Subject : The Agent is Trustworthy and Guarantees only in Case of Negligence or Misconduct
Fatwa Number : 3789
Date : 10-08-2023
Classified : Agency Authorization
Fatwa Type : Search Fatawaa

Question :

I own a cargo company that ships goods from Istanbul to Amman. I have been shipping goods for years following a specific procedure. The goods are received on behalf of their owners, then handed over to the shipping company, which, in turn, transports them to Jordan. I recently handed over the goods to the shipping company on 24/2, and they were supposed to be shipped on 28/2. However, the shipping was delayed until 2/6, and the goods are still at the port. Due to the earthquake that occurred, the goods were damaged. Am I liable for the damages?

The Answer :

Praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

The general rule in Sharia is that an agent is considered trustworthy and is not liable unless there is negligence or misconduct on their part. If any negligence or misconduct occurs, their liability becomes established, and they are responsible for any resulting damages. Imam Al-Shirbini, a Shafi'i jurist, said: "Similar to other trustees, the agent-even for a reward- is trustworthy in handling what is received on behalf of the principal and in spending the principal's money on their behalf. However, the agent does not guarantee against any damage that occurs to the principal's property in their possession except in case of negligence on their part." [Al-Iqna' fi Hall Alfaz Abi Shuja', V.2, P.321].

Accordingly, if the shipping and navigation companies followed all the established procedures according to commonly accepted standards, and there was no negligence, misconduct, or delay in carrying out their responsibilities, and the goods were damaged due to natural disasters like earthquakes, then, in this situation, there is no liability on any party.

However, if any negligence occurs from any of the parties responsible for shipping the goods and delivering them to their owners, then the party at fault bears the responsibility. Moreover, this party is liable for the value of the goods and accountable to their owners. Determining the party responsible requires the formation of committees to investigate the procedures carried out for shipping the goods up until the time of their damage. And Allah the Almighty knows best.



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