Frachtbox team

What Is Transport Law?

Published 07 Jul 2021

What Is Transport Law?

What Is Transport Law?

Due to increasing globalisation, logistical services and transports have long since ceased to be limited to national activities. Transport and forwarding services are provided across borders to every corner of the world. Logisticians also perform a variety of other activities, such as picking, packing or final assembly.

Therefore, with this article we want to give an insight into what is actually meant by transport law.


The Importance Of The Transport And Logistics Sector

In fact, almost every person and every company depends on a wide supply network. The goods and commodities that have to be transported in some way range from a simple postcard to a container full of fruit from the Far East to the heavy transport of a wind turbine. But it also applies to products that were ordered in the online shop and now have to be handed over to a forwarding agent for delivery. Understandably, the contractual relationships (from the private sector to multinational contracts) or the respective liability amounts can be very different.

It is therefore quite understandable that those involved find it difficult to achieve or maintain an overview of the numerous national and international regulations as well as the contractual clauses agreed alongside them. Apart from that, the complicated regulations, must be properly classified.


The Term Transport Law

First of all, many use the terms transport law, freight law or forwarding law synonymously with each other. The fact that there is no official definition of transport law as such makes the distinction all the more difficult. Therefore, we would like to start with a classification, because transport law as such includes a lot of regulations and describes, as the name suggests, the transport of goods and commodities regardless of their type (for example, food or removal goods) and the form of transport, i.e. on land via sea routes or in the air. The transport law does not cover the transport of persons.


What Is Transport Law?

Transport law is a branch of commercial law. It deals with regulating the transport of goods. It regulates the rules and obligations of the contracting parties. Furthermore, transport law is not concerned with the transport of persons, but solely with the transport of goods and how they reach their destination by various means of transport. This does not only concern transport by truck.

The general regulations from transport law make no distinction between the transport type. Transport law therefore applies to every form of transport. Seen in this light, it can already be mentioned that transport law is the generic term and covers all forms of transport as well as storage:

·         land freight

·         sea freight (inland waterways and maritime transport)

·         air freight

·         rail transport

·         warehouse

·         transport of removal goods (incidentally, this also applies to a consumer)


What Is the Difference Between a Freight Forwarding Contract And a Shipping Contract?

Before starting a business cooperation, the parties should always conclude a contract. This is necessary to protect the rights of both parties. This also applies to the transport business.

Since the carrier is not always automatically also the forwarder, the shipping contract and the freight forwarding contract must be distinguished from each other. This is because the freight forwarding contract is an agency contract concluded between the freight forwarder and the consignor.

The forwarder is obliged to provide information and be accountable to the consignor of the goods. He is also liable in the event of culpable conduct and breach of his obligations.

Incidentally, the forwarder is also known colloquially as the carrier. The freight forwarder or forwarding agent himself is not obliged to carry out the transport; however, he can carry out the transport himself. This is what is known as self-assumption. If this is the case, the forwarder acquires all the rights and obligations of a carrier through the carriage and the freight forwarding contract becomes a shipping contract.

The shipping contract is a special form of a contract for work and services.  Such a contract is concluded between the consignor and the carrier. The consignee plays no role, but is mentioned as such in the contract.

With the shipping contract, the carrier undertakes to deliver the goods - which have been handed over to him by the sender or the forwarder - to the consignee designated by the sender in return for a fee.

The cargo is also to reach the consignee safely and quickly. Before that, however, the consignor has the task of paying the carrier the necessary remuneration for transporting and storing the cargo in a safe package. In addition, special characteristics of the product must be named within the freight documents. This may be the case, for example, if the goods are dangerous or fragile.


Special (International) Transport Regulations

In the meantime, lawyers have also gained special qualifications as lawyers specialising in transport and forwarding law.  They advise their clients, for example, on securing storage, transporting dangerous goods or in cases of liability in the event of transport damage.

The Suez Canal was and is one of the most important trade routes between Asia and Europe. Any blockage, even if only for a short time, has a long-lasting effect on supply chains, right down to the last link. The case shows that transport law often has a particularly complex multinational character, because rarely does everything take place in one state only. In this context, a general average like that of the Ever Given is the super disaster, as unexpected questions from international maritime law suddenly arise.

A lawyer for transport law can, for example, enforce or defend against such claims for damages. In addition, the lawyer also advocates for truck drivers in terms of labour law, when it is sometimes a matter of ensuring that collective agreements are adhered to and fighting for their right to be paid their professional wages.