Of Trucks, Trains & Ships: Relative Liability in Multimodal Shipping

photo_5234_20080310By: Amir H. Khoury

For many years now, various international agreements and national laws have provided ways in which to determine the liability of cargo loss damage and delay. Yet, in a multimodal reality these systems still lack a clear mechanism for assessing the liability amongst the various multimodal carriers that are generally involved in the shipping of cargo, especially in cases where it is not clear where, in the shipment chain, the damage actually occurred. This paper provides a simple, yet novel mechanism for resolving such disputes among different carriers and cargo handlers in multimodal shipping. This is done by way of my proposed Relative Distance & Time Index (“RDTI”). My proposed RDTI system aims to achieve a realistic calculation of liability for each participant in the multimodal shipping process. Thus, such a system would typically reduce the need for these carriers to argue and a potentially initiate legal action against one another over the relative responsibility for the damage or loss of a container and/or its contents.


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