Lawyers dealing with international carriage come across numerous cases where ADR mediation becomes relevant to resolve conflicts originating in international transport contracts or intermodal international carriage contracts. The main characteristic of international carriage of goods is the fact that the subjects involved have different functions and duties to fulfil. Besides the parties, the contract also indicates the time frame to accomplish the duties of transshipment, carriage and delivery.
Modes of international carriage of goods
Attorneys dealing with international transport face the challenge of cases complicated by the overlapping of different competences and roles of the subjects involved in an international carriage contract. Intermodal transport contract is one of the cases that lead to possible compensation in favour or to the detriment of one of the parties of the contract.
Logistic companies acting as shipping agent or transport operator
Goods travelling to a port might be withheld by Customs because of the delay in transfer to a different destination port, or the extra length of the goods storage. In such cases, it is necessary to indicate and establish the responsibility of all subjects involved in the international transport contract, that is to say:
- the logistic company;
- the shipping agent;
- the carrier;
- the sender.
The causes that lead to a delay in the transfer might not depend solely on the carrier. They might be determined by an error in the delivery date as provided by the logistic company or the shipping agent.
Company A, having hired company B for the for the whole multi-modal transport, could be entitled to:
- economic loss, as direct consequence of the seizure of the goods by Customs;
- further transport expenses;
- compensation for damages due to failed delivery.
The logistic company, in turn, could:
- claim to not have any responsibility because of their not being the good’s carrier;
- object that their responsibility might be linked to the sole loss of the goods or to their perishability, in all those cases where the goods are non-perishable and have not been lost.
Identification of liability of the various subjects acting as shipping agent or multimodal transport operator
The multimodal transport contract assigns to a subject the task of delivering the merchandise with two or more different modes of transport. The multimodal transport operator signes in turn a contract with the shipping agent, who ensures that the goods reach their destination on different means of transport, by sea or land. The contract signed by company A and company B for the multimodal shipping of merchandise might state that company B, responsible for the international transport of the goods, is liable for:
- delivering the goods;
- transportation times;
- determining the carrier’s period of responsibility;
- defining the shipping agent’s duties;
- customs declaration;
- shipping the goods;
- merchandise customs clearance abroad;
- transporting the goods abroad.
If logistic company B, in charge of the carriage, fails to transport the merchandise within the given time, they should be held responsible for the consequent seizure of the goods by Customs. In order to be declared responsible, however, it is necessary to prove that they were responsible for the multimodal carriage and holders of the carrier’s liability. In this case, the carrier is responsible for the loss of the goods.
The task of international transport expert attorneys. ADR mediation
ADR mediation is a process that enables lawyers dealing with international transport of goods to rapidly resolve disputes with a contractual agreement, without major damages and wastes of time. Generally, a transport operator concluding an intermodal carriage contract with the sender is responsible for the execution of the carriage and assumes the carrier’s obligations for the entire transport, in case it’s multimodal. The operator, in fact, is responsible from the moment of reception of the goods to the moment of delivery – i.e. the period of duration of the carrier’s responsibility. Therefore, when signing a multimodal transport contract it is necessary to clarify rights and liabilities of the parties as well as the cases where the shipping agent, the carrier, the multimodal operator consider themselves exempt from responsibilities towards the carriage of merchandise, failed delivery, perishability, etc.
Features of the intermodal transport contract
It differs from a shipping contract and must establish a unique transportation fee for the whole journey, which includes merchandise transport expenses, operating costs and managing costs. The company dealing with the transport’s logistics signs the multimodal transport contract with the shipping agent, and it is the subject who provides the multimodal transport consignment letter and/or multimodal transport bill of lading, thereby assuming responsibility for the whole transport. In case of loss or accident during the multimodal carriage, the same subject is in charge of communicating what happened with no further delay in order to reduce the loss or obtain compensation.
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