Due to the COVID-19 crisis, all German airlines have had to significantly reduce their number of flights. In order to assist airlines, the government implemented a new law to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in civil, insolvency and criminal procedures (the COVID-19 Act). The new law is also relevant for aircraft lessors that have leased aircraft to German airlines and fear that in case of an airline's insolvency, they may have difficulties repossessing their assets.
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.
In 2019 the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection presented its draft bill for a new and independent law on corporate penalties. Pursuant to the draft bill, considerable fines may be imposed not only on the persons involved in wrongdoing, but also on companies. This will significantly affect insurance cover, especially in the areas of professional indemnity and directors' and officers' insurance.
The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the airline industry has been severe, with estimated losses of approximately $113 billion. The challenge for air carriers is how to handle a high volume of claims with a reduced workforce for an indefinite period. In that respect, the automation and digitisation of the claims handling processes can help airlines to handle more claims in less time and be flexible concerning their headcount and the volume of cases to be processed on a daily basis.
Legal clarity on the exact scope of the criminal and civil liability penalties of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation in Germany and their extent will be reached only when the regulation is transposed into national law. The enforcement provisions are expected to be based on German criminal law and to be comparable with the Waste Shipment Act, which implemented the EU Waste Shipment Regulation.
In a recent decision, the Federal Court of Justice once again stressed the difficulties in and the importance of obtaining a precise legal subsumption of the established facts where the pre-contractual duty of disclosure is concerned. The decision is relevant for all insurance contracts that fall under the Insurance Contract Act, although special regulations exist.
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.
The Bremen Local Court recently designated a provisional bankruptcy administrator responsible for the assets of three companies belonging to the Zeamarine group. All actors in the maritime industry should check whether they have any dealings or outstanding claims against any of the three Zeamarine companies for which bankruptcy proceedings are now pending.
In a recent Federal Administrative Court case – in which the German court referred questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) – Deutsche Lufthansa AG achieved its goal of defending itself effectively against higher airport charges and underlined the possibility of a judicial review to examine the appropriateness of airport charges. However, the ECJ decision clarifies that, for the time being, there is no scope for free pricing under the EU Airport Charges Directive and thus no contractual freedom for airport users.
The Hamburg Court of Appeal has expressly discarded an earlier obiter dictum, ruling that a representative action (ie, an authority to pursue the claim of another in one's own name) by an insurance agent on behalf of the insurer stops time only if the agent disclosed its authority and the name of the represented insurer when filing the action. A later disclosure of the authority – which existed at the time of lodging the claim – in court has no retroactive effect and does not interrupt the limitation period.
A recent Hamm Higher Regional Court decision concerning insurers' duty of advice continues the previous case law in respect of partly favourable and partly unfavourable new conditions or conditions that are merely more favourable for the policyholder. The case highlights the question of whether insurers have a duty to advise assureds of amendments made to the general terms and conditions in their insurance policies, particularly with regard to linguistic amendments.
In a March 2019 case, the Hamburg Higher Regional Court had to decide whether the claimant had a control and inspection duty under the Commercial Code and, if so, to what extent the damage should be reduced for reasons of contributory negligence. The decision clarifies that shippers can rely on carriers to provide a sound transport vehicle.
A recent Erding Local Court judgment concerned a compensation claim after four passengers missed their flight due to a security alert at the airport. The court decided that there was no entitlement to compensation because there had been no refusal of carriage by the airline. Given the growth of passenger numbers and the resulting need for extra security staff, the decision sets a positive and correct precedent for the benefit of airlines operating in Germany.
The Federal Court of Justice recently ruled on the appropriate jurisdiction regarding a head carrier's insurer's direct claim against subcarriers' liability insurers. The first and second instances had affirmed their international jurisdiction and admitted the direct claim against the liability insurer on the basis of Article 31(1)(1)(b) of the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road. The Federal Court of Justice confirmed this approach.
A recent Higher Regional Court of Dusseldorf decision concerning the partial loss of goods has strengthened the position of carriers. The court found that it is not enough to inform a carrier's driver of the risk of theft only when loading goods, as the carrier will have no time to assess the situation. The notification of risk must be made in good time so that the carrier can make a decision in the normal course of business.
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 Bremen Court of Appeal recently held that the proximate cause of a vessel's grounding after its main engine had cut out was the bad weather, rather than the engine problem. Further, the insurer's right to request information from the assured was limited to information relating to the proximate cause and did not extend to remote causes. This decision is highly questionable in respect of both causation and insurers' right to information.
According to the Bremen Higher Regional Court, if agreed by contracting parties, goods can be delivered by parking a shipping container in front of the consignee's premises during non-business hours. In such instances, the carrier will not be liable if the cargo is stolen. This decision is a useful reminder that parties to a transport contract must have unequivocal terms of delivery.
As airlines must constantly strive to reduce maintenance costs, it is prudent to carefully review and negotiate contracts with maintenance, repair and overhaul organisations (MROs). As MROs often insist that contracts must be governed by the law of their home jurisdiction, this article addresses a selection of important issues that must be considered when negotiating so-called 'time and material' or 'power by the hour' contracts with German MROs.
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.