Paper presented at the 23rd Annual Southern African Transport Conference 12 - 15 July 2004 "Getting recognition for the importance of transport", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa. Road transportation is, in most European countries, governed by the "CMR" Convention.
The acronym CMR is short for the French title of the Convention: Convention relative au
transport de Marchandises par Route (Convention relating to the carriage of Goods by Road).
This Convention, which was opened for signature on May 19, 1956, has been adopted by more
than 40 countries. This broad success of the Convention, coupled with the practical experience
of almost 50 years of case law, applying the provisions of the Convention to actual transport
problems, makes the CMR-Convention into an example well worth looking into for any State
wishing to develop a legal regime for carriage of goods by road. Moreover, the CMR is
generally considered a good Convention. It provides the parties involved in road carriage with
a uniform set of rules, determining their rights, duties and liabilities. It is also a balanced
Convention, taking into account and seeking a compromise between the interests of both the
cargo and the carriers.
The CMR-Convention describes the rights and duties of the parties, among others with
regard to making out the consignment note, packing the goods for transport, checking the
goods at the beginning of the carriage, changing the instructions of the carrier and disposing
of the goods, performing the carriage within a reasonable time, and sending dangerous goods.
Furthermore, the Convention sets up a liability regime, with on the one hand a presumption
of liability against the carrier, but on the other hand a number of specific, transport-related
defenses and a limitation of liability, that can only be broken in exceptional circumstances.
The CMR-Convention also deals with certain aspects of claims and procedures between the
parties; it provides an exhaustive list of courts that have jurisdiction over road carriage
claims, and determines the applicable time bar. By making the carrier's liability predictable,
the Convention has also made this liability readily insurable.
This paper was transferred from the original CD ROM created for this conference. The material on the CD ROM was published using Adobe Acrobat technology. The original CD ROM was produced by Document Transformation Technologies Postal Address: PO Box 560 Irene 0062 South Africa. Tel.: +27 12 667 2074 Fax: +27 12 667 2766 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: http://www.doctech.co.za