During road transports of vaccines, the temperature sensitivity of the transported goods and specific risks (eg, potential attacks, theft, falsifications and organised crime) are of particular importance for the consignor and the carrier.

With regard to the possible individual agreements and the handling of any legal consequences of problems during the provision of transport services, a distinction must be made in consideration of the applicable law as to whether a purely national transport or an international transport with compulsory applicability of the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR) is involved.

What the Swiss Code of Obligations (Contract on the Carriage of Goods) and the liability regime according to the CMR have in common is that there is a so-called "mild causal liability". In principle, under both legal systems, the carrier is granted the right to provide evidence of exculpation. However, such proof of exoneration by the carrier in the case of problems with the cooling system or in the case of theft is likely to be difficult to provide.

If the specific breach of a carrier's obligation to perform is to be qualified as gross negligence, possible individually agreed limitations of liability or, in the area of application of the CMR, those in accordance with its article 23, will also become ineffective. However, technical possibilities in the transport of pharmaceuticals have been further developed in recent years to such an extent that common dangers in transport can be anticipated by carriers in advance.

If the respective carrier is correctly instructed concerning the required cooling of transported goods, securing the cooling is sometimes one of the carrier's specified contractual obligations. Since the proper temperature control of the vaccines during transport is of vital importance, (pre-) cooling during production, proper packaging and continuous cooling during the loading/unloading processes and during transport are elements along the supply chain that must be taken into account in order to fulfil the contractual obligations.

Nowadays, it is common in modern transport logistics for a lot of relevant data to be collected during transport. With valuable or technically demanding goods such as vaccines, the relevant data is continuously recorded and, in some cases, also sent to the logistics companies' headquarters. The packaging units are equipped with a measuring device that continuously records the temperature and stores the corresponding data. Consequently, these technical possibilities allow for a modern type of risk management during the transport of valuable and sensitive goods.

For further information on this topic please contact Christian Hochstrasser at ThomannFischer by telephone (+41 61 226 24 24) or email ([email protected]). The ThomannFischer website can be accessed at www.thomannfischer.ch.