For the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, Section 10 (Dealer Duties) of the DRC Trading Standards is considered the default practice for making a timely and proper claim. It is important to recognize that these are the guidelines which must be followed when the shippers/sellers and receivers/buyers have not established their own specifications for such actions. Numbers 1 – 3 of Section 10 outline the procedures a receiver must follow when a load is received in deteriorated condition while 4 -7 state a shipper’s responsibilities prior to and while loading the shipment.
Numbers 1 – 3
A receiver who wants to reject a load received in deteriorated condition must request a government inspection (unless there is an agreement for a private survey) within 8 working hours, exclusive of Sundays and holidays. Within 3 hours of receipt of the inspection report, the receiver must share the results of the inspection report and advise the shipper/seller that they reject the product.
If the intention is to keep the product, the inspection results must be shared within 24 hours and every reasonable effort to market that product as soon as is practicable under the circumstances must be undertaken.
Once a receiver has secured evidence of a breach of contract or that the load failed to meet DRC Good Arrival Guidelines, the receiver has the right to claim damages. Unless the shipper/seller and the receiver/buyer renegotiate a new way to handle the product (such as consignment or repacking), a receiver who is in possession of a damaged load is only entitled to claim damages. This section also requires the receiver to secure a dump certificate if more than 5% of the load is going to be dumped. This differs from Section 9 which requires an inspection showing that the product has no commercial value when dumping more than 5% of the load. What these two sections indicate is that both of these documents (ie: dump certificate and inspection demonstrating no commercial value) are needed to back up a receiver’s claim.
Numbers 4 – 7
The shipper must load the product in such a way that it will meet contract terms or DRC Good Arrival Guidelines under normal transit time and temperature at the named destination. Some of these procedures include properly securing the load, ensuring appropriate air circulation and temperature compatibility when there are multiple commodities within a single shipment. DRC Transportation Standards cover in detail the responsibilities of the shipper and the carrier at point of loading.