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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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We requested a door / door rate from a shipping company to

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We requested a door / door rate from a shipping company to transport 1 x 20' container from Moorestown NJ08057 to Braintree CM7 2RN
We received an offer. We then requested a sailing schedule to coincide with a specified load date, two vessel options were supplied by the line.
We then confirmed our booking to the line specifying the vessel required. Twenty four hours from the load appointment the shipping line advised they could not supply a truck to meet the load date. We arranged trucking at our expense and have asked the shipping line to cover the cost accordingly, which is less than their quoted rate. They are not prepared to reimburse this charge and have in fact charged over and above the original door / door rate quoted.
Are we able to take legal action to recover the trucking charges and overcharge?

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

How long ago was this?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Within the last 4 weeks.

OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in court today so will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you.

Many thanks for your patience. The first thing you need to do is check the contract you had signed with the company to see what they are able to do under these terms because that will determine your rights. For example you need to see if there was a cancellation clause which allowed them to cancel the trucking option or which limited their liability in some way. That could potentially limit your right to pursue them for trucking charges because if they had the contractual right to make such a cancellation with such short notice that would have been a contractual right they enjoyed, which you should have been aware of and considered when deciding whether to book them.

The same applies to the overcharge – what are the reasons for such overcharge and was it allowed under contract. Sometimes extra fees could be applied with the provision of services but these need to be detailed in advance and the conditions under which they would apply need to have been satisfied.

Assuming that there was no clause allowing them to do either of these, you can accuse them of acting in breach of contract and pursue them for compensation for any losses or damages incurred as a result of that breach. That is where potential legal action would apply, although that should really be used as a last resort.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to follow should you decide to take this further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ben, your answer was very helpful. In short:-
The shipping lines booking confirmation contains a clause "Booking is subject to Equipment Availability", however this document was not supplied to us by the shipping line. It was sent directly to the US Customs broker only.The overcharge is a result of the rate filing regulations in the USA, the line have to file a rate with the FMC prior to the container arriving on quay otherwise the line have to apply the tariff rate already listed (unknown to us at the time of booking).Upon realization that the line could not provide trucking in time they could have refiled a rate $680.00 less as a CY New York to door Braintree price, which they offered to us after the vessels departure, which they say cannot be applied to our booking as it had not been filed in advance - again unknown to us at the time of booking.

All of these issues should have been highlighted to you at the time of booking so that even if they were possibilities that could affected the service they were offering, at least you should have been aware of them and been given the opportunity to plan in the event they occurred or chosen a different package which better suited your needs. The only issue now is how you take this further, is the company you are pursuing actually based in the US and is there any connection with the UK?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks Ben, they have offices in Southampton and currently have asked us to invoice the additional charges back to them which I hope they will pay in due course, if not I guess it will be small claims / mediation but your answers have been extremely helpful.

yes it would be that route but obviously try the direct negotiation first.

If you have to take this further, then whenever a dispute arises over compensation owed by one party to another, the party at fault can be pursued through the civil courts. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps:

1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the party at fault to voluntarily settle this matter.

2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the party at fault must be sent a formal letter asking them to resolve this amicably within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to pursue the compensation due. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.

3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the other side and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.

Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you once again Ben, should this result in legal action I will revert to you for further paid guidance.Kind Regards
Debbie Tyrie

no problem, you are welcome back any time