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At the beginning of July we raised the issue on our blog concerning the carrier’s liability for loading and unloading of goods by the driver. Another unusual and relatively unknown issue are the so-called premises releasing the carrier from liability for damage of goods occurred between reception and issue of goods.
There are few causes which release the carrier from liability, all of them are listed in Article 17 item 2 and 4 of the CMR Convention, as well as Art. 65.2 and 65. 3 Acts Transport Law. In this entry, we are going to focus on one of them – lack, insufficiency and inadequacy of packaging of items.
Proper packaging of goods
The shipper, while issuing goods to the carrier which at a first glance stands steady on the pallets, should take into consideration the forces affecting the cargo during transport, because starting, braking and turning undeniably constitute integral part of a driving manner, that is transportation, and will always have an impact on possible damage during the transport of goods.
They will have a greater effect on the damage of goods when performed abruptly.
While starting a vehicle, the force vectors affecting the cargo will be directed backwards, while braking, the inertial force will make the cargo slide forwards, whereas, while cornering, the centrifugal force will appear which may lead to the displacement of cargo sideways.
Packaging and security of goods
In the discussed case, we shall clearly distinguish the obligation to secure goods by the carrier so that, using an everyday language, pallets with goods won’t fall off a trailer, nor will they “knock” on the driver’s compartment, from the obligation to pack goods on the pallets by the shipper so that goods wouldn’t move forwards, backwards or sideways, on steady, immobilised bases (pallets). When such “pleating” occurs on the pallets, the shippers frequently claim that, in fact, the driver representing the carrier accepted the goods for transport without objections and completely ignore the fact that the driver is not present during the placement of goods on the pallets and is not required to know specificity of a given commodity and its characteristics.
Quite the opposite, it is the shipper who manufactures and trades a given type of goods is the best specialist regarding the shipment characteristics and should select a proper packaging to a given commodity (as defined in article 41 section 1 of the Transport Law, the shipper is obliged to deliver items to the carrier in a condition allowing their proper transport and issue, without any loss or damage).
One of the most difficult loads for transportation is surprisingly……. mineral water, transported in bottles on the pallets. A difficulty arises from the fact that several layers of the bottled water pallet is secured only with a foil – stretch. Bottles are so delicate that they can’t be fastened with a tie down strap. Pallets with bottles can only be secured by putting anti-slip mats on the floor and assembling a seal bar. In this way, the secured pallets will not be displaced on a vehicle, whereas, in order that the bottles would stand upright on the pallets, the shipper should not save on the foil stretch use, because a part of goods with a single foil layer won’t remain in an upright position during transport, whereas adjacent bottle pallets wrapped in a thicker layer of stretch remain unchanged. Therefore, if the impact of forces on the entire shipment is the same, and only part of the shipment is tilted from a vertical position, and, additionally, it is the shipment wrapped with less amount of foil, the carrier may be released from liability pursuant to the abovementioned articles, particularly in the case when additional requirements on the protection of goods against tilting were not specified in the order.