Lease – Rail cars

The case: Lease – Rail cars

A contract between Customer and a freight carrier (Supplier) provides Customer with the use of 10 rail cars of a particular type for five years. The contract specifies the rail cars; the cars are owned by Supplier. Customer determines when, where and which goods are to be transported using the cars. When the cars are not in use, they are kept at Customer’s premises. Customer can use the cars for another purpose (for example, storage) if it so chooses.

However, the contract specifies that Customer cannot transport particular types of cargo (for example, explosives). If a particular car needs to be serviced or repaired, Supplier is required to substitute a car of the same type. Otherwise, and other than on default by Customer, Supplier cannot retrieve the cars during the five-year period.

The contract also requires Supplier to provide an engine and a driver when requested by Customer. Supplier keeps the engines at its premises and provides instructions to the driver detailing Customer’s requests to transport goods. Supplier can choose to use any one of a number of engines to fulfil each of Customer’s requests, and one engine could be used to transport not only Customer’s goods, but also the goods of other customers (ie if other customers require the transportation of goods to destinations close to the destination requested by Customer and within a similar timeframe, Supplier can choose to attach up to 100 rail cars to the engine).

The contract contains leases of rail cars. Customer has the right to use 10 rail cars for five years.

The reasoning: Lease – Rail cars Lease – Rail cars

There are 10 identified cars. The cars are explicitly specified in the contract. Once delivered to Customer, the cars can be substituted only when they need to be serviced or repaired (see Identified assetThe supplier’s right or obligation to substitute the assets for repairs and maintenance)). The engine used to transport the rail cars is not an identified asset because it is neither explicitly specified nor implicitly specified in the contract.

Customer has the right to control the use of the 10 rail cars throughout the five-year period of use because:

  1. Customer has the right to obtain substantially all of the economic benefits from use of the cars over the five-year period of use. Customer has exclusive use of the cars throughout the period of use, including when they are not being used to transport Customer’s goods.

  2. Customer has the right to direct the use of the cars because the conditions in Rights to direct the use sub (a) exist. The contractual restrictions on the cargo that can be transported by the cars are protective rights of Supplier and define the scope of Customer’s right to use the cars. Within the scope of its right of use defined in the contract, Customer makes the relevant decisions about how and for what purpose the cars are used by being able to decide when and where the rail cars will be used and which goods are transported using the cars. Customer also determines whether and how the cars will be used when not being used to transport its goods (for example, whether and when they will be used for storage). Customer has the right to change these decisions during the five-year period of use.

Although having an engine and driver (controlled by Supplier) to transport the rail cars is essential to the efficient use of the cars, Supplier’s decisions in this regard do not give it the right to direct how and for what purpose the rail cars are used. Consequently, Supplier does not control the use of the cars during the period of use.

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