Case 1 Cargo Liability - Freight Forwarder

Case 1 Cargo Liability - Freight Forwarder

A UK Freight Forwarder, who is insured by the Club for Transport Operator liabilities, has a regular weekly groupage (consolidation) service by road between London and Florence. The forwarder has no vehicles of his own and regularly engages the services of any one of a small number of Italian road hauliers, depending on who has a vehicle available, to undertake the actual movement. On one such journey, the driver stopped at a service area in France for a meal break and while he was there his vehicle was stolen. It was later recovered but all the most valuable items of cargo had been taken. Claims were submitted by most of the cargo-owners or their insurers, and many of them were settled by the Club on the basis of the limits of liability contained in the CMR convention.

However, one of the consignees was uninsured against transport losses and refused to accept the CMR limitations. He started legal action against the member in the Italian courts. The Club appointed Italian lawyers to assist and arranged for the haulier to be brought into the proceedings as a third party. Eventually the cargo owner accepted that CMR would apply and that this limited the member's liability for the loss. By agreement with all the parties, the Club made a small ex-gratia payment in addition to the CMR limitation to facilitate the settlement. Each of the parties bore its own legal costs.

The Club was able to make a substantial recovery from the haulier's insurers, although this did not cover all its outlays.