Back on common ground

After a year working with different General Terms and Conditions, the logistics associations in Germany have once again agreed on a common set of rules for the transportation industry. It has been in place since the start of the year. The consent between the most important German logistics associations ended at the close of 2015. The four shipping associations (see list) withdrew from negotiations to establish joint terms and conditions with the German Association of Freight Forwarders and Logistics Companies (DSLV). They recommended that their members apply the German Transportation and Storage Conditions (DTLB), which they developed. The DSLV published the new edition of the General German Freight Forwarding Terms and Conditions (ADSp 2017), which was recommended by the DSLV alone, on December 14th. This caused uncertainty within the industry regarding where to best apply which set of regulations. As of January 2017 these doubts will be no more, as the associations have agreed to a joint template for the ADSp 2017. All associations recommend that their members apply these regulations starting at the beginning of the year. In addition, three other associations have joined the catalog of rules for the first time.

Changes to Key Details

There are a few important changes from the regulations of ADSp 2016. Many of these are due to the fact that shipping agents are once again involved in the process. Freight forwarders are obligated to inspect the order for obvious defects. However, freight companies have no clear right to deny acceptance if defects are found. For the first time, the ADSp 2017 includes specifications regarding the vehicles used, load securing equipment, cargo handling materials, and drivers. There are also a few small updates related to acceptance and delivery. The carrier must confirm the number and types of packages on the receipt confirmation. In case of doubt they must confirm only this information, and not their content, value, or weight. If the addressee refuses to provide a delivery receipt, the driver may not take the goods away again – a change from ADSp 2016. Loading and unloading times are regulated somewhat more generously, after having been listed in minute detail in the previous version. According to the new rules, a flat total of two hours are provided for each loading process for vehicles with a 40 ton total permitted weight; smaller vehicles are afforded incrementally less time. In the area of potential impediments to providing service, as well, precise regulations have given way to the requirement that the carrier “must request instructions,” a frequent formulation. This applies in particular to excessive waiting times while handing over and delivering freight, which have previously been deemed unacceptable.

Participating Associations Freight forwarders:
  • German Freight Forwarding and Logistics Association (DSLV)
Shipping associations:
  • Federation of German Industries (BDI)
  • Federation of German Wholesale and Foreign Trade (BGA)
  • Association of German Retailers (HDE)
  • German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK)
For the first time:
  • Federal Association of Road Haulage, Logistics and Disposal (BGL)
  • German Association of Movers and Logistics (AMÖ)
  • Federal Association of Transport and Logistics in Industry and Trade (BWVL)

Higher Liability

These are just some of the changes in the ADSp 2017, which now also include significantly higher liability limits. The maximum total for cargo damage has now been increased from a million euros to 1.25 million. Overall, the involvement of the shipping associations seems clear. With the document, they have achieved a balance between their own interests and those of the freight carriers. After negotiations concluded, all sides signaled their satisfaction with the results. Whether the new regulations are practical will have to be proven over time.

Author: Sonja Terbrüggen

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