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In Perfect Best Asset Management Inc. v. ADL Express Ltd and Another [2021] HKCFI 2310, the plaintiff (P) brought a claim of misdelivery of computer accessories without presentation of the original bills of lading. The first defendant (D1) put forward a number of defences, including a time-bar defence, all of which were unsuccessful. However, although P managed to establish D1’s liability, the court held that P had failed to prove its loss. The court therefore only awarded P nominal damages of HK$1,000.

Summary of facts

P was a manufacturer and seller of computer accessories, while D1 provided logistics services. P placed shipping orders with D1 in respect of computer accessories in seven containers (Cargo). D1 issued seven combined bills of lading (Bs/L) to P as shipper. D1 did not own any vessel and therefore contacted Yang Ming Transport Corp (Yang Ming) to arrange for the carriage of the Cargo. Yang Ming then issued two ocean bills of lading naming D1 as shipper.

D1 and Yang Ming released the Cargo without presentation of any of the original Bs/L (Release). P only learnt of the Release after it had enquired with D1 regarding the Cargo more than one year after the Release. The Cargo was, however, eventually delivered to P’s end buyer, Koodoo Technologies (Buyer), and the Buyer made at least part payment to P.

P commenced legal action against D1 for damages representing the difference between the invoice value of the Cargo and the part payment it had received from the Buyer. The trial was heard by Deputy High Court Judge Whitehead SC (Judge).