QCR Spring 2019: Carriage of goods by road –Goods lost in transit between Finland and United Kingdom – Which Court has jurisdiction?

QCR Spring 2019: Carriage of goods by road –Goods lost in transit between Finland and United Kingdom – Which Court has jurisdiction?

ZURICH INSURANCE PLC AND ANOTHER V ABNORMAL LOAD SERVICES (INTERNATIONAL) LTD [2019] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 54 – 11 July 2018 - COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

Facts

Metso Minerals Oy (“Metso”) as consignor and Abnormal Load Services (International) Ltd (“ALS”) as haulier concluded a contract for the carriage of a cylindroconical crusher (“the crusher”) from Pori (Finland) to Sheffield (United Kingdom). During the last leg of the journey, the crusher was dispatched from Hull by road, but it disappeared before it could be delivered to the consignee in Sheffield. Zurich Insurance plc (“Zurich”) reimbursed Metso the value of the crusher, less the excess provided for by the insurance contract.

Zurich and Metso brought proceedings against ALS in the District Court, Satakunta, Finland for  damages for the loss of the crusher. The court found in Zurich and Metso’s favour but ALS appealed to the Court of Appeal in Vaasa contending that the Satakunta court lacked jurisdiction. The Court of Appeal decided that the Finnish courts did not have jurisdiction over this claim. Zurich and Metso therefore appealed to the Supreme Court of Finland and that court referred the following question to the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) for a preliminary ruling:

“How are the place or places where the service is provided to be determined in accordance with second indent of Article 5(1)(b) of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 in a case involving a contract for the carriage of goods between Member States in which the goods are conveyed in several stages and by different means of transport?”.

Judgment

The CJEU held that where there were several places at which services were provided in different Member States, the place of performance was the place with the closest linking factor between the contract and the Court having jurisdiction, which, as a general rule, would be at the place of the main provision of the services.

In the context of a contract for the carriage of goods however, not only the place of delivery, but also the place of dispatch of the goods, was to be regarded as a place where the services were provided.

Comments

When goods carried under international multimodal transport contracts are damaged or lost, claimants are often left wondering where to bring their claims and which laws or Conventions would be applicable to their claims.

The CJEU clarified in this case that both the place of dispatch and the place of delivery of the goods constitutes places where transport services were provided and as such the claimants can bring proceedings in either jurisdiction.

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