Share This Post
Notes on Multimodal Transport of Goods
Goods are imported to and exported from Ethiopia using multimodal transport. A multimodal transport is undertaken by a multimodal transport operator /hereinafter MTO/. Multimodal transport is carried out either by a Carrier-MTO (i.e., Vessel-Owning MTO- with vehicles of their own) or a Non-Carrier-MTO (i.e, Non-Vessel-Owning-MTO which do not possess their own vehicles).
A multimodal transport is different from segmented, combined and intermodal transport. It is peculiar from the above modes of transport due to its cumulative defining elements. These are:-
- there should be a carriage of goods by Two or more modes of transport: A multimodal transport operator may use several options to organize the carriage.
- the carriage should be undertaken under one contract and one document
- there should be single responsible party for the entire carriage
A MTO may face contractual liability in executing its duty. The liability could either be internal or external. Internal liability emanates from the legal relationship the MTO has with different businesses that engage and/or facilitate in different ways in transporting the goods from one point to another within the circle of executing on duty. On the other hand external liability is sourced from the relationship between the MTO and the shipper. Different legal frameworks set two different streams of liability scheme on the MTO. These are the Universal solution and the Network solution.Legal frameworks that adopt the network solution the liability for risks is intra-modal. Different legal frameworks set different rules for liability of the MTO. Liability in legal frameworks that adopt this solution differ depending on the mode of the transport the damage occurred on. If the damage occur while the good is in road transport rules that govern liability on road transport govern the issue. If the damage occurs while the goods were transported on air rules that apply on ait transport determine liability.
 Carrier-MTO (i.e., Vessel-Owning MTO- with vehicles of their own) or a Non-Carrier-MTO (i.e, Non-Vessel-Owning-MTO which do not possess their own vehicles). In fact MTO’s can be categorized based by other benchmarks.
 In intermodal transport, different types of transport documents are issued depending on how the responsibility for the entire transport is shared. However in case of multimodal transport, there is a single multimodal operator that transports the carriage through a single multimodal transport document.
 Among others, the main combination that can be used are, Road-Sea-Road, Rail-Sea-Road, Rail-Sea-Rail
 For ports, terminals and in warehouses there is no international law yet,
Damages, losses and delays at these interfaces are regulated according to contractual law (e.g. standard warehousing conditions).
In developing countries this sometimes means a non-transparent and risky situation, because the legal situation is unclear for the MTO.
 Uniform-solution: MTO as sui generis – the MTO contract is an own contract, independent from unimodal agreements. There is one uniform liability, independent from where the damage occurred.
 Network-solution: Multimodal transport is the sum of unimodal transport, respecting the rules and laws already developed for them. The liability depends on the mode where the damage occurred.