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International road transport 2012 update – part I

International road transport 2012 update – part I

During the first half of this year the Dutch Supreme Court (DSC) has rendered three judgments, which are of importance to the interpretation of the CMR Convention regarding mandatory law with direct effect on international road transport of goods (hereinafter: “CMR”).

The three judgments will be discussed in this article, each accompanied by an introduction, as well as a brief commentary of relevance to parties involved in the logistics/supply chain. The three subsections can be read separately (click on the subject-matter in question).

The subject-matters are:

1)      the applicability of the CMR to contracts of multimodal transport1;
2)      the determination of the moment of delivery by the road carrier (importance of the consignment note in the Godafoss Case); and
3)      the determination of the  requirements of ´a written claim´ that suspends the limitation period.

For the sake of completeness, the latest judgment on CMR of the DSC dated 10 August 2012 in the Traxys Case (published on www.rechtspraak.nl, number LJN: BW6747) is briefly mentioned here. In this case the DSC for the first time has confirmed that willful misconduct or default as stipulated in Article 29 CMR also covers behaviour consisting of the creation or the continuation of a situation. This means that, besides the behaviour of the driver (not subject to review in cassation in this case), the (operational) management of the carrier or other persons of whose services he makes use for the performance of the carriage, under certain conditions may lead to unlimited liability of the carrier (and an extension of the limitation period to three years). As the DSC considered that the Court of Appeal had not applied the Dutch standard for willful misconduct properly, the case has been referred to the Court of Appeal of Arnhem District. To be continued.

In summary, the Dutch Supreme Court has already produced some interesting judgments this year. We intend to inform you of further developments on international road transport law in January 2013.

Esther-A. Zonnenberg-Mellenbergh

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1Non-lawyers often make distinctions between multimodal transport, intermodal transport, combined transport and synchromodal transport. Most legal provisions do not make such distinctions: the Dutch legal umbrella term is ‘combined transport’, but the term ‘multimodal transport’ is widely adopted.

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