Hard time with cargo underwriters in Dakar/Senegal!

Vessel’s arrest without prior notice from Senegalese cargo underwriters

We have experienced great difficulties in Dakar/Senegal where some cargo underwriters do not hesitate to arrest vessel’s for potential cargo damage. They are unpredictable and if they sometimes issue a formal security request they sometimes don’t and serve arrest to the vessel. 

The cargo underwriters refuse to discuss

When they present a security request or serve an arrest on the ship, the cargo underwriters refuse the discussions and they only refer to their surveyor’s discharge figures, without considering the other parties’ findings. They also seem to consider that elements of title to sue are accessory and do not cooperate in providing usual documentation in this respect. 
They may accept Club LoUs issued by our local office – SENEGAL PANDI – providing for local jurisdiction.

Proceedings in Dakar initiated by the cargo underwriters

Once their claim is secured, the cargo underwriters initiate proceedings in Dakar. The writ is served on the agents who – generally speaking – do not in turn inform Owners accordingly. The shipowners are not aware of the proceedings and the Senegalese underwriters usually obtain a judgment in their favor they directly enforce against our Dakar office SENEGAL PANDI

Illegal enforcement generated by the cargo underwriters

The Senegalese cargo underwriters sometimes even take further steps without prior notice. 
We have faced a difficult situation where they managed to freeze our bank account without prior notice to enforce a first instance judgment condemning shipowners to settle a cargo claim.

Our recommendation to improve the situation with cargo underwriters in Dakar

Vessel’s Agents are usually appointed by the Charterers. We have noticed that when they receive a writ of summons, they usually refrain from updating their Principals and neither Charterers nor Owners are aware of the situation. 
We would suggest Owners to insert in the charter party an appropriate liability clause to protect themselves against the financial consequences of such situation. 

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