This question was recently considered by a Civil Court in Kochi.
“According to the plaintiffs, the 2nd defendant is the agent of the 1st defendant. Counsel for the Plaintiff argues that Ext. A2 Bill of Lading shows that the 2nd defendant has to be contacted for delivery of goods and as per Ext. A2 bill of lading and admission in Ext. A5 reply, second defendant is the agent of the 1st defendant. In Ext. A2 bill of lading the name and address of the 2nd defendant is shown as the contact address for delivery. However the name “…….Line” is given as agent for the carrier. But address of the said …..Line is not given in Ext. A2. When the bill of lading which is the document of contract between the 2nd plaintiff and the 1st defendant specifically provide the name of the …..Line as agent of the carrier, it is the bounden duty of plaintiffs to establish that the 2nd defendant is the agent of the 1st defendant. When the 2nd defendant in the written statement took up the contention that they were only forwarders directed to assist delivery of goods, the plaintiffs could have called for the document showing the contract / direction of the 1st defendant or some other person to the 2nd defendant to assist delivery of goods or sought for a direction from court to the 2nd defendant to produce the document showing their authority to assist in the delivery of goods….” “ When Ext. A2 specifically provide the name of agent of the carrier in it, the 2nd defendant whose name appears in Ext. A2 can be considered as agent of carrier only for the limited purpose of delivery of cargo and not for any other purpose. Absence or lack of address of the agent of carrier in the bill of lading cannot be made a ground for treating the 2nd defendant as agent of the carrier. It is settled principle of law that when the identity of the principal is disclosed, the agent cannot be sued in a legal proceeding. Moreover, there is no privity of contract between the plaintiff and the 2nd defendant and the suit is not maintainable against the 2nd defendant on that count also.”