When can you claim compensation for late delivery?

When a courier company delays a shipment, you can always claim compensation from them. However, usually its amount will be lower than the loss really suffered. Moreover, there is no guarantee that you will receive any compensation. The procedure where it is the easiest to get compensation for delay in delivery is for perishable goods which can partially or completely lose their value due to delay.

The liability of the carriers in domestic transport in Poland in the event of delayed delivery which is their fault is determined by The Polish Act on Transport Law. Article 83 of the Act provides for two cases. In the first, if your shipment is late and there are no damages to the goods shipped, the compensation paid by the carrier amounts to a maximum of double the shipment fee. In the second case, if the shipped goods get damaged due to delivery delay, e.g. perishable goods get spoilt, you can claim compensation in the same way as for damage or loss of the shipment. And that’s all there is to compensation for late delivery in Poland.

In the case of sortable parcels, this means that if the actual damage was higher than a few tens of zlotys, then the compensation probably will not cover it.

You should also pay attention to the extremely important limit “up to”: you are entitled to compensation amounting up to double the shipment fees. So you may get less, but for sure not more.

Amount of special interest

Even less favourable for customers are the regulations on international road shipments when your delivery is delayed and the goods inside are not damaged. Pursuant to the provisions of the CMR Convention (Convention relative au contrat de transport international de Marchandise par Route), adopted in the 1950’s, in the case of road transport you can count on compensation not higher than the shipment fee.

The only exception to this rule is when the sender declares in a consignment note a special interest in delivery. The amount of that interest represents the value of any potential losses estimated by the sender if the delivery is late. It is the basis for paying compensation higher than the value of the shipment fee. The carrier may accept such a provision without additional conditions, but may also demand higher fees corresponding to the greater responsibility for delivery.

However, even determining the amount of special interest does not release the sender from an obligation to prove that the losses suffered were due to late delivery. If you fail to do so, you will not get any compensation.

Losses of potential profits

Theoretically, you can claim compensation for the loss of potential profits. This applies to the situation in which the delayed delivery of the package made it impossible for the customer to achieve certain benefits.

For example: the tender documentation had not arrived on time and the sender as a potential contractor has been excluded from the procedure. If it can be proved that the sender could have won the tender, theoretically there is a chance to win the compensation procedure.

However, in practice, this type of case is very difficult to resolve. And they usually do not end up in court, because you may get much lower compensation than your lost profits and additionally have to pay litigation costs.

The contractual penalty not valid

Some contracts signed with the carrier may contain a provision regulating penalties for late delivery. The carrier is eager to sign such a contract, because such penalties specified in it cannot be enforced anyway. Pursuant to the CMR  Convention mentioned above, specifically to its Article 41 which states that any clause in the contract between parties which directly or indirectly are different to the provisions of the Convention shall be null and void. A contractual penalty higher than the shipment fee violates the provision for compensation for delay in delivery. This means that it has no legal force.

What is the carrier not responsible for?

Actually, you should ask what the courier is responsible for. In principle, a courier can only be held liable if you prove its gross negligence or deliberate misconduct. All other causes of late delivery exclude the carrier’s liability. These are in particular natural disasters, road accidents, strikes, social unrest and many other factors that are considered unpredictable.

The strongest motivation for the carrier to keep a customer happy is the company’s reputation. Therefore, carriers usually respect customer claims and avoid publicising their mishaps when unnecessary.