TITLE VII – COMMERCIAL CONTRACTS FOR TRANSPORTATION
ARTICLE 349. A contract of transportation by land or water ways of any kind shall be considered commercial:
1. When it has for its object merchandise or any article of commerce.
2. When, whatever its object may be, the carrier is a merchant or is habitually engaged in transportation for the public.
ARTICLE 350. The shipper as well as the carrier of merchandise or goods may mutually demand that a bill of lading be made, stating:
1. The name, surname and residence of the shipper.
2. The name, surname and residence of the carrier.
3. The name, surname and residence of the person to whom or to whose order the goods are to be sent or whether they are to be delivered to the bearer of said bill.
4. The description of the goods, with a statement of their kind, of their weight, and of the external marks or signs of the packages in which they are contained.
5. The cost of transportation.
6. The date on which shipment is made.
7. The place of delivery to the carrier.
8. The place and the time at which delivery to the consignee shall be made.
9. The indemnity to be paid by the carrier in case of delay, if there should be any agreement on this matter.
ARTICLE 351. In transportation made by railroads or other enterprises subject to regulation rate and time schedules, it shall be sufficient for the bills of lading or the declaration of shipment furnished by the shipper to refer, with respect to the cost, time and special conditions of the carriage, to the schedules and regulations the application of which he requests; and if the shipper does not determine the schedule, the carrier must apply the rate of those which appear to be the lowest, with the conditions inherent thereto, always including a statement or reference to in the bill of lading which he delivers to the shipper.
ARTICLE 352. The bills of lading, or tickets in cases of transportation of passengers, may be diverse, some for persons and others for baggage; but all of them shall bear the name of the carrier, the date of shipment, the points of departure and arrival, the cost, and, with respect to the baggage, the number and weight of the packages, with such other manifestations which may be considered necessary for their easy identification.
ARTICLE 353. The legal evidence of the contract between the shipper and the carrier shall be the bills of lading, by the contents of which the disputes which may arise regarding their execution and performance shall be decided, no exceptions being admissible other than those of falsity and material error in the drafting.
After the contract has been complied with, the bill of lading which the carrier has issued shall be returned to him, and by virtue of the exchange of this title with the thing transported, the respective obligations and actions shall be considered cancelled, unless in the same act the claim which the parties may wish to reserve be reduced to writing, with the exception of that provided for in Article 366.
In case the consignee, upon receiving the goods, cannot return the bill of lading subscribed by the carrier, because of its loss or of any other cause, he must give the latter a receipt for the goods delivered, this receipt producing the same effects as the return of the bill of lading.
ARTICLE 354. In the absence of a bill of lading, disputes shall be determined by the legal proofs which the parties may present in support of their respective claims, according to the general provisions established in this Code for commercial contracts.
ARTICLE 355. The responsibility of the carrier shall commence from the moment he receives the merchandise, personally or through a person charged for the purpose, at the place indicated for receiving them.
ARTICLE 356. Carriers may refuse packages which appear unfit for transportation; and if the carriage is to be made by railway, and the shipment is insisted upon, the company shall transport them, being exempt from all responsibility if its objections, is made to appear in the bill of lading.
ARTICLE 357. If by reason of well-founded suspicion of falsity in the declaration as to the contents of a package the carrier should decide to examine it, he shall proceed with his investigation in the presence of witnesses, with the shipper or consignee in attendance.
If the shipper or consignee who has to be cited does not attend, the examination shall be made before a notary, who shall prepare a memorandum of the result of the investigation, for such purpose as may be proper.
If the declaration of the shipper should be true, the expense occasioned by the examination and that of carefully repacking the packages shall be for the account of the carrier and in a contrary case for the account of the shipper.
ARTICLE 358. If there is no period fixed for the delivery of the goods the carrier shall be bound to forward them in the first shipment of the same or similar goods which he may make point where he must deliver them; and should he not do so, the damages caused by the delay should be for his account.
ARTICLE 359. If there is an agreement between the shipper and the carrier as to the road over which the conveyance is to be made, the carrier may not change the route, unless it be by reason of force majeure; and should he do so without this cause, he shall be liable for all the losses which the goods he transports may suffer from any other cause, beside paying the sum which may have been stipulated for such case.
When on account of said cause of force majeure, the carrier had to take another route which produced an increase in transportation charges, he shall be reimbursed for such increase upon formal proof thereof.
ARTICLE 360. The shipper, without changing the place where the delivery is to be made, may change the consignment of the goods which he delivered to the carrier, provided that at the time of ordering the change of consignee the bill of lading signed by the carrier, if one has been issued, be returned to him, in exchange for another wherein the novation of the contract appears.
The expenses which this change of consignment occasions shall be for the account of the shipper.
ARTICLE 361. The merchandise shall be transported at the risk and venture of the shipper, if the contrary has not been expressly stipulated. As a consequence, all the losses and deterioration which the goods may suffer during the transportation by reason of fortuitous event, force majeure, or the inherent nature and defect of the goods, shall be for the account and risk of the shipper. Proof of these accidents is incumbent upon the carrier.
ARTICLE 362. Nevertheless, the carrier shall be liable for the losses and damages resulting from the causes mentioned in the preceding article if it is proved, as against him, that they arose through his negligence or by reason of his having failed to take the precautions which usage has established among careful persons, unless the shipper has committed fraud in the bill of lading, representing the goods to be of a kind or quality different from what they really were.
If, notwithstanding the precautions referred to in this article, the goods transported run the risk of being lost, on account of their nature or by reason of unavoidable accident, there being no time for their owners to dispose of them, the carrier may proceed to sell them, placing them for this purpose at the disposal of the judicial authority or of the officials designated by special provisions.
ARTICLE 363. Outside of the cases mentioned in the second paragraph of Article 361, the carrier shall be obliged to deliver the goods shipped in the same condition in which, according to the bill of lading, they were found at the time they were received, without any damage or impairment, and failing to do so, to pay the value which those not delivered may have at the point and at the time at which their delivery should have been made.
If those not delivered form part of the goods transported, the consignee may refuse to receive the latter, when he proves that he cannot make use of them independently of the others.
ARTICLE 364. If the effect of the damage referred to in Article 361 is merely a diminution in the value of the goods, the obligation of the carrier shall be reduced to the payment of the amount which, in the judgment of experts, constitutes such difference in value.
ARTICLE 365. If, in consequence of the damage, the goods are rendered useless for sale and consumption for the purposes for which they are properly destined, the consignee shall not be bound to receive them, and he may have them in the hands of the carrier, demanding of the latter their value at the current price on that day.
If among the damaged goods there should be some pieces in good condition and without any defect, the foregoing provision shall be applicable with respect to those damaged and the consignee shall receive those which are sound, this segregation to be made by distinct and separate pieces and without dividing a single object, unless the consignee proves the impossibility of conveniently making use of them in this form.
The same rule shall be applied to merchandise in bales or packages, separating those parcels which appear sound.
ARTICLE 366. Within the twenty-four hours following the receipt of the merchandise, the claim against the carrier for damage or average be found therein upon opening the packages, may be made, provided that the indications of the damage or average which gives rise to the claim cannot be ascertained from the outside part of such packages, in which case the claim shall be admitted only at the time of receipt.
After the periods mentioned have elapsed, or the transportation charges have been paid, no claim shall be admitted against the carrier with regard to the condition in which the goods transported were delivered.
ARTICLE 367. If doubts and disputes should arise between the consignee and the carrier with respect to the condition of the goods transported at the time their delivery to the former is made, the goods shall be examined by experts appointed by the parties, and, in case of disagreement, by a third one appointed by the judicial authority, the results to be reduced to writing; and if the interested parties should not agree with the expert opinion and they do not settle their differences, the merchandise shall be deposited in a safe warehouse by order of the judicial authority, and they shall exercise their rights in the manner that may be proper.
ARTICLE 368. The carrier must deliver to the consignee, without any delay or obstruction, the goods which he may have received, by the mere fact of being named in the bill of lading to receive them; and if he does not do so, he shall be liable for the damages which may be caused thereby.
ARTICLE 369. If the consignee cannot be found at the residence indicated in the bill of lading, or if he refuses to pay the transportation charges and expenses, or if he refuses to receive the goods, the municipal judge, where there is none of the first instance, shall provide for their deposit at the disposal of the shipper, this deposit producing all the effects of delivery without prejudice to third parties with a better right.
ARTICLE 370. If a period has been fixed for the delivery of the goods, it must be made within such time, and, for failure to do so, the carrier shall pay the indemnity stipulated in the bill of lading, neither the shipper nor the consignee being entitled to anything else.
If no indemnity has been stipulated and the delay exceeds the time fixed in the bill of lading, the carrier shall be liable for the damages which the delay may have caused.
ARTICLE 371. In case of delay through the fault of the carrier, referred to in the preceding articles, the consignee may leave the goods transported in the hands of the former, advising him thereof in writing before their arrival at the point of destination.
When this abandonment takes place, the carrier shall pay the full value of the goods as if they had been lost or mislaid.
If the abandonment is not made, the indemnification for losses and damages by reason of the delay cannot exceed the current price which the goods transported would have had on the day and at the place in which they should have been delivered; this same rule is to be observed in all other cases in which this indemnity may be due.
ARTICLE 372. The value of the goods which the carrier must pay in cases if loss or misplacement shall be determined in accordance with that declared in the bill of lading, the shipper not being allowed to present proof that among the goods declared therein there were articles of greater value and money.
Horses, vehicles, vessels, equipment and all other principal and accessory means of transportation shall be especially bound in favor of the shipper, although with respect to railroads said liability shall be subordinated to the provisions of the laws of concession with respect to the property, and to what this Code established as to the manner and form of effecting seizures and attachments against said companies.
ARTICLE 373. The carrier who makes the delivery of the merchandise to the consignee by virtue of combined agreements or services with other carriers shall assume the obligations of those who preceded him in the conveyance, reserving his right to proceed against the latter if he was not the party directly responsible for the fault which gave rise to the claim of the shipper or consignee.
The carrier who makes the delivery shall likewise acquire all the actions and rights of those who preceded him in the conveyance. The shipper and the consignee shall have an immediate right of action against the carrier who executed the transportation contract, or against the other carriers who may have received the goods transported without reservation.
However, the reservation made by the latter shall not relieve them from the responsibilities which they may have incurred by their own acts.
ARTICLE 374. The consignees to whom the shipment was made may not defer the payment of the expenses and transportation charges of the goods they receive after the lapse of twenty-four hours following their delivery; and in case of delay in this payment, the carrier may demand the judicial sale of the goods transported in an amount necessary to cover the cost of transportation and the expenses incurred.