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Transportation Case Digest: CIA Maritima v. Insurance Co. of North America (1964)

G.R. No. L-18965        October 30, 1964
Lessons Applicable: Actionable Document (Transportation)

  • October, 1952:  Macleod and Company of the Philippines (Macleod) contracted by telephone the services of the Compañia Maritima (CM), a shipping corporation, for:
    • shipment of 2,645 bales of hemp from the Macleod's Sasa private pier at Davao City to Manila 
    • subsequent transhipment to Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. on board the S.S. Steel Navigator. 
  • This oral contract was later on confirmed by a formal and written booking issued by Macleod's branch office in Sasa and handcarried to CM's branch office in Davao in compliance with which the CM sent to Macleod's private wharf LCT Nos. 1023 and 1025 on which the loading of the hemp was completed on October 29, 1952. 
    • The 2 lighters were manned each by a patron and an assistant patron. 
      • The patrons of both barges issued the corresponding carrier's receipts and that issued by the patron of Barge No. 1025 reads in part:
        • Received in behalf of S.S. Bowline Knot in good order and condition from MACLEOD AND COMPANY OF PHILIPPINES, Sasa Davao, for transhipment at Manila onto S.S. Steel Navigator.
        • FINAL DESTINATION: Boston.
  • Early hours of October 30: LCT No. 1025 sank, resulting in the damage or loss of 1,162 bales of hemp loaded therein
    • Macleod promptly notified the carrier's main office in Manila and its branch in Davao advising it of its liability
  • The damaged hemp was brought to Odell Plantation in Madaum, Davao, for cleaning, washing, reconditioning, and redrying. 
    • total loss adds up to P60,421.02
  • All abaca shipments of Macleod were insured with the Insurance Company of North America against all losses and damages
  • Macleod filed a claim for the loss it suffered with the insurance company and was paid P64,018.55
    • subrogation agreement between Macleod and the insurance company wherein the Macleod assigned its rights over the insured and damaged cargo
  • October 28, 1953.: failing to recover from the carrier P60,421.02 (amount supported by receipts), the insurance company instituted the present action 
  • CA affirmed RTC: ordering CM to pay the insurance co.
ISSUE: W/N there was a contract of carriage bet. CM (carrier) and Macleod (shipper)

HELD: YES. Affirmed
  • receipt of goods by the carrier has been said to lie at the foundation of the contract to carry and deliver, and if actually no goods are received there can be no such contract
    • The liability and responsibility of the carrier under a contract for the carriage of goods commence on their actual delivery to, or receipt by, the carrier or an authorized agent. ... and delivery to a lighter in charge of a vessel for shipment on the vessel, where it is the custom to deliver in that way
    • Whenever the control and possession of goods passes to the carrier and nothing remains to be done by the shipper, then it can be said with certainty that the relation of shipper and carrier has been established
  • As regards the form of the contract of carriage it can be said that provided that there is a meeting of the minds and from such meeting arise rights and obligations, there should be no limitations as to form
    • The bill of lading is not essential
  • Even where it is provided by statute that liability commences with the issuance of the bill of lading, actual delivery and acceptance are sufficient to bind the carrier
  • marine surveyors, attributes the sinking of LCT No. 1025 to the 'non-water-tight conditions of various buoyancy compartments