Chiranjeev Gogoi from National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam throws light on various aspects related to Multimodal Transportation of goods.


Multimodal transportation of goods is a phenomenon that is quintessential to the advent of the container system to facilitate trade across seas and national boundaries. It primarily deals with the transportation of goods which use more than one form of transportation. Though attempts had already been made in Europe to form concrete rules to govern this form of trade but there was a paucity of approving countries and the number of countries subscribing to the rules were few and far in between. But on the international forum, under the auspices of the United Nations, the UNCTAD was formed mostly due to the efforts of the under-developed countries. During the process of deliberation, the fact that the participating member countries were divided into four-groups highlighted the nature and degree of conflict of interests of the countries. We can imply from the diverse and conflicting interests of the countries that settling on an amicable proposition proved difficult. The Government of India was also advised of the growing impact of multimodal transportation of goods in international trade and it realised the importance to codify certain rules to facilitate smoother functioning of the system and to keep up with the global market. Subsequently, the Multimodal Transportation Goods Act, 1993 came into effect but this does not serve the issue of multiple legal regimes governing multimodal trade but only adds to it.

The parties to a multimodal transport contract are namely: the consignor, the multimodal transport operator and the consignees. A multimodal transport contract is drafted between these parties based on a multimodal transports document. An important aspect of multimodal transportation is the multimodal transport document which serves as title document and also holds evidentiary value under the multimodal contract. In order to provide a platform for the seamless flow of business, it was pertinent that the interests of the above-mentioned parties be satisfied. With the recent surge in global trade, the countries must cones to an amicable understanding to solve the problem of multiple legal regimes covering the aspect of multimodal transportation of goods which forms the most essential part of international trade and commerce. In these times of multifaceted economy, trade plays the most crucial role in defining the economic power of a country. Therefore, in order to establish a stable and reliable system to ease trade flow across seas, universally accepted multimodal transportation of goods rules must be drafted and the countries must adopt the same in the international forum.