International Business Law Question：The Hague-Visby Rules
The Hague-Visby Rules is a mere codification of common law position of obligation to make vessel seaworthy imposed on ship-owners.
Examine this assertion critically and to what extent do you think this will help contract of carriage of goods by sea.
The Hague-Visby Rules
1. The background of The Hague-Visby Rules
Since the entry into force in 1931, "Hague Rules" has been generally accepted by the international shipping industry, its historical role is to make the international carriage of goods by sea have a legal basis to carry on, it unifies the maritime transport of goods bill of lading terms of the bill of lading and has played a standardized an active role, which basically eases the contradiction between the carrier and shipper and promotes the development of international trade and maritime transport undertakings. However, with the changes of international political and economic situation, as well as the rapid progress of navigational and shipbuilding technology, the sea mode of transport has undergone major changes, especially that mode of container transport emerged and rapidly developed, the content of "Hague Rules" no longer met needs of the new development of the situation. In particular, a large number of exemption clauses apparently took side on the carrier's ship interests, the reality of inflation made the compensation limit of £ 100 obviously too low and other reasons, to the end of 1950s, the voice of seekinf to amend the "Hague Rules" became increasingly strong.
Based on the above situation, the International Maritime Committee in 1959, held the 24th session of the General Assembly in Rijeka in Yugoslavia where, it decided to form a subcommittee in charge of revising the "Hague Rules." According to the proposals of delegates on amending the "Hague Rules", in 1963 the Sub-Commission drafted and amended the draft protocol of "Hague Rules" and submitted it to maritime law meeting held in 1967 and 1968 for consideration, by the session’s consideration and getting adoption, in February, 1968, the the Twelfth Diplomatic Conference on the Law of the Sea held in Brussels, Belgium, which representatives from 53 countries or regions took part in decided to adopt it, and called it " Protocol to Amend the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating to Bills of lading ”, which is short for " 1968 Brussels Protocol ". As the protocol was drafted in Stockholm during the discussion, the members attending the meeting had been to the city of Visby in Gotland Island, in order to borrow the reputation of medieval Visby law of the sea, so the protocol was known as the "Visby Rules".The "Hague Rules" which was revised after the protocol was called "the Hague - Visby Rules", and it entered into force on June 23, 1977.
2. The definition of The Hague-Visby Rules
Visby Rules is short for “Protocol to Amend the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating to Bills of lading”. It was adopted by the Diplomatic Conference in Brussels on June 23, 1968, and it has been entered into force since June 23, 1977. As of September 1996, a total of 29 countries participated in the rule, including Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy and Japan and other major shipping countries. Because the preparatory work of the Protocol is made in Visby, Sweden, the rule is called Visby Rules. "Visby Rules" is the amendments and supplements of "Hague Rules", so it is often referred to as "the Hague - Visby Rules”, together with the "Hague Rules".
3. Comparing to The Hague Rules, the main change contents of The Hague-Visby Rules
"Visby Rules" has a total of 17 clauses, but only the first six are the substantive provisions, which revised the third, fourth, ninth and tenth term of the "Hague Rules". The main modifications are:
3.1 Expanded the scope of application of the rules
"Hague Rules" and the provisions of the articles apply only to bills of lading issued by the State party. "Visby Rules" has expanded its scope of application, which prescribes pursuant to article V paragraphs 3: ① the bill of lading issued by the State party; ② the departure of goods in the port of a State Party; ③ the bill of lading contained or the contract provisions evidenced by bill of lading, the contract is governed by the rules of the convention, or bound by the legislation of any country which makes it enter into force, regardless of that what nationality the carrier, the shipper, the consignee or any other relevant personnel belong to. What meaning of this provision is that as long as the bill of lading or contract of carriage evidenced by bill of lading is for "Visby Rules" requirement, the bill of lading or contract of carriage must be bound by "Visby Rules".
3.2 Clear the effectiveness of evidence of the bill of lading
3.3 Emphasized the limitation of liability of the carrier and persons employed
3.4 Increase the carrier's limit of damages for goods
3.5 Increase the clause of container
4. Critically examine the assertion that the Hague-Visby Rules is a mere codification of common law position of obligation to make vessel seaworthy imposed on ship-owners.
5. To what extent it will help contract of carriage of goods by sea
Anthony Diamond, (1978), The Hague-Visby rules, Lloyd's of London Press;
John Furness Wilson, (1993), second ed, Carriage of goods by sea, Pitman, P171;
John Furness Wilson, (1993), second ed, Carriage of goods by sea, Pitman, P185,
John Richardson, (1989), the second ed, A guide to the Hague and Hague-Visby Rules: a revised special reportLloyd's of London Press;
David C. Jackson, (1996), the second ed, Enforcement of maritime claims Lloyd's shipping law library,LLP;
Michael Furmston, Michael P Furmston, Paul Dobson, and Nigel Gravells, (2001) Commercial Law (Principles of Law);