Freight Forwarding and Multimodal Transport Contracts




2.1 Virtually all major freight forwarders in the UK are trading members of BIFA.1 Registered Trading Members of BIFA agree to use the Standard Trading Conditions, employ a minimum number of professional members, maintain liability insurance and abide by the Association’s Code of Conduct. Probationary membership is available for companies new to the industry. Ordinary Trading Membership is available for companies unable to comply with all the conditions, in particular those wishing to use their own trading conditions. Such proprietary conditions, which seem to be less common in the UK today, may well reflect the influence of current or previous BIFA Conditions or even the older IFF editions of 1984 and 1981.2 Other companies, not primarily engaged in forwarding, may in fact utilise BIFA Conditions or incorporate forwarding activities into their general conditions. A further possibility is to use standard conditions drafted by bodies closely involved in claims such as the TT CLUB.3 Some companies marketing logistics services advertise their membership of BIFA and appear to apply the conditions to them. Others adopt their own conditions in respect of such services. Some companies may contract on BIFA conditions but add supplemental terms,4 for example dealing with the loading and unloading of transport units,5 cancellation provisions, demurrage terms etc. It has also been common for logistics services providers to base their terms on Road Haulage Association (RHA) conditions and those provided by the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA).6 The use of dedicated terms is more likely the closer and more complex the relationship between customer and service provider,7 especially where contract logistics involving the outsourcing of a company’s logistics requirements are involved. Associations of freight forwarders occur in other countries and, along with BIFA, are members of FIATA.8 This body provides Model Rules for Freight Forwarding Services9 and some associations make clear that their conditions give the customer at least the degree of protection stipulated by these Rules.10 Some national associations have begun to make specific reference to logistics services in their conditions11 or to provide separate conditions in respect of them.12 Discussion of the roles adopted by freight forwarders and logistics operators and connected issues concerning their definition and their legal status is made below as they arise in the context of specific terms.

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