The Economics of Carrier Liability of Intermodal Freight Transport

The Economics of Carrier Liability of Intermodal Freight Transport


H Chua, IM Technologies Limited; I Black, Cranfield University, UK;



The European Commission Communication on Intermodality and Intermodal Freight Transport (COM(97) 243) established that the lack of a uniform liability arrangement between modes is an impediment to the further development of freight intermodalism in the EU. In the mid 1990s an EC sponsored group of learned experts recommended a non-mandatory uniform liability arrangement as a means to overcome the costs and bias inherent in a system without uniform liability.

This paper reports on the key findings of an EC sponsored research project into the economic impact of carrier liability on intermodal freight transport. It aims to provide useful insights into an aspect of freight transport which is critical to successful and satisfactory freight transport operations but little understood being mainly confined to legal experts.

Following the introductory section the paper turns to outlining the stakeholders of the freight transport supply chain, the different carrier liability regimes and their relationships. This is followed by details of a pan European survey on stakeholder characteristics concerning cargo values, loss and damage levels, use of insurance and knowledge and experience of carrier liability in section 3. Section 4 details the friction costs of carrier liability and an accounting framework to quantify estimates of the friction cost of carrier liability. The final section gives estimates of friction costs of carrier liability of various journeys and the potential reduction in cost following harmonisation of conditions to facilitate intermodal transport.


Association for European Transport