If you contract a carrier directly
When a carrier transports your possessions, they must comply with:
- the Contract and Commercial Law Act, which covers the carrier’s liability for loss or damage to all products while they are with the carrier
- the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA), which covers any other losses if the carrier doesn’t complete the delivery with reasonable skill or care.
These laws mean that:
- your goods must be delivered within the agreed timeframes, or a reasonable timeframe if no timeframe was agreed
- the carrier is liable if your items are lost or damaged
- carriers must provide satisfactory service.
Carriers aren’t liable for loss or damage directly resulting from:
- any inherent defect in the products
- products that were not properly prepared and packed
- a legal requirement that was not met (like packing of dangerous goods)
- products that were taken from the carrier by legal process
- the carrier saving or trying to save life or property.
Under the Contract and Commercial Law Act, you have 30 days to make a claim for loss or damage to products. You may have less time if this is set out in your contract with the carrier.
Contract and Commercial Law Act (CCLA)
The CCLA applies to all carriers who transport goods by road, rail, sea or air within New Zealand. The Act does not cover mail services.
When you organise to have something freighted or couriered to you, if there is loss or damage you don’t have to prove its cause. You can be paid out under the CCLA, up to the maximum limits of liability.
All carriage contracts must be in writing. You and the carrier must discuss and agree on the terms of the contract. Their liability for loss or damage depends on the type of contract you choose. You can choose from four types of carrier contracts.
- Declared value risk, where the carrier is liable for the amount stated in the contract.
- Owner's risk, where you’re responsible for any loss or damage (unless it is intentionally caused).
- Declared terms, where the carrier’s liability depends on particular agreed terms in the contract.
- Limited carrier’s risk, where the carrier is liable for up to $2,000 per unit of goods.
A ‘unit of items’ is each separate item given to the carrier (usually a box). The distinction is important because it defines how much the carrier has to pay you for any loss or damage to your goods. If you don’t have a written contract, the products are at limited carrier’s risk.
The products must be picked up and delivered during the period of time or at the time you agreed. Carriers often exclude liability for delays, so make sure you read the contract carefully before you sign it.