The Cargo Transport Units Code of Practice – What Does it Mean for You?

The Cargo Transport Units Code of Practice – What Does it Mean for You?

A new Code of Practice aims to increase safety and security in the working environment in dock and on board ship – and helps shipping, cargo and haulage companies understand their liabilities and responsibilities when it comes to packing and transporting cargo.

New guidance

The new Cargo Transport Units (CTU) Code tackles issues surrounding the use of CTUs – commonly known as ‘shipping containers’ – which are designed to provide a versatile means of packing and shipping all kinds of goods. Used worldwide in large and extremely busy container ports, CTUs are not infrequently associated with a number of key legal issues. These can include criminal activity such as theft, matters relating to liability and insurance in the case of loss or damage, and personal injury cases.

The CTU code provides firm guidelines for the packing of CTUs – a particularly important development since it is estimated that some 30% of all damage to cargo is caused by inadequate and unsafe packing practices.

A common sense code

The Code will be welcomed by shipping and cargo companies as setting out rigorous and common sense guides to the safe and effective use of CTUs. Key points within the Code include:

• Ensuring the working environment is safe
• Using the most appropriate type of CTU for the cargo/ship in question
• Ensuring the CTU used, and all equipment engaged in its use, is in sound working condition
• Prioritising the placement of goods, for example dangerous or hazardous materials to be placed near the doors, heavy goods at the base of the CTU
• Proper and prominent placement of any necessary signage (such as safety signs)
Responsibility and enforceability

The CTU code urges setting out a clear chain of responsibility. Each individual or company in the supply chain should be allocated clear obligations, from the consignor to the consignee via all those involved in the transaction, including the packer, shipper and haulier such as rail companies or road transport businesses.

The Code has officially replaced the 1997 Guidelines, and is approved by the International Maritime Organisations Maritime Safety Committee. Importantly, it is not a mandatory UN Instrument but rather a voluntary code of practice, and as such is not legally enforceable. However, there is scope for legislators worldwide to note and approve the Code and provide legal endorsement – with penalties as appropriate.

How can we help?

At ParrisWhittaker our award-winning maritime lawyers are experienced in handling all aspects of maritime and shipping law, including cases arising from the improper packing and management of CTUs, such as damage to cargo and personal injury cases. We are able to advisce businesses from small traders and vessel owners to major international corporations on how to incorporate the new code of practice into their business strategy – helping companies maintain a firm foothold in the busy shipping marketplace. If you need expert legal advice on this or any other matter, contact us now, and we can provide the expert advice you need.