Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein

Hamburg

ARNECKE SIBETH DABELSTEIN is an independent law firm with 40 partners and more than 150 attorneys at six locations (Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Leer and Dresden). It ranks among the top legal service providers in Germany.

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Updates

Insurance

Yacht hull insurance: coverage if insured was unaware that yacht was unfit to sail
Germany | 06 October 2020

In 2019 the Flensburg court considered damage to a sailing yacht which had occurred during a sailing regatta (ie, a series of boat races) in 2010. The judgment strengthens the legal position of insureds with yacht hull insurance. It highlights that insurers have the onus to prove that the insured was aware of the unseaworthiness when the voyage commenced. It is not enough to prove the unseaworthiness – insurers must prove that the owner was aware thereof.

In hot water: court rules on claim for cover against liability insurer
Germany | 01 September 2020

In 2018 the Celle Higher Regional Court ruled on a claim for cover against a liability insurer relating to a fire on a yacht that had also damaged other items. The judgment confirms – and well illustrates – the so-called 'separation principle' applicable under German liability insurance law. Liability insurers may learn from this judgment that careful consideration must be given to the reasons for which cover is denied; they could be forced to cover and indemnify for unjustified liability claims.

German Insurance Association releases amended sanctions clause
Germany | 25 August 2020

The German Insurers Association (GDV) recently released a new version of its sample sanctions clause. This article highlights the background of the changes and the current status of EU and German anti-boycott legislation. Insurers which use the GDV clause should keep an eye not only on the development of US sanctions against Iran, but also on US sanctions in general.

Insurance premium tax: Federal Ministry of Finance issues guidelines on determination of policyholders
Germany | 07 July 2020

The Federal Ministry of Finance recently issued guidelines on the determination of policyholders who are persons of relevance for insurance premium tax (IPT) as their registered office in Germany might trigger IPT. These guidelines are especially relevant for vessel and aircraft insurance and English-language policies.

Federal Court of Justice rules on policyholder's insolvency under D&O insurance policy
Germany | 16 June 2020

The Federal Court of Justice recently examined the consequences of a policyholder's insolvency under a directors' and officers' (D&O) insurance policy. The ruling has clarified that the insured person's rights under a D&O insurance policy remain the same irrespective of the policyholder's insolvency. As a policyholder's insolvency often leads to liability claims against the (former) management, such situation is one of the most important matters for D&O insurance policies to cover.

Non-payment of insurance premium – legal consequences during COVID-19 pandemic
Germany | 12 May 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parliament recently passed an act whereby insurers, under certain circumstances, despite non-payment of an insurance premium, are temporarily prohibited from either terminating the insurance contract or refusing cover. Further, the act grants consumers and micro-enterprises a temporary right to refuse performance in the context of contracts for essential continuing obligations, including insurance contracts.

Business shutdown insurance in case of business interruption during COVID-19 crisis
Germany | 05 May 2020

One of the biggest risks for companies is business interruption. Companies can insure this risk under so-called 'business interruption' insurance policies; however, these policies generally provide cover only if the business interruption is the result of an insured property loss. The situation is completely different with so-called 'business shutdown' insurance, which is – at least so far – uncommon.

Insurability of corporate fines: new draft law's implications for insurance industry
Germany | 31 March 2020

In 2019 the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection presented its draft bill for a new and independent law on corporate penalties. Pursuant to the draft bill, considerable fines may be imposed not only on the persons involved in wrongdoing, but also on companies. This will significantly affect insurance cover, especially in the areas of professional indemnity and directors' and officers' insurance.

Small differences matter: pre-contractual duty of disclosure and lack of knowledge due to negligence
Germany | 03 March 2020

In a recent decision, the Federal Court of Justice once again stressed the difficulties in and the importance of obtaining a precise legal subsumption of the established facts where the pre-contractual duty of disclosure is concerned. The decision is relevant for all insurance contracts that fall under the Insurance Contract Act, although special regulations exist.

Court rules on representative action undertaken by insurance agent on insurer's behalf
Germany | 04 February 2020

The Hamburg Court of Appeal has expressly discarded an earlier obiter dictum, ruling that a representative action (ie, an authority to pursue the claim of another in one's own name) by an insurance agent on behalf of the insurer stops time only if the agent disclosed its authority and the name of the represented insurer when filing the action. A later disclosure of the authority – which existed at the time of lodging the claim – in court has no retroactive effect and does not interrupt the limitation period.

Insurers' duty to advise assureds in cases of amended general terms and conditions
Germany | 21 January 2020

A recent Hamm Higher Regional Court decision concerning insurers' duty of advice continues the previous case law in respect of partly favourable and partly unfavourable new conditions or conditions that are merely more favourable for the policyholder. The case highlights the question of whether insurers have a duty to advise assureds of amendments made to the general terms and conditions in their insurance policies, particularly with regard to linguistic amendments.

Insurers beware: CMR jurisdiction rules apply to direct claims against carriers' liability insurers
Germany | 24 December 2019

The Federal Court of Justice recently ruled on the appropriate jurisdiction regarding a head carrier's insurer's direct claim against subcarriers' liability insurers. The first and second instances had affirmed their international jurisdiction and admitted the direct claim against the liability insurer on the basis of Article 31(1)(1)(b) of the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road. The Federal Court of Justice confirmed this approach.

Proximate cause of grounding in bad weather after engine problems and insurers' right to information
Germany | 03 December 2019

The Bremen Court of Appeal recently held that the proximate cause of a vessel's grounding after its main engine had cut out was the bad weather, rather than the engine problem. Further, the insurer's right to request information from the assured was limited to information relating to the proximate cause and did not extend to remote causes. This decision is highly questionable in respect of both causation and insurers' right to information.

Insurance law aspects of recourse claims against subcarriers
Germany | 08 October 2019

The Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court has ruled on the insurance law aspects of recourse claims against subcarriers. This decision demonstrates that an insured's entitlement to claim compensation can be safeguarded if the insurer supplies a written declaration authorising the insured to continue the recourse proceedings, irrespective of whether the insurer has compensated the insured.

Suspension of limitation period in coverage dispute
Germany | 03 September 2019

German law provides several circumstances in which the limitation period in an insurance coverage dispute may be suspended, subject to the case facts. However, to avoid the risk of an insurance claim becoming time barred, assureds should pursue claims diligently. A recent case before the Dresden Higher Regional Court is a useful reminder that suspending limitation periods due to negotiations requires that the insurer is actively involved in the matter.

Subsidiary clauses in mandatory vehicle insurance contracts
Germany | 06 August 2019

Motor vehicle liability insurance is mandatory for vehicles admitted to travel on public roads in Germany (the same applies to non-motorised trailers and semi-trailers) and covers damages caused by the policyholder to third parties or their vehicles. However, a Federal Court of Justice decision emphasises that subsidiary clauses in mandatory insurance contracts which limit liability are void unless such exemptions are legally permitted or agreed on by the insurers.

Pleasure yacht insurance: navigating without up-to-date charts and proper voyage plan
Germany | 02 July 2019

In a notable hull insurance case, the Celle Court of Appeal dismissed an action brought by an assured pleasure yacht owner who had been sailing on the Baltic Sea and ran aground. The case facts suggest that assureds are often unaware of the impact that outdated chart materials can have on hull insurance and liability cover.

Prohibition on passing on commission in reinsurance context – exemption uncertainty
Germany | 21 May 2019

The controversial prohibition on passing on commission forbids brokers and insurers from granting or promising special remuneration to policyholders, insured persons or beneficiaries under an insurance contract. According to the legislature, the prohibition was upheld during the implementation of the EU Insurance Distribution Directive into national law over the past three years. However, whether reinsurance remains excluded from the prohibition is unclear.

Shipping & Transport

Yacht hull insurance: coverage if insured was unaware that yacht was unfit to sail
Germany | 14 October 2020

In 2019 the Flensburg court considered damage to a sailing yacht which had occurred during a sailing regatta (ie, a series of boat races) in 2010. The judgment strengthens the legal position of insureds with yacht hull insurance. It highlights that insurers have the onus to prove that the insured was aware of the unseaworthiness when the voyage commenced. It is not enough to prove the unseaworthiness – insurers must prove that the owner was aware thereof.

Damage of cargo during multimodal transport
Germany | 07 October 2020

In a recently published decision, the Würzburg Regional Court held that if a carrier does not submit a single offer to the consignor for carriage by different means of transport for the entire route as requested, but rather makes separate offers for the inland and ocean-going routes, and these offers are accepted by the consignor, it is not a true multimodal contract, but rather an inland waterway contract and a separate ocean-going contract.

Contract of carriage by sea is not contract with protective effect in favour of other shippers
Germany | 02 September 2020

A higher regional court recently found that a contract of carriage by sea is not a contract with protective effect in favour of other shippers. The shipper's obligations relating to proper and safe packaging and labelling were meant to primarily protect the carrier, not other shippers. The court's judgment, dismissing the idea of a contractual link between two shippers of the same carrier, does seem convincing.

A city is a city but not a concrete legal venue
Germany | 01 July 2020

Two freight forwarding companies were in dispute over the payment of freight forwarding charges in connection with a transport from Germany to the United Kingdom. After out-of-court negotiations failed, the plaintiff filed a complaint with the Duisburg Local Court. The plaintiff claimed that the local court's jurisdiction derived from its general terms and conditions, in which Duisburg was stated as the place of jurisdiction.

Deliberate recklessness of carrier in disregard of instruction
Germany | 10 June 2020

A higher regional court recently found that a carrier had acted with wilful misconduct by disregarding a claimant's shipping order which contained a clear instruction to refrain from parking in unguarded parking spaces. Senders are well advised to give clear instructions to carriers by agreements in their contracts of carriage. If such clear instructions by the customer are not followed and damage arises, the carrier faces the reproach of wilful misconduct.

Limited liability of carrier's bodies in case of loss of deck cargo
Germany | 13 May 2020

In 2018 the Hamburg Higher Regional Court ruled on a damages claim arising from the loss of deck cargo during a sea voyage. The court had to examine under what circumstances bodies acting on behalf of a carrier have acted with gross negligence where cargo goes overboard due to inadequate lashing or securing. In maritime transport, a gross organisational fault on the part of bodies acting on behalf of a carrier breaks the limitation of liability.

Obligation to pay compensation for damages following disruption of tram network
Germany | 06 May 2020

The Frankfurt District Court recently ruled in a dispute between the operator of the city's tram network and the insurer of a vehicle which had parked in such a way as to block the tram tracks. The dispute concerned the plaintiff's claim for compensation for the damages that it had suffered as a result of the vehicle owner interfering in its business operations.

COVID-19, voyage charterparties and force majeure
Germany | 22 April 2020

The closure of Chinese ports due to the COVID-19 pandemic raises the question of whether and under which conditions expenses and risks charterers may cancel their voyage charterparty in the event of the closure of a port due to COVID-19. This article examines German law from the charterer's point of view and asks in particular what happens if a voyage charterparty contains no force majeure clause.

Liability in Germany under EU Ship Recycling Regulation
Germany | 04 March 2020

Legal clarity on the exact scope of the criminal and civil liability penalties of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation in Germany and their extent will be reached only when the regulation is transposed into national law. The enforcement provisions are expected to be based on German criminal law and to be comparable with the Waste Shipment Act, which implemented the EU Waste Shipment Regulation.

Zeamarine – what creditors need to know under German law
Germany | 26 February 2020

The Bremen Local Court recently designated a provisional bankruptcy administrator responsible for the assets of three companies belonging to the Zeamarine group. All actors in the maritime industry should check whether they have any dealings or outstanding claims against any of the three Zeamarine companies for which bankruptcy proceedings are now pending.

Carrier liability for contaminated liquid bulk cargo – contributory negligence of shipper
Germany | 15 January 2020

In a March 2019 case, the Hamburg Higher Regional Court had to decide whether the claimant had a control and inspection duty under the Commercial Code and, if so, to what extent the damage should be reduced for reasons of contributory negligence. The decision clarifies that shippers can rely on carriers to provide a sound transport vehicle.

Proof of carrier's qualified fault in case of partial loss of transported goods
Germany | 18 December 2019

A recent Higher Regional Court of Dusseldorf decision concerning the partial loss of goods has strengthened the position of carriers. The court found that it is not enough to inform a carrier's driver of the risk of theft only when loading goods, as the carrier will have no time to assess the situation. The notification of risk must be made in good time so that the carrier can make a decision in the normal course of business.

Delivery damaged – only damaged pallets and packaging are liable for reimbursement
Germany | 11 December 2019

No matter how well goods are packaged and how great the effort of a carrier to consign a delivery in perfect condition to the customer, damage to goods, pallets and packaging cannot always be avoided. If damage occurs, the carrier will quickly be faced with a claim for damages, either from the shipper, the recipient or their insurer. The Federal Court of Justice redefined the calculation of damages in a ruling at the end of 2018.

Delivery of goods by parking container outside consignee premises
Germany | 13 November 2019

According to the Bremen Higher Regional Court, if agreed by contracting parties, goods can be delivered by parking a shipping container in front of the consignee's premises during non-business hours. In such instances, the carrier will not be liable if the cargo is stolen. This decision is a useful reminder that parties to a transport contract must have unequivocal terms of delivery.

CMNI statute of limitations also applies to ship damage
Germany | 23 October 2019

The Budapest Convention on the Contract for the Carriage of Goods by Inland Waterways (CMNI) states that all claims arising from contracts regulated thereunder become time barred one year after the day on which the goods were or should have been delivered to the consignee. A Higher Shipping Maritime Court decision serves as a useful reminder that Article 24 of the CMNI applies to all claims relating to transport, regardless of which party raises them or whether they concern tortious or enrichment matters.

Court examines scope of multimodal transport
Germany | 02 October 2019

Federal Court of Justice case law suggests that, in multimodal transport cases, voyages always have a series of sections and there are no stages without sections. However, a recent Hamburg Regional Court decision suggests that there may be transport stages in a multimodal transport system that cannot be attributed to a particular section.

Calculating carriers' contributory negligence
Germany | 25 September 2019

In a decision which conflicts with the examination sequence typically preferred by the Federal Court of Justice, the Hamburg Higher Regional Court ruled that a carrier's liability had been miscalculated and that that contributory negligence should have been examined before the limitations of liability. The court opined that, in view of Section 254 of the Civil Code, contributory negligence should be considered after or in conjunction with determining concrete damages and before the limitations of liability.

Additional place of jurisdiction clause in ADSp 2017
Germany | 18 September 2019

The Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions (ADSp) are general terms of service recommended by several trade associations. In a recent non-published decision, the Dresden Higher Regional Court addressed whether, in addition to the place of jurisdiction specifications in Section 30.3 of the ADSp 2017, the place of jurisdiction rules set out in Section 30(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure also apply in legal disputes against freight forwarders.

Carrier liability for loss of goods and delayed delivery
Germany | 10 July 2019

The distinction between freight and forwarding contracts is a common subject of legal disputes in Germany, as freight forwarders are generally liable only for organisational or selection faults and can usually relieve themselves of liability if they can prove that they chose a conscientious carrier. A recent Verden Regional Court ruling on the liability of a carrier for loss of goods and delayed delivery provides useful clarity in this context.

Pleasure yacht insurance: navigating without up-to-date charts and proper voyage plan
Germany | 03 July 2019

In a notable hull insurance case, the Celle Court of Appeal dismissed an action brought by an assured pleasure yacht owner who had been sailing on the Baltic Sea and ran aground. The case facts suggest that assureds are often unaware of the impact that outdated chart materials can have on hull insurance and liability cover.

New terms and conditions for logistics providers
Germany | 05 June 2019

The Logistics Terms and Conditions (Logistik-AGB) 2019, which were jointly revised by the German Association for Freight Forwarding and Logistics, the Federal Association of Road Haulage, Logistics and Disposal and the Federal Association of Furniture Forwarders and Logistics, will enter into force on 1 July 2019. The new terms and conditions will replace the Logistik-AGB 2006 and supplement the Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions 2017.

Destruction of consignment by Customs – question of liability
Germany | 22 May 2019

The Higher Regional Court of Dusseldorf recently confirmed the underlying principle of Article 18(2)(d) of the Montreal Convention – namely, that air carriers cannot be held liable for damages which are entirely outside their sphere of risk and influence. However, this decision is also a useful reminder that an exclusion of liability clause is not a free pass for carriers.

Light goods + heavy pallets x 8.33 special drawing rights?
Germany | 24 April 2019

How should the weight of a shipment containing damaged goods but usable pallets be calculated, considering that this would form the basis for liability? According to a recent Federal Court of Justice decision, if the pallets are still usable, only the net weight of the goods counts. The court held that it is necessary to look closely at what has been damaged, as the fate of some items is not necessarily the fate of others.

Impact of truck cartel on transport sector
Germany | 10 April 2019

Daimler, MAN, Volvo/Renault, DAF, Iveco and Scania are facing billion-dollar damages claims from carriers for illegal price fixing. To date, more than 7,000 transport companies from 26 countries have filed over 300 claims in excess of €1 billion in the German courts. However, the spillover effects on the transport sector remain unclear. A recent Dortmund Regional Court decision provides much-needed clarity in this regard.

Hard Brexit – liability risk for EU carriers
European Union | 27 February 2019

A hard Brexit would increase liability risk for EU carriers and freight forwarders, and disputing parties would need to overcome a number of factual and legal hurdles. Before undertaking cross-border transports, carriers are well advised to make clear agreements with senders in order to clarify that customs clearance delays are expected for an unforeseeable duration and request instructions from senders in accordance with the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road.

ADSp 2003, 2016 or 2017 – which version is valid?
Germany | 23 January 2019

The German Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions (ADSp) are a joint body of recommendations for shipping industry associations and freight forwarders. However, given that there are (at least) three versions – namely, ADSp 2003, ADSp 2016 and ADSp 2017 – many companies struggle to clearly identify the ADSp on which they should base their services.

Carriers' liability for implementing safety instructions
Germany | 09 January 2019

A recent Bremen Regional Court decision serves as a stark reminder to carriers that all contractual obligations, particularly those relating to security instructions, must be fulfilled and that any carrier found to have breached these obligations could face unrestricted liability in the event of damages. Carriers should carefully assess the feasibility of implementing any listed safety instructions before accepting transport contracts.

Shipshape: tour operators not liable for gym injuries sustained during sea swells
Germany | 19 December 2018

The Koblenz Higher Regional Court recently confirmed that tour operators cannot be held liable by cruise passengers for gym injuries sustained during large swells. The decision re-emphasises the fact that ships shift constantly at sea and that all passengers should therefore take appropriate care while on board – particularly during large swells – as failure to do so may deny them the ability to claim damages if an accident occurs.

CMR versus Civil Code: five or nine percentage points above basic lending rate?
Germany | 12 December 2018

The Verden Regional Court recently sentenced a forwarder to pay full compensation plus interest calculated at nine percentage points above the basic lending rate under the Civil Code. Upholding the forwarder's appeal, the Celle Higher Regional Court held that the interest rate should be reduced to five percentage points above the basic lending rate, which is more in line with interest claims under the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road.

A deal is a deal: compensation claim for alleged consignment loss or damage
Germany | 24 October 2018

While settling claims out of court to avoid losing customers is becoming standard practice in the shipping and transport industry, such payments should not be made prematurely – particularly if the carrier's responsibility for the damage is unclear. In most cases, the opposing party interprets such goodwill payments as an acknowledgement of debt at a later stage in the proceedings. Therefore, carriers are advised to draw up a brief compensation declaration to avoid having to compensate twice.

No liability for late delivery where loading readiness is agreed as subject to vessel availability
Germany | 03 October 2018

In its capacity as a court for inland navigation, the Mannheim District Court recently settled a dispute between an inland waterway carrier and a sender. The sender had instructed the carrier on short notice and despite the express statement by the carrier that its vessel was not yet available. According to the court's interpretation of the transport contract, the flexibility agreed in respect of loading readiness was to be understood as an exemption of liability for late delivery.

CMNI transport documents must specify weight
Germany | 19 September 2018

The Federal Court of Justice recently clarified a number of issues under the Budapest Convention on the Contract for the Carriage of Goods by Inland Waterway – most importantly, the determination (calculation) of the limitation per weight of goods. According to the court, only the weight specified in the transport document can be invoked; if no weight is mentioned in the transport document, the carrier must rely on the limitation per package.

Gap closed – no further risk for forwarders
Germany | 12 September 2018

The German Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions (ADSp) 2017 are designed to protect forwarders and close any potential liability risk gaps, particularly for organisations involved in air transport. In order to clarify the issue of whether the ADSp 2003 applied only to transport that was governed by German law, the updated ADSp stipulate that they do not apply to international transport.

Court examines loss of goods placed in front of unattended warehouse
Germany | 29 August 2018

The Munich Higher Regional Court recently confirmed that 'delivery' under the Commercial Code essentially means the procurement of direct possession. While the physical seizure of transported goods by a consignee is unnecessary, the goods must be made available to the consignee in such a way that it can, without further obstacles, seize control of the goods. The court also clarified how to classify the unloading of valuable goods in front of an unattended warehouse without an agreement or instructions.

'Gigaliner' operation does not violate EU law
Germany | 01 August 2018

The Berlin Administrative Court recently considered the action of an environmental association admissible but unfounded. The association had sought a declaration that introducing long trucks or 'gigaliners' to regular operation and extending the trial operation of certain extra-long trucks was illegal. While this judgment strengthens the road transport route, given that the operation of extra-long trucks is limited by the density of the cargo, the use of gigaliners might not affect competition with rail transport.

Contractual risk exclusion of intervention by customs authorities in transport insurance
Germany | 11 July 2018

The Federal Court of Justice recently ruled on two risk exclusion clauses in transport insurance policies that are especially relevant for the export and import industries. While the decision has resolved some of the legal uncertainty surrounding transport insurance, it will likely apply to all types of insurance. As far as risk exclusion clauses are concerned, the court has made it clear that exclusion clauses should be interpreted restrictively.