What does Shippers load, stow and count mean..??

Shippers load, stow and count or Shippers load and count or SLAC is a term that you would have seen in the description of the bill of lading for all shipments.. What does it mean to the line and to the shipper..??

In all break-bulk and bulk vessels, there is a document called Mate’s Receipt.. This document is like a delivery note and has all the information pertaining to the shipment like cargo description, number of bundles, weight, measurement etc and this note is handed over to the ship at the time of loading..

If any discrepancies are found between the actual cargo delivered and the Mate’s Receipt, the Chief Mate (after whom this receipt is named) a.k.a 1st Mate, 1st Officer, Chief Officer will check the cargo and note such discrepancies to confirm that the cargo was received in that condition.. This absolves the ship/owner/charterer of any claims relating to missing or damaged cargo etc that might be levied upon them by the shipper at a later stage..

This was possible in the era of pre-containerisation because the ship/agents were able to physically check and verify the cargo..

However, in the case of containerised cargoes and specially FCL cargoes, the carrier/agents are not privy to the packing of the containers and the nature of the cargo.. The carrier relies on the information provided by the shipper in terms of the cargo, number of packages, weight and measurement..

image for Shippers load stow and countHence the clauses “SHIPPERS LOAD STOW AND COUNT”  (SLAC) and “SAID TO CONTAIN”  (STC) is put on the bill of lading to protect the carrier from any claims that the shipper might levy on them at a later stage..

For ex: Lets assume that the bill of lading states 1×20′ container STC 55 bundles of human hair and when the container reaches the destination and consignee unpacks the container to find that there is only 45 bundles.. The bill of lading carries the above clauses..

As long as the seal has not been altered or tampered with, the consignee or shipper cannot question or hold the carrier liable for the shortage because the carrier was not present at the time of the packing of the container and carrier doesn’t know what the Shipper Loaded, Stowed or Counted.. Bill of lading shows the details that was provided by the shipper, so the consignee must contact the shipper to take up this issue..

If however, the seal number has been altered or tampered with, that becomes a totally different story for another day..

(This article was originally published in 2011 and republished today with some changes)


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17 thoughts on “What does Shippers load, stow and count mean..??

Be part of the discussion and share your views about the article here..

  1. We had an issue whereby the carrier needed to open the container doors to back into the loading bay. Upon reversing and breaking, the load fell out the back of the container. The carrier is quoting the SLAC and absolving all liability. Is this correct?

    • That’s an interesting question. First, no it doesn’t absolve the carrier of damage unless the load has been tendered. That is to say if they dropped the trailer at the consignee location and the consignee signed the BOL. The freight is still under the carriers control until it is tendered by the consignee. SLC only applies to the freight being over/short in which the carrier would assume no responsibility.

      Why I said that your question is interesting is that under an aspect that would raise moral, ethical and legal issues would be to state that the damaged freight was never on the trailer to begin with. That is, the consignee could sign as the freight tendered was only what was received, in which case it would be short. However, that is not truthful and should not make the consignor responsible for something that is not true.

      I understand that this carrier is trying to say that since it was SLC they have no responsibility of the freight in which they cannot see. That is true. Damage could have incurred at the time of loading, in transit, or at the time of unloading. So who is responsible for the damage? If you received the freight on your dock and there was a fork hole in a box then that would be incurred by the shipper or receiver. If the freight is tossed about like a tornado went through the back of the trailer or it’s laying in your parking lot then that would be the responsibility of the carrier.

      As a driver for 16 years I have had freight fall out of the back of the trailer three times. All instances were from relays in which I picked the trailer up from another driver. I do not recall if it was SLC or not but the loads were a trailer full of auto/truck tires, 3rd class mail in the plastic U.S. Mail totes, and a load of empty plastic racks. In all cases none of the freight was actually damaged. The improper loading could be blamed on the shipper or the cargo shift on the other driver, but in fact, I would be the one responsible for incurred damage as I was there at the delivery point and had accepted that load from a carrier even though the trailer was sealed.

  2. Beginning of this week we had a similarr issue with 1 x 40’HC container containing removals and 1 motor vehicle which we booked from Rotterdam with destination Curacao (Dutch Antilles) on behalf of one of our customers.

    This container was loaded by the customer at his residence (SLAC)

    In our case Dutch customs selected this container for a physical inspection, where all cargo is unloaded by customs authorities and reloaded after the insection has taken place.

    We were informed by the carrier that this container is now shipped on board, but we have no clue if there is any damage or maybe missing items.

    Only when the container arrives at destination our customer can determine if all his belongings arrived safely.

  3. “As long as the seal has not been altered or tampered with, the consignee or shipper cannot question or hold the carrier liable for the shortage because the carrier was not present at the time of the packing of the container and carrier doesn’t know what the Shipper Loaded, Stowed or Counted.. Bill of lading shows the details that was provided by the shipper, so the consignee must contact the shipper to take up this issue..

    If however, the seal number has been altered or tampered with, that becomes a totally different story for another day..”

    What if container is found leaning at the port of arrival, and the carrier needs to open the container, inspect the cargo and maybe re-work. Then, later cnee receives their cargo and files a damage claim (some cargo were damaged.)

    I would think if cargo was damaged due to poor packing / securing of the cargo by shipper, which caused shifting of the cargo (which caused the container to lean) then they need to go back to their shipper for the damage claim.

  4. I have a question, according HVR 3, the information on the bill of lading should be a conclusive evidence that the cargo was shipped in the said condition in the bill of lading, right? This is to protect the innocent third party. I would like to heard your comments on this. Thank you.

  5. Thank you, this is ver help full although frustrating in the same. I dispute claims but have problems with the SLC and carriers not being resposible for the damage that happens.

  6. Wonder if you can help clarify a claim issue with regards to SLAC please.

    We are a 3PL, we organized to get some LTL picked up for a client from Ontario to Ohio. Our client simply gives us basic details dims and weight of units no special instruction (i.e. load must be secured ). We submit rate which is agreed upon and carrier is sent in to load 2 machine units.

    Shipper loads the units, and carrier goes off. A few days later the units arrive damaged. We submit a claim, its refused by the carrier on the basis that it was shipper load and count and that the units were top heavy and that they were never told to secure the load, and fell over onto other material causing other damage totaling a few thousand $. We are threatened with a counter claim of a few thousand dollars if we do not stop our claim.

    Client then adds that the shipper asked the driver to secure units with load bars and driver refused? (Why shipper let him go on with the unit I have no idea).

    We submit claim directly to the insurer, who in turn re sends it to the carrier who in turn rejects it once gain. Isn’t the insurer obligated to at least take a look at the claim and view the evidence and then make a decision?

    Would shipper load and count absolve the carrier of all liability ?

    I feel that the shipper could have informed us, and should not have left the unit go not secured, and the driver who represents the carrier has some obligation to not let the unit travel in such a way.

    I feel that its at least 50/50

    Your responses much anticipated.

    Pierre

  7. I’m wondering what the difference to input SHIPPERS LOAD STOW AND COUNT” (SLAC) or “SAID TO CONTAIN” (STC) at description of commodity ?

  8. Thank u so much for this piece of information.. Kindly continue with the story as u have promised above….

    • Well I wouldn’t consider what we do as a “Counter-measure” but when the carrier arrives and checks-in for any given load we have a disclaimer stating that all drivers are ALLOWED on the dock (obviously not required) so to check and verify that all the product(s) are undamaged when loaded. Therefore they can NOT sign under the clause of SLC/SLAC, leaving either the storage facility, or buyer responsible for damages while the carrier is enroute. Hope this helps someone, feel free to email me, if you have any questions!