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A Gateway to Electronic Transport Documentation in International Trade: The Rotterdam Rules in Perspective

Marusic, Miran LU (2012) JURM02 20112
Department of Law
Abstract
Trade was the main reason for the development of transportation of goods by sea. With the evolution of technology, the amount of goods transported increased. Early in the history of trade, traders would sail with their goods to the port of destination. As the technology allowed more frequent and longer trips, this practice was seen to be impossible to continue. Thus, the bill of lading was invented. This document served as a receipt of the goods shipped, and over time became also to function as the evidence of the contract of carriage as well as a document of title. As such, the bill of lading fulfilled an important role in world trade. The possessor of the document had the constructive possession of the shipment - as the document... (More)
Trade was the main reason for the development of transportation of goods by sea. With the evolution of technology, the amount of goods transported increased. Early in the history of trade, traders would sail with their goods to the port of destination. As the technology allowed more frequent and longer trips, this practice was seen to be impossible to continue. Thus, the bill of lading was invented. This document served as a receipt of the goods shipped, and over time became also to function as the evidence of the contract of carriage as well as a document of title. As such, the bill of lading fulfilled an important role in world trade. The possessor of the document had the constructive possession of the shipment - as the document represented these goods - and could therefore claim the delivery or sell the goods by transferring the bill of lading to the buyer.

As trade and transportation evolved worldwide, uniformity was necessary for the actors involved. Otherwise there would be a risk that uncertainty could create unattractive situations with costly litigation and partnerships being broken. The international law community started drafting a convention on carriage of goods by sea in order to create harmony and unification. This convention was called the Hague Rules, and was adopted in 1924. The Hague Rules created the desired uniformity. However, as custom and practice in the shipping industry became more modern the Hague Rules became old fashioned. A new convention was therefore drafted in 1968, the Hague-Visby Rules. Most of the world trade today is governed by the Hague-Visby Rules, except two of the main trading actors: USA and China. This is clearly not a harmonious and uniform condition. Additionally, the convention is over 40 years old and hardly up to date and adaptable to the technology of today.

Transport documentation and the law governing carriage of goods came to be, through custom and practice, attached to each other. Dematerializing transport documents is therefore a hard task, as the law and the whole practice is based on these tangible documents. Attempts have been made, most of them unsuccessful. UNCITRAL and CMI drafted thus a new convention in 2008, The Rotterdam Rules. The legislators of the Rotterdam Rules recognized the faults and errors made in previous attempts and tried to avoid these. The result is a new convention recognizing electronic equivalents to traditional transport documentation, and allowing these equivalents to have the same functionalities as the traditional documents.

The Rotterdam Rules is, amongst other things, an attempt to give actors involved the possibility to make trade even more efficient. One of the approaches is by moulding together electronic commerce with multimodal contracts of carriage. The attempt takes an approach by stating merely the framework for actors to create their own ways of taking advantage of the possibilities given by the new convention. This neutral approach has many advantages when compared to earlier conventions, where the drafters set out the firm rules on how things were supposed to be done. As technology progressed and allowed other, better and more efficient means- these means were out of the scope of the out of date conventions. The Rotterdam Rules are a dynamic set of rules, which gives the industry the possibility to prosper, while the rules remain applicable and up to date.

The Rotterdam Rules introduces a notion that is new for a carriage of goods by sea convention, namely “exclusive control”. This notion is equivalent of the physical possession of the goods and gives the party with the exclusive control the same rights as if the party had a physical bill of lading. The Rotterdam Rules also codifies the rights of a party with exclusive control, which adds certainty and uniformity in current practice. Because of the introduction of the notion of exclusive control, the Rotterdam Rules provide the international shipping community the possibility to conduct business without documents, paper or electronic. The convention also provides a foundation for the usage of sea waybills, as the convention makes the evidential value of the sea waybill in the hands of a third party even greater as compared to earlier conventions on carriage of goods by sea. The Rotterdam Rules offer very suitable solutions and meet the goals that they attempt to achieve. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Handeln var den främsta orsaken till utvecklingen av godstransporter till sjöss. I samband med teknikens utveckling, ökade mängden transporterat gods. Tidigt i handelns historia seglade ägarna till godset med sina varor till destinationsorten. Denna sedvänja blev omöjlig att fortsätta tillämpa, eftersom tekniken utvecklades och det blev möjligt för skepp att segla fler och längre resor. Det lönade sig inte för handelsmännen att fortsätta segla med godset. Således uppfanns konossementet och började tillämpas i praktiken. Detta dokument tjänade som ett kvitto på de transporterade varorna, och utvecklades till att även utgöra bevis för transportavtalet och vara ett dokument som representerar det fysiska godet. Konossementet uppfyllde därmed... (More)
Handeln var den främsta orsaken till utvecklingen av godstransporter till sjöss. I samband med teknikens utveckling, ökade mängden transporterat gods. Tidigt i handelns historia seglade ägarna till godset med sina varor till destinationsorten. Denna sedvänja blev omöjlig att fortsätta tillämpa, eftersom tekniken utvecklades och det blev möjligt för skepp att segla fler och längre resor. Det lönade sig inte för handelsmännen att fortsätta segla med godset. Således uppfanns konossementet och började tillämpas i praktiken. Detta dokument tjänade som ett kvitto på de transporterade varorna, och utvecklades till att även utgöra bevis för transportavtalet och vara ett dokument som representerar det fysiska godet. Konossementet uppfyllde därmed en viktig roll i världshandeln, eftersom det representerade varorna och den legala innehavaren av dokumentet kunde göra anspråk på varorna och dess leverans eller sälja varorna genom att överföra konossomentet till köparen.

Då handel och transport utvecklades till en global industri, var enhetlighet nödvändigt för inblandade aktörer, annars skulle osäkerheten medföra oattraktiva situationer med dyra rättstvister och partnerskap skulle riskera att brytas. ”International Law Association” inledde ett utarbetande av en transport av gods till sjöss konvention, i syfte att skapa harmoni och enande. Denna konvention kallades för Haagreglerna och antogs år 1924. Enhetlighet uppnåddes genom konventionen, men den kom att bli gammal då branschen utvecklades samt seder och bruk moderniserades. Därmed antogs en ny konvention år 1968, de så kallade Haag-Visbyreglerna. Större delen av världshandeln i dag styrs av Haag-Visbyreglerna, utom två av de största handelsaktörerna: USA och Kina. Detta är uppenbarligen inte en harmonisk och enhetlig förutsättning. Dessutom är konventionen över 40 år gammal och knappast aktuell och anpassad till dagens teknik.

UNCITRAL och CMI antog en ny konvention år 2008, nämligen Rotterdamreglerna. Transportdokument och lagen som reglerar transport av gods har kommit att bli, genom sedvänja, förbundna med varandra. Därmed är dematerialisering av transportdokument en svår uppgift, eftersom lagstiftningen samt hela praktiken bygger på dessa dokument. Försök har gjorts, de flesta av dem har misslyckas. Lagstiftarna till Rotterdamreglerna, kände till tidigare fel och misstag som begåtts och försökte undvika dessa.

Resultatet är en ny konvention som erkänner elektroniska medel på samma sätt som traditionella transportdokument. Konventionen låter dessa elektroniska motsvarigheter ha samma funktionalitet som de traditionella dokumenten. Rotterdamreglerna är ett försök att ge aktörer möjligheter att göra handeln ännu effektivare genom att bland annat gjuta samman elektronisk handel med multimodala transportavtal. Konventionen intar en neutral inställning genom att endast ange en ram för aktörer att skapa sina egna sätt att ta tillvara på de möjligheter som ges i den nya konventionen. Detta tillvägagångssätt är bättre än tidigare metoder, där lagstiftarna valde att ha bestämda regler om hur saker och ting gjordes, utan att förutse att teknologisk utveckling hade inverkan på industrin och därmed inte skulle kunna styras av föråldrade konventioner. Rotterdamreglerna är en dynamisk uppsättning av regler som ger industrin möjlighet att blomstra, med fördelen att konventionen förblir fortsatt tillämplig och aktuell.

Rotterdamreglerna inför dessutom ett begrepp som är nytt för en transport av gods till sjöss konvention, nämligen "exklusiv kontroll". Detta begrepp motsvarar den fysiska besittningen av varorna och ger parten med den exklusiva kontrollen samma rättigheter som om parten hade ett fysisk konossement. Rotterdamreglerna kodifierar även rättigheterna för en part med exklusiv kontroll, vilket ger säkerhet och enhetlighet vid tillämpning. På grund av införandet av begreppet exklusiv kontroll ger Rotterdamreglerna den internationella sjöfarten möjligheter att genomföra transporter utan dokument, varken i pappersform eller elektronisk form. Rotterdamreglerna bidrar även med en solid grund för tillämpning av fraktsedlar då konventionen gör att bevisvärdet av en fraktsedel i händerna på en tredje part blir ännu större än i jämförelse med tidigare konventioner. Rotterdamreglerna erbjuder mycket lämpliga lösningar och möter de mål som de föresatt sig att uppnå. (Less)
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author
Marusic, Miran LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20112
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
maritime law, transport law, transporträtt, sjörätt, electronic transport documents, Rotterdam rules, bill of lading, elektroniska konossement
language
English
id
2438155
date added to LUP
2012-08-31 14:43:36
date last changed
2012-08-31 14:43:36
@misc{2438155,
  abstract     = {Trade was the main reason for the development of transportation of goods by sea. With the evolution of technology, the amount of goods transported increased. Early in the history of trade, traders would sail with their goods to the port of destination. As the technology allowed more frequent and longer trips, this practice was seen to be impossible to continue. Thus, the bill of lading was invented. This document served as a receipt of the goods shipped, and over time became also to function as the evidence of the contract of carriage as well as a document of title. As such, the bill of lading fulfilled an important role in world trade. The possessor of the document had the constructive possession of the shipment - as the document represented these goods - and could therefore claim the delivery or sell the goods by transferring the bill of lading to the buyer.

As trade and transportation evolved worldwide, uniformity was necessary for the actors involved. Otherwise there would be a risk that uncertainty could create unattractive situations with costly litigation and partnerships being broken. The international law community started drafting a convention on carriage of goods by sea in order to create harmony and unification. This convention was called the Hague Rules, and was adopted in 1924. The Hague Rules created the desired uniformity. However, as custom and practice in the shipping industry became more modern the Hague Rules became old fashioned. A new convention was therefore drafted in 1968, the Hague-Visby Rules. Most of the world trade today is governed by the Hague-Visby Rules, except two of the main trading actors: USA and China. This is clearly not a harmonious and uniform condition. Additionally, the convention is over 40 years old and hardly up to date and adaptable to the technology of today. 

Transport documentation and the law governing carriage of goods came to be, through custom and practice, attached to each other. Dematerializing transport documents is therefore a hard task, as the law and the whole practice is based on these tangible documents. Attempts have been made, most of them unsuccessful. UNCITRAL and CMI drafted thus a new convention in 2008, The Rotterdam Rules. The legislators of the Rotterdam Rules recognized the faults and errors made in previous attempts and tried to avoid these. The result is a new convention recognizing electronic equivalents to traditional transport documentation, and allowing these equivalents to have the same functionalities as the traditional documents.

The Rotterdam Rules is, amongst other things, an attempt to give actors involved the possibility to make trade even more efficient. One of the approaches is by moulding together electronic commerce with multimodal contracts of carriage. The attempt takes an approach by stating merely the framework for actors to create their own ways of taking advantage of the possibilities given by the new convention. This neutral approach has many advantages when compared to earlier conventions, where the drafters set out the firm rules on how things were supposed to be done. As technology progressed and allowed other, better and more efficient means- these means were out of the scope of the out of date conventions. The Rotterdam Rules are a dynamic set of rules, which gives the industry the possibility to prosper, while the rules remain applicable and up to date. 

The Rotterdam Rules introduces a notion that is new for a carriage of goods by sea convention, namely “exclusive control”. This notion is equivalent of the physical possession of the goods and gives the party with the exclusive control the same rights as if the party had a physical bill of lading. The Rotterdam Rules also codifies the rights of a party with exclusive control, which adds certainty and uniformity in current practice. Because of the introduction of the notion of exclusive control, the Rotterdam Rules provide the international shipping community the possibility to conduct business without documents, paper or electronic. The convention also provides a foundation for the usage of sea waybills, as the convention makes the evidential value of the sea waybill in the hands of a third party even greater as compared to earlier conventions on carriage of goods by sea. The Rotterdam Rules offer very suitable solutions and meet the goals that they attempt to achieve.},
  author       = {Marusic, Miran},
  keyword      = {maritime law,transport law,transporträtt,sjörätt,electronic transport documents,Rotterdam rules,bill of lading,elektroniska konossement},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {A Gateway to Electronic Transport Documentation in International Trade: The Rotterdam Rules in Perspective},
  year         = {2012},
}