Carriage of goods by sea—the Hague-Visby Rules
Produced in partnership with James Watthey and Quentin Tannock of 4 Pump Court
Carriage of goods by sea—the Hague-Visby Rules

The following Commercial guidance note Produced in partnership with James Watthey and Quentin Tannock of 4 Pump Court provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Carriage of goods by sea—the Hague-Visby Rules
  • Scope of application
  • The ‘carrier’
  • Temporal and geographical scope
  • The definition of ‘goods’: animals and deck cargo
  • The carrier’s responsibilities
  • Limitations and immunities

This Practice Note explains the Hague-Visby Rules (the Rules) which are an international convention enacted into English law by the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971 (CGSA 1971) whose purpose is to regulate some of the most important rights and obligations under bills of lading for carriage of goods by sea. The Practice Note covers the scope of the Rules, the carrier’s responsibilities under them, the carrier’s limitations of liability and immunities available under the Rules and the relevant time bars.

The Rules are a modified version of the Hague Rules, enacted by the CGSA 1924. The changes were brought about by the Visby protocol of 1971. The Hague Rules still apply in some circumstances and will be referred to briefly in this Practice Note for the purposes of comparison.

Other major rules which may be applicable to carriage of goods by sea but which fall outside the scope of this Practice Note include the Hamburg Rules (1978) and the Rotterdam Rules (2008).

Scope of application

Under Article X, the Rules apply where:

  1. the bill of lading is issued in a contracting state

  2. the shipment is from a port in a contracting state

  3. the contract of carriage contained in or evidenced by the bill of lading expressly says that they (or national legislation giving effect to them) will apply to it

This