International Carriage of Goods

1. What is the CMR Convention?

The Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (‘the CMR’) sets out various conditions which apply to contracts for the international carriage of goods by road. The CMR is effective in the UK under the Carriage of Goods by Road Act 1965.

2. Who does the CMR apply to?

With the exception of carriage performed under the terms of any international postage convention, funeral consignment or furniture removal, the CMR applies to every contract for the carriage of goods by road in vehicles for reward between two or more different countries where at least one of which is a party to the Convention.

The CMR also applies to freight forwarders and each successive carrier will be responsible for the whole operation.

3. Why do I need to know this?

If you are involved in an international road journey for reward, which starts or finishes in the UK, your contract for carriage is likely to be subject to the CMR. The CMR sets out, amongst other things, the various documentary requirements which must be complied, how compensation for loss or damage to goods is calculated and imposes restrictions on carrier liability.

Any contractual provision which directly or indirectly derogates from the CMR is void meaning that parties are unable contract out of the CMR. It is therefore vital to understand how the CMR affects your contract for carriage and any resulting claim. Provisions relating to the apportionment of liability between successive carriers can however be varied by agreement.

The contract for carriage must be confirmed by a consignment note and the CMR sets out what should be included in that consignment note. Failure to complete a consignment note will not prevent the provisions of the CMR from applying.

In terms of loss, the starting point is that carriers are liable for the total loss and damage to goods occurring between the time when the carrier takes over the goods and delivery. Where the carrier is liable, the consignee is entitled to compensation calculated by reference to the value of the goods. In addition, claimants are entitled to interest on compensation payable by a carrier. A carrier’s liability for damage is capped at 8.33 Special Drawing Rights per kg of the damaged goods. The CMR imposes strict time limits for the consignee to report defective goods. Failure to report defective goods within those time periods could relieve the carrier of liability.

The usual deadline for bring a claim (the limitation period) in contract or tort is six years. Claims arising out of CMR governed contracts however will be time barred if proceedings are not commenced within one year (unless the claim related to wilful neglect). If you potentially have a claim, you need to act quickly. If you have received a claim, it is essential to check whether it was brought within the limitation period.

For help and advice in relation to the above or any other litigation advice, please contact a member of our litigation team on or 01524 548494/ 01228 552600