Shippers paying to free stranded Hanjin containers

Shippers will incur extra cost and inconvenience to rescue thousands of containers transported by Hanjin Shipping and stranded on ships refused entry to ports or held by terminals reluctant to release the cargo until payment is made. Getting their containers released by terminals that are performing services in advance of being paid, and then re-booking the cargo and transporting it on other carriers will be a costly exercise, something that was not going down well with shippers in Asia.

Sunny Ho, executive director of the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council, advised shippers to urgently seek legal advice and prepare to confront terminal operators. He said shippers have had bad experiences from bankruptcies in the past, where terminal operators withheld containers and asked for “ridiculous” amounts before release. “Terminal operators and any other creditors should know that shipping lines are not beneficial cargo owners and it is not right, including from the legal aspect, for them to withhold cargo,” he said. A maritime lawyer confirmed that creditors have no claim to the cargo inside a container.