Robert Emanuel Director of W.E. Cox Recoveries reviews New RHA Conditions of Carriage 2020
RHA Conditions of Carriage 2020 – Specimen Copy Click Here
RHA Conditions of Carriage were first introduced in 1946 to define a haulier’s legal relationship with their customers and have undergone various revisions since then. The latest set of conditions are entitled RHA Conditions of Carriage 2020 and where incorporated will replace the 2009 edition and those before that date. They are effective from 1st September 2020. Only fully paid up members of the Road Haulage Association can legally use RHA Conditions of Carriage and older conditions remain valid until the hauliers advise their customers that they intend to trade subject to the new conditions. As contractual terms the Conditions can be varied to reflect specific operational practices.
What are the changes to the standard terms ?
There are two new definitions for demurrage for detention of their vehicle and force majeure. The right to subcontract which existed under the older conditions is explicitly defined.
Loading and unloading
Previously clause 4 of the 2009 conditions only stated that the haulier was not under an obligation to provide equipment other than carried by the vehicle to load or unload the cargo. The revision under the 2020 conditions states that the customer is responsible for loading the goods and the consignee is responsible for unloading the goods from the vehicle. The haulier is not to be held liable for either of these operations nor for overloading the vehicle. If the haulier will actually undertake loading / unloading to shift responsibility to the haulier it would be necessary for this to be agreed in advance in writing.
There is a new clause 5 obligations of the customer in respect of harmful or pollutant products.
The clause in respect of signed receipts is effectively unchanged.
Under the 2009 conditions transit commenced when the carrier took possession of the consignment and ended when tendered for delivery. If delivery could not be effected the goods transit ended only if instructions were not given. The revised Transit clause 7 now states that transit commences after the consignment has left the collection premises and ends once the consignment has arrived at the proper place of delivery. When the goods are not in transit they are at the sole risk of the customer.
The monetary limit remains at £ 1300 per tonne of the gross weight of goods lost or damaged. Liabilities excluded include loss of profits, loss of contracts and goodwill and indirect or consequential loss and a wider scope of force majeure defences are recorded.
There are sections on indemnity to the carrier, time limits for claim, liens for unpaid freight, guidance in respect of undelivered consignments, carriers’ charges and obligations of the customer which are ostensibly unchanged from the previous conditions. Although not mentioned in the explanatory notes issued by the RHA following the requirement to advise the carrier in writing within seven days of a claim for loss or damage the subsequent requirement to put a claim in writing within 14 days has been omitted.
The principal changes to the conditions relate to responsibility for loading and unloading and the scope of the transit. These are the default arrangements and the parties are free to negotiate the terms for responsibility for loading and unloading and the scope of the transit. It can be considered that the new conditions provide greater protection to the haulier and that disputes will arise due to the restrictive scope of the transit and the shift in the responsibility to cargo interests for loading and unloading.
There is no reference to securing of the consignment nor clarity in respect of cases where a driver may remove securing put in place by the consignor if multiple deliveries are undertaken. Further we have had claims where a driver has opened the rear doors before manoeuvring his vehicle closer to a delivery bay resulting in cargo falling to the floor. It may be expected where RHA 2020 shall apply that disputes will arise due to the conflict between the consignment still remaining under the control of the haulier but clause 7 stating that the transit had ended once the consignment arrived at the proper place of delivery thus before the driver undertook a fateful manoeuvre. Furthermore as the responsibility for loading and unloading is now clearly defined as being that of the cargo interests will hauliers attempt to argue that they bear no responsibility for securing the cargo to the vehicle if some incident arises before he has left the collection premises? It may be considered that the majority of disputes that shall arise from the introduction of the new conditions will relate to the above amendments.