QLD Right to Documents and Receive Goods - Can ECU Worldwide Refuse?

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Rick Francis

Active Member
18 December 2018
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I am acting as agent for my brother to pick up Unaccompanied Personal Effects sent sea freight from Vancouver CA to Brisbane Port.

Two companies are involved.

1. Go World Cargo (GWC), who was engaged by my brother to ship the goods from Vancouver.
2. ECU Worldwide, international cargo & air freight logistics company engaged by GWC to ship the goods.

ECU will not release final documents to me to allow pick up of the goods as they claim that GWC Canada has incurred an outstanding debt with the ECU office Canada. As far as I have been informed, this debt is NOT related to the goods in question here.

My brother has paid all shipping fees to GWC. I have paid all Brisbane Port Fees as invoiced by ECU

Can ECU refuse me as agent the required documents and therefore the right to pick up the goods even though there is no debt outstanding between either my brother or me and ECU?
 

Rob Legat - SBPL

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16 February 2017
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Probably yes. I'm no expert on this area of law, and it is pretty specialised, but my understanding is that a lien can be brought over the goods (including paperwork) for non-payment of the relevant fees. I suggest you/your brother gets on to GWC and require they sort out the issue.
 

Scruff

Well-Known Member
25 July 2018
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NSW
Just a thought, and I state now that I have no idea if this would even be possible...

1. talk to ECU to see if they would be willing to release if you pay them the relevant charges directly (what was already paid to GWC) and if they agree,
2. talk to your bank to see if they can cancel a portion of the payment to GWC (the amount from #1) based on the agreement with ECU, and if they can
3. set it all up and deal with ECU directly.

I think this would really come down to how the original payment was made and what the bank can and can't do.

I doubt that ECU wants to hold peoples goods indefinately, because eventually it will become a huge logistical problem. So I would think that they would want to help you if they can.
 
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Rick Francis

Active Member
18 December 2018
6
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31
Thanks to both Rob and Scruff...
Yeppers, have spoken to GWC and they state that there is no debt outstanding with ECU. You don't need to be psychic to know what ECUs response is... (you guessed it, they claim there is a debt owed). Though not stated I understand that the debt is in 5 or 6 figures so paying it is not an option. As stated above The claimed debt IS NOT ASSOCIATED with the goods my brother has shipped, so no point in changing the payments already made to GWC.
Advice from QLD Legal Aid is that this is a Maritime Law problem and very specialised.
Thanks again guys, I'll keep searching for a resolution.
 

Scruff

Well-Known Member
25 July 2018
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2,389
NSW
Reading your post again, there's something that I don't get...
My brother has paid all shipping fees to GWC. I have paid all Brisbane Port Fees as invoiced by ECU.

Can ECU refuse me as agent the required documents and therefore the right to pick up the goods even though there is no debt outstanding between either my brother or me and ECU?
If ECU's only involvement in your case has been paid for directly by you, then my answer to the question would be "no". That would be akin to a mechanic withholding every customer's vehicle because one customer hasn't paid. You can't do that.

So I'm obviously missing something. Can anyone clarify?
 

Scruff

Well-Known Member
25 July 2018
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126
2,389
NSW
In regard to this:
talk to ECU to see if they would be willing to release if you pay them the relevant charges directly (what was already paid to GWC)
and this:
I understand that the debt is in 5 or 6 figures so paying it is not an option
Just to clarify, I wasn't talking about GWC's debt, I was talking about the amount your brother paid GWC and the portion of that that GWC paid ECU (if any). In other words, see if ECU would co-operate by taking GWC out of the transaction, if you get what I mean. Obviously your brother didn't pay 5 or 6 figures to transport "personal effects". ;)

I'm now more confused as to whether or not GWC even paid anything to ECU in this case, as you paid ECU directly. If there was no financial transaction between GWC and ECU in relation to your particular case, then I don't see how they can withhold.
 

Rick Francis

Active Member
18 December 2018
6
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31
Hey Scruff, just to clarify..
Brother paid GWC to ship goods Canada to Aust, paid in full. GWC engage ECU as shipping agent to attend to the task, paid in full. Goods get to Aust and I contact ECU to get required Docs to pick up goods and pay BNE Port Fees as invoiced by ECU, paid in full.
At some stage in Canada.... ECU claim that GWC has an outstanding debt in regards to some other piece of business. ECU Aust informed by ECU Canada that....

DIRECT QUOTE FROM ECU EMAIL" This client has payment issue with us and that’s why all their shipments are on hold." the client being referred to here is GWC

Common sense tells me that what is happening is not only wrong but not legal to boot... Experience tells me that common sense has very little to do with the Law... :) I have an inquiry in with the ACCC but that will probably not be answered this side of 2019.
 

Rick Francis

Active Member
18 December 2018
6
0
31
In regard to this:

and this:

Just to clarify, I wasn't talking about GWC's debt, I was talking about the amount your brother paid GWC and the portion of that that GWC paid ECU (if any). In other words, see if ECU would co-operate by taking GWC out of the transaction, if you get what I mean. Obviously your brother didn't pay 5 or 6 figures to transport "personal effects". ;)

I'm now more confused as to whether or not GWC even paid anything to ECU in this case, as you paid ECU directly. If there was no financial transaction between GWC and ECU in relation to your particular case, then I don't see how they can withhold.
Pls see response on clarification..
 

Scruff

Well-Known Member
25 July 2018
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NSW
Okay, got it now. So ECU actually did the shipping which means that there would have been a payment from GWC to ECU in regard to your shipment.

What a mess.

This may be of interest. Perhaps one of the lawyers (accepting that they don't specialize in this area) may be able to explain it. (I don't understand a lot of the terminology.)

Of particular interest is the author's conclusion at #2 under the heading "What does this mean?"
Limiting foreign influences on Australian maritime liens - SV Partners

I would be interested to know if they have stopped the ship from leaving port and if not, if it is still legal to withold cargo. From the little i've read and actually understood, a maritime lien must include the ship.
 
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Scruff

Well-Known Member
25 July 2018
818
126
2,389
NSW
I would be interested to know if they have stopped the ship from leaving port and if not, if it is still legal to withold cargo. From the little i've read and actually understood, a maritime lien must include the ship.
Actually scratch that - if ECU did the shipping then it wouldn't be GWC's ship.

Can a maritime lien even exist if GWC is only an agent and not directly involved in the actual shipping? The more I think about this the more confusing it gets.