Während der Lagerung und dem Transport von Arzneimitteln muss häufig eine konstante Temperatur eingehalten werden, die in der Zulassung verbindlich vorgeschrieben wird. Wird die Kühlkette unterbrochen oder treten Temperaturschwankungen auf, verliert das Medikament in der Regel seine Verkehrsfähigkeit. Eine gewisse Aktualität gewann diese Art von Transportschäden in den letzten Monaten durch COVID-19-Impfstoffe, die bei extremen Temperaturen gelagert und transportiert werden müssen. Aber auch bei anderen Arzneimitteln stellen sich eine Reihe von Fragen im Hinblick auf die Sorgfalt bei Transport und die Haftung.

Ein wenig Prominenz in der öffentlichen Berichterstattung hat diese Problematik dadurch erlangt, dass beispielsweise der COVID-19 Impfstoff von Biontech/Pfizer bei -70 °C transportiert und gelagert werden muss. Die Einhaltung dieser Temperatur stellt enorm hohe Anforderungen an die Logistik. Angesichts des Versandes von über einer Milliarde Dosen des Impfstoffs treten Schäden fast zwangsläufig ein. Auf der anderen Seite handelt es sich nicht um ein Sonderproblem dieses Impfstoffs, sondern es werden täglich große Mengen von Medikamenten versandt, bei denen eine bestimmte Lager- und Transporttemperatur einzuhalten ist. Welche Konsequenzen haben aber Kühlkettenunterbrechungen oder die Nichteinhaltung der vorgeschriebenen Temperatur in haftungsrechtlicher Hinsicht?

Bei Temperaturabweichungen während des Arzneimitteltransports bestehen zwei Besonderheiten: Zum einen führt eine Kühlkettenunterbrechung bei Medikamenten in der Regel nicht zu einer äußerlich erkennbaren Substanzveränderung. Manchmal wirkt sich die Kühlkettenunterbrechung vielleicht gar nicht unmittelbar auf das Medikament aus, sondern nur durch eine Verkürzung der Lebensdauer. Worin besteht also dann der Schaden, wenn Temperaturabweichungen festgestellt werden?


According to a recent judgement of the Regional Court (Landgericht) of Bremen, a transport liability insurer cannot invoke a prohibition of assignment, if this would result in the policyholder becoming insolvent as a result of the insured transport damage.


In the event of transport damage, the injured party has no direct claim against the carrier’s liability insurer. Generally, transport liability policies provide for a prohibition of the assignment of coverage claims in the case of an ongoing insurance policy. In this case, an agreement to prohibit offsetting is permissible in the insurance contract. For the injured party, this means it can only assert claims against the carrier itself. Depending on the amount of the claim, in the worst case he will have to litigate for years. If the policyholder is ultimately unable to pay, the carrier is threatened with insolvency.

In the case decided by the Regional Court of Bremen, our client, the customer of a carrier specializing in the transport of heavy goods asserted claims for damages due to a business interruption at an aluminum factory. The rectifier carried to the factory had collided with a bridge during the transport. The unit could not be delivered. The consignee suffered a considerable reduction in production capacity for months.  The insurer initially refused to release its policyholder. Due to the damage amounting to millions, this would have inevitably resulted in the carrier’s insolvency.  In this situation, the carrier decided to compensate part of the loss and to assign its coverage claims against its insurer to the claimant in the course of a settlement.

As expected, the sued insurer invoked the prohibition of assignment.

The Regional Court decided that as assignee the injured party had become the owner of the claims. This was not opposed by the prohibition of assignment effectively agreed in the insurance contract. However, on the basis of good faith, the insurer was prevented from invoking the prohibition of assignment. In the decided case, there was clearly a risk that in the course of a liability lawsuit against the carrier, the claimant would ultimately run idle due to insolvency. In the end, only a claim for assignment against the insolvency administrator would have remained for the claimant, cf. judgement of the Regional Court (Landgericht) of Bremen of November 6, 2018, file no. 11 O 226/15 (final and absolute).

Accordingly, since the exclusion of the assignment provided for in the insurance contract would have led to the same result as a direct claim against the insurer, but at the price of the insolvency of the policyholder, the insurer could not invoke the prohibition of assignment.

                                                            Robert N. Kuss, LL.M.oec.

According to a judgement of the Local Court (Amtsgericht) of Cologne (legally binding), in the event of delayed delivery of baggage, the air carrier must pay compensation in the amount of the costs of necessary and appropriate replacement in accordance with Article 19 of the Montreal Convention. The traveler must accept the benefit of the purchased replacement clothing to be offset in the amount of 15% of the purchase price. (AG Köln, file ref.: 119 C 51/13, judgement of 03.06.2013, legally binding after dismissal of the appeal by resolution pursuant to Section 522 of the German Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO).

In principle, the air carrier must compensate the damage which occurs during the carriage of baggage by air as a result of the latter being transported and delivered late. Despite this clear regulation, airlines often have trouble reimbursing travelers for the cost of replacement clothing within the liability limit of 1,000 SDRs (approx. 1,250 €). This is often justified by the fact that no damage was incurred by the traveler, because he now has the newly purchased clothing.

In the judgment cited above, the Local Court of Cologne decided how this benefit resulting from the newly purchased clothing is to be taken into account in the assessment of damages.

This decision had to be obtained on our own behalf. I flew from Cologne/Bonn airport to Zurich/Kloten on a Sunday at 4:55 p.m. to give a lecture on international contract law at 9:00 a.m. on Monday. I checked in my wardrobe, consisting of suit, shirt, tie, underwear and socks, packed in a garment bag. After my arrival in Zurich I waited in vain at the baggage carousel for the garment bag, went to the Lost & Found counter and was informed that my garment bag was still in Cologne. An arrival of my wardrobe for the lecture the next morning was not to be expected any more.

Since I didn’t want to give my lecture in casual clothes, I went to a clothing store at the airport and bought a new suit including shirt, tie, underwear and socks for about 1,000 Swiss francs, and considering the time and place of the purchase this was in the lowest price segment. A purchase in another shop before 09:00 the next morning was not possible.

The airline reacted with rejection to the assertion of the purchase price as damage. After several months of waiting for an amicable settlement, the claim for damages had to be filed in court, as the airline was of the opinion that I would have needed a suit anyway.

The court saw this differently. It justified its decision with the fact that the purchase of a suit as well as of the other pieces of clothing was necessary in view of the cause of the journey – a lecture. Due to the day of the week and the date of the lecture the next morning, there had been no cheaper shopping possibilities. A claim for compensation of the purchase price was also not excluded on the grounds that I had saved the purchase of another suit by purchasing this suit. The court stated that it is to be assumed that an acute need for wardrobe does not exist, when going on a job-related lecture journey. The traveler must, however, accept a benefit sharing for the acquired clothing to be offset, which is to be estimated here at 15% of the purchase value. This estimate is based in particular on the regularly very low resale value of used clothing.

The airline had not demanded the return of the suit and the undergarments before and during the proceedings, so that in the opinion of the court there was no claim for handover of the suit concurrently against payment of the total price.


ROBERT N. KUSS, LL.M. oec., Bar certified specialist in international business law,

Bar certified specialist in transportation and forwarding law

According to a judgement of the Regional Court (LG) of Cologne achieved by us, the carrier has unlimited liability if he has failed to check whether all four support stands have been folded out before parking a swap body.

Reckless Damage Kuss LawThe conditions under which a consignor of goods is entitled to unlimited compensation in the event of damage during transport are rarely met. According to German law, the carrier must at least be accused of reckless fault in the knowledge that damage is likely to occur.

The Regional Court of Cologne (judgement of 20.12.2018, ref. 85 O 22/17, not yet legally binding) has decided that the parking of a swap body without prior control of whether all four support stands are folded out is a reckless fault.

The transport insurer of a designer furniture manufacturer had sued. The furniture had been sold and stowed in a swap body for transport. The driver of the transport company first took the swap body to his own premises to park it there. In the course of the procedure, it turned out that the driver had accidentally folded out only three stands of the swap body instead of all four. When being questioned, the driver stated that he had failed to extend the fourth stand because he was in a hurry. After the truck drove out under the swap body, this overturned and the goods were damaged.

The Regional Court of Cologne considered the driver’s conduct to be a reckless fault – and not, as the defendant claimed, a possibly excusable “Augenblicksversagen” (mistake made in the heat of the moment). Accordingly, the defendant could not invoke the limitation of liability of Section 431 of the German Commercial Code (HGB) in the amount of approx. 10.00 €/kg. In the court’s opinion, parking a swap body is a particularly damage-relevant procedure. Here the driver does not only have to provide for the necessary stability of the swap body, but beyond that pulling out the vehicle, on which the body was transported, requires a high concentration of the driver. According to the court, the damages that threaten to occur in the event of a handling error are considerable. In this case, the driver had grossly neglected to pay the necessary attention, as he had failed to do the most obvious thing, namely folding out all four supports of the container.

Do you have any questions concerning the carrier’s liability? We will be happy to answer them.

Vanessa Steinbacher, B.A., Attorney at law (Rechtsanwältin) and bar certified
specialist in transportation and forwarding law

Vanessa Steinbacher has joined our team in the middle of last year. Vanessa holds a Bachelor of Arts in “Media Business Administration” and worked for the marketing department of the publishing group of the “Handelsblatt”. At that time she also was writing for the magazine “Junge Karriere”.

Vanessa studied law at the Cologne University with a focus on media- and telecommunications law as well as intellectual property and is an attorney since 2012. Ms. Steinbacher is representing and counselling our clients in the fields of Intellectual Property and Copyright law as well as Transportation and Forwarding law.

Vanessa Steinbacher speaks German, English and French.

Tanja Pennekamp has recently finished her further training as a “certified compliance officer”.

Tanja assists her international German and Swiss clients in building up and improving their compliance management systems, designs and leads training programs at all levels and is conducting internal investigations in case of serious compliance issues. She furthermore serves her clients as an external compliance officer.

If you have any questions regarding compliance matters, please contact us!