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Transportation by sea

This was the original attempt by the international trading community to standardise the problem whereby shipowners, on a far too regular basis, excluded themselves from any liability whatsoever in respect of damages to, or the loss of, cargo carried by them, So - the purpose behind the Hague Rules was to establish a minimum level of liability, legally enforceable under certain circumstances, against the shipowners/carriers.

Signed in Brussels, in 1924, the Hague Rules are the basis of national legislation in the vast majority of the trading nations of the world, covering, it is estimated, the movement of over 90% of the world's trade (by sea).

Under these rules, the carrier may excuse themselves from liability in respect of damage/loss caused by human error, PROVIDED they can prove that they have exercised due diligence, and that the vessel is seaworthy and properly crewed. Therefore the shipper/goods owners must bear the costs of damaged or lost goods unless there is proof that a vessel is unseaworthy, poorly manned, or any other reason to show that the goods could not be preserved or carried in a safe manner.

The Hague Rules have been updated by:-

The Hague-Visby Rules 1968

The Hamburg Rules 1978

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