Transport law and air transport law

Designing contracts, personal injury, freight damage, forwarding contracts
Transport law and air transport law

Competent advice from our specialist lawyer for transport law

We are your experts in transport law and forwarding law. Regardless of whether you are a medium-sized company or a group of companies, a freight forwarder or an air freight carrier - with us you will always receive comprehensive and, above all, personal advice. An area of commercial law, transport law according to the German Commercial Code (HGB) includes all regulations relating to the transport of goods - whether by air, sea or land. Especially when it comes to drafting freight contracts or forwarding contracts, enforcing your claims, litigating freight damage or seeking recourse from transport insurers, it is important to know that you have an experienced expert at your side. In this area, carriers and forwarders in particular are dependent on comprehensive and internationally oriented advice from a specialist lawyer, as cross-border transport is their daily bread. In the area of air transport law, we also provide support in the assertion and defence of personal injury claims.

What tasks can we take on for you?

Why dhpg?

We keep house so you can attend to the essentials

Transport law and forwarding law are fraught with many pitfalls. It is often difficult to keep track of everything. With a specialist lawyer for transport and forwarding law at your side, you can confidently put these worries aside and concentrate on your core business. 

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In-depth expertise

Our team of experts is headed by one of the few specialists in his field. He has been intimately acquainted with the industry for many years and knows what matters. With him, you have an experienced expert at your side. 

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Interdisciplinary team

Behind our specialist lawyer for transport law and forwarding law is a strong, interdisciplinary team that can also assist you with related issues, such as insurance or tax law. 

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Personal advice

Transport law is comprehensive and the issues are complex. That is why it is important for you to receive individual advice. We take this seriously by always advising you personally and taking time for you. 

Your contact persons for transport law and air transport law

Would you like to get together for a personal meeting to obtain advice? We would be happy to schedule a non-binding appointment with you so that we can get to know each other. We look forward to your call or e-mail and to meeting you.

To the contact persons

FAQ - Questions on transport law and forwarding law

What does transport law regulate?

Generally speaking, transport law regulates the transport of goods, whereby a distinction must be made between national and international (cross-border) transport law. National transport law is regulated uniformly for all means of transport by the German Commercial Code (HGB). International transport law is covered by international treaties and conventions, such as the "Convention relative au contrat de transport international de marchandises par route" (CMR), which applies to road transport. Air transport law is dominated by the "Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air" from 28 May 1999, referred to for short as the "Montreal Convention", which is relevant for both international freight transport and passenger air transport, including the carriage of baggage. For national passenger air traffic, provisions of the Montreal Convention have been incorporated in the German Air Traffic Act (LuftVG). 

Specifically, transport law regulates the transport of goods (rail transport, air transport, sea transport and inland waterway transport) in Germany and governs the relationship between the person who sends and receives the goods and the person who transports them, i.e. the carrier, or organises the transport, i.e. the forwarder.

What types of contracts are there in transport law and forwarding law?

  • Contract of carriage: The German Commercial Code (HGB) defines the contract of carriage as the obligation of the carrier to transport the goods from the consignor to the destination and to deliver them there to the consignee. The contract of carriage is thus a special form of the contract for work and services. The content of the contract of carriage is documented in evidence by the consignment note, known as the "Air Way Bill" (AWB) in air freight transport. A contract of carriage is concluded between the consignor of the goods and the carrier. The consignee under the consignment note is listed in the contract of carriage and in the German Commercial Code (HGB) is given the right to demand delivery or exercise rights of complaint. 
  • Freight forwarding contract: A freight forwarding contract is merely similar to a contract of carriage. The difference is that the consignor commissions the freight forwarder to organise the transport of the goods. So the freight forwarder commissions a transport company, with which it in turn concludes a freight contract for the delivery of the goods. However, the freight forwarder is also entitled to so-called self-employment, i.e. authorised to act as a carrier.
  • Multimodal contract: If, on the basis of a uniform contract of carriage, a consignment is carried out on partial routes with different means of transport, it is known as multimodal carriage. Legs on the route can therefore be, for example, transport by sea, onward carriage to the consignee by land, rail or inland waterway. The same applies in particular to international air transport, where - as is common today - transhipment takes place at major international airports (so-called HUBs). If damage occurs in transit, liability is governed by the German Commercial Code (HGB) if the place of damage is unknown; if the place of damage is known, liability is determined in accordance with the body of law governing the leg of transport in which the damage occurred. 
  • Removal contract: A removal contract must be concluded if the load in the freight contract contains furniture or if it involves so-called removal goods. In this case, the freight carrier has the additional obligation to load and unload the cargo and to dismantle and assemble the furniture. The freight carrier may also have to perform other services, such as packing or labelling the goods. A consignment note is not necessary for a removal contract.  
  • Storage contract: A storage contract is concluded between the so-called depositor and the warehouse keeper. In return for payment, the latter is obliged by the contract to properly store the goods entrusted to him. This means that he must pack and label them. If necessary, a warehouse warrant can be issued. 

What must a consignment note contain?

In essence, a consignment note proves that a contract of carriage exists. The consignment note is part of the freight documents. The document also serves as proof that the goods to be transported have reached their destination undamaged. Any defects must be recorded on the consignment note. While the consignment note is largely dispensed with in national transport, it is still mandatory for international transport. Here, the so-called CMR consignment note or, in the case of air freight transport, the AWB, is required. The carrier can issue a consignment note containing the following information:

  • Date and place of issue 
  • Name of the consignor and carrier 
  • Date and place where the cargo was handed over
  • Date and place where the cargo is to be handed over to the consignee
  • Name and address of the consignee
  • Description of the cargo
  • Type of packaging 
  • Nature, quantity and number of the cargo
  • Gross weight of the cargo
  • Costs up until delivery
  • Notes regarding customs treatment 

In addition, the consignment note may contain further details whenever needed in individual cases.

What are the liability risks in the area of transport law?

In principle, a carrier can be held liable from the time the goods are accepted by the consignor until they are properly handed over to the consignee. The carrier is subject to what is known as custodial liability. As a rule, the issue of liability comes up when transport damage or loss occurs or there is a delay in delivery. The German Commercial Code (HGB) stipulates that the carrier is liable for damage caused goods or their loss during transport. If the delivery deadline fails to be met, this is also a reason for liability. The carrier can only escape its liability for care and custody in whole or in part within the framework of special grounds for exclusion of liability. In order to compensate for this liability risk, all national and international laws and conventions provide for maximum liability amounts, which are expressed in units of account or special drawing rights and are based on the weight of the goods carried. The only exceptions to this are if the carrier is guilty of a so-called qualified fault in causing the damage. This is deemed to be the case if the damage has been caused by intentional fault of the carrier. It is in the area of liability, with regard to the reason for and amount of such - and with a special consideration of multimodal law - that a need for advice and action by specialist lawyers is to be found. 

The particular expertise of our specialist lawyer for transport law and forwarding law: advising airlines

The focus of our advice in the area of transport law is on air transport law as well as aviation law. We are pleased to advise and act as counsel for air carriers and airlines in all liability matters - both in and out of court. We also defend our clients' interests in the satisfaction of, or defence against, personal injury claims in the field of aviation law under the German Air Traffic Act (LuftVG) or the Montreal Convention. Another focus of our advice lies in the drafting of conditions of carriage and contractual relationships in air transport, in particular on issues relating to charter or code-sharing.

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