Introduction of a survey
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Introduction of a survey

THE ROLE OF THE CARGO SURVEYOR


Ever since the early principles of general average, there has existed a need for cargo 

surveyors. It is often perceived that only cargo insurers appoint cargo surveyors. 

However, it must be remembered that all parties involved in the transportation 

and handling of goods ( viz. importers, exporters, ship-owners, P&I clubs, cargo 

insurers, charterers, stevedores, storage contractors or agents ) have the need, 

on occasion, for independent cargo surveyors.


One main factor links all the above potential clients : they all rely heavily on the final 

product of the surveyor ~ the survey report ~ for clarity, accuracy and the knowledge 

that the case has been handled with expertise.


It has been rightly said that the cargo surveyor is the eyes and ears of the clients. 

The appointment of the cargo surveyor is generally considered to be the arrival of 

" the expert ". Whilst an experienced surveyor will be fully acquainted with the 

general principles of surveying,The purposes of the survey are :


- Investigate the nature and extent of damage or loss and to establish the possible 

  cause.

- Assist claimants, without prejudice, on methods necessary to mitigate the loss.

- Issue a factual survey report to enable any liability to be determined by the clients.

- Make recommendations to prevent same type of damage or loss occurring in the 

  future.



GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF SURVEY



Source of instruction

In the first instance a surveyor, when being appointed, should be fully aware of his 

client's involvement, either as cargo insurer, P & I interest, carrier's liability or some 

other contractor.


Without prejudice agreements

The surveyor should always act entirely without prejudice to liability, and in all 

correspondence and communications agreements must be clearly made without 

prejudice.


Joint surveys

Following receipt of instructions, the surveyor should ensure that claimants have 

held all parties concerned responsible. The surveyor should then establish whether 

other surveyors have been appointed so that a joint survey can, if possible, be 

arranged. Local requirements should not be overlooked at the stage. Surveyors 

representing all interests should be given the opportunity to attend a joint survey. 

Failure to issue this invitation could prejudice any claim or recovery action. At joint 

surveys, it is better if surveyors can work together to reach an agreement on quantum 

and cause, as this means subsequent costly litigation can normally be avoided. In all 

discussions, however, surveyors should protect the interests of their particular client 

with on acceptance of liability and should not divulge sensitive information without 

seeking further instructions from their client


The expert

Frequently, on arrival the surveyor is regarded as - the expert - Whilst the surveyor 

may have particular knowledge of certain cargoes and the general procedures in 

respect of survey, he / she may not have the particular expertise necessary for the 

commodity or product he / she is surveying. In such instances it is important that the 

surveyor recognizes his / her limitations and, with the agreement of his / her client, 

appoints an outside expert to assist.


Pre-shipment damage

In instances where the surveyor considers that the cause of a condition found in 

cargo is due to a manufacturing defect, or is of a pre-shipment origin, the claimant 

should told, in order that the appropriate party can be informed to give it the 

opportunity to instruct a surveyor to inspect the cargo on its behalf prior to any 

disposal.


Transit information

Surveyors should at all times endeavor to obtain as much factual information as 

possible at time of survey relating to the transportation of the cargo. Accuracy in 

respect of this information will greatly assist in reaching a conclusion as to when 

or where the damage or loss took place and eventually where the liability falls. As 

a cargo surveyor it is sometime difficult to obtain information from third parties, 

and in such instances, if the information is withheld, a formal request should be made 

in writing to the third party and its surveyors. This letter should be included with the 

cargo surveyor's report.


Method of establishing the extent of loss / depreciation

Here lies the expertise of the surveyor. First, once it has been establish that a loss 

or damage has taken place, the commodity or product is therefore subject to 

depreciation, which can be established by one of the following methods.


1/. Depreciation allowance

2/. Sorting

3/. Reconditioning / repairs

4/. Disposal of goods



Survey report

The survey report is one of the documents on which liability of a party may later be

established. In there circumstances it is important that the surveyor issues an accurate 

report with as much detail as possible regarding the nature and extent of damage and / 

or loss the cause(s) thereof. As much information as possible should also be given 

concerning the packaging as well as details of the transport chain, giving accurate dates 

of transfer of control at any stage during the period of transportation.


In instances where there is multiple damage, i.e. breakage, water damage, etc. the 

surveyors should ensure that they show in their report an apportionment of loss 

against each cause. This information will be of assistance in any future recovery 

action. The surveyor should also make recommendations regarding any improvements 

in methods of packaging, stowage and securing, transportation or warehousing in 

order to prevent a repetition of the damage or loss. Under normal circumstances the 

surveyor's expertise is judged by the reliability of his survey report.

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