Report No. 151
6.4. Other International/U.N. Conventions.-
Ministry of Surface Transport is also concerned with the following U.N./International Conventions relating to Law of Seas:
(i) International Convention for Unification of Certain Rules of the Law relating to Bill of Lading, 1924 (Hague Rules);
(ii) Hague Visby Rules, 1968 and 1979;
(iii) U.N. Convention on Carriage of Goods by Sea, 1978 (Hamburg Rules);
(iv) U.N. Convention on Code of Conduct for Liner Conference, 1974.
6.5. We would briefly discuss the aforesaid Conventions:
(i) International Convention for Unification of Certain Rules of the Law relating to Bill of Lading, 1924, popularly known as Hague Rules were adopted in 1924. This Convention lists out the carrier's responsibilities and liabilities together with the rights and immunities. The Hague Rules came into force with effect from June 1931. India did not ratify this Convention mainly because the Convention requires that Bill of Lading should be issued even in respect of carriage of goods in the coastal trade by the sailing vessels, which was not acceptable to India. However, the rest of the provisions of the Convention were incorporated in the Indian Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1925.
(ii) Hague/Visby Rules, 1968 and 1979 Protocols.-In 1968, a Protocol was adopted to increase the limits of liability provided in the Hague Rules per package or units of goods lost or damaged. This protocol came into force from 23-6-77. The Hague Rules were further amended in 1979 by adoption of another protocol which changes the Unit on account to SDR. These two Protocols could not be ratified by India since India did not ratify the main Convention.
(iii) U.N. Convention on Carriage of Goods by Sea 1978.-In 1978, the United Nations adopted the Convention on Carriage of Goods by Sea, 1978 known as Hamburg Rules, 1978. This Convention seeks to replace the Hague Rules and their two Protocols. This Convention has come into force internationally from November, 1992. The question of ratification or otherwise of this Convention is still under consideration by India.
(iv) U.N. Convention on Code of Conduct for Liner Conference, 1974.- Upto the first half of the 20th Century, sea borne trade was generally catered to by the merchant fleets of developed countries. When developing countries started building up their merchant fleets, there was strong demand from the shipping lines of developing countries for increasing the share of their national fleets in their countries' overseas trade. As a result, mainly for the purpose of equitable cargo sharing and for other matters relating to sea borne trade, United Nations Convention on Code of Conduct for Liner Conference was adopted in 1974.
The fundamental objectives of this Convention are to facilitate orderly world sea borne trade, to stimulate development of regular and efficient liner services and to ensure the balance of interest between suppliers and users of Liner Shipping Services. The Cargo provisions of this Convention provide that trade between two countries shall be carried by the National Lines of each of the trading countries to the extent of 40% and third country lines can carry up to 20%.
India ratified this Convention in 1978. However, the Code has come into force internationally with effect from 6-10-1983. In 1986, proposal to introduce legislation for giving effect to the provision of the Code was approved by the Central Government in principle. However, in view of some apprehensions expressed by the Ministry of Commerce about the adverse impact on India's foreign trade, no legislation could be introduced in Parliament. On the basis of Inter-Ministerial discussions, a modified non-legislative cargo support scheme was formulated and the Government has since approved implementation of this scheme. This modified scheme does not make any reference to the U.K. Convention Liner Code.