TT Talk - Air waybill conditions of contract - 'Note' the difference

In TT Talk Edition 102 of 16 October 2007 we reported that IATA Resolution 600b, which provides the basis for the IATA recommended 'Conditions of contract' on the back of the IATA air waybill, would become effective on 17 March 2008. This is the web link to the announcement on the IATA website from where the full text of IATA Resolution 600b can be downloaded:

If this air waybill is used by a forwarder in a capacity as contracting carrier for air transportation, any transportation or other service which is not subject to an international air carriage convention will not be subject to the terms and conditions of this air waybill but will instead be subject to the forwarder's general conditions as have already been provided to you.

The scope of this new Note is wider than the text which was used a number of years ago, because it applies not only to 'transportation', but also to any 'other service which is not subject to any international air carriage convention'.

However, simply adding the Note at the bottom of the air waybill back will not of itself afford sufficient protection. As FIATA point out, the freight forwarder must also validly incorporate into the contract the general conditions to which the Note refers.

What amounts to valid incorporation will depend on the law applying to the contract between the freight forwarder and its customer. However, the phrase 'as have already been provided to you' at the end of the Note indicates one of the measures which is required.

The TT Club strongly advises its Members to follow the approach recommended by FIATA.

We expressed our concerns that these new conditions might not be suitable for freight forwarders (Transport Operators) who act as contracting air carriers. As a result, FIATA invited the Club to state its views on how freight forwarders could best protect their liability as air carriers through papers and discussions at and around the FIATA HQ Meeting in March 2008 in Zurich.

FIATA has now confirmed its recommendation in its publication FIATA Review (No 72 of May 2008). FIATA emphasises that, when used as a house air waybill, the conditions of contract on the back of the 'neutral' IATA air waybill, based on Resolution 600b, do not provide adequate liability protection where no international carriage convention applies.

FIATA does recommend that freight forwarders use the IATA air waybill, but also recommends that they add the following 'Note' if they use the document as a house air waybill (i.e. when they might be held to be a contracting air carrier):

Staff Author

TT Club