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Many of the goods that arrive in stores or directly at people's homes every day have travelled a long way. The customer's wish for goods to be available as quickly as possible means that such goods are often transported across borders by air freight. National laws do not apply in such cases, at least not to a great extent. Instead, various air transport agreements establish comprehensive regulations of which parties must be aware.
The Celle Higher Regional Court recently found that the Hanover Regional Court wrongly rejected an application for legal aid by a passenger who claimed that a flight attendant had injured her knee with a service cart. However, it remains to be seen whether the damages will be reduced or excluded due to any contributory negligence on the part of the applicant.
A recent Eilenburg Local Court decision highlighted that a booking or reservation confirmation issued to a passenger by a tour operator with whom a flight has been booked should not necessarily be regarded as a confirmed booking under Article 3(2)(a) of the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation, even if the booking is referred to as an 'e-ticket voucher'. This decision underlines that the burden of proof for the existence of a confirmed booking will be borne by the passenger.
The Hamburg State Court recently rejected a damages claim arising from the cross-border transport of goods from the United States to Germany. The consignment was transported to Germany by air freight and was lost in a transhipment warehouse on the premises of Frankfurt Airport. The plaintiff claimed damages on the basis of German transport law and refused to settle the claim on the basis of the Montreal Convention.
The Bremen Local Court recently dismissed a compensation claim under the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation for a delayed flight booked using a company tariff. The court has thus put a double stop to possible claims by employees. If a booking is made using a company tariff, claims are generally excluded. Even if a booking is made using a general tariff, the travelling employee cannot bring forward a legal action.
The Frankfurt/Main Higher Regional Court recently dismissed a claim for damages due to a ticket cancellation. The court rightly denied the international jurisdiction of German courts and confirmed that a legal person can be sued at the seat of its branch office. However, the prerequisite for this is that a dispute has a connection to the relevant branch office, which was lacking in this specific case.
As of 28 December 2019, the limitations of liability in the Montreal Convention were adjusted. The last adjustment was made in 2009. Prior to that, the liability amounts had remained unchanged for 10 years. The new limits of liability apply to damaging events during air transport which were carried out after the amendments came into force.
A recent Frankfurt am Main Local Court decision is a useful reminder that in the event of an assertion of claims under the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation, the associated booking conditions must be considered when determining claim validity. Ultimately, travellers with access to corporate customer tariffs between their employer and the airline cannot claim compensation if their flight – whether for professional or private purposes – is delayed or cancelled.
The Federal Court of Justice recently requested a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice on the question of whether airlines are in principle entitled to choose the currencies in which their air fares are listed. Under EU law, airlines that offer flights departing from EU airports must list passenger fares; however, whether airlines have the right to choose the currencies of said listings required further clarity.
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.
In 2019 the Stuttgart Regional Court considered a dispute about claims for damages following a vehicle transfer from Turkey to Germany. Following a traffic accident, the plaintiff delivered the vehicle to a workshop and notified the defendant of damage to the roof of the vehicle and the loss of various items that were allegedly in the vehicle. The court held that the defendant was not liable for the alleged theft of the items.
The list of associations which were involved in the negotiation of the Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions (ADSp) 2017 and now recommend them is significantly larger than for the ADSp 2003. However, whether this alone is sufficient to affirm a comprehensive inclusion of the entire ADSp 2017 in a transport contract is doubtful. This article discusses a Heidelberg Regional Court decision which provides clarity on this matter.
Two freight forwarding companies were in dispute over the payment of freight forwarding charges in connection with a transport from Germany to the United Kingdom. After out-of-court negotiations failed, the plaintiff filed a complaint with the Duisburg Local Court. The plaintiff claimed that the local court's jurisdiction derived from its general terms and conditions, in which Duisburg was stated as the place of jurisdiction.
The Frankfurt District Court recently ruled in a dispute between the operator of the city's tram network and the insurer of a vehicle which had parked in such a way as to block the tram tracks. The dispute concerned the plaintiff's claim for compensation for the damages that it had suffered as a result of the vehicle owner interfering in its business operations.
No matter how well goods are packaged and how great the effort of a carrier to consign a delivery in perfect condition to the customer, damage to goods, pallets and packaging cannot always be avoided. If damage occurs, the carrier will quickly be faced with a claim for damages, either from the shipper, the recipient or their insurer. The Federal Court of Justice redefined the calculation of damages in a ruling at the end of 2018.
The Budapest Convention on the Contract for the Carriage of Goods by Inland Waterways (CMNI) states that all claims arising from contracts regulated thereunder become time barred one year after the day on which the goods were or should have been delivered to the consignee. A Higher Shipping Maritime Court decision serves as a useful reminder that Article 24 of the CMNI applies to all claims relating to transport, regardless of which party raises them or whether they concern tortious or enrichment matters.
In a decision which conflicts with the examination sequence typically preferred by the Federal Court of Justice, the Hamburg Higher Regional Court ruled that a carrier's liability had been miscalculated and that that contributory negligence should have been examined before the limitations of liability. The court opined that, in view of Section 254 of the Civil Code, contributory negligence should be considered after or in conjunction with determining concrete damages and before the limitations of liability.
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.