On appeal from: [2013] EWCA Civ 1319

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal by Essers and Kazemeir concerning jurisdiction over claims relating to thefts from two cargo containers.

The respondents were the consigners of these containers and had contracted with Exel Europe Ltd to undertake responsibility for the carriages. Exel had then sub-contracted with the appellants, Essers and Kazemeir, and they had been carrying the two cargo containers when the loss occurred.

The issue in the appeals is whether the consignors can found jurisdiction in England against Essers and Kazemeir as successive carriers within the meaning of Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road 1956 (CMR). The High Court set aside the service of claim forms on Essers and Kazemeir. The Court of Appeal reached the opposite conclusion and so Essers and Kazemeir appealed to the Supreme Court.

In delivering the lead judgment Lord Mance stated that CMR, art 34, qualifies the position that a successive carrier becomes party to the contract of carriage under the terms of the consignment note. He reasoned that it would be contrary to the general principle that contract depends on agreement to hold a successive carrier bound by a choice of court clause, or any other clause not evidenced by the consignment note and of which he had no express notice. Therefore neither Essers nor Kazemeir were bound by an English jurisdiction clause in the original contracts between Exel and the respondents.

Lord Mance also clarified that Art 31 of the CMR refers to the original contract between the consignor and the primary carrier, rather than that through which any successive carrier acceded. Therefore England does not have jurisdiction for this case as it was not the place of consignment or delivery for either container and was not the relevant location for the principal place of business for the contractors or branch of where the contract was made.


For judgment, please download: [2015] UKSC 65
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watching the hearing please visit: Supreme Court website