There are standard real estate contracts, standard rental agreements, standard loan agreements, and standard prenuptial agreements. Now there's a standard truck services contract as well. The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) have unveiled a model Truckload Motor Carrier/Shipper Agreement.
What prompted the two organizations to develop a standard trucking contract? "A lot of the major shippers and truckers have developed their own contracts, but many of the medium-size or smaller players don't have the expertise or resources in house to do so," explains John Ficker, president and CEO of NITL. "We're trying to create some uniformity for users of transportation services and for the providers. This benefits both parties by encouraging efficient and effective negotiations and the creation of meaningful contractual relationships."
The model agreement is intended as a starting point for negotiations, and the use of any of its sections or of the agreement as a whole is purely voluntary. Though it covers many standard or common provisions, shippers and carriers must customize the terms to reflect their own needs. All provisions related to rates, charges, limitation of liability, and level of carrier insurance, for example, are left blank and must be negotiated.