for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law relating to Bills of Lading
("Hague Rules"), and Protocol of Signature
(Brussels, 25 August 1924)
The President of the German Republic, the
President of the Argentine Republic, His Majesty the King of the Belgians,
the President of the Republic of Chile, the President of the Republic of
Cuba, His Majesty the King of Denmark and Iceland, His Majesty the King
of Spain, the Head of the Estonian State, the President of the United States
of America, the President of the Republic of Finland, the President of
the French Republic, His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor
of India, His Most Supreme Highness the Governor of the Kingdom of Hungary,
His Majesty the King of Italy, His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, the President
of the Latvian Republic, the President of the Republic of Mexico, His Majesty
the King of Norway, Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands, the President
of the Republic of Peru, the President of the Polish Republic, the President
of the Portuguese Republic, His Majesty the King of Romania, His Majesty
the King of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, His Majesty the King of Sweden,
and the President of the Republic of Uruguay,
HAVING RECOGNIZED the utility of fixing
by agreement certain uniform rules of law relating to bills of lading,
HAVE DECIDED to conclude a convention
with this object and have appointed the following Plenipotentiaries:
WHO, duly authorized thereto, have agreed
In this Convention the following words are
employed with the meanings set out below:
(a) "Carrier" includes the owner or the charterer
who enters into a contract of carriage with a shipper.
(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.
(c) "Goods" includes goods, wares, merchandise
and articles of every kind whatsoever except live animals and cargo which
by the contract of carriage in stated as being carried on deck and is so
(d) "Ship" means any vessel used for the carriage
of goods by sea.
(e) "Carriage of goods" covers the period
from the time when the goods are loaded on to the time they are discharged
from the ship.
Subject 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.
1. The carrier shall be bound before and at
the beginning of the voyage to exercise due diligence to:
(a) Make the ship seaworthy.
(b) Properly man, equip and supply the ship.
(c) Make the holds, refrigerating and cool
chambers, and all other parts of the ship in which goods are carried, fit
and safe for their reception, carriage and preservation.
2. Subject to the provisions of Article 4,
the carrier shall properly and carefully load, handle, stow, carry, keep,
care for, and discharge the goods carried.
3. After receiving the goods into his charge
the carrier or the master or agent of the carrier shall, on demand of the
shipper, issue to the shipper a bill of lading showing among other things:
(a) The leading marks necessary for identification
of the goods as the same are furnished in writing by the shipper before
the loading of such goods starts, provided such marks are stamped or otherwise
shown clearly upon the goods if uncovered, or on the cases or coverings
in which such goods are contained, in such a manner as should ordinarily
remain legible until the end of the voyage.
(b) Either the number of packages or pieces,
or the quantity, or weight, as the case may be, as furnished in writing
by the shipper.
(c) The apparent order and condition of the
Provided that no carrier, master or agent
of the carrier shall be bound to state or show in the bill of lading any
marks, number, quantity, or weight which he has reasonable ground for suspecting
not accurately to represent the goods actually received, or which he has
had no reasonable means of checking.
4. Such a bill of lading shall be prima
facie evidence of the receipt by the carrier of the goods as therein
described in accordance with paragraph 3(a), (b) and (c).
5. The shipper shall be deemed to have guaranteed
to the carrier the accuracy at the time of shipment of the marks, number,
quantity and weight, as furnished by him, and the shipper shall indemnity
the carrier against all loss, damages and expenses arising or resulting
from inaccuracies in such particulars. The right of the carrier to such
indemnity shall in no way limit his responsibility and liability under
the contract of carriage to any person other than the shipper.
6. Unless notice of loss or damage and the
general nature of such loss or damage be given in writing to the carrier
or his agent at the port of discharge before or at the time of the removal
of the goods into the custody of the person entitled to delivery thereof
under the contract of carriage, or, if the loss or damage be not apparent,
within three days, such removal shall be prima facie evidence of
the delivery by the carrier of the goods as described in the bill of lading.
If the loss or damage is not apparent, the
notice must be given within three days of the delivery of the goods.
The notice in writing need not be given if
the state of the goods has, at the time of their receipt, been the subject
of joint survey or inspection.
In any event the carrier and the ship shall
be discharged from all liability in respect of loss or damage unless suit
is brought within one year after delivery of the goods or the date when
the goods should have been delivered.
In the case of any actual or apprehended loss
or damage the carrier and the receiver shall give all reasonable facilities
to each other for inspecting and tallying the goods.
7. After the goods are loaded the bill of
lading to be issued by the carrier, master, or agent of the carrier, to
the shipper shall, if the shipper so demands, be a "shipped" bill of lading,
provided that if the shipper shall have previously taken up any document
of title to such goods, he shall surrender the same as against the issue
of the "shipped" bill of lading, but at the option of the carrier such
document of title may be noted at the port of shipment by the carrier,
master, or agent with the name or names of the ship or ships upon which
the goods have been shipped and the date or dates of shipment, and when
so noted, if it shows the particulars mentioned in paragraph 3 of Article
3, shall for the purpose of this Article be deemed to constitute a "shipped"
bill of lading.
8. Any clause, covenant, or agreement in a
contract of carriage relieving the carrier or the ship from liability for
loss or damage to, or in connexion with, goods arising from negligence,
fault, or failure in the duties and obligations provided in this Article
or lessening such liability otherwise than as provided in this Convention,
shall be null and void and of no effect. A benefit of insurance in favour
of the carrier or similar clause shall be deemed to be a clause relieving
the carrier from liability.
1. Neither the carrier nor the ship shall
be liable for loss or damage arising or resulting from unseaworthiness
unless caused by want of due diligence on the part of the carrier to make
the ship seaworthy and to secure that the ship is properly manned, equipped
and supplied, and to make the holds, refrigerating and cool chambers and
all other parts of the ship in which goods are carried fit and safe for
their reception, carriage and preservation in accordance with the provisions
of paragraph 1 of Article 3. Whenever loss or damage has resulted from
unseaworthiness the burden of proving the exercise of due diligence shall
be on the carrier or other person claiming exemption under this Article.
2. Neither the carrier nor the ship shall
be responsible for loss or damage arising or resulting from:
(a) Act, neglect, or default of the master,
mariner, pilot, or the servants of the carrier in the navigation or in
the management of the ship.
(b) Fire, unless caused by the actual fault
or privity of the carrier.
(c) Perils, dangers and accidents of the sea
or other navigable waters.
(d) Act of God.
(e) Act of war.
(f) Act of public enemies.
(g) Arrest or restraint or princes, rulers
or people, or seizure under legal process.
(h) Quarantine restrictions.
(i) Act or omission of the shipper or owner
of the goods, his agent or representative.
(j) Strikes or lockouts or stoppage or restraint
of labour from whatever cause, whether partial or general.
(k) Riots and civil commotions.
(l) Saving or attempting to save life or property
(m) Wastage in bulk or weight or any other
loss or damage arising from inherent defect, quality or vice of the goods.
(n) Insufficiency of packing.
(o) Insufficiency or inadequacy of marks.
(p) Latent defects not discoverable by due
(q) Any other cause arising without the actual
fault or privity of the carrier, or without the actual fault or neglect
of the agents or servants of the carrier, but the burden of proof shall
be on the person claiming the benefit of this exception to show that neither
the actual fault or privity of the carrier nor the fault or neglect of
the agents or servants of the carrier contributed to the loss or damage.
3. The shipper shall not be responsible for
loss or damage sustained by the carrier or the ship arising or resulting
from any cause without the act, fault or neglect of the shipper, his agents
or his servants.
4. Any deviation in saving or attempting to
save life or property at sea or any reasonable deviation shall not be deemed
to be an infringement or breach of this Convention or of the contract of
carriage, and the carrier shall not be liable for any loss or damage resulting
5. Neither the carrier nor the ship shall
in any event be or become liable for any loss or damage to or in connexion
with goods in an amount exceeding 100 pounds sterling per package or unit,
or the equivalent of that sum in other currency unless the nature and value
of such goods have been declared by the shipper before shipment and inserted
in the bill of lading.
This declaration if embodied in the bill of
lading shall be prima facie evidence, but shall not be binding or
conclusive on the carrier.
By agreement between the carrier, master or
agent of the carrier and the shipper another maximum amount than that mentioned
in this paragraph may be fixed, provided that such maximum shall not be
less than the figure above named.
Neither the carrier nor the ship shall be
responsible in any event for loss or damage to, or in connexion with, goods
if the nature or value thereof has been knowingly misstated by the shipper
in the bill of lading.
6. Goods of an inflammable, explosive or dangerous
nature to the shipment whereof the carrier, master or agent of the carrier
has not consented with knowledge of their nature and character, may at
any time before discharge be landed at any place, or destroyed or rendered
innocuous by the carrier without compensation and the shipper of such goods
shall be liable for all damage and expenses directly or indirectly arising
out of or resulting from such shipment. If any such goods shipped with
such knowledge and consent shall become a danger to the ship or cargo,
they may in like manner be landed at any place, or destroyed or rendered
innocuous by the carrier without liability on the part of the carrier except
to general average, if any.
A carrier shall be at liberty to surrender
in whole or in part all or any of his rights and immunities or to increase
any of his responsibilities and obligations under this Convention, provided
such surrender or increase shall be embodied in the bill of lading issued
to the shipper.
The provisions of this Convention shall not
be applicable to charter parties, but if bills of lading are issued in
the case of a ship under a charter party they shall comply with the terms
of this Convention. Nothing in these rules shall be held to prevent the
insertion in a bill of lading of any lawful provision regarding general
Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding
Articles, a carrier, master or agent of the carrier and a shipper shall
in regard to any particular goods be at liberty to enter into any agreement
in any terms as to the responsibility and liability of the carrier for
such goods, and as to the rights and immunities of the carrier in respect
of such goods, or his obligation as to seaworthiness, so far as this stipulation
is not contrary to public policy, or the care or diligence of his servants
or agents in regard to the loading, handling, stowage, carriage, custody,
care and discharge of the goods carried by sea, provided that in this case
no bill of lading has been or shall be issued and that the terms agreed
shall be embodied in a receipt which shall be a non-negotiable document
and shall be marked as such.
Any agreement so entered into shall have full
Provided that this Article shall not apply
to ordinary commercial shipments made in the ordinary course of trade,
but only to other shipments where the character or condition of the property
to be carried or the circumstances, terms and conditions under which the
carriage is to be performed are such as reasonably to justify a special
Nothing herein contained shall prevent a carrier
or a shipper from entering into any agreement, stipulation, condition,
reservation or exemption as to the responsibility and liability of the
carrier or the ship for the loss or damage to, or in connexion with, the
custody and care and handling of goods prior to the loading on, and subsequent
to, the discharge from the ship on which the goods are carried by sea.
The provisions of this Convention shall not
affect the rights and obligations of the carrier under any statute for
the time being in force relating to the limitation of the liability of
owners of sea-going vessels.
The monetary units mentioned in this Convention
are to be taken to be gold value.
Those contracting States in which the pound
sterling is not a monetary unit reserve to themselves the right of translating
the sums indicated in this Convention in terms of pound sterling into terms
of their own monetary system in round figures.
The national laws may reserve to the debtor
the right of discharging his debt in national currency according to the
rate of exchange prevailing on the day of the arrival of the ship at the
port of discharge of the goods concerned.
The provisions of this Convention shall apply
to all bills of lading issued in any of the contracting States.
After an interval of not more than two years
from the day on which the Convention is signed, the Belgian Government
shall place itself in communication with the Governments of the High Contracting
Parties which have declared themselves prepared to ratify the Convention,
with a view to deciding whether it shall be put into force. The ratifications
shall be deposited at Brussels at a date to be fixed by agreement among
said Governments. The first deposit of ratifications shall be recorded
in a procès-verbal signed by the representatives of the Powers
which take part therein and by the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The subsequent deposit of ratifications shall
be made by means of a written notification, addressed to the Belgian Government
and accompanied by the instrument of ratification.
A duly certified copy of the procès-verbal
relating to the first deposit of ratifications, of the notifications referred
to in the previous paragraph, and also of the instruments of ratification
accompanying them, shall be immediately sent by the Belgian Government
through the diplomatic channel to the Powers who have signed this Convention
or who have acceded to it. In the cases contemplated in the preceding paragraph,
the said Government shall inform them at the same time of the date on which
it received the notification.
Non-signatory States may accede to the present
Convention whether or not they have been represented at the International
Conference at Brussels.
A State which desires to accede shall notify
its intention in writing to the Belgian Government, forwarding to it the
document of accession, which shall be deposited in the archives of the
The Belgian Government shall immediately forward
to all the States which have signed or acceded to the Convention a duly
certified copy of the notification and of the act of accession, mentioning
the date on which it received the notification.
The High Contracting Parties may at the time
of signature, ratification or accession declare that their acceptance of
the present Convention does not include any or all of the self-governing
dominions, or of the colonies, overseas possessions, protectorates or territories
under their sovereignty or authority, and they may subsequently accede
separately on behalf of any self-governing dominion, colony, overseas possession,
protectorate or territory excluded in their declaration. They may also
denounce the Convention separately in accordance with its provisions in
respect of any self-governing dominion, or any colony, overseas possession,
protectorate or territory under their sovereignty or authority.
The present Convention shall take effect,
in the case of the States which have taken part in the first deposit of
ratifications, one year after the date of the protocol recording such deposit.
As respects the States which ratify subsequently
or which accede, and also in cases in which the Convention is subsequently
put into effect in accordance with Article 13, it shall take effect six
months after the notifications specified in paragraph 2 of Article 11 and
paragraph 2 of Article 12 have been received by the Belgian Government.
In the event of one of the contracting States
wishing to denounce the present Convention, the denunciation shall be notified
in writing to the Belgian Government, which shall immediately communicate
a duly certified copy of the notification to all the other States, informing
them of the date on which it was received.
The denunciation shall only operate in respect
of the State which made the notification, and on the expiry of one year
after the notification has reached the Belgian Government.
Any one of the contracting States shall have
the right to call for a fresh conference with a view to considering possible
A State which would exercise this right should
notify its intention to the other States through the Belgian Government,
which would make arrangements for convening the Conference.
DONE at Brussels, in a single copy,
August 25th, 1924.
PROTOCOL OF SIGNATURE
At the time of signing the International Convention
for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law relating to Bills of Lading
the Plenipotentiaries whose signatures appear below have adopted this Protocol,
which will have the same force and the same value as if its provisions
were inserted in the text of the Convention to which it relates.
The High Contracting Parties may give effect
to this Convention either by giving it the force of law or by including
in their national legislation in a form appropriate to that legislation
the rules adopted under this Convention.
They may reserve the right:
1. To prescribe that in the cases referred
to in paragraph 2(c) to (p) of Article 4 the holder of a bill of lading
shall be entitled to establish responsibility for loss or damage arising
from the personal fault of the carrier or the fault of his servants which
are not covered by paragraph (a).
2. To apply Article 6 in so far as the national
coasting trade is concerned to all classes of goods without taking account
of the restriction set out in the last paragraph of that Article.
DONE at Brussels, in single copy, August