There are very specific periods within which a claim must be notified to the respective parties, failing which a claim may be prejudiced and, on occasion be entirely rejected. In terms of common law principals, there are very specific periods within which a claim can be pursued. If the matter is not resolved within this period and action is not taken to interrupt the time bar, then all rights and actions that a claimant may have are extinguished. Typically, in terms of South African Law, claims become time barred after three years for normal civil actions. Each country has differing legislation catering for time bars and it is essential that claims be finalised within these prescribed periods. Local and international laws that allow contracting parties to reduce the Prescription periods further exacerbate the problem. As a result, there are a number of varying time periods that need to be taken into consideration on any claim. As a general rule of thumb, Shipping and South African Laws apply the following periods:

o General Civil Actions 3 Years
o Shipping Claims for losses at sea 1 Year
o Shipping claims for losses on land 6 months, 9 months or 1 year
o Airfreight claims 2 Years

The following schedules provide detail that is more specific in this regard

Break Bulk / Containerised CargoNotification PeriodPrescription Period
Full Container Loads (FCL) / Break Bulk Consignments (Port to Port)


3 Days is the theoretical time period - in practice and in terms of Carriers' Bs/L, notification should be made:

  • On release of the cargo from their custody for visible damages;
  • Within 3 days for hidden damages


In general:

1 year provided that Hague, Hague Visby rules apply;· sometimes may be 9 months if the terms and conditions of a Carriers' B/L applies i.e. Hague / Hague Visby rules do not apply


Full Container Load (FCL) ) / Break Bulk Consignments (Combined Transport)

3 Days from date of delivery by Carrier - in practice and in terms of Carriers' Bs/L, notification should be made:

  • on release of the cargo from their custody for visible damages;
  • within 3 days for hidden damages
  • Usually 9 Months
  • Can be in accordance with subcontractors Standard Trading Condition Time Limitations which is generally 6 to 9 months
Part Container Loads / LCL / Groupage Shipments

3 days is the theoretical time period - in practice and in terms of Carriers' Bs/L, notification should be made:

  • on release of the cargo from Carriers' / Unpack Depots' custody for visible damages;
  • within 3 days for hidden damages
  • 9 Months


Container Depots

Notification PeriodPrescription Period
  • SACD – South African Container Depots,
  • CMC – Confreight Cargo Management Centre
  • Thrutainers

Subject to terms and conditions of the contract of carriage / appointment of the depot but usually notification should be made:

  • on release of the cargo from their custody for visible damages / discrepancies by means of endorsement of the relevant cargo delivery note (DRO);
    AND
  • written notification within 60 days confirming any loss;
  • 60 days for Container Operators once they have been made aware of any such loss.
  • 1 Year and 30 days after incident resulting in the loss


Haulage Contractors
Notification PeriodPrescription Period
Generally subject to contract of carriage

Notification periods are particularly short and require written notification within 24 to 48 hours of being notified of the loss

To be safe, notification should be made:

  • on release of the cargo from their custody for visible damages / discrepancies by means of endorsement of the relevant cargo delivery note (POD);

AND/OR where notified of a loss but no cargo has been delivered

  • written notification within 24 hours to 7 days (depending on the contractor) for domestic transport

AND/OR

written notification within 24 hours to 14 days (depending on the contractor) for international transport

3 Years from date of loss


Spoornet Notification Period Prescription Period
  • CX (Containerisation)
  • TX (Break-Bulk)

No specific time limit of notification is indicated, however, their STC's are worded as follows:
"It will be in the interests of the claimant to IMMEDIATELY report discrepancy, loss or damage to Spoornet telephonically in order to arrange for inspection of the goods, and to obtain an incident number from Spoornet."

In practice, notification should be made:· on release of the cargo from their custody for visible damages;

  • within 7 days for hidden damages
  • A fully priced claim is to be submitted within 180 days from the date when the goods ought to have reached or reached their final destination.

In general:

  • Priced claim to be lodged within 180 days
  • True Prescription period is 3 Years
  • PX

Notification should be made:

  • on release of the cargo from their custody
  • 3 Years


Airfreight (per IATA Carriers) Notification PeriodPrescription Period
Damages

Usually notification should be made:

  • Visible damages / discrepancies - on release of the cargo from their custody by means of endorsement of the relevant cargo delivery note / Bill of Entry and a test mass should be taken;

OR

  • For hidden damages - written notification within:
    • 7 days for baggage;
    • 14 days for cargo;

OR

  • For short landing -written notification within 120 days

OR

  • For delay - written notification within 21days
· 2 Years
 
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