The carrier was not liable for the theft of wine during transport

Although the carrier did not lock the trailer while staying at a rest area, the court found him not responsible for the theft of wine.

The process

A wine merchant had made an agreement with a transport company for the transport of particularly expensive wine from Sweden to Denmark, and he had made an agreement with another transport company.

The 2 carriers of the transport company were only informed before the transport that they should pick up a pallet. They didn’t get any information about the goods, which were wrapped in black plastic and they couldn’t see the contents.

They picked up the pallets in Stockholm, loaded them in the goods compartment and drove them to Denmark. The goods compartment was not locked.

In the evening they had to take a break according to the driving and rest time rules, and they had parked in a rest area.

The rest area was fully lighted and people were there all night, and from the lighted restaurant that was open at night there was a view over the parking lot.

They drove on in the morning and only later that day did they discover that the goods had been stolen.

The insurance company had claimed that the carrier was responsible for the theft because the carriers had not locked the trailer.

In addition, the insurance company stated that wine must be labeled as an item suitable for theft, regardless of whether the wine is cheap or expensive.

In addition, the transport company had to be aware that a single pallet of wine would not be transported from Sweden to Denmark unless it was a particularly expensive wine.

Against this background, the insurance company considered it proven that the carriers had shown gross negligence and their responsibility should not be reduced.

The Court’s Decision

The court had ruled that the carrier was not responsible for the theft and as a reason the court noted the following:

The sender did not prove that he had informed the carrier of the high value of the goods or that he had given special instructions on the handling of the wine.

The taking of evidence could not establish that the contracting party and the carrier were otherwise aware of it.

Against this background, the carrier was entitled to treat the goods as ordinary general cargo.

The failure of the carrier to lock the trailer at night was not qualified carelessness, and the court did not consider the theft to be gross negligence.

Therefore, the Maritime and Commercial Court dismissed the contracting party and the carrier’s claim, and the insurance company was ordered to pay the costs.

The Supreme Court upheld the verdict.

The above article is written by lawyer Anders Stig Vestergaard.

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