Distinction between Freight Contract and Charter Contract

Higher Regional Court Nürnberg, jugdement of 14 April 2015 – 3 U 1573/14.

Summary

The decision deals with the distinction between a charter contract and a freight contract. The freight contract provides opportunity to hold the carrier liable for damages occuring during transportation. In the case at hand goods were stolen from a truck, the claimant sued the transport insurance based on CMR rules. The Higher Regional Court of Nürnberg decided that the contract was not be classified as a freight contract and transport law – the CMR – was not applicable. The contract was interpreted as a charter contract because it showed elements of a leasing contract, for instance a remuneration based on kilometres driven with the truck.  The differentiation is thus very important to assess liability risks and should be considered carefully when entering into such a contract.