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Enter the Rotterdam Rules on world shipping trade law

Enter the Rotterdam Rules on world shipping trade law

Rotterdam: Fifteen states, including five EU members, have signed the new UNCITRAL Convention on the Carriage of Goods (Wholly or Partly) by Sea, rechristened the Rotterdam Rules.

The signing comes after the approval of these rules by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in July 2008 - following seven years of intensive international negotiations and their adoption by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2008.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA), BIMCO and the World Shipping Council (WSC) say they are very pleased with the significant level of support given by so many States, including EU Member States, the United States and many other States representing between them shipper and carrier interests.  The reasons to sign and thereafter ratify the Rotterdam Rules are clear, they add, since they will:

- Provide legal certainty and uniformity with regard to the carriage of goods by sea and connected transport.  With about 90% of world trade being transported by sea on some 50,000 merchant ships that trade internationally and transport all types of cargo, shipping is a truly global industry that needs to be governed by widely accepted international rules;

- Modernise the liability regimes that currently apply to the carriage of goods by sea;

- Cover multimodal carriage of goods that involve a sea leg while respecting existing unimodal conventions which also regulate multimodal transports in some aspects;

- Address gaps that presently exist, including the important introduction of provisions to facilitate e-commerce;

- Strike a balance between the interests of shipowners and shippers in terms of liabilities and the allocation of risks between both parties, a feature that is recognised by shipowners and shippers, including major European shippers.

The shipping bodies point out that it is now important for as many countries as possible to not only sign but also ratify the new rules, thereby speeding their coming into force.  [23/09/09]