Contracting

Note that so far as contracting states are concerned the Rules only apply if the B/L is issued in a contracting state or the carriage is from a port in a contracting state.  The importance of these words will become apparent when the Hamburg Rules are considered. The Hague-Visby Rules were devised and agreed to by the maritime nations of the world and many of those maritime nations are within the so-called “developed” world.  Many cargo-owning countries are in the less developed world and these countries considered Hague-Visby Rules were biased too far towards the carrier.   The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which is dedicated to assisting the less developed nations convened an international conference in 1978 which produced a convention entitled Hamburg Rules (they are actually published by UNCITRAL). They came into effect on 1st November 1992 which was the date when they achieved ratification by its twentieth state; none of the signatories is a major maritime country. Understandably the Hamburg Rules target those areas in the Hague-Visby Rules which, in the compilers’ views, are least favourable to cargo-owning countries. The first departure is that the Rules are to apply to any contract of carriage by sea against payment of freight (except a charter party); no question of restricting them to bills of lading. The next major difference is that the Rules apply whether the goods are loaded or discharged in a contracting state.  Immediately this creates a paradox because if the goods are loaded in a Hague-Visby state, the shippers expect those Rules to apply but if the destination is in a Hamburg Rules state, the receivers will insist on their Rules; with cargo claims arising at destination the problem is very real.