Hamburg Rules

In 1864, International Maritime Committee began discussions on a set of rules to regulate the manner in which General Average is settled. So, governments and the trade unions were jointly seeking uniformity. Eventually the first version of the York Antwerp Rules was established. York Antwerp Rules have been up-dated at fairly frequent intervals, latest version is the York Antwerp Rules 1994York Antwerp Rules are not by any means pure examples of self-regulation by the shipping industry, but it does show the manner in which governments and the trade can collaborate.

On the other hand, Hamburg Rules which are rival to the Hague-Visby Rules, present a somewhat different picture, one more of political pressure than a simple desire for uniformity. Hamburg Rules discussions took place in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. Hamburg Rules’ wording is arguably ambiguous due to the need to find a compromise among several opposing political views.

In 1971, effect of the political pressures with which the United Nations has to cope is perhaps best exemplified in the case of the ill-fated United Nations Convention on a Code of Conduct for Liner Conferences which was to ensure that the national lines of less developed countries carried a fair share of its imports and exports. Unfortunately, by the time United Nations Convention on a Code of Conduct for Liner Conferences was accepted as an international convention, the trade had moved on, containerization was dominant and the Liner Conferences had lost much of their influence and so the Code of Practice became irrelevant. More recently UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) have produced their Multimodal Convention 1980 which seeks to regularize the movement of goods on a door-to-door contract and follows the Hamburg Rules in many respects.