Delay of goods still is and will be a problem in the future. In case of all other problems which emerge during transportation, there are clearly determined liability restrictions. But in case of delay, the situation is much more confused. The General Conditions of the EFFA stipulate that compensation for delay shall be paid when time taken to perform the contract exceeds what is reasonable under the circumstances.
What is reasonable time? Reasonable time is the amount of time which is meant for the transport of goods from the point of departure to the point of destination, considering normal conditions and using concrete means of transportation. A deviation from normal conditions can be force majeure or some other reason, not caused by the carrier.
If the carrier or the freight forwarder conclude a transport contract, then the time for freight, indicated in the offer, is meant to be the time of transportation under normal conditions. This does not guarantee the delivery of goods to the point of destination during a certain amount of time.
Why are no guarantees given? For example, in case of air transport, the small capacity of planes flying to Estonia and fixed requirements regarding the size of goods, is a great obstacle for issuing guarantees. Air traffic companies cannot always guarantee the preliminarily confirmed booking when flying further from the point of transit. In road transport, it is difficult to predict queues on the border or a sudden technical fault.
The freight forwarder is obliged to notify the customer of possible delay. The customer should consider the above circumstances, and, if possible, always leave some spare time for unexpected matters.
How is it still possible to get the guarantee? In case of air transport, the customer can use the so named priority service. This means that the air traffic company guarantees the timely arrival of the customer’s goods to the destination point. The priority service is remarkably more expensive than normal prices. However, in the case where the carrier is not able to keep the confirmed booking, it compensates to the customer the freight charge from airport to airport.
In road transport, it is also possible to come to an agreement with carriers, regarding concrete time conditions. In this case, the price for transport is higher, as a rule, but the customer is guaranteed that he gets compensation for each delayed day.
The freight forwarder is not responsible for a delay if this was caused by the sender of goods, or the receiver of goods. The forwarder also does not compensate for lost profit, loss of market, reputational damage, etc. These shall be compensated only in the case when the customer and the freight forwarder have entered relevant clauses in the contract.
Consequently, it is of utmost importance for the customer to always notify us of goods, which are time sensitive, and the possible damage in case of delay, already when ordering transport. In this case, the freight forwarder can take all measures to minimise all possibilities for delay, and, secondly, sign a contract with the customer and its sub-contractors (carriers and partners), with regard to the compensation in case of delay.
Thus, avoiding of delay depends both on the freight forwarder and the customer.