The Hague Rules radically changed the legal status of sea carriers under the bill of lading. Again in 1963 CMI adopted the text of a draft document which was intended to make limited amendments to the 1924 convention which was considered at 12th Session of the Brussels Diplomatic Conference on Maritime Law in 1967 and 1968. The Protocol was signed in this respect on 23 February 1968 at Visby on the Swedish Island and the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971 was passed by the UK Government with effect to the protocol and re-enacted Hague Rules and Hague Visby Rules. (Martin Dockray and Katherine Reece Thomas, 2004)
The Hague Rules were adopted in 1924, The Hague/Visby Rules in 1968 and 1979 and the Hamburg Rules in 1978. Each international convention in turn attempted to broaden its application in order to avoid lacunae, to encompass all contracts of carriage as well as bills of lading, and to permit incorporation by reference.2 The accepted international standard of the rights and duties of a Carrier, Shipper and consignee of goods carried by sea is the Hague Rules Convention of 1924 which has been given the force of law by most maritime nations.(Richard Price and Andreas Haberbeck, 1986)3
The general principle regarding the application of The Hague Rul...
ect to the provisions of Article 6, under every contract of carriage of goods by sea the carrier, in relation to the loading, handling, stowage, carriage, custody, care and discharge of such goods, shall be subject to the responsibilities and liabilities, and entitled to the rights and immunities hereinafter set forth."4
Art. 1(b) -'Contract of carriage' applies only to contracts of carriage covered by a bill of lading or any similar document of title, in so far as such document relates to the carriage of goods by sea, including any bill of lading or any similar document as aforesaid issued under or pursuant to a charter party from the moment at which such bill of lading or similar document of title regulates the relations between a carrier and a holder of the same."5
The most important obligations under Hague or Hague Visby Rules are those imposed by Art. III6 Rule 1 (a) and (b) which requires the carrier to exercise due diligence to make the ship seaworthy and to properly man, equip and supply the ship before and at the beginning of the voyage. (Simon Gault et al, 2003) There were some initial problems in the proper implementation of Hague Rules as seen in Vita Food Products Inc V Unus Shipping Co. Ltd, where Herrings were shipped in Newfoundland under bills of lading of the Newfoundland Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1932 which stated that bill of lading 'shall contain an express statement that it is to have effect subject to the provisions of the Hague Rules as expressed in this Act' and also provided exemption from liability for master's negligence in navigation which exemption was also part of the Hague Rules. The Hague Rules further provided that any clause or agreement in the bills of lading relieving the carrier from liability for negligence imposed by the