International Carriage of Goods by Road: CMR




216. Title to sue: parties to the contract of carriage

If the claim is in tort, title to sue depends on the tort. If, the most likely example, the allegation is one of negligence, title to sue depends on whether the defendant carrier owes the claimant a duty of care.1 If the claim against the carrier is in contract, the claimant must be party to contract with the carrier. Generally, the presumption is that it is the owner of the goods at the time of loss of or damage to the goods who has contracted with the carrier who benefits from the agency of the shipper.2 This presumption has been said to correspond with commercial reality, for it is the owner who has the commercial interest in the goods. There is a further presumption that the owner is the consignee, although, evidently, in some cases ownership remains with the consignor, i.e., the person referred to in CMR as sender.3 Presumptions, of course, are rebuttable. If, for example, the contract makes it clear that the “customer” who contracts with the carrier is a person other than the consignee, so be it.

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