Press Release: TT Club welcomes attempts to harmonise transport liability framework on carriage of goods

21 July 2009

Following detailed work since 2002 the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has now completed its review of the draft Convention on the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea, known as The Rotterdam Rules. The text of this convention was approved on 3 July 2008. The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention in December 2008 and a signing ceremony will be held in Rotterdam in September 2009. The "Rotterdam Rules" will then be open for ratification by member states and will come into force one year after such ratification by at least 20 states.

The Convention aims to create a uniform liability regime for the intermodal carriage of goods where a sea leg is included. It will do this by replacing the existing maritime conventions (Hague, Hague-Visby, Hamburg), meshing with existing road and rail conventions (CMR and COTIF) and also by encompassing other parts of the intermodal transport chain, in particular marine ports and terminals. This is supported by the new concept of "maritime performing parties".

In addition, The Rotterdam Rules aim to modernise some aspects of Hague-Visby, in particular by:

• eliminating the traditional defence of "error in navigation"

• requiring the carrier to keep the vessel seaworthy throughout the voyage

• introducing defences of piracy, terrorism and protecting the environment

• emphasising the underlying contract rather than the Bill of Lading

• dealing effectively with deck carriage

• introducing liability in certain circumstances for economic loss caused by delay

• increasing package and weight limitations by around one third

• regulating in detail a number of matters concerning delivery and rights of the Parties, which have hitherto been left to national law

• allowing the parties, subject to safeguards with respect to bargaining positions, to contract outside its provisions under certain conditions.

This is supported by the new concept of "volume contracts"

The TT Club welcomes the harmonisation, transparency and modernisation of transport liability systems which the Rotterdam Rules will bring if ratified by the major trading nations, and in particular is supportive of the attempt to create a uniform and global liability regime.

The Club recognises that, as with the introduction of any major piece of legislation, the Rules will bring with them uncertainty in the early stages of adoption and will, in some quarters of the international transport world, not be seen as a positive development of the liability regime.

Therefore, to help generate a clear understanding of the impact that the new rules might have, TT Club will be organising a series of seminars for members and their brokers at key locations around the world this autumn.

Venues, dates and a booking procedure will be published via the home page of the Club's website.

ENDSNote to Editors:

TT Club

The TT Club is the international transport and logistics industry's leading provider of insurance and related risk management services. Established in 1968, the Club's membership comprises ship operators, ports and terminals, road, rail and airfreight operators, logistics companies and container lessors. As a mutual insurer, the Club exists to provide its policyholders with benefits, which include specialist underwriting expertise, a world-wide office network providing claims management services, and first class risk management and loss prevention advice. www.ttclub.com

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