TT Club discusses how contracts are all about the detail


DHL arranged carriage of plant material from China to a refinery near Atyrau, Kazakhstan. The cargo was shipped to Novorossiysk, Russia. There DHL contracted with Globalink for it to be towed up the Ural-Caspian Canal on barges to Atyrau and to be taken on to the refinery by road. Globalink was characterised in the contract as forwarding agent arranging the carriage.

One of the two barges employed arrived at Kuryk, at the mouth of the canal, around a fortnight outside the permitted period under the contract, apparently because it was underpowered. It could not continue up the canal because the water level was now too low for its draught. A week later the canal closed for the winter. Three units of cargo were stored at Kuryk under a supplemental agreement between Globalink and DHL, pending re-opening of the canal the following spring. 

Globalink claimed US$1.65 million from DHL for the costs of storage and transport and applied for summary judgement. DHL counterclaimed against Globalink for US$2.37 million, representing the additional storage and transportation costs incurred because the barge did not enter the canal as envisaged in the contract.

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