Hague Rules

This position was changed by the introduction of the Hague and Hague-Visby Rules, whereby any deviation in saving or attempting to save life or property at sea, or indeed any reasonable deviation, would not be deemed to be an infringement or breach of the Rules or of the contract of carriage. The carrier would not be liable for any loss or damage resulting from that situation. Whether a deviation is said to be “reasonable” is in every particular case a question of fact and must be considered in accordance with the particular circumstances in every case. In the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1924 (Hague Rules), the Limitation of Liability provisions available to a shipowner were that, unless the value and nature of the goods were declared and inserted in the bill of lading before the goods were actually shipped on board, liability was limited to £100 per package or unit. The parties to a contract were, however, free to insert a higher limit if they so wished, but a shipowner was unable to restrict his liability to any amount less than £100. This limitation had been effective since 1924 and since that time great steps forward had been taken within the shipping industry with regard to the methods of carrying cargo by sea. These new and modern methods included such concepts as containerisation, palletisation and roll-on roll-off methods of loading and discharge. In the light of this modernisation it was decided that as well as the limitation of liability itself being too low, the limitation of liability provisions were outdated and need amending. These amendments took place following the introduction of the Hague-Visby Rules and were brought into English Law by the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1971. These amendments provided for the following: In any event there shall be no liability in respect of loss or damage to goods unless legal action is commenced within one year of their delivery or of the date when they should have been delivered. It being permissible to extend this period should the parties so agree. Recourse actions may be brought by the plaintiff after the expiration of the one-year time limit, within the time limit allowed by the Law of the Court seized of the case. This meant, of course, that, depending upon the Law of the Country under which the claim was being brought then, if that jurisdiction provided for a time limitation period in excess of the one year time limit laid down in the Hague-Visby Rules, such time limit, as defined by the Law of the Country would prevail.