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International transport law

In accordance with an announcement by the International Rail Transport Committee (CIT), COTIF 1999 came into effect as from 1 July 2006.

Important elements of COTIF 99 are the 'Uniform Rules concerning the Contract of International Carriage of Goods by Rail' (ER CIM, Appendix B to the agreement).

The new legal requirements of COTIF (3.6.1999) may be found at the website of the Intergovernmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) under the menu item 'Agreements (COTIF)' (see link in the column on the right).

As compared with the law as it stands, there are some changes and innovations. We would like to tell you about a few of these here.

New consignment note form

With the coming into force of the new ER CIM, a new consignment note form has to be used. The new CIM consignment note of the International Rail Transport Committee (CIT) fulfills all legal requirements. A sample, with explanations, may be found under the menu item 'Consignment notes'.

Abolition of the obligation to carry and to publish tariffs

The new ER CIM makes it exclusively a matter for the contracting partners in future to determine the regulations for the obligation to carry and the tariffs that are to be applied. Customer agreements (special agreements) will also continue to include carriage and tariff regulations and so provide a contractual basis for the carriage of goods. These agreements will also regulate the payment of the transport charges, like freight charges, ancillary charges, customs duties and other costs, which are to be laid down in the individual contract of carriage in the form of a payment note.

Responsibility for freight charges

When there is no special agreement about the payment of freight charges, in future the consignor is liable for payment. Hitherto the party liable for payment was the recipient.

In a case where the payment of the transport costs by the recipient has been agreed, the consignor remains responsible until such time as the recipient takes up the consignment note, requests delivery or issues a subsequent order of disposal. The question what payment notes or prepayment instructions may be included in the consignment note is based on the agreement between the railroad and its customers.

Changes in the right of disposal

Under the new freight law, from the time when the consignment note is made out, the right of disposal rests with the recipient of the shipment, unless the consignor has entered instructions to the contrary in the consignment note. In the past, in most cases the consignor held the right of disposal at least until such time as the goods entered the customs territory of the destination country.

In the case of an obstruction to conveyance, in future the party with the right of disposal is authorized to issue instructions. In the past it was the consignor, in such circumstances, who had the authority to issue instructions. In many cases the carrier may decide whether to ask for the issue of instructions. In order that the consignor, even in the case of an obstruction to conveyance, may remain the responsible contact person for DB Cargo AG, and to avoid delays in the execution of a contract, DB Cargo AG will in future include a standard instruction in the consignment note in the case of consignments dispatched from Germany ("Consignor has exclusive right of disposal until the consignment has left Germany"), unless the consignor gives instructions to the contrary.

Terms and conditions of business for international transport

For international transport, DB Cargo AG has formulated its own terms and conditions of business. All important features of these are included in the Provisions for International Carriage by Rail, which in their turn form a part of the Prices and Terms of DB Cargo AG. These conditions will also be included in the General Terms and Conditions of Carriage for International Freight Traffic by Rail and in the terms and conditions laid down in the CIM Consignment Note Manual, which have been worked out in collaboration with the international customer associations of the International Rail Transport Committee, the CIT. As soon as these conditions have been completed, they will be made available on the website.