Commonwealth

As a result of greater competitiveness, of greater environmental awareness and perhaps of a greater desire by politicians to intervene, the world is becoming subject to increasing amounts of regulation; the shipping industry is no exception. When participating countries to an international convention are in agreement as to its content, the convention is offered for adoption. States who support the convention duly sign it, this is known as ratification.  Usually the convention itself provides that a certain minimum number of states must ratify the convention before it can come into force. Once the convention has been ratified by a sufficient number of countries for it to enter into force, individual countries must adopt the convention into their own national laws to give it full force.  How this happens will differ from country to country.  In England, the relevant convention must be incorporated into a statute, be placed before Parliament and then, duly enacted. Most conventions take several years from the first draft to final enactment and there is a real danger that some can be almost out of date before they come into force.  For example the original Hague Rules were enacted in English law in 1924 following a convention in 1921; the Hague-Visby Rules also took three years from convention to the 1971 act. The decision to draft the original set of rules was driven by a general demand throughout the industry for some degree of uniformity.  Much of the pressure was initially upon the British Government at diplomatic level stemming from various parts of the British Commonwealth.  The United States had already produced their own rules in the Harter Act and when it became clear that many other maritime nations were equally keen, the matter was taken up by the Maritime Law Committee of the International Law Association meeting in the Hague in 1922 and two years later it was approved at an International Convention with the recommendation that the rules should be adopted by the maritime nations of the world. Subsequently the Rules were modified to become the Hague-Visby Rules.