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Ascertainment of partial lost or damage of goods by rail: scope and application of the CIT20 formal report?

According to Article 23 of the CIM UR, the carrier is liable to the customer between the time of taking over of the goods and the time of delivery. The contract of international carriage of goods by rail thus starts with the taking over of the goods from the consignor and ends with the delivery of the goods to the authorised consignee.

The maximum limit of this causal liability of the carrier with respect to the customer in the event of total or partial loss of the goods is specified at 17 SDR (approx. €23) per missing kilogram of gross mass in Article 30 § 2 CIM. In the case of partial loss of the goods only the damaged part of the sending will be compensated up to 17 SDR per missing kilogram. In difference to the other transport conventions where also parcels can be compensated separately (like in air transportation in the Montreal convention or sea transportation like in Athens convention) the COTIF/CIM does not provide compensation for single parcels but just for missing kilogram of total gross mass short of the envisaged sending by rail.

A formal report is to be filled out when partial loss of the goods or damage to them is discovered or presumed by the carrier or alleged by the cus­tomer Article 42 § 1 CIM. Partial loss means that part of the load of a full wagon load is missing or a reduction in the quantity of the goods measured by mass weight or dimensions.

The carrier is obliged to fill out a formal report without delay and if possible in the presence of the person entitled (Article 42 § 2 CIM) on a form complying with the speci­men of the CIT freight documentation shown in Appendix 20 and newly an electronic formal report as shown in Appendix 20a. The formal report is intended to report the condition of the goods and the significance of the loss or damage so it may therefore only include well established facts but not conjecture. It must describe facts clearly and comprehensively so that they can be confirmed in a court if necessary. This means no confirmation of the liability of the issuing railway undertaking for the asserted partial lost or damage of the goods.