Knowledge Platform

Contracting V Performing Carrier

An additional layer of complexity can be added to the relatively straightforward principle that primary liability rests with the carrier when the contracting carrier and performing carrier are different [2]. This has however already been addressed in the most part for all modes of transport, with the exception of inland waterways, with each regime (either at international or European level) establishing that the contracting carrier – i.e. the carrier who is principal to the contract of carriage with the passenger - shall at all times remain liable to the passenger, with the performing or ‘actual’ carrier also finding itself jointly and severally liable to the passenger for the segment of the journey it so performs. This element of the regime honours the contractual privity between the passenger and the contracting carrier, ensuring contractual certainty and transparency for the consumer whist being alive to the commercial realities of the modern day transport network which relies increasingly on the concepts of charter, code-share and inter-line. It is perhaps when addressing limitation of liability where the disparity between the various regimes becomes most apparent. Table 1 below sets out how the various regimes deal with limitation of liability.

[2] An example of this utilising one mode of transport is interlining between airline carriers – whereby, based on a voluntary commercial agreement (usually on standard industry terms), two carriers agree to ‘share’ a route – with one carrier for example performing the short-haul leg and another, performing the long-haul leg. A single ticket will be issued by the contracting carrier covering both legs of the flight.

An example of this utilising multiple modes of transport are the rail/fly arrangements in place between a number of air and rail carriers. See Singapore Airlines and First Great Western’s
Rail-Fly service:
Air France’s Air & Rail:  Air and Rail Trip with TGV Air 
DB Bahn’s AIRail service:
Eurostar now also has interline agreements with most TOCs with services into London.