A hard Brexit would increase liability risk for EU carriers and freight forwarders, and disputing parties would need to overcome a number of factual and legal hurdles. Before undertaking cross-border transports, carriers are well advised to make clear agreements with senders in order to clarify that customs clearance delays are expected for an unforeseeable duration and request instructions from senders in accordance with the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road.
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.
A higher regional court recently found that a carrier had acted with wilful misconduct by disregarding a claimant's shipping order which contained a clear instruction to refrain from parking in unguarded parking spaces. Senders are well advised to give clear instructions to carriers by agreements in their contracts of carriage. If such clear instructions by the customer are not followed and damage arises, the carrier faces the reproach of wilful misconduct.
In 2018 the Hamburg Higher Regional Court ruled on a damages claim arising from the loss of deck cargo during a sea voyage. The court had to examine under what circumstances bodies acting on behalf of a carrier have acted with gross negligence where cargo goes overboard due to inadequate lashing or securing. In maritime transport, a gross organisational fault on the part of bodies acting on behalf of a carrier breaks the limitation of liability.
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.
The closure of Chinese ports due to the COVID-19 pandemic raises the question of whether and under which conditions expenses and risks charterers may cancel their voyage charterparty in the event of the closure of a port due to COVID-19. This article examines German law from the charterer's point of view and asks in particular what happens if a voyage charterparty contains no force majeure clause.