When talking about liabilities in logistics services it is always important to first assess the audience or rather the shareholders of any given business relationship. Not everyone will have the same level of awareness of the potential risks arising out of every step of the business process.

Liabilities being discussed and agreed to by the parties to any business relationship, contractual or not, will depend on various factors and circumstances. In logistics it’s crucial to be aware of any specific terms and conditions (T&Cs) that might be in place for a service being provided. Whether those terms and conditions are put in place by a party in a business relationship or one of its sub/contractors, the client always needs to check beforehand whether any such T&Cs are in place and whether certain circumstances would warrant their application before that of another (potentially, more favorable) regulation.

Often, many of us skip the small print because we are focused on a larger matter at hand and just want our goods to be on their way or for any other services to simply start happening. Naturally, we always hope for the best and rationalize risks (we are at least partly aware of) by saying those famous words: It will not happen to me/us.

container operation in port series

Truth of the matter is that many clients, but also logistics provider, freight forwarders and carriers  do not consider the risks to their full extent until after a risk has become unavoidable or has occurred, and at that time it is much more complex (and costly) to mitigate risk or resolve it.

Liabilities in any business, but especially in logistics due to the volumes and values of goods being handled, are a force to be reckoned with and all stakeholders should have at least a basic awareness of how impactful liabilities and risks can be on the overall business (results) of a company. 

I have spent years planning for risks and managing liabilities in logistics and while some of them are similar, regardless of the mode of goods’ transport, they predominantly remain characteristic to the transportation mode (Air, Sea, Land i.e. Road and Rail) or things can get a bit more complicated with Multimodal Transportation. Add to that a company’s desire for compliance management and it becomes evident that a path to a quality long-term business relationship starts with an IDD (integrity due diligence) process which makes for a sturdy foundation to the future. Naturally, there will always be cases of spot business or there simply won’t be sufficient time for all of this – in those moments just make sure to ask the right questions and to involve your legal counsel immediately.