As reflected in the Preamble of Royal Decree-Law 14/2022, of 1 August, on economic sustainability measures in the field of transport, in terms of grants and study aids, as well as measures for energy saving, efficiency and reduction of energy dependence on natural gas (hereinafter RDL 14/2022), the land freight transport sector in Spain is made up of small companies (53% of companies with heavy goods vehicles have only one vehicle), which exacerbates the difficulties that small road transport operators may have in adapting to scenarios in which sharp increases in transport costs occur unexpectedly and unpredictably (such as fuel, due to inflation and the war in Ukraine, or tyres and spare parts in general). This calls for greater intervention by the public authorities to guarantee the proper functioning of an activity that represents around 2% of Spanish GDP.
It is for this reason that on 2 August 2022, RDL 14/2022 came into force, which came to modify precepts of the national land transport of goods regulations such as Law 15/2009, of 11 November, on the Contract of Land Transport of Goods and Law 16/1987, of 30 July, on the Organisation of Land Transport.
Title I of RDL 14/2022 refers to land transport measures, and with the legislator’s objective in mind of guaranteeing that the price of transport be higher than the actual individual costs and expenses borne by the carrier, it has been considered necessary to require written documentation of transport contracts for a single consignment made with the actual carrier, provided that these exceed 150.00 euros, as well as of those contracts for continuous transport.
Similarly, it is now required that the transport price with reference to the related costs be expressly stated in the transport document, requiring that the transport price be equal to or higher than the actual individual costs incurred by the carrier (art. 1 RDL 14/2022 amending art. 10 bis Law on the Contract of Land Transport of Goods referring to the transport document in contracts concluded with the actual carrier).
This reformed article 10 bis of the Law on the Contract of Land Transport of Goods states that, in order to determine the actual cost of transport, it is possible to “take the time reference that best suits the carrier’s forecasts and business strategy”; in other words, a fairly flexible criterion has been chosen that allows the carrier to vary and adapt the cost of transport to the circumstances of the moment, or if desired, to the prices of the moment, and thus reflect it in the consignment note.
To translate the above into the daily practice of hauliers, and to know which costs can and cannot be included in the transport documents, we must refer to the new ninth additional provision of the Law on the Contract of Land Transport of Goods introduced by RDL 14/2022. This states that, in order to determine the actual individual cost of transport provided by the actual carrier, the cost item structure of the observatory of road freight transport costs drawn up by the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and the Urban Agenda will be valid. This cost item includes:
- Depreciation costs of the different elements (tractor units, trailers, semi-trailers and auxiliary equipment);
- Annual financing costs of the different elements purchased;
- Costs of driving personnel;
- Vehicle insurance costs;
- Tax costs;
- Fuel costs;
- Urea dilution costs;
- Tyre, maintenance and repair costs;
- Driver’s per diem costs;
- Toll costs;
- Indirect costs that can be passed on to each vehicle (such as fleet management software).
Consequently, we would recommend that all land transport operators have these costs perfectly identified in a general way for their entire fleet (pro rata for each vehicle) and that, subsequently and for each specific transport, they take “the time reference that best fits the carrier’s business strategy and forecasts” and adapt these costs, as if they were a tailor-made suit, in order to reflect them in the consignment note and ensure that the price they will finally charge for the transport is higher than the costs and expenses of the transport.
Finally, it should be noted that, if these costs are not reflected in the consignment note, in accordance with Article 13 of the Law on the Contract of Land Transport of Goods, this absence or irregularity in the consignment note provided for in Article 10 bis does not render the contract non-existent or null and void, and that the omission of any mention of Articles 10.1 and 10 bis.1 does not render the consignment note ineffective.