Alena v. Harlequin Transport
In this case, the claimant cargo interests failed to establish that the accident in which the cargo had been lost had been caused by the ‘wilful misconduct’ of the defendant carriers under Article 29 of the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (‘CMR’), to which the contract of carriage was subject. Whilst the documentary evidence produced by the defendant carriers relating to the repair and maintenance of the allegedly defective tractor unit was inadequate, the judge placed considerable reliance on the statutory regime that was in place in the UK to ensure regular and effective vehicle maintenance. There was evidence that the vehicle in question had undergone a number of surveys and inspections in the six months before the accident without adverse comment.
DMC Category Rating: Confirmed
The claimants alleged that Harlequin had
consciously and persistently failed to maintain the vehicle in accordance with
proper practice, when they knew or must have known that, in consequence, the
vehicle’s brakes might fail. In support, they relied upon the paucity of
written evidence of regular safety inspections, plus the fact that Harlequin
made manual adjustments to the automatic slack adjusters on the wheels of the
vehicle, which control the gap between the brake shoes and the brake linings.
Accordingly, Harlequin were entitled to limit their liability.
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