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The Berlin Regional Court recently decided a case in which the plaintiff claimed compensation for damages that were said to have occurred during air transport. The plaintiff had filed a legal action at his home court in Hamburg, but the matter was referred to a Frankfurt court because Frankfurt Airport was involved. However, the Frankfurt court was also not competent to hear the case. The Berlin Regional Court received the case after the expiration of the two-year limitation period under the Montreal Convention.
Attempts are frequently made to shift all responsibility in connection with transport arrangements onto the forwarder/carrier. Thanks to a recent Darmstadt Regional Court judgment, clarity has now been established: a consignor is not entitled to shirk these responsibilities or to assert claims against the air freight forwarder should import approval be denied.
The Darmstadt Regional Court has ruled on carriers' liability under the Montreal Convention. The court dealt with the question of whether a plaintiff is entitled to claim compensation for lawyers' fees and interest if the carrier offered compensation based on the convention after the incident but before the claimant had filed legal action.
Under Article 22, Section 3 of the Montreal Convention, in the event of the destruction, loss or damage of cargo or a delay in its delivery, the liability of the carrier is limited. In a recent case the Federal Court of Justice ruled on the amount the carrier is entitled to claim for compensation in the case of a lost shipment and specified the requirements for such claims.
The Logistics Terms and Conditions (Logistik-AGB) 2019, which were jointly revised by the German Association for Freight Forwarding and Logistics, the Federal Association of Road Haulage, Logistics and Disposal and the Federal Association of Furniture Forwarders and Logistics, will enter into force on 1 July 2019. The new terms and conditions will replace the Logistik-AGB 2006 and supplement the Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions 2017.
How should the weight of a shipment containing damaged goods but usable pallets be calculated, considering that this would form the basis for liability? According to a recent Federal Court of Justice decision, if the pallets are still usable, only the net weight of the goods counts. The court held that it is necessary to look closely at what has been damaged, as the fate of some items is not necessarily the fate of others.
The German Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions (ADSp) are a joint body of recommendations for shipping industry associations and freight forwarders. However, given that there are (at least) three versions – namely, ADSp 2003, ADSp 2016 and ADSp 2017 – many companies struggle to clearly identify the ADSp on which they should base their services.
The Verden Regional Court recently sentenced a forwarder to pay full compensation plus interest calculated at nine percentage points above the basic lending rate under the Civil Code. Upholding the forwarder's appeal, the Celle Higher Regional Court held that the interest rate should be reduced to five percentage points above the basic lending rate, which is more in line with interest claims under the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road.
While settling claims out of court to avoid losing customers is becoming standard practice in the shipping and transport industry, such payments should not be made prematurely – particularly if the carrier's responsibility for the damage is unclear. In most cases, the opposing party interprets such goodwill payments as an acknowledgement of debt at a later stage in the proceedings. Therefore, carriers are advised to draw up a brief compensation declaration to avoid having to compensate twice.
The German Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions (ADSp) 2017 are designed to protect forwarders and close any potential liability risk gaps, particularly for organisations involved in air transport. In order to clarify the issue of whether the ADSp 2003 applied only to transport that was governed by German law, the updated ADSp stipulate that they do not apply to international transport.