Girteka acknowledges recent ruling on Norway cabotage infringement case
Photo: Girteka press materials

Girteka acknowledges recent ruling on Norway cabotage infringement case

Regular readers may recall that in April of this year, Girmeta, a subsidiary of road transport giant Girteka, stood trial in Sogn og Fjordane district court for 19 cases of cabotage violations in Norway. Following the verdict, Girmeta was fined NOK 450,000 (around €38,585).

You can read this article in 8 minutes

Gregor Gowans

Gregor Gowans

Journalist Trans.INFO


Regular readers may recall that in April of this year, Girmeta, a subsidiary of road transport giant Girteka, stood trial in Sogn og Fjordane district court for 19 cases of cabotage violations in Norway. Following the verdict, Girmeta was fined NOK 450,000 (around €38,585).

Girteka acknowledges recent ruling on Norway cabotage infringement case
Photo: Girteka press materials

According Norwegian press reports, the 19 cases of illegal cabotage occurred in the period September 2019 to December 2021 in different areas of Norway.

It was also stated that the cabotage cases that concern the trial mostly stemmed from formal errors in the case of missing or insufficient documentation. It is reported that in those cases, had the company subsequently provided the documentation, the cabotage would have been legal.

In light of the news, Girteka submitted the following statement in response:

We would like to address an ongoing legal matter concerning one of our affiliated transportation companies, UAB „Girmeta,” which has been accused of 19 violations of cabotage regulations in Norway between 2019 and 2021. “Girmeta” has not agreed with the fines issued, maintaining that the deliveries in question were done following all laws.

For the past 27 years, „Girteka” has been primarily focused on international transportation within Europe, strictly adhering to the laws and regulations of each country we operate in. Domestic deliveries represent only a small fraction of our business. Since 2018, we put extra efforts to understand cabotage regulations in Norway and stick to it. In collaboration with Norwegian law firms, we have sought clarification from various Norwegian authorities, including the NFL, Vegvesen, and the Ministry of Transport, on the proper documentation of cabotage carriages.

The court has recently ruled on all 19 cases, issuing fines for 17 of them. We are assessing the court’s decision and have not yet decided whether we will appeal any of these cases. Despite our decision on verdict, we will analyse the cases once again and see possibilities for adjusting our practices for documenting cabotage operations and provide relevant training to our drivers and employees. Although court involvement is needed to clarify cabotage regulations, we consider this a step forward in promoting increased transparency and understanding in the industry.

We remain committed to fostering a more transparent road freight transport sector and continue to welcome audits from government institutions, clients, and independent audit firms to ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

We believe that our decision to pursue hearings in court will ultimately benefit the entire transport sector, contributing to the clarification of rules and laws in Norway and enabling our continued operations in the country.

This week, trans.iNFO also received a more in-depth response from the Lithuanian logistics giant in the form of a Q&A.

In the Q&A, Girteka says it believed it acted legally, but accepts the verdict of the courts.

You can read this response in full below:

Why was this decision made? Does this mean that the company admits to breaking the law?

It is with the utmost sincerity that we acknowledge the recent ruling on a cabotage infringement case. The whole episode has provided us with valuable insights that have shaped our understanding and compliance with cabotage regulations.

As a respected player in the European logistics industry, Girteka attaches the utmost importance to compliance. While we accept the court’s decision, it is important to clarify that our previous actions were taken with the true belief that we were acting in accordance with the law, as the cabotage rules have not been completely clear until now.

The whole situation has shed valuable light on the industry’s understanding of the cabotage rules. The trial and the judgment have clarified some ambiguities that previously existed in the interpretation of these rules. We believe that this clarity will benefit not only us, but the industry as a whole, ensuring simpler and compliant operations in the future.

While our practices were based on what we understood to be legal, we accept the verdict as it provides us with an invaluable opportunity to improve our understanding and compliance with cabotage regulations. If we look at the statistics, we have not been charged further for a single illegal cabotage in Norway since July 2021, and we make many trips there every week. Every week we are stopped during inspections.

In conclusion, while we recognise the need for continuous improvement and the highest level of professionalism and accountability, we want to reiterate that the recent judgment has not necessitated a change in our current practices. Instead, it has confirmed our understanding and interpretation of cabotage regulations. We are committed to maintaining the highest standards and see this experience as an opportunity to grow.

What are Girteka’s next steps in this exact case?

We wanted to clarify key areas of interpretation about cabotage operations in Norway, and one of the most important things was to find out how the Norwegian Public Road Administration interprets the current regulations. It is one thing to read about the regulations in a book, but quite another when our drivers are stopped at a roadside checkpoint. Misinterpretations can occur, for example due to language barriers. We believe that we provided full documentation of legal cabotage driving to the Norwegian Road Administration after we were stopped at the relevant controls. The judgment we received says that this is not enough and that the documentation must be available in the vehicle during the cabotage journey.

In addition, long before the court case, we had already updated and renewed our procedures regarding transport documents, which must always be in the vehicle performing cabotage. We also have a procedure in place to check that all the necessary documents are actually in the vehicle.

Our main interest in Norway is export and import, and cabotage is only a very small part of what we do in Norway. We operate in both the south and north, and our cabotage trips are designed to avoid empty journeys

What steps does Girteka plan to take to prevent similar situations in the future? I am referring to the alleged breaches of regulations, which Girteka claims are due to unclear legislation?

We wanted to clarify the interpretation during the process and we always want to carry out our transport services in a lawful manner. We want to keep up to date with the regulations, which of course includes cabotage. That is why we have three points that we focus on when carrying out cabotage:

  • Properly completed documentation.
  • The documentation must be in the vehicle.
  • A traffic manager who can help when needed.

In our organisation there are two key positions or roles who must know the regulations. The driver and the traffic manager. The latter is located at our headquarters in Vilnius, Lithuania, and is the person who plans the journeys and ensures that all documents are in order. We have about 55 such traffic managers, whom we train and educate regularly. Our drivers have their own school in Poland, where they receive training on the law and regulations for several weeks.

In conclusion, although we have gained a better understanding of the documentation requirements as a result of the judgment, our way of conducting cabotage in Norway remains unchanged and in full compliance with all legislation. We continue to ensure that we meet all requirements and maintain absolute compliance with all rules and regulations, as we always have done.

Trending articles