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What are the 17 Hague/COGSA defenses?

Learn more about the 17 Hague/COGSA defenses.The Hague/COGSA Act was developed to protect vessel owners against legal liability to shippers for circumstances out of their control. It was conceived during the post World War I era when vessel owners had little jurisdiction over their ships once they left port. COGSA, the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, limits vessel owner’s liabilities to US$500 per shipping unit. It also relieves all their liability to shippers in 17 situations known as the Hague/COGSA Defenses. This means shippers have no legal recourse against vessel owners when their goods are lost or damaged by these 17 causes.

The 17 Hague/COGSA Defenses

Neither the carrier nor the ship shall be responsible for loss or damage arising or resulting from:

  1. Act, neglect, or default of the master, mariner, pilot, or the servants of the carrier in the navigation or in the management of the ship;
  2. Fire, unless caused by the actual fault or privity of the carrier;
  3. Perils, danger, and accidents of the sea or of other navigable waters;
  4. Act of God;
  5. Act of war;
  6. Act of public enemies;
  7. Arrest or restraint of princes, rulers, or people or seizure under legal process;
  8. Quarantine restrictions;
  9. Act or omission of the shipper or owner of the goods, his agent or representative;
  10. Strikers, lockouts, stoppage or restraint of labor from whatever cause, whether partial or general: Provided that nothing herein contained shall be construed to relieve a carrier from responsibility for the carrier’s own acts;
  11. Riots and civil commotions;
  12. Saving or attempting to save life or property at sea;
  13. Wastage in bulk or weight or any other loss or damage arising from inherent defect, quality, or vice of the goods;
  14. Insufficiency of packaging;
  15. Insufficiency or inadequacy of marks;
  16. Latent defects not discoverable by due diligence; or
  17. Any other cause arising without the actual fault and privity of the carrier without the fault or neglect of the agents or servants of the carrier, but the burden of proof shall be on the person claiming the benefit of this exception to show that neither the actual fault or privity of the carrier nor the fault or neglect of the agents or servants of the carrier contributed to the loss or damage.
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