Shipper’s Obligations and Liability: The Analysis of United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea

Lina Jasutienė

Abstract


In this article the author analyses shipper’s liability under the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea, known as the Rotterdam Rules.
Today no provision exists in the Hague—Visby Rules in respect to the obligations of the shipper. The Hamburg Rules set out merely the obligations of the shipper in respect to dangerous cargo. In the Rotterdam Rules, instead, the shipper’s obligations are set out in respect to the manner in which goods must be delivered to the carrier, the information, instructions, and documents that must be provided, as well as the information for the compilation of the contract particulars. This, however, does not constitute an additional burden for the shipper, but rather clarifies the nature of the shipper’s obligations. The Rotterdam Rules, therefore, bring clarity in this matter because they indicate precisely the obligations, whose breach entails the liability of the shipper. It is supposed that the legal relationship between carriers and shippers facilitate the free flow of trade in a manner as economically efficient as possible.
The obligation imposed on the shipper is mandatory. Article 79(2) renders void any term that directly or indirectly excludes, limits or increases the obligations and liability of the shipper for breach of any of its obligations under the Rotterdam Rules.
A breach of obligation under the Rotterdam Rules is the prerequisite of the shipper’s liability Art. 30(1). As a matter of fact, the shipper’s general liability is fault-based. The shipper bears strict liability in two situations: damage caused by the dangerous goods in the carrier having not been informed of their dangerous character, or the goods are not properly marked or labelled (Art. 32) and inaccurate information provided for the compilation of transport documents (Art. 31).
The changing dynamics of trade have made the application of the volume contract inevitable and inescapable. The freedom to derogate from the rules in instances of volume contracts is premised on the trade aspect of the contractual relationship between carrier and shipper. No derogation is allowed from those of the liabilities and obligations of the Rules that are the essence of all carriage conventions; and the Rotterdam Rules are no exception.

Keywords


United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea; Rotterdam Rules; sea carriage; shipper’s liability

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236