Note of Protest and Letter of Protest

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What is ‘Note of protest’? In what circumstances, will you note a protest? What all documents will be required?

Note of Protest or a NOP is a solemn declaration under oath by a Ship Master of circumstances beyond his control which have or may have given rise to loss and/or damage to his ship or its cargo or have caused him to take action which may render owners liable to legal action by another party.

A note of protest is issued in the following circumstances:

  1. Suspect cargo damage due to bad weather.
  2. Ship is damaged or suspect damage.
  3. When weather has not allowed to adopt normal precautions related to cargo care e.g. ventilation.
  4. When cargo specific shippers instructions could not be complied with due to reasons beyond control that may have damaged the cargo or changed its properties.
  5. When cargo is shipped in condition that is likely to suffer deterioration during the voyage.
  6. Serious breach of C/P terms.
  7. When consignee fails to take delivery of cargo or pay the freight.
  8. In all cases of general average.

Documents required for a Note of Protest:

  • Copies of Deck & Engine Log Book, OLB entries and Cargo related documentation
  • Photographic evidence
  • Weather reports and forecasts

What is a letter of protest? How does it differ from a NOP? When will you issue it? Is it of any legal importance?

An LOP is a written communication intended to convey and record dissatisfaction concerning some matter over which the recipient has some control & holding the recipient responsible for any legal or financial consequences arising out of the subject matter being complained about.

Letter of ProtestNote of Protest
It is always addressed to a named party. If the recipient refuses to sign LOP, then another LOP can be issued stating that the presented LOP has not been signed.It is always presented to a Notary Party and generally addressed as ―To Whomsoever It May Concern‖. There is no provision for the signature of the recipient.
It should be made as soon as possible after the event has occurred.Protest should be noted as soon as possible certainly within 24 hrs of the arrival in port and in the case of cargo protest before breaking bulk.
Usually no supporting document is required other that facts stated on the LOP itself.Supporting documents required are Deck Logbook pages, Official Logbook pages, weather Reports, any Picture evidences, etc.
Witness signatures are not required. It is signed only by the Master and recipient‘s
signature is taken.
Witness signatures may be required to support the protest.
It is not a sworn statement made under oath.It is a sworn statement made under Oath.

Letter of protest is issued in the following circumstances:

  1. Differences in cargo quantity loaded and nominated (overloaded / short loaded)
  2. Difference in ship and shore figures / BL figure. (Apparent discrepancy)
  3. Rate of Loading/Discharging too slow (restrictions imposed by Terminal)
  4. Berth arrangements inadequate
  5. Non-cooperation from shore workers causing damage
  6. Cargo not loaded in satisfactory condition.
  7. Any delays caused
  8. Any incidents caused during berthing / unberthing
  9. Any other matter causing dissatisfaction.

A letter of protest, strictly speaking, is not a legal document but a paper containing an account of the events or statement of facts, describing current situation or consequences of some wrongful act or acts, which had happened usually contrary to master‘s or crew efforts. It is a one-sided document that may or may not be signed by the party to whom it is issued. However, the LOP‘s are useful as a defense mechanism as it defends the Owner‘s position whenever a claim is brought at a later stage. For example, if there is a claim related to demurrage or other delays put on the vessel, a LOP stating the delays that were on account of the Terminal could be a useful document to improve the Owners position in the claim.

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