Under Article 31(2) of the Montreal Convention, in the event of damages, the person entitled to delivery must complain to the carrier immediately after damages are discovered and, at the latest, within 14 days of receipt of the cargo. In a recent decision, the Regional Court of Frankfurt ruled that only the recipient of the goods is entitled to file a complaint to the carrier. A complaint filed by the shipper does not fulfil the stipulations of Article 31.
The shipper sent medical products by air from Germany to Australia. The goods were delivered to the recipient in Sydney. The shipper filed a written notice of claim to the airline claiming compensation for damage to the shipment. The recipient did not file a complaint.
The court ruled that under the clear wording of Article 31, only the consignee (ie, the recipient) was entitled to file a timely notice of complaint to the airline. As the complaint in this case was filed by the shipper, it was therefore invalid. The court ruled, furthermore, that is was not against good faith for the carrier to bring the case under this provision.
Article 31 clearly states that only the recipient is entitled to file a notice of complaint after delivery of the goods - once the goods have been delivered, only the recipient is able to check the goods. The court confirmed this understanding and thereby strengthened the position of carriers.
The court's decision was based on the reasonable assumption that - after delivery - it is important to establish direct contact between carrier and recipient in the event that damages have occurred. This allows the carrier to inspect the goods without delay. A complaint filed by the shipper means that the party that files the complaint has no custody of the goods, forming an unnecessary obstacle to verification of damages.
For further information on this topic please contact Holger Bürskens at Arnecke Siebold Rechtsanwälte by telephone (+49 69 97 98 85 0) or by fax (+49 69 97 98 85 85) or by email ([email protected]).