Transportation Law on the Move: Challenges in the Modern Logistics World

The Competency Center for Logistics and Transport Law (KOLT) held a two-day conference at University of Lucerne under the heading «Transportation Law on the Move: Challenges in the Modern Logistics World». The conference, co-chaired by Prof. Dr. Andreas Furrer and PD Dr. Viola Heutger, was held on 25th/26th of April 2019 with 20 speakers and several guests from 6 different countries. The speakers were internationally recognized academic experts in transportation law and practitioners in leading positions. The participants shared their experience, analysis and visions on modern national and international transportation law embedded in a modern logistics and supply chain management.

The aim of the conference was to compare and exchange experiences from different legal jurisdictions such as China, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as discussing potential reforms of International Conventions and new model laws. These findings may serve as a basis for recommendations on a potential reform of swiss transport law.

The conference touched upon a variety of topics such as the impact of digitalization and new technical developments on transport contracts, the impact of the current trend to reform national transport law systems, concepts of mandatory regulations vs. freedom of contract, issues arising from tripartite relationships, as well as challenges of the current fundamental changes of logistics and economic environment in the transport sector and the impact of changing the needs of all the players involved. The final section was dedicated to an analysis of Swiss national transport law and its potential revision, drawing conclusions from the findings of this conference.

At the closing roundtable discussion, the participants drew their conclusions and insights for Switzerland from the previous presentations and discussions. Base on the different legal backgrounds of the participants, a wide range of views was developed. Opinions ranged from promoting uniform for all transportation modalities to strengthening the current system of recourse to international norms. The discussion continued on modern technologies such as blockchain and the extent to which this would require further legal intervention.

Overall, there was a surprisingly clear consensus on the need to reform international transport law and in particular maritime transport law, even though the approaches were assessed differently. The significance of modern logistics concepts and the role and importance of digitization for transport law at national and international level were repeatedly emphasized. The question was also raised whether the law on freight forwarding should be replaced by a law on logistics on national or international level.

Swiss transport law was considered to be adequate overall because, outside road transport, modular transport law is closely coordinated with international conventions. The proposal to replace forwarding law with logistics law and the planned adaptation of Swiss law to the requirements of distributed ledger technology (in particular blockchain) were some of the focal points of the discussion. The embedding of national transport law in the network of international conventions was considered to be an urgently needed concern in our globalized world.

Click here to read the full conference report.

Conference and Presentation Reports of the University of Lucerne