Shipping Committee

In 1921 the Imperial Shipping Committee made recommendations to the Government that there should be some uniform legislation throughout the British Empire to standardise the Law regarding the carriage of goods by sea. However, the shipping community itself favoured more the idea of adopting a set of uniform rules for voluntary adoption rather than to introduce legislation. The Maritime Law Committee of the International Law Association, therefore, held a meeting to discuss the conflicting views of shipowners and cargo interests and did, in effect, draw up a set of rules subsequently to be known as the Hague Rules, 1921. Nevertheless, the voluntary adoption of these rules did not materialise and there was further agitation for legislation on this issue. This is turn led to the Conference on Maritime Law at Brussels in 1922 where the “Hague Rules” were adopted as the basis of a “draft convention for the unification of certain Rules relating to Bills of Lading”. The International Convention was signed by many participating countries at Brussels on 25th August, 1924, and was subsequently given force of Law in the United Kingdom by the “Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1924”. This legislation remained in existence until 1971 when further legislation was introduced following amendments to the “Hague Rules” by a set of modified Rules known as the “Hague-Visby Rules”, which were given the force of Law in the United Kingdom by the “Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971”. The original “Hague Rules”, as embodied in the “Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1924” were modified and extended to a certain degree. This means that the 1924 Act has now been repealed and replaced by “The Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971”. One of the main reasons for the 1971 amendments was, of course, to take account of the effect of containerisation. Most other major Maritime nations subsequently enacted the Hague Rules and in most cases also Hague‑Visby.