Site icon Capt.S.S.Chaudhari

Rotterdam Rules Introduction And Evaluation

There is an interesting history of marine trade and applicable laws governing the trade. There have been several attempts to bring out uniformity in the laws governing carriage of goods by sea. These include the Hague Rules, the Hague Visby Rules and the Hamburg Rules and lately the Rotterdam Rules. The Hamburg Rules have not been ratified by most of the shipowning countries. Abreast the increased development in shipping and logistics till date, there has been unsuccessful unification of international regulations governing multimodal and door to door transportation schemes.

In 2008, the United Nations Conference on International Trade Law (UNICITRAL), New York, published a Convention under the title “United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods wholly or partly by Sea.” This was the outcome of ten years of negotiation and discussions which UNICITRAL had with member states under inter governmental consultations. Most of the member countries showed interest and took part in the discussions. Earlier at the desire of UNICITRAL, preparatory work was done by the Committee Maritime International (CMI).

This Convention was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on 11th December, 2008. This convention was signed in Rotterdam from 20th to 23rd September, 2009. Hence, it came to be known as ‘Rotterdam Rules’. Soon thereafter, 21 countries signed this Convention, together representing 25 per cent of the World’s trades. It will not enter into force until expiry of one year after the approval or accession. Experts feel that a very low setting (20 countries needed out of about 191), of subsequent ratification is kept. However, till very recent only 5 countries have ratified the convention.

Upon entry into force of the Convention for a country, it should denounce the Conventions governing the HV Rules as well as the Hamburg Rules as the Convention does not come into effect without such denouncements.

The European Community Shipowners Association (ECSA), the International Chamber of Shipping (ISC), the Baltic International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the World Shipping Council (WSC) have greeted this Convention and are urging member countries to sign, ratify and implement this Convention. Protection and Indemnity Clubs of shipowners also favour ratification believing that while it may add some additional costs, a single liability regime would speed claims, payments and reduce ‘claims costs’ in the long run. Thus, they see smooth functioning in the long run.

A closer and deeper study of the Convention has revealed many deficiencies and many member countries, particularly of the European Union and U.K. owing to the existing regimes particularly applicable in multimodal situations and for other reasons are seriously debating as to, whether the Convention has to be ratified or not. Other countries in Asia are examining the Convention and have not expressed their views.

The Convention is covered in 18 chapters and 96 Articles. Here, a brief review is made highlighting the salient features, including the positive and negative aspects of this Convention.


1. Convention stipulates places rather than ports.

2. The rules can apply inlands, and

3. Use of different modes of transport is possible.

Reading 1(1) with 5(1) of Rotterdam Rules, the pre condition for Rotterdam Rules to apply is that, not only must there be a sea leg, but there must be international sea leg. Thus, Rotterdam Rules must be considered as ‘Maritime Plus’ or ‘Wet Multimodal Convention’.


1. Thus, there is a situation where carrier is not liable for loss, damage or delay caused by the special risks involved in deck carriage.

2. There is situation where other liabilities arising from the deck carriage will be subject to the usual rights, where deck carriage is undertaken in cases other than those permitted.

3. There is a third situation, where if the loss or damage occurs by reason of the carriage on deck, the carrier may also lose the right to limit liability, if goods were carried on deck, in breach of an express agreement to carry them under deck.

  1. place of receipt,
  2. port of loading,
  3. port of discharge, or
  4. place of delivery.

    The Rules apply whether a bill is issued or not, which means that many short sea and waybill movements previously outside the scope of the Hague-Visby will be compulsorily subject to Rotterdam.

(You may also visit my youtube videos

Exit mobile version