The CIFFA National Board of Directors approved today the proposed changes to the CIFFA Standard Trading Conditions for 2010. Gavin Magrath, counsel to CIFFA, drafted the updates and presented them to the Board. The final draft will now go to the membership at the 2010 AGM for ratification.

Although the existing conditions offered robust protection, they were strengthened in several ways, including:

  • Notice time lines were shortened to conform with the Rotterdam Rules; whether or not the Rules come into force, the time lines will be consistent and defensible.
  • The provision respecting gratuitous advice was strengthened to provide protection where allegations of negligent oral advice are made.
  • The STCs are intended to apply whether the Forwarder acts as principal or agent: defining these two situations and the manner in which the conditions apply has been clarified.
  • The choice of law and forum clause has been expanded to provide for the concurrent jurisdiction of the Courts of the Forwarder’s Province and the Federal Court.

“The changes were made to keep the STCs current with developments in the law generally,” according to Magrath. “Of course, as I am frequently involved in litigating the rights of freight forwarders, I also wanted to provide practical legal tools to help forwarders bring claims to more rapid and successful conclusions.”

Even well-drafted standard forms – often in faint, fine print, or lost entirely on the reverse side of faxed documents – are frequently impeached at trial. Gavin advises: “It is not sufficient to review your documentation every couple of years. I always advise my clients that steps need to be in place to ensure that the Courts will enforce those terms when a dispute arises. Having those procedures in place ensures your terms stick, and get you good outcomes.”

Readers are reminded that the CIFFA STCs are free for use by members, but are Copyright materials and may no be used by non-members without CIFFA’s express written permission. Anyone involved in transportation of goods that does not already have access through independent legal advice on their conditions should seek counsel expert in the field for a regular review of their documentation and practices.