The importance of the multimodal freight forwarding industry is growing day by day. It is 'door to door' that developed as the ‘through transportation’ became generalized due to the containerization, which began in 1960. It is the field where the contact with customers happens most actively in multimodal transport and international logistics service industry, and also it plays the role of a middleman that designs and plans shipping between cargo owner and actual carrier in today’s international transportation. As the multimodal freight forwarding industry develops, the disputes regarding this also increase, and the importance of rules that regulates the liability of multimodal freight forwarder increases in these disputes. However, there are no rules that privately regulate the liability of multimodal freight forwarder in Korean laws, and the international rules that regulate multimodal transport have not been uniformed, only maintained through individual rules or individual convention for each transportation method. Therefore, the necessity of legislation that would uniformly regulate the liability of multimodal freight forwarder has been increasing in multimodal transport that is continuously growing and developing. But there is only UN Convention on International Multimodal Transport of Goods that was established in 1980, despite the long discussion on the unified regulations. However, it is difficult to expect even for this to take effect.
Based on the recognition of the problems above, this study first distinguished and defined the concepts of multimodal transport operator and multimodal freight forwarder and examined their legal status. And then it examined the liability of freight forwarder or carrier according the legal status of freight forwarder. Also, it reviewed the main contents of the revised commercial law, which is announced prior to the legislation according to the necessity of unified regulations on 25 November 2013, for the liability at the time when a multimodal freight forwarder has the status of a multimodal transport operator by taking over the debt of the multimodal transport operator, the contents of FIATA B/L standard terms and conditions, and Rotterdam rules that currently regulate the liability relationship of multimodal freight forwarder.
Multimodal freight forwarders basically have the status of freight forwarder according to the commercial law, but they have the status of carrier when they take over the transportation debt through methods such as executing intervention rights. Therefore, the legal status of multimodal freight forwarders cannot be defined uniformly, and it must be judged by considering the contents of specific and individual contracts between the concerned parties.
When multimodal freight forwarders have the status of freight forwarder, they take the responsibility of freight forwarder according to the commercial law, and they also take the responsibility stated on FIATA B/L terms and conditions and KIFFA B/L, which are the most frequently used transportation terms in the international multimodal transportation work, and which directly regulate the liability relationship of multimodal freight forwarder. On the other hand, when they have the status of transport operator, they take the responsibility as air transport operator or multimodal transport operator.
Upon the revised commercial law, which is announced prior to the legislation, it removed the difference between land carrier and ocean carrier by uniformly limiting the liability of both parties. Also, it clearly defined the concept of multimodal transportation, and for the liability of multimodal transport operators, they take responsibility according to the regulation that is applied to the relevant transportation section in case the transportation section where the damage of freight occurred can be confirmed. In case the transportation section where the damage occurred is unclear or not limited to a certain section, they take responsibility according to the regulation that is applied to the transportation section with the longest distance, thus confirming that the law followed the network liability system.