Introduction

The Transport Code (formally the Act on Transport Services (320/2017)) is one of the government's key initiatives. The code's main aims are to:

  • create a growth environment for digitalisation; and
  • promote transport business by deregulation.

The preparation of the code's first stage began in November 2015.

The code is tailored to enable and promote seamless and multimodal travel and transportation chains as well as other combined value-added mobility services by opening up the data on traffic systems to be shared between customers, service providers and authorities as freely as possible. The project covers all transport modes and aims to bring the provisions of the different transport services under this one code to promote interoperability.

Due to the code's broad scope, its preparation has been divided into three stages. The first and second stages entered into force on 1 July 2018 and the provisions relating to intelligent transport systems based on EU Directive 2010/40/EU entered into force on 1 October 2017. While the provisions on opening essential data have applied since 1 January 2018, those relating to acting on another's behalf will enter into force on 1 January 2019.

Third-stage provisions opened for comment

In May 2018 provisions relating to the Transport Code's third stage were opened for comment by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Over 50 comments were received before the June deadline. Generally, commentators highlighted data protection issues and the most commented on proposals were as follows:

  • opening up essential postal services data for competition purposes;
  • imposing location data obligations on professional heavy transport companies; and
  • ratifying the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road concerning the Electronic Consignment Note (the e-CMR protocol) in Finland.

Under the code, postal companies would need to open up their essential postal services data (eg, routings and the location of PO boxes, mail boxes and buildings) to promote competition and improve and develop postal services. Unsurprisingly, this proposal received mixed support depending on the commentators' standing.

To satisfy future demand, the code would impose location data obligations on rail transport and professional road-based heavy transport companies. The government anticipates that location data will become:

  • necessary for traffic safety and control purposes; and
  • a useful business development tool for transport companies.

Being mandatory and costly, this proposal received an overwhelmingly negative response from the transport industry.

Ratifying e-CMR protocol

The e-CMR protocol came into effect in 2011. Although it has been signed and despite pleas from the Finnish transport industry, the protocol has not yet been ratified.

The government has proposed ratifying the e-CMR to promote digitalisation and business development in Finland. While contracting parties in the domestic transport industry have been able to agree on the use of the electronic consignment note, so far this possibility has not been used significantly.

The proposal suggests that e-CMRs would be optional and any legal amendments under the revised protocol would apply to both international and domestic transport; however, the implementation requirements set out in Article 5 of the e-CMR protocol would apply only to international transport.

The contents of international and domestic transport e-CMRs would be the same under the government's proposal. To date, the contents of domestic consignment notes has been slightly different to and simpler than international consignment notes. Moreover, the domestic consignment note was last standardised by the Finnish Standards Association in 2010. Transport service providers were somewhat critical of this part of the proposal.

According to Article 3 of the e-CMR protocol, electronic consignment notes must be authenticated using a reliable electronic signature that ensures its link with the electronic consignment note. However, there are calls for the government to clarify which electronic signatures would be considered reliable under the EU Regulation on Electronic Identification (910/2014).

It is not yet known in what form the final provisions will be sent for parliamentary approval in Autumn 2018.

For further information on this topic please contact Matti Komonen at HPP Attorneys Ltd by telephone (+358 9 474 2207) or email (matti.komonen@hpp.fi). The HPP Attorneys Ltd website can be accessed at www.hpp.fi.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.