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IRU Legal Services

Legal Services

IRU Legal Services

The road transport industry is highly regulated, perhaps more than any other mode of transport. This is why IRU’s suite of legal services, drafted and approved by IRU Commission on Legal Affairs (CAJ), is designed to help road transport companies navigate the many requirements and regulations to which they need to adhere. CAJ members have developed highly valuable products which are used on a daily basis by our carriers, including the famous model of the CMR consignment note, to name but one. In addition, you will also find general legal assistance, advice and access to contracts and important transport documents.

Goods Transport Database


The Goods Transport Database contains legal information regarding the international transport of goods by road including


  • up-to-date information on administrative and/or penal sanctions
  • driving and rest times and tachograph use
  • cabotage and goods transport contracts
  • insurance-transport contracts
  • and standard contracts.

Road carriers are subject to sanctions which vary greatly from one country to another. In case of missing or non-complying documents accompanying a transport operation, penalties range from a warning to distraint of the vehicle and its contents. So that international road carriers are aware of the consequences of failure to produce a document, the section on "sanctions in case of missing of non-complying documents" lists information applicable to carriers in 21 countries.

Drivers must comply with proper tachograph use, tachograph records and adhere to driving and rest periods. Failure to do so results in sanctions in various countries – at the right side are listed the penalties and sanctions in case of non-compliance. Answers for EU offences are based on the definitions / examples provided in Annex III of EU Directive 2006/22. (English ¦ French)

Cabotage operations within the European Union are subject to community laws and are regulated by specific applications in the host country. Countries also have their own prices and terms governing contracts for the carriage of goods travelling by road. To harmonise these rules, IRU Commission on Legal Affairs (CAJ) has compiled an inventory of applicable rules across the various EU member and non-member states.

IRU guidelines on insurance matters help road transport operators in their negotiations with insurance companies. In particular, these guidelines are useful in case of a lack of coverage, overlapping insurance coverage, and when they need to address extraordinary risks and situations.

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It is essential that transport operators fully understand all their legal obligations and avoid any uncertainties or misunderstandings. To this end, IRU has designed a suite of standard contracts covering all aspects of international road transport of goods. This suite of legal documents, including standard contracts and IRU General Conditions, have been developed for the benefit of the road transport industry, and are optional, a complement to the usual international conventions and rules in force at national level.

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International Consignment Notes (CMR)


Goods companies, drivers and those receiving shipments use a CMR consignment note, which presents information about the shipped goods and the transporting and receiving parties. CMR notes are used under the CMR Convention, which outlines the standard conditions of carriage for international road transport operations, and which is designed to facilitate road transport and international trade.

    The CMR Convention does not foresee a specific format for the consignment note. In order to harmonise and simplify international road transport, in 1976 IRU/CAJ, in cooperation with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), developed a model CMR consignment note which was updated in 2007 and is now used by most, if not all parties to contracts of carriage in CMR contracting countries.

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    The electronic consignment note (e-CMR) supplements the regular CMR consignment note by providing an electronic system to record and handle data. Transport operators who wish to use e-CMR must be familiar with the Additional Protocol to the CMR Convention, which governs e-CMR.

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    CAJ developed the Standard Contract to be established between parties (the carrier and the sender) willing to use the e-CMR. 

    The Additional Protocol concerning the electronic Consignment Note indeed stated that when a road carrier and their client wished to use the electronic CMR Consignment Note, they must sign a specific agreement which served to organise the operations, procedures and technical means that they must execute together in order to satisfy the provisions of the Protocol (Article 5.1). 

    The contract itself still referred to technical aspects (Appendix 1), which would contain recommendations in terms of procedures, technical standards, formats, conservation methods and authentication, which the parties would be able to implement in their electronic communications within the framework of the Additional Protocol. This technical Annexe had not yet been drafted and will be analysed at a later stage. This is just a model that may be used by companies and associations who would adapt it according to the technical aspects they wished to include.

    Download the contract

    Legal Assistance Network


    IRU Members can access the IRU Legal Assistance Network, a circle of professionals that are experts in different fields of law applicable to the international road transport industry. The aim of this network is for members to quickly identify and make contact with a skilled lawyer in any given country. These legal experts provide their services, for a standard fee, to IRU member associations and transport operators. Specialised lawyers are available in the following domains: Administrative, Community, Civil and Commercial Law as well as Transport, Criminal, Labour, Procedural and Transport Fiscal Law.

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