Nature of the personal fault of the freight forwarder
Cass. com., 21 October 2020, n° 18-15.165
In this judgment, the Court of Cassation considers that the personal liability of the freight forwarder can only be incurred for a causal fault, that is to say, if his personal fault is directly at the origin of the damage or loss of the goods.
Division of responsibility between the commission agent and the substituted carrier
CA Rouen, 28 September 2020, n° 18/05434
It follows from this judgment that the liability of the freight forwarder can be sought both because of his personal fault and in his capacity as guarantor of the substituted carrier, against whom he can turn. In in cases of accumulation of liability (combined faults), the judges on the merits will determine the percentage of each share of liability in the compensation for the damage of the person entitled to the goods.
Liability of the freight forwarder as guarantor of the substituted carrier
CA Lyon, 1st October 2020, n° 18/06470
It follows from this judgment that, on the one hand, a freight forwarder is liable to his customer if he does not report the declared value of the goods on the consignment note. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of the carrier to request instructions from its instructing party before delivering the goods to a person other than the one mentioned on the consignment note.
Quality of freight forwarder
CA Paris, 8 October 2020, n° 18/16947
The Court of Appeal held that the onus is on the person claiming the title of freight forwarder to prove the reality of that title, which is not inferred from the mere fact of having subcontracted the transport operation. If he does not provide evidence to the contrary, then the respondent is qualified as a carrier.
In addition, the Court adds that the storage costs of the goods generated by the retention of the latter are part of the contract of carriage, subject to the CMR if it is intended to apply.
Finally, within the scope of the CMR, the written claim suspends the limitation period until the carrier expressly rejects it.
Exception of non-performance opposed to the carrier
CA Lyon, 17 December 2020, n° 18/08631
The exception of non-performance cannot be made in case of damage or delay of the goods because the “basic” obligation, i.e. the movement of the cargo to destination has been performed by the valet.
Exonerating force majeure
T.com Nanterre, 16 September 2020, n°2018-F01195
The typhoon of exceptional intensity (warning signal 10) is an exonerated case of responsibility for the freight forwarder.
Application of the commission agent’s limitations on the liability of substitutes
CA Paris, 3 November 2020, n° 19/12214
As long as the limitations on compensation for substitutes are not known or do not result from mandatory provisions, they are deemed identical to those relating to the personal liability of the freight forwarder, and therefore in principle to those provided for in the standard contract of carriage commission.
Quality of inland waterway freight forwarder
Court of Appeal of Paris (Pole 5), Ch. 5, 3 September 2020, n° 17/15519
The consignment note mentioning the transport intermediary as “broker” is only an indication. In the present case, the consignment note also stated in the special conditions that the ” sailor shall notify the intermediary of any stop en route immediately “. This clause shows that this intermediary was remunerated for the organization of the transport which he had carried out under his responsibility and according to the terms of his choice. Thus, this mission characterized an activity as a freight forwarder and not a broker.