The new unfair contract laws that cover standard form small
business contracts are set to commence on 12 November 2016. The new
laws will have significant repercussions for the road transport
industry because transport operators routinely rely on standard
form contracts, usually set out in fine print on the reverse of
Under the new laws, conditions that seek to exclude or limit
liability for loss of or damage to goods may be void if they are
considered unfair. Transport operators should review and amend
their standard conditions of carriage before the new laws come into
effect to minimise the risk that a court will find them unfair.
What should transport operators do before 12 November
Transport operators should:
consider their current customer base to determine the extent to
which services are provided to 'small business'
consider whether their current insurance arrangements are
review their standard conditions of carriage to ensure
any clauses that might potentially be considered unfair are
expressed in clear and unambiguous language; and
any clauses that exclude or limit liability for claims
associated with loss of or damage to goods are drafted so as to
minimise the risk that a court will find the clauses to be
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The recent decision of Justice Ryan in the Federal Court of Australia in Seafood Imports Pty Ltd v ANL Singapore Pte Ltd (2010) FCA 702, confirmed and followed the approach of the High Court of Australia in Great China Metal Industries Co Limited v Malaysian International Shipping Corporation Berhad (the ‘Bunga Seroja’) 1998 196 CLR 161, in a case involving heating damage to a consignment of frozen seafood.
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