Exclusion of Liability

A common carrier may exclude or limit its strict liability as a common carrier. Undoubtedly, private carriers include into their contract of carriage certain exclusion clauses which exclude the carrier’s liability for damage caused to the goods in specific circumstances.

Today, effectiveness of exclusion clauses is largely governed by statute but under most jurisdictions such statutes do not apply to charter parties. Exclusion clause will be effective if it is:

  1. incorporated properly into the contract
  2. not misrepresented
  3. not ambiguouse. complies with the original Common Law rules)

Exclusion clause is effective even if not considered as reasonable.

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971, which incorporates the Hague/Visby Rules into English law, aims to:

  • protect certain parties in contracts for the carriage of goods by sea
  • ensure certain rights that cannot be deprived but at the same time does include some exclusion clauses

Furthermore, in English Law, Merchant Shipping Act 1979 (Section 18) provides a statutory exclusion of liability for the shipowners of British ships in specific circumstances. Basically, Merchant Shipping Act 1979 (Section 18) provides that there shall be no liability for loss or damage in the absence of fault where any gold, silver, watches, jewels or precious stones on board the ship are lost or damaged by reason of theft, robbery or other dishonest conduct and their nature and value were not at the time of shipment declared by their owner or shipper to the shipowner or master of the ship in the Bill of Lading (B/L) or otherwise in writing.