What are Common Carriers

What are common carriers?

Common carriers are persons, corporations, firms or associations engaged in the business of carrying or transporting passengers or goods or both, by land, water, or air, for compensation, offering their services to the public.

Are common carriers the same as public service?

Yes. By definition a “public service” includes every person that now or hereafter may own, operate, manage, or control in the Philippines, for hire or compensation, with general or limited clientele, whether permanent, occasional or accidental, and done for general business purposes, any common carrier, railroad, etc.

A finer distinction is that all common carriers are public service, while not all public service are common carriers. For example, a telecom company like PLDT is not a common carrier, but it is a public service.

John while driving his CR-V saw Mary on her way to the salon. He offered her a ride for free. Is John a common carrier?

No. By definition, a common carrier must offer his service for hire or for compensation. In the instant case, the ride was given free of charge, therefore, John is not a common carrier.

Peter works in Makati but lives in Laguna. In order to save money for the gas, he allows his neighbors who are also working in Metro Manila to join him in his trip for a certain fee. This service however is limited only to his neighbors. He does not pickup passengers along the way. Is he a common carrier?

Yes. A person can be a common carrier without distinction as to whether he has a general or limited clientele. In the instant case, even if his passengers are limited to his neighbors, he will still be considered as a common carrier.

Mark is from Nueva Ecija. Whenever he travels to Manila, he would take orders from his neighbors of things to be purchased in Manila to be delivered to Nueva Ecija. He would do this in order to make use of the large unoccupied space in his car. His neighbors pay him for transporting their goods. However, this setup does not happen everyday, not even occasionally. It happens only once a year. Is Mark a common carrier?

Yes. A person will be considered as a common carrier if he conducts his services in permanent manner, occasional and even in accidental cases. So it does not matter if Mark offers this service once a year.

Is a brokerage firm, which delivers merchandise to client’s premises a common carrier?

Yes. A brokerage firm is also considered a common carrier since the law does not distinguish between one whose principal business activity is the carrying of goods and one, which does such carrying only as an ancillary activity.

Juan owns a taxi, which he operates without a franchise or a certificate of public convenience (CPC). Later he figured in a vehicular accident and was discovered by the police that he was operating a taxi without a CPC. Juan argued that he is not a common carrier precisely because he does not have a CPC, is Juan correct?

No. A certificate of public convenience or a franchise is not a requisite in order to be considered as common carrier. To allow common carriers who operate without CPC to evade their liabilities by citing their not having a CPC is to reward wrongdoing.

What kind of diligence must a common carrier observe?

Common carriers, from the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy, are bound to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods and for the safety of the passengers transported by them, according to all the circumstances of each case.

Author: Atty. James Biron
Atty. James S. Biron is a corporate lawyer specializing in foreign investments, trade, mergers and acquisitions, planning and financing of projects and capital raising. Clients served include real estate, construction, energy, information technology, agriculture, education, medical and casino gaming companies.

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