The impact of the Rotterdam Rules on liability of carriers and shippers at sea
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A contract to carry goods by sea is almost inevitably part of all international sale agreements. These types of contracts may have numerous parties thereto. One of the contentious issues in this regard is the liability of the parties. International shipping law has undergone frequent changes in attempt to address the uncertainty regarding the extent of the liability of the parties to a contract of carriage. Currently, there are three international conventions governing international carriage of goods by sea namely, the Hague Rules 1924, Hague-Visby Rules 1968 and Hamburg Rules 1978. These conventions are outdated and neither reflect the current international shipping industry practices nor address the problems caused by the absence of regulations. This resulted in states developing and promulgating domestic legislation which in turn leads to even greater legal uncertainty and conflict of law. The fundamental question that arises is how the Rotterdam Rules regulate, if at all, the liability of carriers and shippers at sea in comparison to its predecessors. The Rotterdam Rules aim to harmonise and modernise the law with a view to attaining uniformity. The Rotterdam Rules therefore offer comprehensive solutions to problems encountered in modern shipping and maritime law. The purpose of this research is to ascertain how the Rotterdam Rules regulate the liability of carriers and shippers in comparison to the current liability systems and South African law on the carriage of goods by sea. A carrier liability system directly regulates the allocation of risks between the carrier and other parties to the contract of carriage.
- Law