Overcoming unjustified claims: a recipe for a positive outcome

Overcoming unjustified claims: a recipe for a positive outcome

International transport is fraught with both opportunities and many challenges. Transport companies are increasingly faced with a growing number of cases and disputes that arise in the course of their work. In some cases, these disagreements reach court, where qualified expertise is crucial to achieving a positive outcome. In this article we focus on the importance of professional work in resolving disputes in the world of international transport.

 

The Facts

Our client, a carrier, was commissioned to transport goods from Bulgaria to France. At the unloading address it was found that the goods were damaged. This was also established by the entry of an appropriate remark in the CMR consignment note.

The challenges

The owner of the goods brought a claim in relation to the damaged goods directly before the court. This is generally unusual as claims for damage or shortages are brought out of court under the CMR Convention.

Our client received by post a notice from the French court before which the case was brought, of the scheduled hearing, and information about the claim. With surprise and a degree of concern, a representative of the transport company contacted us asking for assistance.

In a case such as this, great care must be taken, bearing in mind the jurisdiction of the court before which the case is pending and that the specifics of the applicable law must be taken into account.

Professional care and assistance

As experts in the field of transport law, we at Claims Trans have an extensive network of contacts of lawyers abroad with whom we work on a daily basis on various cases.

Without wasting time, we contacted our partner in France. The latter, after becoming acquainted with the case, immediately took the necessary steps to ensure that our client was properly represented in court in France.

Together with the lawyer, we discussed the main lines of defence open to us.

The claimant’s (the owner of the goods) claim was extremely high, including the cost of repairing the damaged goods, transport costs, operational loss, and legal costs.

The operating loss claimed by the plaintiff was a huge sum, which was not proven either in reason or in amount.

After a thorough discussion of the facts and the applicable law with the French lawyer, we concluded together that our client was only liable for the damage to the goods, but up to the limit of liability provided for in the CMR Convention.

As a next step, we considered that it would be best if an out-of-court settlement could be reached with the other party in order to bring the case to a swift and fair conclusion.

Our partner initiated serious negotiations with the opposing party and its legal representative, ultimately succeeding in its efforts, and the claimant agreed to be compensated up to the carrier’s limit of liability and to have the case dismissed and accordingly closed.

In the meantime, open court hearings were held and it took almost a year to reach a settlement, have it approved by the court and accordingly terminate the proceedings. Otherwise, if no agreement had been reached, perhaps the trial would have continued for another year.

Conclusions

In the end, thanks to our efforts and the professionalism of our partner, the value of the claim was reduced from nearly 90,000 EUR to 13,000 EUR. With the out-of-court settlement, the case was closed relatively quickly and entirely in the interest of our client. Justice prevailed once again and we were able to fight off the unjustified claim of the owner of the goods, which, had it been upheld by the court, could have proved disastrous for our client’s business.

 

Success in the field of transportation case management requires not only careful management, but also professional care and assistance. At Claims Trans, we provide expert claims assistance on a daily basis. Our commitment to clients and our ability to offer quick and effective solutions play a crucial role in achieving positive results that, in turn, fully satisfy our clients.

Another Successfully Resolved Case of Total Goods Damage Due to a Road Incident

Another Successfully Resolved Case of Total Goods Damage Due to a Road Incident

In the dynamic transport industry, incidents leading to total goods damage due to road accidents are not uncommon. These occurrences pose significant challenges for carriers and all parties involved, relying on seamless cargo delivery. However, with timely intervention, effective management, and expertise in transport law, successfully resolving such cases becomes possible.

Facts

Our client, a carrier, was tasked with transporting goods to Germany. During the transport, a road incident occurred due to a burst tire, resulting in the overturning of the composition, hitting the roadside barriers, and shifting into oncoming traffic. A severe incident, fortunately leaving the driver unharmed.

Challenges

Road incidents of this nature are highly dangerous, both for the driver and other road users. Timely arrival of the police at the accident site was crucial, leading to the drafting of a police report. This report was of significant importance in processing the claim by the insurers. Simultaneously, the composition with the scattered goods blocked the busy highway. It was imperative to promptly organize the clearing of the roadway and the removal of the composition and goods to the nearest parking lot by an assisting company. Another challenge emerged in the destruction of the damaged goods. As it was a food product, the goods had to be disposed of as quickly as possible, following certain standards, resulting in additional significant expenses.

Navigating the Process

We promptly informed the carrier’s insurer about the insurance event and requested immediate guidance. The insurer confirmed that engaging an surveyor in this case was unnecessary as the goods were entirely damaged – a total loss.

Quick Actions Lead to Results

Upon submitting all the necessary documents to the carrier’s insurer and maintaining active communication, the insurer provided a positive response, and the full value of the damaged goods was paid to the claimant. Moreover, the expenses incurred by the carrier in clearing the goods from the roadway and their destruction were fully reimbursed by the insurer.

Conclusions

The significant incident posed a challenge for both the carrier and the cargo owner. The carrier took responsibility, adhering to the standards and obligations outlined in the CMR Convention, which was crucial for the successful resolution of the case. It’s essential to note that thanks to rapid and effective communication and collaboration among all involved parties, the insurer completely satisfied the cargo owner’s claim, providing full compensation for the incurred losses. This successful outcome highlights the importance of a professional approach and the ability to act quickly and effectively when unexpected incidents occur during international cargo transport.

Our experts understand the importance of handling incidents and insurance claims. With our extensive experience and a team of transport and insurance law professionals, we are at your service to provide our expertise and commitment to resolving similar situations. Rest assured, with us, your interests and rights will be fully protected, and the process of settling insurance claims will be conducted efficiently and with special attention to details.

Navigating the Unexpected: How Claims Trans Overcame a Challenging Cargo Incident

Navigating the Unexpected: How Claims Trans Overcame a Challenging Cargo Incident

Road accidents happen, and no one is insured against being involved in one. Often in the transportation industry, drivers are faced with circumstances that are beyond their control, and the consequences for the goods being transported can be fatal. Some of the most common factors that predispose to a road accident include road conditions, the reactions of other road users, speed, the dimensions of the truck, and the specifics of the cargo being transported. At Clams Trans, we have successfully resolved just such a case, where the entire cargo perished during a road accident.

The Facts

Our client is a freight forwarding company that was contracted to transport goods from Bulgaria to Sweden. They, in turn, subcontracted the transport to a carrier. The cargo being transported is wine weighing 24 tonnes with a significant material value. Due to the driver’s inappropriate speed, the lorry entered oncoming traffic, crashed into another lorry, overturned, and went off the road.

The Challenges

As a result of the accident, all the wine leaked out, and the driver of the other truck had minor injuries. The event took place in Romania, and the police immediately arrived at the scene to secure the area and retrieve the crashed truck. Already at this stage, the transporter is obliged to notify the assigning party, and so until information reaches the owners of the goods. In the present case, we have a total loss of goods, but in other circumstances where the damage is partial, it is important to recall that under the applicable CMR Convention Article 14(1), if for any reason it is impossible to carry out the transport before the goods reach the place designated for delivery, the carrier must request instructions from the person entitled to dispose of the goods.

Actions

The CMR carrier’s liability insurer was informed immediately of the incident. We investigated the need to appoint an surveyor, but in view of the fact that the damage was total, the insurer considered that there was no need to engage a surveyor. The driver was taken to the police to give his statement and subsequently to obtain an official police report, which is a compulsory document for any insurer under the “Carrier’s Liability” CMR when the event is a road traffic accident or theft.

Rules

In the event of road accidents where the cargo is totally damaged, it is important to collect all evidential documents to be provided to the insurer for their opinion. Often, when the action takes place in another state, obtaining an official police report can be a major challenge and lead to greater tension with the parties involved. At times like this, it is important to put clients at ease and make regular checks with the police regarding the issuance of the report that specifies the cause/party at fault for the crash.

Results

After providing all the necessary documents to the carrier’s CMR liability insurer, another hurdle ensued which delayed the insurer’s ruling. As mentioned at the outset, the driver of the other truck was slightly injured in the crash, so a pre-trial proceeding was initiated against the at-fault driver (our client’s subcontractor). In this case, however, the insurance cover applied to the liability of the carrier for the damage to the cargo during carriage, which was, in fact, the case. Therefore, the tort lawsuit filed was not relevant to this liability. After active communication with the insurer, it confirmed payment of compensation for the full value of the totally damaged (lost) goods.

Conclusions🏁

Although road traffic accidents can lead to great uncertainty, and the resolution of resulting claims can sometimes take considerable time, there are specific mechanisms to speed up the process of obtaining and providing the necessary information. This helps to dramatically improve the situation and reduce the time taken to resolve the issue.

When all parties concerned are informed in a timely manner of the development of the case, when the carrier fulfills its obligation to notify its insurer under the carrier’s liability insurance CMR immediately after the insured event, and when the responsible law enforcement authorities quickly and correctly draw up a document of the event, then all that is necessary is to control the process and apply the legal framework.

At Clams Trans, we rely on our extensive experience in handling claims of this nature and insist that our clients receive effective and legally sound advice to resolve their cases. We value the human aspect highly and always try to preserve the commercial relationship between the participants in the supply chain. We also do not allow escalated tensions to affect our professional judgment because we believe that success comes when you are consistent, responsible, and precise in your work.  

Social Dumping: Protection, Prevention, and Best Practice for Carriers

Social Dumping: Protection, Prevention, and Best Practice for Carriers

CLAIM DEPOT

T

he European Single Market provides carriers with various opportunities to grow and advance their business internationally. However, the access to this is contingent upon complying with sometimes strict guidelines and regulations. The latest version of the Mobility Package[1] from 2021 is the most recent iteration of such a formal guideline stemming from the European Union.

The most “popular” topic stemming from the Mobility Package are the mandatory rest times or the cabbotage rules. Indeed, the fines can be costly and it is often troublesome to navigate the abundance of rules and method of administration in each country. Luckily, there are methods to counteract the risks presented by fines during regular transports which many transport companies already benefit from[2].

Social Dumping📉

However, the much less known element of the Mobility Package – the anti-social dumping regulations often get underestimated in terms of its regulatory scope and its impact on transport companies operating in the European Single Market. The EU has a longstanding issue with what is known as “social dumping”.[3] This term refers to the practice of companies hiring workers from other countries within the EU in order to cut costs and gain a competitive advantage. Many transport companies employ this strategy not only for its financial benefits, but for the organizational ease of completing recurrent transports for regular clients.

The Posted Workers Directive✒️

The EU responded to this increasing trend through the Posted Workers Directive (2020) in an effort to provide more labor protection and equalize the competitive advantage for companies regardless of their country of registration. The directive extends the requirement for equal pay and working conditions to all workers, regardless of whether they are posted or not. It would also introduce stricter enforcement mechanisms and penalties for companies that violate the rules.[4]

The proposed mobility package has sparked controversy, with some arguing that it goes too far and could harm the free movement of workers within the EU. In particular, companies from the logistics industry have signaled that the new regulations have prompted hostile behavior by the host country’s administrative bodies in attempts to enforce the new rules.

The main issues for transport companies arise due to the Directive’s use of national collective bargain agreements as a benchmark for remuneration along with national social security rules. As such, the necessary compliance with these standards creates a significiant administrative burden on transport companies and puts companies at financial risk.

Solutions and Best Practice🧩

In all European countries, posted workers regulations are enforced by labor inspectors who have the power to investigate complaints and impose penalties on employers who violate these regulations. Employers who are found to be in violation of posted workers regulations may be required to pay back wages to the affected workers, and may also face fines or other penalties.

“Typical” destinations for posted drivers such as Belgium and the Netherlands require employers to register them with the national authorities and present workers with their written rights and obligations apart from providing the workers with the same working conditions and remuneration levels as the local workers. These are also the countries who have a prominent level of enforcement as certain legal battles have progressed to the highest levels of judicial remedy in the respective national Supreme Courts.[5] In doing so, the rules and details for posting workers have been further defined and clarified through jurisprudence which transport companies can use in order to ensure compliance and prevent costs.

The different jurisdictions within the EU of course have various methods of administering this information through digital forms, written declarations and regulatory oversight with some countries like the Netherlands enjoying a fully digital and comprehensive portal for all of this administration.[6] However, every transport company can benefit from the following universal guidelines for compliance in order to protect themselves and prevent costly fines:

1. Check whether your company is actually “posting” workers

Different countries have a multitude of requirements which qualify workers as posted in a host country. These usually include the administrative information of the company itself, its main source of income, and most importantly, the structure of the labor contracts and labor descriptions offerred by the carrier. It is of paramount importance to check this as the conclusion of this check would change the requirements for the company itself with regard to its drivers.

2.Research the national collective bargaining agreement for transport workers

Each country possesses guidelines and regulations for the working conditions and remunerations for workers in the transport industry with differring degrees of detail and scope. If your company is posting workers according to the abovementioned, it would be necessary to comply and match the guidelines from these agreements.

3.Provide information to the national authorities of the host-country

Before employing the labor of posted workers, it is important to communicate the structure of the labor in advance to the national authority, usually the Ministry of Labor/Social Security, through written communication or digital declaration.

The Conclusion🚀

As a general rule, to prevent violations and fines arising from non-compliance, it is crucial to maintain proper documentation and records. This includes keeping detailed records of posted workers’ contracts, pay, and working conditions. It is also important to regularly communicate with the host country to ensure compliance with the posted workers directive. By taking these steps, transport companies can prevent violations and protect the rights of their workers while still maintaining their comparative advantage in the increasingly competitive transport industry.

At Claims Trans, we have already contributed towards efforts for compliance and dispute settlement arising out of accusations brought in front of Bulgarian transport companies operating in the European Single Market. If you’d like to save time and resources dedicated to compliance, as well as to protect your company from costly fines, do not hesitate to contact us so that we can support you in navigating these regulations so that you can allow more time for the growth of your business.

Bibliography:
[1] European Union Mobility Package I, Mobility and Transport. Available at: https://transport.ec.europa.eu/transport-modes/road/mobility-package-i_en (Accessed: February 4, 2023).
[2] International Road Union. Driving and rest time rules –  the EU’s mobility package, IRU. Available at: https://www.irumobilitypackages.org/driving-and-rest-time-rules (Accessed: February 4, 2023).
[3] European parliament. Understanding social dumping in the European Union (no date) Think Tank | European Parliament. Available at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document/EPRS_BRI(2017)599353 (Accessed: February 4, 2023).
[4] Questions and answers on posting of Drivers Under Directive (EU) 2020/1057 Mobility and Transport. Available at: https://transport.ec.europa.eu/transport-modes/road/mobility-package-i/posting-rules/questions-and-answers-posting-drivers-under-directive-eu-20201057_en (Accessed: February 4, 2023).
[5] Emma van Kaemegem (2023) Are foreign employers who post workers to Belgium obliged to proceed with a Dimona obligation: What has the Belgian Supreme Court said (or rather not said)?, Altius. Available at: https://www.altius.com/en/news/are-foreign-employers-who-post-workers-to-belgium-obliged-to-proceed-with-a-dimona-obligation-what-has-the-belgian-supreme-court-said-or-rather-not-said/ (Accessed: February 4, 2023).
[6] Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid (2022) Notifying online, Posted Workers. Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid. Available at: https://english.postedworkers.nl/online-notification-portal (Accessed: February 4, 2023).

Does transport mediation deliver solutions tailored to the dynamics of the logistics industry?

Does transport mediation deliver solutions tailored to the dynamics of the logistics industry?

transport mediation

The dynamics of the logistics industry create serious challenges for carriers, freight forwarders and customers. Problematic situations arise on a daily basis. Losing control of a problem while it is still in its infancy makes solving it much more difficult.

How can logistics companies can benefit from mediation?

The logistics industry needs a mechanism to match its dynamics, namely an adaptable, dynamic, flexible and fast model through which disputes can be resolved efficiently. The mediation procedure is the means that would perfectly incorporate into the transport industry to help it continue to develop at a rapid pace.

Mediation is an alternative means of resolving disputes. It is precisely an alternative because it is an option that the parties have and the choice of which depends solely on their will. By agreeing to a mediation procedure with the assistance of a mediator, the parties aim to reach a mutually beneficial solution and agreement between them. Of course, the parties to a pending dispute may also proceed to mediation at any time and reach an agreement only with the mediator’s proper communication guidelines.

The mediation procedure is distinguished by certain principles which most clearly describe its nature, namely: voluntariness, equality, neutrality, impartiality and confidentiality. In view of these basic principles, the disputants have equal opportunities in the mediation procedure. They participate of their own free will and may withdraw at any time. It is also extremely important that the mediator does not show partiality and does not impose a solution on the dispute. In the mediation procedure, all issues are settled only by mutual agreement of the parties.

In order to gain a better insight into the nature of mediation, we should distinguish mediation from court and arbitration proceedings. While in the latter two proceedings the decision is made by a judge or arbitrator on the basis of the applicable law, in mediation the parties themselves resolve the dispute with the help of the mediator on the basis of their personal needs or business interests. Another important difference should not be overlooked, namely that court and arbitration proceedings follow a strictly formal procedure laid down in law or rules, whereas in mediation there is an informal and flexible procedure which is modelled and individualised according to the needs of the parties and the type of dispute respectively.

The advantages offered by the mediation procedure are significant in number and can be structured as follows:

1.Speed of outcome – this is one of the main advantages of mediation compared to court proceedings in particular. The parties can usually reach a mutually beneficial solution within 1-2 sessions, which would not take more than a month. Conversely, if the dispute is taken to court, it can take a considerable period of time to consider and resolve.

2.Lower financial cost – resolving the dispute in mediation would cost much less financially than court proceedings;

3.Convenience – no formal procedures;

4.Control – the parties have overall control over the development of the procedure;

5.High success rate and getting to the heart of the problem;

6.Preservation of alternative options – referring the dispute to a mediator does not deprive the parties of the possibility, if they fail to reach an agreement, to seek protection of their rights and interests in court or in arbitration;

7.Preservation of relations – resolving the dispute in mediation allows the parties to preserve good relations and continue their cooperation;

Most likely, after clarifying the nature of mediation, the question arises: How can mediation work in transport? The answer is clear – mediation is widely applicable in the transport sector as it would help to resolve the conflicts that inevitably arise on a daily basis. In view of the dynamics of the transport industry, mediation is the means by which disputes arising can be resolved in a quick, efficient and above all cost-effective manner.

Furthermore, business relations in transport are very important and as such should be preserved for the future. A mediator would help the two disputing parties to confront the problem, generate as many solutions as possible in the interests of the parties, find the balance in the demands of both parties so that they can reach a mutually beneficial solution and continue to cooperate with each other, rather than worsen their relationship as happens most often in litigation.

And what is the value for companies? Mediation gives a lot – companies reach quick and efficient solutions in line with their direct business interests – a very important circumstance in view of the dynamics in the transport industry. Mediation saves a lot of costs – a definite plus in view of the difficult economic situation we are in. Last but not least, mediation helps the parties to maintain good relations with each other and to continue working together – this fact also has a positive impact on the economic situation of the companies.

Mediation is best suited to the dynamics of the logistics industry. The latter requires quick, effective and forward-looking solutions, and mediation is able to help the parties themselves reach precisely such solutions.