The Rotterdam Rules - A transport convention for the future?
Sammanfattning: The Rotterdam Rules is a UN Convention with the name: United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea. Behind this long title hides the latest attempt to reform and harmonise the law governing carriage of goods by sea. The Rotterdam Rules were signed by a number of countries in 2009 in Rotterdam and will enter into force if they receive acceptance, accession, approval or ratification from 20 countries. The Rules will in such a case replace the Hague, Hague-Visby and Hamburg regimes that are currently governing this area of law, an area which today is governed not only by these three different sets of rules but by different national and regional solutions as well. If the Rotterdam Rules become a success this diversification will end and the law will reach the same degree of uniformity that it once had. This thesis explores the background to the new Rules as well as their content and what the differences to the older regimes are.
The three international regimes that regulate the area today are all obsolete. The most widespread – the Hague-Visby Rules is based on the Hague Rules, which is almost ninety years old. A lot has happened in shipping during the course of the 20th century and there is therefore a large need for reform. Attempts to reform this area has been made before. The first attempt was the Visby protocol from the 1960s which although achieving a certain degree of success only addressed the most pressing needs for an update and has now become too old. The Visby protocol was followed by an additional protocol called the SDR protocol which addressed some issues in the Hague-Visby regime that concerned monetary limitation of liability amounts. The second attempt was the Hamburg Rules which for various reasons became a failure. The Hamburg Rules was short after its creation followed by the Multimodal Convention that aimed to govern multimodal transport, a convention which until this day has not received the required ratifications even though it was created in the 1980s. Since consensus around an international solution has not been reached many nations have decided to adopt national or regional solutions which have made the situation of non-uniformity worse. The Rotterdam Rules were created as a result of this background. The Rules are therefore drafted in order to receive support from states that for various reasons have not supported previous reform attempts, as well as from those that have. The Rules build on the old familiar conventions but have also introduced changes both by changing existing rules as well as by covering new areas. The new areas covered by the Rules are for example: multimodal transport and electronic transport documents. Among the most important changes introduced we find; removal of old carrier-friendly exceptions from liability, increased regulation of the shipper’s obligations, higher limitation of liability amounts and the introduction of a limited freedom of contract for so called volume contracts.
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