COVID-19, Force Majeure, and the Legal and Financial Implications of Utilizing Reefer Shipping Containers
Journal of Transportation Law, Logistics and Policy, Vol. 87, No. 1, pp. 17-37 (2020)
22 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2020 Last revised: 5 Jan 2021
Date Written: 2020
This article begins by discussing the rise of the refrigerated ("reefer") container industry and business model. It is important for readers to understand the growing importance of reefers to U.S. export, and how they contribute to supply chain complexity and port congestion. Next, we address how the Corona Virus (COVID-19) impacted reefer container transport. We then discuss how ocean carriers utilized the Force Majeure doctrine to their advantage in their transport of reefer containers, and the related legal implications of them doing so. We also analyze whether insurance covers cargo owner loss in this situation and what happens when the cargo owner decides to just walk away and abandon reefer containers when the ocean carrier exercises its right to discharge the cargo at an alternative foreign port of convenience. The article concludes with recommendations regarding how cargo owners can move forward to analyze and mitigate risk.
Keywords: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Refrigerated Containers, Reefers, Force Majeure, Exports, Insurance
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