CMR Convention - why is it so important?

4 August, 2022 |

The CMR Convention was signed in 1956 in Geneva and is one of the few legal regulations relating to international transport. Its main assumption is to protect shippers and customers against unfair practices and the ability to easily avoid troubles and problems that are difficult to solve.

What does CMR stand for?

It comes from the French term Convention relative au contrat de transport international de marchandises par route (Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road), which in its native wording can be translated as “the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road”. It is worth knowing that in transport, very expensive goods are transported – in many cases their price can be up to hundreds of thousands of zlotys. The CMR convention covers only orders where the destination or place of origin is in two separate countries, one of which is covered by the CMR convention.

CMR – what is it and why is it so important in transport?

The CMR agreement is of great importance for the safety of transport and timeliness. The main component of the convention is the CMR consignment note, which must contain all the carrier, recipient and cargo content required therein. A characteristic feature of the letter is the way it is prepared, which is governed by the CMR agreement. It always appears in triplicate, and all of them must be identical and identical in content. Interestingly, they all have the same legal force, so none of them is less significant than the others. One is given to the sender, the other to the recipient, and the third remains with the carrier. In practice, therefore, the formal side of the CMR convention looks quite simple.

The list includes basic and detailed carrier data, as well as cargo parameters or any information affecting the execution of the order. It should include, among others, the unit price of the cargo or its gross weight, as well as instructions to facilitate efficient customs control. CMR consignment note is to protect the interests of both parties, therefore it should be filled in in detail and truthfully. Importantly, the CMR consignment note can be modified by adding further data important for the contract (you cannot subtract anything). What does it mean? If the transport carried out is atypical, it is worth specifying it by precisely describing its characteristics in the smallest detail, which is a good practice under the CMR Convention.

CMR and the impact on the execution of orders by transport companies

The CMR Convention covers only international transport and does not apply to domestic transport. This is very important mainly in terms of orders carried out only in the home country – then the CMR does not apply. What’s more, salary also matters. We will apply the CMR Convention only when the transport is of a business nature and is carried out against payment by agreement of the parties. Very important information is also the fact that CMR in transport applies to road transport (articulated vehicles, semi-trailers, trailers, etc.), not rail or air.

For potential customers, it is also important that CMR in transport does not include orders carried out as a forwarder, i.e. organizing transport. It is worth knowing, however, that such a contract should be drawn up in great detail and fully truthfully, because there is quite a blurry line between the contract of carriage and the contract of forwarding. As you can see, the CMR convention applies in very specific cases.

Take care of the transport in accordance with the provisions of the CMR convention

So what is the CMR Convention? These are, in short, rules that are to facilitate the process of international transport and, at the same time, precise protection of all parties to the contract. The CMR Convention was established to secure the transported goods and the carrier’s welfare, as well as to improve the legal protection resulting from transport.

Bill of lading in the light of the law

We explained what the CMR convention is, but the role of the international consignment note deserves additional emphasis in the document. This document, often small in its volume, is of great legal importance, although, interestingly, the CMR conventions do not impose an absolute order to issue a letter. Nevertheless, it is treated as a premise for the conclusion of a contract of carriage. In the light of the regulations, the document serves, inter alia, the role of evidence in the scope of the contract, its terms, receipt of goods or the condition of the taken over products. In addition, it is a form of comprehensive shipping information for all interested parties. Transport conventions do not impose a specific form of the consignment note, but the industry has been using fairly universal patterns for many years. We are talking about document schemes accepted by many countries, not only in the European Union.

CMR convention spreads the responsibility for the shipment

Now that we’ve explained what CMR is, it’s time to move on to the more practical issues listed in the Convention. In the case of transport, the responsibility for the goods is divided into two entities, namely the sender and the carrier. On the one hand, we have a company placing the order, which is responsible for damages resulting from incorrect CMR replenishment. It is the sender who, in the event of disputable situations, covers the costs of detrimental products, previously unknown to the recipient. A good example is the breaking of packaging or specific materials. The carrier must also comply with its obligations. The destruction of the goods during transport or – even worse – the loss of the order, is charged to the account of the shipping company. CMR conventions quite accurately define the procedure in specific situations, giving the recipient specific tools to pursue their rights or claims.

Following the convention pays off

What the CMR Convention covers is the essence of the transport, logistics and shipping industry. The document addresses key issues and adds extra work in some areas, but it is definitely worth following its findings. The regulations made it possible to systematize the international transport market. They introduced universal procedures. Currently, they look quite similar in many countries. At the same time, the CMR agreement is a kind of confirmation of “good intentions”. It makes transactions between partners from different countries easier because the rights of each party are well known. In addition, it is easier to enforce your claims in case of problems. Importantly, transport conventions are of a mandatory nature. It is not enough that one of the parties to the transaction states that the CMR will not apply to it.

Professionals operate in accordance with the CMR convention

A professional forwarding company will know CMR very well. No specialist should ask what is it? At MARATHON International, we deal with the provisions of the convention every day. We make every effort to ensure that the transport of goods is in accordance with the provisions of this international document, which consists of several dozen articles. Good-class experts will know not only their sound, but also their interpretations. Professionals can efficiently navigate the CMR, being good at both classic situations and cases with the highest level of difficulty. Over the years, the convention has become an ally of all reliable companies that focus on transparent and fair transactions. In our opinion, it constitutes a solid basis for international cooperation, facilitating the free development of the shipping market.