Published in the series 'Aviation Law & Policy'. We only have to look around us on the road while we travel to work or home, or to use our eyes at a railway station to know that the transport of goods takes up a lot of the room our modern day infrastructures provide. Sometimes perhaps a little too much; nowadays congestion seems to be the rule rather than the exception. This is an uncomfortable side effect of the explosive growth freight transport has experienced the last few decades1. Modern day transport offers a considerable array of possibilities; possibilities that are – for the most part – taken for granted by the general public that enjoys their benefits. The average European would not be surprised to learn that the fruit on offer in the local supermarket originates from another continent for instance. The idea that most of the things we use in our daily routine stem from a distant source, such as a cell phone from Japan, a trendy pair of designer jeans made in China or a glass of Australian wine, seems completely natural to us. Clearly the contemporary transport industry offers us a lot of benefits besides such discomforts as congestion and pollution. In earlier times, before machinery such as the steam engine had been invented it was hardly cost effective – or even feasible when it came to perishables – to carry goods halfway around the world if they were not at least valuable and extraordinary2. The limitations set on trade by the transport structures available did more however than simply curtail the range of affordable products on offer for the public. They also had a negative effect on the location of the industry, limited transport possibilities and forced production to take place near or in heavily populated areas to secure the necessary workforce and market possibilities. After all, industrial decentralisation is only feasible if there is an infrastructure capable of supporting a cost effective movement of goods and employees3. The transport possibilities our contemporary society offers make decentralisation feasible. Today’s commercial actors use sophisticated systems weighing relevant factors such as storage costs, the placement of production facilities and transportation expenses against each other in order to generate the highest possible profits.

K.F. Haak (Krijn)
Erasmus University Rotterdam , Kluwer Law International
Erasmus School of Law

Hoeks, M. (2009, December 10). Multimodal Transport Law: The law applicable to the multimodal contract for the carriage of goods. Retrieved from