Terms & Glossaries of Shipping and Trading


In the context of freight forwarding, "Acquiescence" means that if a consignee or shipper fails to object to the condition of goods, transportation terms, or service levels, it is implicitly considered as acceptance of the status quo, which can impact future claims or contractual conditions.

Acquiescence in the Freight Forwarding Industry: Understanding Silent Agreement

In the realm of freight forwarding and logistics, the term 'acquiescence' takes on a specific connotation, detailing how silent consent can impact the flow of agreements and responsibilities between parties involved in the transportation of goods. While this concept shares similarities with its general legal definition, in the context of the freight industry, I'll explore how acquiescence works and the potential ramifications it may have on the operational processes.

Defining Acquiescence in Freight Forwarding

Acquiescence in the freight industry refers to a situation where a shipper, consignee, or freight forwarder does not actively dispute or object to the conditions or actions taken during the cargo shipping process, and thus is understood to have passively accepted the status quo. This could pertain to rates, terms of carriage, delivery times, or the condition of goods upon receipt.

Transport Contracts and Bill of Lading

When a Bill of Lading - the contract between a shipper and a transport company - is issued, the receiver often has a specified period to contest the conditions reported, such as the state of the received cargo. Not raising a dispute within this period can be seen as an acquiescence to the terms and statements made in the document, including acknowledgment that the goods were received in good condition.

Implications of Acquiescence in Freight Shipping

1. Liability for Damaged Goods: If the consignee does not note any damage or loss soon after receiving the goods and later tries to file a claim, the shipper or carrier might argue that the consignee acquiesced to receive the goods in the condition documented at delivery.

2. Service Discrepancies: If a carrier repeatedly deviates from agreed service levels without objection from the shipper, the shipper may be viewed as having acquiesced to these new service standards, potentially making it challenging to contest them in the future.

3. Freight Rates and Surcharges: When carriers implement rate increases or surcharges and shippers continue to use their services without objection, they may be seen as acquiescent to the new rates, which could affect negotiating power or financial reimbursements later on.

Mitigating the Risks of Acquiescence

In order to mitigate the risks associated with acquiescence, parties in the freight industry should:

Review all documentation: Thoroughly check bills of lading, freight invoices, and contracts.

Communicate promptly: Raise and document any objections to discrepancies as soon as they are identified.

Negotiate proactively: Engage in negotiations immediately when service levels or costs change unexpectedly.


Understanding the role of acquiescence in freight forwarding is imperative for maintaining fair practices, protecting legal rights, and ensuring successful cargo delivery. It reinforces the necessity for all parties to remain vigilant and proactive about documenting and communicating any discrepancies in service or cargo condition. Silence or inaction can, often unwittingly, become binding, making it crucial for shippers, consignees, and carriers to engage actively throughout the shipping process.

Acquiescence underscores a broader principle in freight forwarding: clear, prompt communication is not just good policy; it's a safeguard against unintended consent and subsequent disputes.