The Supreme Court of Lithuania: the carrier is liable for losses related to additional freight costs incurred due to non-compliance with traffic safety requirements
On 26 August 2020, the Supreme Court of Lithuania has adopted a decision on the interpretation and application of the legislation regulating liability for additional freight costs incurred due to additional transportation in cases where the cargo was transported in violation of traffic safety requirements.
The Supreme Court of Lithuania has specifically confirmed that the CMR Convention is comprehensive and should not be interpreted broadly, nor can it be applied by analogy to legal situations not directly covered by the CMR Convention. Therefore, the provisions of Article 17 (1) and (4) (c) of the CMR Convention cannot be applied where the carrier has incurred additional freight costs relating to the conversion of an unsuitable vehicle into a suitable vehicle for the carriage of goods, where the cargo was not lost or damaged.
The Court found that the costs were incurred due to detention of the vehicle carrying the goods and prohibition issued by police officers to continue transporting the goods using the vehicle because of insufficient securing of the cargo. Continuation of transportation was allowed only after reloading the cargo into a rigid truck. Thus, it was concluded that the damage suffered by the applicant (the carrier) relates to additional costs of transporting the goods as a result of non-compliance with road safety requirements.
Both the provisions of the legislation establishing road safety requirements and the persons responsible for them and the contract of carriage concluded between the parties should be considered when addressing the issue of losses resulting from additional freight costs because of non-compliance with road safety requirements.
Taking into account the fact that road safety is in the public interest, the Supreme Court of Lithuania ruled that the carrier is liable for losses related to additional cargo transportation costs incurred due to the fact that the cargo was transported in violation of the road safety requirements. This is not applicable only in those cases where the carrier cannot objectively understand that the loading of the cargo does not comply with such requirements. This circumstance – the objective inability to perceive that the loading of the cargo does not meet the requirements of traffic safety – must be proved by the carrier.