Updated Conditions of Carriage from the RHA

2nd September 2020

We've updated our RHA Conditions of Carriage for 2020, reflecting changes in the law and members' experience in using them.

We recommend that RHA members incorporate these terms into all their consignment contracts, making it explicitly clear to their customers at the outset that they will be using these terms and conditions when carrying or storing goods.

Members should always seek professional advice before making or agreeing any variation in the conditions to meet special circumstances.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Such is the reliability and scope of the Conditions; they are recognized as the industry standard. By using them you are insuring your liability, not the goods. 

“Customers need to take out their own insurance to cover their goods, but you should send them a copy of the RHA Conditions and quote their use every time you discuss a rate for a job. If you don’t, you’re leaving yourself wide open.”

“It’s simple. If you’re an RHA member, you’re covered. If you’re not – you’re not. 

“Any non-member using them is doing so under false pretences and we will not hesitate to prosecute.”

The major changes to our Conditions of Carriage are:

Condition 1: Two new terms have been introduced and defined which were not present before:

The definition of ‘demurrage’ has been revised to take account of extra costs which members  may wish to charge as a consequence of the detention of a vehicle or other object they own and to make clear what exactly demurrage is and the members’ right to charge.

‘Force Majeure Event’ – whilst referenced now under the ‘Definitions’ section the explicit definition is outlined in the newly-introduced clause 10(c). The effect of these new definitions and clauses is that members cannot be found liable for an act of God, riots, civil commotion and a variety of other events that the member cannot reasonably be said to have anticipated at the time the contract was entered into.

Condition 4: This Condition has been substantively revised. Under these terms and conditions, the default position is that the customer is responsible for loading the goods that they wish to be moved onto the vehicle of the RHA Member, or another consignor instructed by the RHA Member.

The consignee is responsible for the unloading of those goods from that vehicle. Under these terms, the RHA Member or carrier is excluded from being found liable for loss or damage done to goods that arise from the loading onto or unloading off the vehicle or from overloading the vehicle.

Further to this, the customer indemnifies the carrier under these terms against any loss, damage, death or injury that might arise during loading and/or unloading.  Whilst this is the default position, we acknowledge that in a lot of cases it may be the carrier who is actually responsible for loading and unloading, and this is fine provided it is agreed separately in writing, i.e. in the original quote or order acceptance. 

Condition 5: By virtue of this new Condition, the customer warrants that the goods or consignment which they require moving will not pollute the environment or do harm to human health in the event that whatever is being transported escapes from its packaging and make clear that it should not need official consent to be moved by the RHA Member, in the sense that all licences and approvals should already have been acquired.

The customer also warrants to provide the carrier with the necessary information and/or materials to comply with its legal obligations under domestic and, if applicable, EU legislation.

Condition 9: The opportunity has been taken to introduce a provision where a contract is cancelled at any point during its performance, the customer agrees under these terms to pay the carrier or member all costs and expenses incurred prior to the cancellation.

Conditions 12: No change to the general liabilities, however a list of excluded liabilities has been introduced, in particular any fines imposed on the Customer by the Consignee or its customer along with loss of profits and indirect or consequential loss.

Condition 15:  The Lien is one of the most important tools under these conditions. It grants an explicit interest on behalf of the carrier and/or member in the consignment, load or goods. The lien itself is activated where the customer has overdue amounts owed to the carrier or RHA Member and/or has accrued charges.

The clause has been made explicitly clear so that there is no doubt that the carrier or member has the right to hold the goods and sell them on.

It should be emphasized that liens remain a contentious area of law and members should always seek clarification of their rights in specific circumstances from their legal advisers at the earliest opportunity to avoid possible later difficulties.