A comparative study of the obligation of due diligence to provide a seaworthy vessel under the Hague/Hague-Visby Rules and the Rotterdam Rules
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In the last 100 years, vast technological and communicational changes have occurred in all modes of transportation, with momentous changes to the carriage of cargo by sea. In response, the shipping industry has attempted to codify, at the international level, regulations and standards with the aim of providing a safe environment at sea. In turn, the shipping industry’s regulations impact upon the way sea carriage is performed. The obligation of seaworthiness is no exception. The requisite standard of seaworthiness is also, to a limited extent, governed by the shipping indsutry’s regulations. It is notable that the shipping industry’s regulations cannot keep pace with technological developments and they therefore lag behind the latest inventions. This creates an imbalance in the risk borne between the parties to the contract of carriage. Accordingly, the current law on seaworthiness requires modification in order to keep up with the technological evolution in the shipping industry. For such reasons, the Rotterdam Rules and its provisions on seaworthiness, were agreed. This thesis focuses on the scope of the provisions that relate to the obligation of seaworthiness in the Rotterdam Rules as compared to the parallel obligation in the existing regime under the Hague/Hague-Visby Rules. In order to ascertain whether the new convention provides a sound system to govern the law relating to seaworthiness, it is necessary to deal with the carrier’s obligation of seaworthiness under the Rotterdam Rules as compared to the widely used regime of the Hague/Hague-Visby Rules. However, the Rotterdam Rules introduce additional changes to the regime governing the carriage of goods; for example, multimodal transport. These changes are also considered in this study. This thesis discusses the impact of multimodal carriage on the obligation and liability of seaworthiness. It proposes that a multimodality approach should not be used with particular types of sea carriage; for example, container carriage. Throughout the thesis, proposals for both regimes concerning changes to areas where the risk between the contracting parties is imbalanced are provided. This inevitably involves a detailed study on the provisions relating to the obligation of exercising due diligence (and related potential liabilities in case of breach) under the Hague/Hague-Visby Rules and the Rotterdam Rules.
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