Polidano Brothers Ltd awarded €131,000 in damages

Polidano Brothers Ltd was awarded the sum of more than €131,000 in damages after metal bars imported from the Port of Antwerp arrived in Malta corroded.

Polidano Brothers was awarded damages after receiving a shipment of unusable goods 16 years ago.

On 23 October 1998, Polidano Brothers Ltd imported 120 bundles of metal bars, weighing 300 tons, from Lamines Marchands Europeens. The material was transported to Malta onboard the vessel MV LIPA 143VIS, belonging to Valletta Freight Services Limited. However when the shipment was unloaded Polidano Brothers Ltd realised that the metal was rusted and corroded, making the material unusable.

The company filed for damages against J.P. Baldacchino & Co Limited as agents for Lamines Marchands Europeens, The Cargo Handling Co. Ltd and Valletta Freight Services Limited.

Court appointed expert engineer Kenneth Abela told the court that the steel bars he examined showed that the rusting was too extensive to have been formed during shipment. In addition, no sign of the usual oil protection was visible. This omission would have added to the deterioration of the product.

Daniel Bury, financial controller of Lamines Marchands Europeens, submitted a sworn declaration giving details of the shipment. “The material listed as ‘Polidano’s order’ was collected from our warehouse by truck to the port of Antwerp. This operation was carried out between the 25 September and 1 October of 1998.

However for reasons unknown the vessel on schedule to load Polidano material was delayed, with the MV LIPA leaving Antwerp on 31 October 1998.

“After the departure of the vessel, the company was informed that the Mate’s receipt was claused with the remark ‘rusty’ and that the goods had been loaded on the ship’s deck. The company protested against this clause, which did not describe the exact external condition of the goods.

"Following the protest, the Master of MV LIPA agreed to modify the remark into ‘partly rust stained’. Such clause for steel sections is considered normal”, the financial controller explained.

Madam Justice Lorraine Schembri Orland ruled that based on the evidence exhibited in the proceedings, The Cargo Handling Company Ltd, had very little to do with the case and was simply responsible for the unloading of the material from the ship. The Judge cleared the company of any legal responsibility in the case.

However, the Civil Court found J.P. Baldacchino & Co Limited, as agents for Lamines Marchands Europeens, and Valletta Freight Services Limited responsible for the losses incurred by the importing company. The two companies were ordered to pay between them the sum of €131,023.78 in damages to Polidano Brothers Ltd

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