Saturday, 5 January 2013


Rotterdam Rules

Also known as United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods wholly or partly by Sea


The "Rotterdam Rules" are a treaty comprising international rules that revises the legal and political framework for maritime carriage of goods.

The convention establishes a modern, comprehensive, uniform legal regime governing the rights and obligations of shippers, carriers and consignees under a contract for door-to-door shipments that involve international sea transport.

The aim of the convention is to:

1.      Extend and modernize international rules already in existence

2.      Achieve uniformity of admiralty law in the field of maritime carriage,

3.      Updating and/or replacing many provisions in the Hague Rules, Hague-Visby Rules and Hamburg Rules.

The final draft of the Rotterdam Rules, which was assembled by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, was adopted by the United Nations on December 11, 2008, and a signing ceremony commenced in Rotterdam,

 Signers included:

-           The United States,

-          France,

-          Greece,

-          Denmark,

-          Switzerland

-          Netherlands; in all, signatures were obtained from countries which are said to make up 25 percent of world trade by volume. Signatures were allowed after the ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York City, New York, United States.

The World Shipping Council is a prominent supporter of the Rotterdam Rules.

In 2010, the American Bar Association House of Delegates approved a resolution supporting U.S. ratification of the Rotterdam Rules.

Main provisions

The following are critical provisions and law changes found in the Rotterdam Rules.

  • It extends the period of time that carriers are responsible for goods to cover the time between the point where the goods are received to the point where the goods are delivered. (Note: This applies only if there is a sea leg involved in the transport. Thus, the Rotterdam Rules are not completely multimodal since all multimodal carriage excluding a sea leg is outside of the scope of application.)
  • It allows for more e-commerce and approves more forms of electronic documentation.
  • It obligates carriers to have ships that are seaworthy and properly crewed throughout the voyage. The level of care is set to due diligence, which is the same as in the Hague Rules.
  • It increases the limit liability of carriers to 875 units of account per shipping unit or three units of account per kilogram of gross weight
  • It eliminates the "nautical fault defense" which had prevented carriers and crewmen from being held liable for negligent ship management and navigation.
  • It extends the time that legal claims can be filed to two years following the day the goods were delivered or should have been delivered.
  • It allows parties to certain "volume" contracts to opt-out of some liability rules set in the convention.


1 comment:

  1. Can we conclude that a shipping unit is equal to a package based on provision no.4. (I thought that the carriers' liability is equivalent to 875 units of account per package or 3 units of account per kilogram, whichever is higher).