Carriage of goods by Sea

On this page you will find an explanation of various important aspects of carriage of goods by seaway transport, guided by 21 questions. 

Hague-Visby Rules (HVR)
International transport by sea under bill of lading (art. X HVR) if: the bill of lading was issued in a member state; shipping from a member state; the bill of lading applies the HVR or legislation that has incorporated the HVR. 
 
Dutch Law
All agreements concerning shipping aboard a vessel (time and voyage charters; bill of lading; sea waybill), to which Dutch law is applicable (art. 8:370 sub 1 DCC). NB: towage and tugging are governed by the general provisions of art.8:20 and further DCC (voluntarily applicable law). 
 
Rotterdam Rules (RR)
The Rotterdam Rules have not yet taken effect. The Rotterdam Rules enter into force one year after the ratification by 20 Member States. They are applicable to the transport agreement under which both the receipt location and the delivery location as well as the port of loading of a shipment by sea and the port of unloading of that shipment are located in different states, and one of these locations or ports is situated in a Member State (art.5 RR). Applicable to multimodal transport agreement, provided that the transport agreement also included shipping by sea (art. 1 under 1 RR). Not applicable to charter agreements and other agreements regarding the use of a vessel or an area aboard a vessel (art. 6 sub 1 RR).   

Hague-Visby Rules
Also includes the ship owner or charter entering into an agreement with the consignor (art. I a HVR). 
 
Dutch Law
The party who agrees with the consignor to ship cargo aboard a vessel by sea (art.8:370 sub 1 DCC). Carrier under bill of lading (art.8:461 DCC): the party signing the bill of lading or on whose behalf the bill of lading was signed; the party whose bill of lading was used. In the event of a captain’s bill of lading also the ship owner or in the event of bareboat charter also the charterer, and the time charter or voyage charter acting as carrier in the last transport agreement in the chain. Parties may also designate an exclusive carrier by using an 'Identity of Carrier' clause.
 
Rotterdam Rules
The party who enters into a transport agreement with the consignor (art.1 under 5 RR). Furthermore, the Treaty defines the ‘executive party’ (a person executing any obligation towards the carrier insofar this person acts at the request of the carrier or under the carrier’s supervision or leadership, art. 1 under 6 RR) and the 'maritime executive party’ (an executive party performing the obligations of the carrier during the time span between the arrival of the cargo in the port of loading and the departure of that vessel from the port of unloading, art. 1 under 7 RR).  

Hague-Visby Rules
HVR does not provide a definition. 
 
Dutch Law
The contractual counter party of the carrier (art.8:370 sub 1 DCC). 
 
Rotterdam Rules
A person entering into a transport agreement with  a carrier (art.1 under 8 RR). Furthermore, the Treaty defines the 'documentary consignor' (a person, not being the consignor, who accepts to be referred to as 'consignor' on the transport document or electronic transport file, art. 1 under 9 RR).

Hague-Visby Rules
HVR does not provide a definition. 
 
Dutch Law
DCC does not provide a definition.  The consignee is the party to whom the cargo shall be delivered further to the agreement.

Rotterdam Rules
A person entitled to delivery of the cargo further to the transport agreement, transport document or electronic transport file (art. 1 under 11 RR).

Hague-Visby Rules
HVR does not provide a definition. 

Dutch Law
The consignor (art. 8:387 DCC) and the consignee. In the event of a bill of lading, the rightful and regular bill of lading possessor is entitled exclusively (art.8:441 DCC).

Rotterdam Rules
This Treaty does not provide a definition.  The articles 45, 46 and 47 RR designate who is entitled to delivery of the cargo. 

Hague-Visby Rules
From the moment of loading until the moment of unloading (art. I e HVR).
 
Dutch Law
From the moment of receipt of the cargo until the moment of delivery, unless contractually limited. In the event of a bill of lading, only the period before loading and after unloading from the vessel may be signed off on (art. 8:386 DCC). Please refer to Supreme Court 5 September 1997, NJ 1998, 63, "Sriwijaya" for the moment of delivery. 
 
Rotterdam Rules
The carrier is responsible for the cargo from the moment he (or the executive party) receives the cargo for shipping until the moment of delivery of the cargo (art. 12 sub 1 RR). Deviation in an agreement is allowed, provided that it does not concern the stipulation that the receipt takes place after the first loading, or delivery takes place before completion of the last unloading (art. 12 sub 3 RR). 

Hague-Visby Rules
The carrier is obliged to apply reasonable care before and during the voyage for (art. III sub 1 HVR): seaworthiness of the vessel, providing sufficient crew, equipment and stock, providing proper loading areas (including the containers provided by the carrier; Supreme Court 1 February 2008, NJ 2008, 505, "NDS Provider"), in order to ship and properly maintain these. The carrier shall load, stow, handle, transport, store, keep and unload the cargo properly and cautiously (art. III sub 2 HVR). 

Dutch Law
The carrier is obliged to deliver the cargo in the same state of receipt (art.8:378 DCC). In the event of a bill of lading, the carrier is obliged to apply reasonable care before and during the voyage for (art. 8:381 sub 1 DCC): seaworthiness of the vessel, providing sufficient crew, equipment and stock, providing proper loading areas (including the containers provided by the carrier; Supreme Court 1 February 2008, NJ 2008, 505, "NDS Provider"), in order to ship and properly maintain these. The carrier shall load, stow, handle, transport, store, keep and unload the cargo properly and cautiously (art. 8:381 sub 2 DCC).

Rotterdam Rules
During the period of responsibility, the carrier shall load, stow, handle, transport, store, keep, unload and deliver the cargo properly and cautiously (art. 13 sub 1 RR), unless he agreed with the consignor that the loading, handling, stowing or unloading shall be handled by the (documentary) consignor or the consignee (art. 13 sub 2 RR). The carrier is obliged to apply reasonable care before and during the voyage for: (a) the maintenance of the seaworthiness of the vessel, (b) providing and maintaining throughout the journey sufficient crew, equipment and stock; and (c ) providing proper loading areas (including the containers provided by the carrier, in which (or on which) cargo is shipped, to stow, transport and maintain the cargo (art. 14). In the event of multimodal transport, during which loss, damages or delay has occurred on a trajectory other than by sea, the liability (including the limitation and the timebar) of the carrier is designated by the liability provisions of the international treaty that is applicable to that specific trajectory (art. 26).

Hague-Visby Rules
The HVR do not provide any provisions.

Dutch Law
The carrier is obliged to transport without delay (art. 8:379 DCC; no compulsory law).

Rotterdam Rules
The carrier is liable for damages as a consequence of delay in the delivery (art. 17 sub 1 RR); delay exists when the cargo is not delivered to the destination within the agreed term (art. 21 RR). In the event of lack of a delivery time, the carrier is not liable for damages as a consequence of delay.     

Hague-Visby Rules
Unseaworthiness of a vessel (during the journey), provided that the carrier proves that he has taken reasonable care as to the seaworthiness of the vessel before and during the journey (art. IV sub 1 HVR). Exceptions to art. IV sub 2 HVR: acts of navigation or handling of the vessel; fire, unless caused by the personal fault of the carrier; dangers of the seas; an act of nature; acts of war; acts of enemies of the state; government measures or judicial seizure; quarantine; act or omission by consignor; strike; riots and upheaval; salvage; nature or defects cargo; insufficient packaging; insufficient or faulty labelling; latent defects of the vessel; other causes outside the liability of the carrier and his subordinates. Deck cargo excluded from liability: cargo that is mentioned in the transport agreement to be carried on deck and that was actually transported as deck cargo (art. Ic HVR). 
 
Dutch Law
Unseaworthiness of a vessel (during the journey), provided that the carrier proves that he has taken reasonable care as to the seaworthiness of the vessel before and during the journey (art. 8:383 sub 1 DCC). Exceptions of art. 8:383 sub 2 DCC: acts of navigation or handling of the vessel; fire, unless caused by the personal fault of the carrier; dangers of the seas; an act of nature; acts of war; acts of enemies of the state; government measures or judicial seizure; quarantine; act or omission by consignor; strike; riots and upheaval; salvage; nature or defects cargo; insufficient packaging; insufficient or faulty labelling; latent defects of the vessel; other causes outside the liability of the carrier and his subordinates. Deck cargo: exemption of liability is allowed with regard to deck cargo, provided that this cargo was included as such in the bill of lading (art. 8:382 sub 2c DCC). 

Rotterdam Rules
The carrier shall prove that the cause or one of the causes of the loss, damages or delay were not his or one of the persons mentioned in art. 18 RR, fault, or prove that one of the following events or circumstances have caused or contributed to the loss, damages or delay: (a) acts of nature; (b) dangers of the sea or other sailable waters; (c ) armed conflict, piracy, terrorism, riots and upheaval; (d) quarantine measures; intervention or obstruction by the public authorities, including seizure that cannot be held against the carrier; (e) strikes; (f) fire aboard the vessel; (g) latent defects of the vessel that could not have been discovered through reasonable care; (h) acts or omissions of the (documentary) consignor or controlling party; (i) loading, handling, stowing or unloading by the (documentary) consignor or the consignee; (j) damages as a consequence of a latent defect, the special nature or an own defect of the cargo; (k) insufficient or faulty packaging or labelling; (l) salvage or attempt to save lives at sea; (m) reasonable measures to salvage or attempt to salvage goods at sea; (n) reasonable measures, or attempts,  to prevent environmental damages; or (o) acts by the carrier on the basis of the authority attributed to him in art. 15 RR (goods that may impose danger) and art. 16 RR (sacrifice of goods during sea voyage). Art. 17 sub 6 RR allows the possibility of partial liability. Deck cargo (art. 25 RR): cargo can only be transported on deck if: (a) it is a legal requirement; (b) goods shall be shipped in containers; (c) deck transport is in accordance with the transport agreement or with the usage in the branch. For container shipping on especially equipped decks, the liability provisions of the Treaty apply. The carrier is, however, not liable for loss, damages or delay of cargo that was shipped in conformity with subs (a) and (c) if the damages were caused by special risks involved in deck cargo and in the event of (c) the deck cargo is included in the agreement. 

Hague-Visby Rules
Cargo interested party shall prove that the damages or loss were incurred during the transport. In principle, the carrier is discharged if the proves that a discharging fact as included in art. IV sub 1 or sub 2 a-p HVR has occurred and the damages arose as a consequence thereof. The cargo interested party is allowed to subsequently prove that the vessel was unseaworthy (overriding obligation; Supreme Court 11 June 1993, NJ 1995, 235, "Quo Vadis"), after which the carrier may prove that he has met his obligations to reasonably care for the seaworthiness of the vessel after all.
 
Dutch Law
Cargo interested party shall prove that the damages or loss were incurred during the transport. In principle, the carrier under a bill of lading is discharged if the proves that a discharging fact as included in art. 8:383 sub 1 or sub 2 a-p DCC has occurred and the damages arose as a consequence thereof. The cargo interested party is allowed to subsequently prove that the vessel was unseaworthy (overriding obligation; Supreme Court 11 June 1993, NJ 1995, 235, "Quo Vadis"), after which the carrier may prove that he has met his obligations to reasonably care for the seaworthiness of the vessel after all.   

Rotterdam Rules
Cargo interested party shall prove that the damages, loss or delay or the occurrence or circumstances causing or contributing to it were incurred during the liability term of the carrier (art. 17 sub 1 RR). The carrier shall prove that the cause or one of the causes of the loss, damage or delay are not his fault, or prove that one or more of the exemptions included in art. 17 sub 3 under a - o RR (please refer to 9 above) have caused the loss, damage or delay or have contributed to it. Further evidence rules are included in art. 17 sub 4 RR and in art. 17 sub 5 RR with regard to unseaworthiness.

Hague-Visby Rules
Prima facie evidence of receipt of the cargo as described in the bill of lading, although counter evidence with regard to labelling, number, amount or weight and the appearance is not allowed against a bona fide third party (art. III sub 4 HVR).

Dutch Law
Prima facie evidence of receipt of the cargo as described in the bill of lading, although counter evidence with regard to labelling, number, amount or weight and the appearance is not allowed when it is transferred to a bona fide third party (art. 8:414 sub 1 DCC). In the event of a valid unfamiliarity clause, the bill of lading cannot evidence the number, amount or weight of the cargo (art. 8:414 sub 2 DCC).  

Rotterdam Rules
Unless provisions have been made, for example an unfamiliarity clause as meant in art. 40 RR, the transport document or an electronic transport file, subject to counter evidence, evidences receipt of the goods as described in the agreement (art. 41 RR). Counter evidence is not allowed in the cases mentioned in art. 41 sub 1 under b and c RR. Unless the possessor of the transport document or the consignee is also the consignor, the carrier cannot argue against the possessor or the consignee that the cargo was not paid in the event that the agreement includes a 'freight prepaid' or similar declaration (art. 42 RR).

Hague-Visby Rules
Destination value (art. IV sub 5b HVR). 
 
Dutch Law
Destination value (art. 8:388 sub 2 DCC).

Rotterdam Rules 
In the event of damages or loss of cargo the destination value (art. 22). In the event of an agreed delivery term, damages as a consequence of delay include financial loss and consequential damages. 

Hague-Visby Rules
666.67 SDR per package or unit or 2 SDR per kilo, whichever amount is highest (art. IV sub 5a HVR); in the event of containers each package as described in the bill of lading is considered a package or unit; if no such description is included, the container is considered a unit (art. IV sub 5c HVR). 

Dutch Law
In the event of transport under a bill of lading: 666.67 SDR per package or unit or 2 SDR per kilo lost or damaged cargo, whichever amount is highest (art.8:388 sub 1 DCC); in the event of containers each package as described in the bill of lading is considered a package or unit; if no such description is included, the container is considered a unit (art. 8:388 sub 3 DCC).     

Rotterdam Rules 
875 SDR per package or other unit or 3 SDR per kilo, whichever amount is highest. In the event of containers each package as described in the transport document is considered a package or unit; if no such description is included, the cargo in the container is considered a unit (art. 59 RR). In the event of damages as a consequence of delay: 2.5 times the cargo (art. 60 RR).

Hague-Visby Rules
The HVR do not contain any provisions. 

Dutch Law
Excluded (art. 8:387 jo art. 8:441 sub 1 DCC), unless intent or recklessness (art. 8:388 sub 5 DCC).

Rotterdam Rules
In the event of loss or damages to goods, consequential damages are excluded, unless the carrier and the consignor have agreed otherwise within the framework of art. 79 - 81 (art. 22 sub 3). In the event of delay of an agreed delivery date, financial loss and consequential damages may be claimed.

Hague-Visby Rules
No limitation of carrier or vessel liability in the event that the damages were caused by an act or omission by the carrier, intended to cause damages or recklessness with the knowledge that damages would probably be incurred (art.IV sub 5e HVR). Exceeding the limit only applies to the carrier´s own behaviour.

Dutch Law  
No limitation of carrier or vessel liability in the event that the damages were caused by an act or omission by the carrier, intended to cause damages or recklessness with the knowledge that damages would probably be incurred (art.8:388 sub 5 DCC). Exceeding the limit only applies to the carrier´s own behaviour.

Rotterdam Rules 
No limitation of carrier or vessel liability in the event that the damages were caused by an act or omission by the carrier, intended to cause damages or recklessness with the knowledge that damages would probably be incurred (art. 61 RR).

Hague-Visby Rules
Higher limitation is allowed, provided that it is included in the bill of lading (art. V HVR).

Dutch Law 
Higher limits may be agreed (art. 8:388 sub 6 DCC); in the event of a bill of lading, the bill of lading should evidence this (art. 8:384 DCC). Lower limits only allowed for transport other than under a bill of lading (art. 8:388 sub 6 DCC).  

Rotterdam Rules 
The limitation does not apply if the consignor has indicated the value of the cargo and has included this in the agreement, or when a higher amount was agreed between the carrier and the consignor (art. 59 sub 1 RR). Lower limits that directly or indirectly exclude or limit the obligations or liabilities of the carrier are void (art. 79 RR), except when included in a volume agreement (art. 80 RR).

Hague-Visby Rules
The carrier´s liability is limited to the provisions in the HVR (art. IV bis HVR). 

Dutch Law
‘The aggressor is given a taste of his own medicine’ (art. 8:361 and further DCC). 

Rotterdam Rules
The carrier´s, the maritime executive party´s and the (documentary) consignor´s liability is limited to the provisions in the Rotterdam Rules (art. 4 RR).

Hague-Visby Rules
In the event of visible damages: directly in writing; in the event of invisible damages: within 3 days (art. III sub 6 HVR). 

Dutch Law
In the event of visible damages: directly in writing; in the event of invisible damages: within 3 days (art. 8:492 DCC). 

Rotterdam Rules
In the event of visible damages: before or at the time of delivery. In the event of invisible damages: within 7 days of delivery (art. 23 sub 1 RR). Report is not required when the loss or damages are identified during a mutual inspection by the person to whom the cargo was delivered and by the carrier or maritime executive party that is held liable (art.23 sub 3 RR).

Hague-Visby Rules
Without a timely report, the carrier is assumed to have delivered the cargo as described in the bill of lading (art. III sub 6 HVR); the party with a right to claim may prove his damages. 

Dutch Law
Without a timely report, the carrier is assumed to have delivered the cargo as described in the transport document (art. 8:492 DCC). The party with a right to claim may prove his damages.

Rotterdam Rules
Without a timely report, the carrier is assumed to have delivered the cargo as described in the agreement, subject to evidence to the contrary (art. 23 sub 1 RR). The omission to report the damages does not affect the right to payment of damages (art. 23 sub 2 RR), unless in the event of damages as a consequence of delay in which case no report was made to the carrier within 21 consecutive days of delivery (art. 23 sub 3 RR).

Hague-Visby Rules
The claim needs to be referred to a court within a year of the date that the cargo was delivered or should have been delivered. Extension of the timebar is allowed (art. III sub 6 HVR). Extra term of three months for recourse claims (art.III sub 6 bis HVR). 

Dutch Law
In the event of transport under a bill of lading: timebar of one year, however this term may be extended (art. 8:1712 DCC). In the event of other means of transport: limitation period of 1 year; this term may be interrupted (art. 3:317 sub 1 DCC) or extended (art. 8:1701 DCC). Extra term of three months for recourse claims (art. 8:1712 sub 2 en art. 8:1720 DCC). 

Rotterdam Rules
Timebar of two years, commencing on the day that the cargo was delivered or should have been delivered (art. 62 RR). This term cannot be interrupted or suspended, however may be extended (art. 63 RR). Extra term of 90 days for recourse claim (art. 64 RR). Extra term of 90 days for claims against a bareboat charter (art. 65 RR; please also refer to art. 37 sub 2 RR).

Hague-Visby Rules
The HVR do not contain any provisions.

Dutch Law
The DCC does not contain any provisions. This needs to be determined through international regulations (such as the EEX Regulation and the EVEX Treaty (Lugano Treaty) or the Civil Procedures Act.

Rotterdam Rules
Chapter 14 (art. 66 & 74 RR) about competency is only binding for Member States  that have declared this part of the Treaty applicable (art. 74 jo art. 91). The Netherlands, being an EU country, will probably not be declared bound to the provisions in chapter 14. The international competency then needs to be determined through international regulations (such as the EEX Regulation and the EVEX Treaty (Lugano Treaty) or the Civil Procedures Act.

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