Carriage of Goods



What is carriage of Goods?

  • Sending goods by courier?
  • Arranging for furniture to be moved to your new address?
  • Travelling with luggage?

In any of these cases you should know your rights under the Carriage of Goods Act 1979. Under the Act a carrier is a person who, in the ordinary course of their business, carries goods owned by another person - eg, furniture remover, courier.

It also includes:

  • a freight forwarder or forwarding agent
  • a carrier who carries both passengers and baggage - eg, bus company
  • for most purposes a person such as a stevedore or warehouse person who handles goods as part of their carriage - eg, offloading from a ship.

The Act applies to all goods carried by road, rail, sea or air within the USA.
The Act DOES NOT apply to the USA Post who has its own rules for postal articles (ie, letters). The Act can apply to packages sent by Courier Post.


Special arrangements for carrier's liability
You can make a special arrangement with the carrier about their liability. There are three types of special arrangements allowed by law.

  1. A contract 'at declared value risk'.
    The carrier is liable up to the amount agreed to in the contract. This contract must be in writing. The freight charged must match the risk undertaken by the carrier.

  2. A contract 'at owner's risk'.
    The carrier is not liable for the loss of or damage to the goods. This must either be a written contract signed by you and the carrier and containing the words 'at owner's risk'; or you must sign a statement agreeing that the goods will be carried at your risk and that the carrier will not be liable if the goods are lost or damaged. The freight charged for this contract must be lower than when the carrier has liability. The carrier CANNOT insist on carrying your goods 'at owner's risk'. Both you and the carrier must agree on the kind of contract to be made.

  3. A contract 'on declared terms'.
    You and the carrier must negotiate the arrangements. The contract can contain any terms agreed on by both parties. Unless you are in business or the goods are out of the ordinary you are unlikely to be concerned with this type of arrangement. Of course you cannot get back more than the actual value of the goods, or the loss in value as a result of damage.


No contract for special liability arrangement

If there is no special arrangement contract, the carrier is liable for damage or loss up to a limit of $1,500 for each unit of goods.
(A unit of goods is each separate item you give to the carrier - eg, you give the carrier six packages. That is six units of goods. They stay as six units even if the carrier puts them all in one container. But - if you put six packages in one container and then give the container to the carrier that is one unit of goods.)
If the goods are worth more than $1,500 a unit you should consider insuring the excess.


Damaged or missing goods
If goods arrive damaged, give written notice of the damage immediately to the carrier you contracted with, and, if applicable, to the carrier whose depot you collected the goods from, or who delivered them to you.
If the goods don't arrive, get in touch with the carrier immediately you begin to feel concerned about them.