufficient to perform it.
Furthermore, the Court of Appeal pointed out that the owner, being a handling professional, committed a fault by loading a machine without taking into account an offset of its center of gravity.
A disaster occurring during the marine phase of handling does not automatically engage the responsibility of the marine carrier if the latter has not requested the services of the handler.

Maritime transport of goods

Responsibility of the shipping carrier
Cass. Com, 6 January 2021, n° 18-22. 782
The Court recalls that under Article R. 5422-24 paragraph 1 of the Transport Code, the absence of regular written reservations has the sole effect of obliging the person who intends to engage the responsibility of the maritime carrier to prove that the losses and damages occurred during the maritime transport. In other words, the presumption of compliant delivery by the shipping carrier is not irrefutable.

Typhoon relieving the responsibility of the shipping carrier
T.com Nanterre, 16 September 2020, n°2018F01195
The typhoon of exceptional intensity (warning signal 10) constitutes an exoneration case of responsibility of the shipping carrier and the freight forwarder.


Necessity of a clause of jurisdiction stipulated in the contract of carriage
Cass. civ 1., 30 September 2020, n° 19-16. 866
The practice does not exempt the carrier from proving the existence of the jurisdiction clause it alleges.

Ship status

Vessel seizure
Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence, 29 October 2020, n° 19/19929
The Court of Appeal recalls that the holder of a maritime claim may seize the vessel to which the maritime claim relates, even if the owner has sold it since the inception of the claim.


Hidden defect affecting vessel equipment
Cass. Com., September 23, 2020, n° 15-28598
The buyer may exercise an independent indemnity action against the professional seller when he has suffered the financial consequences of hidden defects affecting the thing sold (e.g. defective equipment of his ship). In this case, the seller must compensate the entire damage suffered by the buyer.


Crew fault
CA Rouen, 30 January 2021, n° 17/01744
In the present case, the cause of the damage was the fault of the crew of the ship who alone was in charge of the positioning and stowage operations on behalf of the charterer in time, so that the responsibility of the shipowner, having all his certificates and armed by a competent crew, cannot be sought because of a defective load.

Charterer’s privilege to travel
Cass. Com., 9 December 2020, n°18-22.477
A voyage charterer who has incurred a series of expenses in order to continue the voyage to the port of destination shall be entitled to the privilege of carriage and the privilege of crew members only to the extent that he can justify the transfer of those privileges. Nor can he avail himself of the privilege to cover the expenses incurred by the master for the purposes of the vessel if those expenses are not incurred under contracts entered into by the master. Nor can the charterer rely on the theory of business management to base his claims and consider them to be privileged on the ship insofar as these expenses were not made in the interest of the bareboat charterer, the owner of the ship, but of the only bareboat charterer/freer on the voyage.


Booking note being a document materializing the maritime transport contract in the same way as a bill of lading
Cass. Com., January 6, 2021, n° 18-15.228
The Court of Cassation recalls that a similar document for the carriage of goods by sea, such as a booking note, is equivalent to a bill of lading for the application of Article 1 (b) of the 1924-1968 Convention.


Captain’s responsibility
Crimea., 24 November 2020, n° 19-87.651
The Court of Cassation recalls that the master is guarantor of the safety of the ship and its crew, the protection of the environment and safety. A As such, he is personally responsible for knowing and enforcing the rules relating to pollution by discharges from ships, including ensuring that the fuel he uses complies with the legislation.

the Classification society

Legal basis for liability action
Cass. Com., November 12, 2020, n° 18-23479
Since the insurer is a third party to the classification contract concluded between a shipowner and a classification society, it can only seek the liability of the classification society in respect of a breach by the latter of its contractual obligations