Carrier liability – CMR

The CMR Convention is the UN Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road. It is an international convention for cross-border road transport from or to participating countries. Just about all European countries are participating, as well as some countries in the Middle East. The CMR Convention also applies to domestic transport that is part of international transport. The convention is mandatory, which means that you must not deviate from it.

The convention states that a carrier is contractually liable for all damage to the goods it has been entrusted from the time it receives the goods until it delivers them to the consignee. In certain cases, it is also liable for delivery delays.

Some exceptions to this contractual liability are provided.  One exception are cases where the damage or delay is attributable to the claimant, to a defect in the goods or to unforeseen circumstances beyond the carrier’s control and responsibility. For example, a natural disaster is an unforeseen circumstance, but engine trouble on the go is not. The carrier does need to be able to prove these circumstances.

The carrier's liability is limited to an amount per kilogram, which is expressed in SDR (Special Drawing Rights – 8.33 SDR) or in euros (€11.60).

For certain goods this is sufficient. However, this amount per kilogram is often not sufficient, for example for high-end appliances, electronics and so on. In such cases the client is advised to take out extra insurance for the goods.

As a carrier, you should take out a CMR policy to cover damage to the goods. It will pay compensation according to the provisions of the CMR Convention (up to an upper limit). The transport of goods whose value exceeds the upper limit is best covered with a tailor-made cargo insurance policy.

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