Understanding Various Functions of a Consignment Note

On May 19, 1956, the CMR convention came into being in Geneva. This convention laid out a standardized format for a consignment note, with the purpose of confirming a contract of carriage between the consignee, consignor, and carrier for cross-border cargo transport across Europe.

According to this agreement, the country of at least one concerning party must ratify the protocols of the CMR convention. This article explores the different functions of a consignment note.

Various Purposes of a Consignment Note

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Read on to learn the purposes of the CMR note.

  • As Evidence – According to the CMR convention, a consignment note must comprise “prima facie evidence” for the existence of the carriage contract, and terms and conditions. This document works as a vital evidentiary record for both the sender and the carrier regarding the carriage contract and plays a facilitating role in resolving any claims.
  • Formative Effect – Right of the Disposal – Apart from the evidentiary function, the consignment note also has a formative functionality. As mentioned in Article 12/1 and Article 12/2, the sender has a right to dispose of the goods. The right applies until the second copy of the consignment note has been handed over to the consignee or the goods have reached the destination.
  • Limits on Liability in Case of Damage – As regulated by Article 24, the absence, irregularity, or loss of the consignment note does not affect the validity of the contract of carriage. Thus, it limits the carrier’s liability to a certain level in case of damage, as the declaration in the note in itself is protective and cautionary to the porter.

Limits on Liability in Case of Delay

According to Article 26, the carrier’s limit of the liability may be increased to a value declared in the consignment note. CMR has a particular interpretation of the evidentiary functionality of a consignment note. Nevertheless, a consignment document created following the CMR convention recognizes the liability limits, ensuring hassle-free cargo transportation across borders.
Issuance of a Consignment Note

Initially, the sender prepares four original copies of the consignment note. These copies demand the signature or stamps of the sender and the carrier as per the law of the country in which they are drafted. It works both as a receipt for the goods and as evidence of the delivery. As such, CMR documents offer a much-needed standard in today’s shipping industry, especially the cross-border transport of goods.

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