Legal and social issues

The Chamber of Appeal

Hearing dates

November 2017


Tue 07

Chamber of Appeal (CA), Palais du Rhin - Strasbourg



Press releases


Arrêt de la Chambre des appels de la Commission Centrale pour la Navigation du Rhin concernant l’action en dommages et intérêts intentée suite à l’avarie de l’automoteur-citerne “Waldhof”

  • Communiqué à la presse 228 KB 215 KB 244 KB

Organisation and competence

Under the terms of the revised Convention on Navigation on the Rhine signed in Mannheim on 17 October 1868, the CCNR’s Member States agreed on the means of legal redress to be provided in the event of infringement of the police rules on navigation or in the event of a dispute in connection with damage caused in the course of navigation on the Rhine.

For this purpose, each Member State is required to designate the courts of first instance and the appeal courts competent to deal with such disputes.

An alternative to lodging an appeal before the competent national court of appeal was provided for as early as the Mannheim Document – the appeal may be taken directly before the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine. This establishes a unique situation in which an international body has competence that is similar and in competition with that of the national courts of appeal. Until 1968, however, the Central Commission’s decisions were not true court; they were prepared by the Secretariat and adopted unanimously by the Member States’ delegations at CCNR plenary sessions. It was only under the terms of the Strasbourg Convention of 20 November 1963, which came into force in 1967, that a true international court was set up, composed of independent judges with acknowledged competence to deal with matters concerning inland navigation. The Chamber of Appeal adopted its initial rules of procedure on 23 October 1969 and delivered its first decision on 23 June 1970.

Parties may appeal where the dispute exceeds the sum of 20 SDR (equivalent to EUR 23.86 as of January 2006). The place of payment, the place where the damage was caused and the place where the offence was committed are the criteria used in establishing territorial competence. The parties may, however, agree to take their dispute before another court for navigation on the Rhine or even another court or arbitration tribunal altogether if this is not contrary to national law.

  • The courts for navigation on the Rhine 12 KB

Parties may choose to take their appeal before either the higher court with territorial competence or before the Chamber of Appeal, which deliberates in the last resort in both criminal and civil cases. Where the applicant and the defendant have appealed within the statutory time limits, one before the CCNR and the other before the higher national court, the first of the two to receive an application deliberates on both appeals. If these are entered on the same day, the competent jurisdiction is the one before which the defendant has appealed.



The Chamber of Appeal is made up of five judges and five substitutes, i.e. one judge and one substitute from each Member State (the CCNR’s Member States are Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland). The substitute judge takes the place of the appointed judge if he or she is unable to attend, is on holiday, or has been challenged. They are designated by the CCNR, for a period of six years, from among a list proposed by each of the Member States. They must have a legal background or experience of navigation on the Rhine. The Chamber of Appeal is thus a specialised court that is better suited than a national jurisdiction to carry out an analysis of comparative law.

The Presiding Judge, who must have a legal background, and the Assistant Presiding Judge of the Chamber of Appeal are elected by their peers for a renewable period of three years.

the judges:

Marie-Louise STAMM


Wolfgang BALL

Alfred Adelbert GÖBEL
Substitute judge



Born in 1953 at Eeklo ( Belgium), married, three daughters, three grandchildren

Master of Laws (University of Ghent, 1976) and a Postgraduate Degree in Shipping Law (University of Antwerp, 1977).

Professional carreer
1977 – 1995: Member of the Bar at Antwerp, acting as an advocate for several Antwerp port companies.
1995 – 2000: Judge with the Antwerp Court of First Instance.
2000 - : Senoir Judge / President of the Maritime Divison of the Antwerp Court of Appeal.
2014 - : Vice - president of the Marine Investigation Council Board Antwerp / Oostende

Substitute judge


Substitute judge

Substitute judge


Krijn graduated from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands (LL.M. in 1973, LL.D. in 1984). He has been a professor of Commercial Law with Erasmus University Rotterdam since 1991. In addition to his academic work, he is also a Deputy Judge with the District Court of Rotterdam and with the Court of Appeal of Arnhem. In 2010, he was appointed as a Deputy Judge with the Chamber of Appeal of the Central Rhine Committee in Strasbourg (F). His list of books shows his academic experience in private and commercial law, uniform private law, international transport and maritime law, freight forwarding law, Krijn is also arbitrator and consultant with international transport cases.

Substitute judge




Submission of a case to the Chamber and outline of the procedure

To take an appeal before the Central Commission, the appeal must be lodged with the court that deliberated in the first instance within thirty days of notification of the judgment. The notice of appeal must indicate specifically that a decision is claimed from the Central Commission. Within an additional period of 30 days from the notice of appeal, submissions supporting the appeal must be sent to the court of first instance.

The court notifies the other party of the notice of appeal and the supporting submissions, and sets a deadline for reply. Once the appeal application is complete, it is sent by the court of first instance to the registry of the CCNR’s Chamber of Appeal.

The Chamber of Appeal meets as necessary, usually at least twice a year. Its working languages are French, German, English and Dutch. Theoretically it deliberates after an oral debate. Defendant parties are not required to attend the hearing. They may provide their own defence, or be represented by a lawyer allowed to plead before a court of a contracting State or by any other person holding written authority for the purpose. In civil matters the parties must, except during the investigative stage in the proceedings, be represented by a lawyer allowed to plead before a court of a contracting State if this was already required of them in the first instance.

The Presiding Judge of the Chamber of Appeal directs the proceedings and takes the necessary steps to prepare decisions. The Chamber deliberates and reaches its decision in private. It deliberates on the merits of the case or sends the case back to the court that deliberated in the first instance for re-examination. The decision is drawn up in the language used at the court that deliberated in the first instance. It becomes final on being made public and is notified to the parties through the court of first instance. The registrar also sends the parties a copy of the decision.

No charge is made in respect of proceedings brought before the Chamber of Appeal.


Basic documents

  • Revised convention for Rhine navigation 111 KB 112 KB 117 KB 60 KB
    • Articles 33 to 40 bis 17 KB 18 KB 22 KB
    • Articles 45bis and 45ter 9 KB 8 KB 8 KB
  • Rules of procedure of the Chamber of Appeal 30 KB 29 KB 30 KB

Case-law and precedent

Important decisions

  • 473 Z - Havarie TMS Waldhof 1161 KB
    • Eléments essentiels concernant la décision “Waldhof” 122 KB 125 KB 123 KB


All decisions

The Internet site of the Institute for Inland Waterways Transport Law (Institut für Binnenschifffahrtsrecht) of the University of Mannheim covers the whole field of case-law and precedent in respect of inland waterways navigation.

Thanks to close cooperation with the Chamber of Appeal, the site now lists all the Chamber’s decisions, from March 1968 to date. These decisions can be accessed in their original language.

We give below a few hints for speedy, effective searching.

Search guide:

The following explanations may change according to changes made to the host page for the search site at the Institute in Mannheim. More particularly, the Institute is considering having French and Dutch translations made of cases relevant to searching decisions of the Chamber of Appeal.

- Once on the site, select the "Profisuche" link at top left.

- To limit your search to decisions of the Chamber of Appeal, it is important to select:

- You are advised to select the phrase "Alle Entscheidungsarten" in the section on type of decision: (i.e. judgment, decision, order, or all types)

- You may also locate a decision by its reference number: (Take care not to enter any separating character, as it would not be recognised by the system.)

- You can also search by full text:

- A search can also be carried out by key word by activating the box marked “Schlagwörter” at bottom right and entering the key word in the full text search box. The word will then be highlighted in yellow each time it appears in the text.

- By activating the box marked "Leitsatz", the overall list of search results will be shown, with a summary of each decision if one is available. The source of the summary is also stated.

- To view the data:

  • click on the icon marked "Anzeigen" to view the full file of the document(s)
  • click on the icon marked "Drucken" to print the text
  • click on the icon marked "PDF" to view the document and save it in .pdf format
  • click on the button marked "Zurück" to go back to the full list of search results

Literature on the Chamber of Appeal

  • W.E. Haak, "Experience in the Netherlands Regarding the Case-Law of the Chamber of Appeal of the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine", Netherlands Yearbook of International Law, 1988, pp.1-51.
  • Karl-Heinz Bauer, "Die Berufungskammer der Zentralkommission für die Rheinschifffahrt in Strassburg", Festschrift für Günther Wiese, 1998, pp. 1-9.
  • Adrian Staehelin, "Mannheimer Akte und Europäische Menschenrechtskonvention", Europeanisering van het Nederlands recht, 2004, pp. 103-114.
  • Dr. Marc De Decker, "Europees internationaal rivierenrecht".
  • Mr. W.E. Haak en Jhr. Mr. B.C. de Savornin Lohman, "Procederen in Rijnvaartzaken".