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Gard Guidance on Bills of Lading

4.2. CARGO INTENDED TO BE SHIPPED ON DECK

If it is intended to ship cargo on deck, the Master should be fully satisfied either that it is a custom of the trade, e.g. containers on a purpose built containership or lumber on a purpose built log carrier, or it is a statutory obligation, e.g. dangerous cargo, or has been agreed with the shipper. If the cargo is carried on deck in any other circumstances, the carrier may be in breach of the contract of carriage and may consequently lose the right to rely on certain contractual exceptions, e.g. for loss or damage to the goods. The carrier may also lose the right to limit liability for claims in respect of such loss or damage and P&I cover. Clauses which seek to relieve the carrier from all liability for deck carriage will normally not protect the carrier from unauthorised deck carriage. Whilst bills of lading may provide that the carrier has a liberty or right to carry cargo on deck, Courts will normally restrict the carrier’s right to rely on such provisions. If the Master has any doubt as to whether the carrier has a right to carry cargo on deck he should contact the Company.