Types of carrier of goods
Produced in partnership with Quentin Tannock of 4 Pump Court and James Watthey of 4 Pump Court
Types of carrier of goods

The following Commercial practice note produced in partnership with Quentin Tannock of 4 Pump Court and James Watthey of 4 Pump Court provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Types of carrier of goods
  • Definition of carrier
  • Common carriers
  • Private carriers
  • Bailment
  • Standard terms
  • Standard of care

This Practice Note provides an introduction to two types of cargo carrier; common carriers and private carriers, and explains the key aspects of their respective liabilities under their contractual relationships. The Practice Note concerns the carriage of goods only, and not the carriage of passengers.

Definition of carrier

A ‘carrier’ can be simply defined as a person who carries cargo (or indeed carries passengers, but passenger carriage is outside the scope of this Practice Note) for the benefit of other persons, whether gratuitously or for payment (or ‘reward’).

The types of carrier are:

  1. common carriers

  2. private carriers

  3. other types of carriers with special rights and duties

For the avoidance of doubt, the following are not carriers:

  1. stevedores

  2. forwarding agents who merely arrange or procure carriage by others

While they are not carriers for the purposes of this Practice Note, it is worth mentioning that logistics companies will often contract with their clients under terms covering the storage and carriage of goods. The United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) Contract Conditions for Logistics provides an example of such standard terms frequently used by logistics service providers in the UK.

Common carriers

The liabilities of common carriers are determined by the common law, subject to any relevant statutory (Carriers Act 1830 (CA 1830)) or contractual modifications.

Whether or not a person is a common carrier is a question of fact, unless a specific statutory exception

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