Protocol to Amend the
International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating
to Bills of Lading ("Visby Rules")
(Brussels, 23 February 1968)
THE CONTRACTING PARTIES,
CONSIDERING that it is desirable to
amend the International Convention for the unification of certain rules
of law relating to Bills of Lading, signed at Brussels on 25th August 1924,
HAVE AGREED as follows:
(1) In Article 3, paragraph 4, shall be added:
"However, proof to the contrary shall not
be admissible when the Bill of Lading has been transferred to a third party
acting in good faith".
(2) In Article 3, paragraph 6, sub-paragraph
4 shall be deleted and replaced by:
"Subject to paragraph 6bis the carrier
and the ship shall in any event be discharged from all liability whatsoever
in respect of the goods, unless suit is brought within one year of their
delivery or of the date when they should have been delivered. This period
may, however, be extended if the parties so agree after the cause of action
(3) In Article 3, after paragraph 6, shall
be added the following paragraph 6bis:
"An action for indemnity against a third person
may be brought even after the expiration of the year provided for in the
preceding paragraph if brought within the time allowed by the law of the
Court seized of the case. However, the time allowed shall be not less than
three months, commencing from the day when the person bringing such action
for indemnity has settled the claim or has been served with process in
the action against himself".
Article 4, paragraph 5, shall be deleted and
replaced by the following:
"(a) Unless the nature and value of such goods
have been declared by the shipper before shipment and inserted in the Bill
of Lading, neither the carrier nor the ship shall in any event be or become
liable for any loss or damage to or in connection with the goods in an
amount exceeding the equivalent of 10,000 francs per package or unit or
30 francs per kilo of gross weight of the goods lost or damaged, whichever
is the higher.
(b) The total amount recoverable shall be
calculated by reference to the value of such goods at the place and time
at which the goods are discharged from the ship in accordance with the
contract or should have been so discharged.
The value of the goods shall be fixed according
to the commodity exchange price, or, if there be no such price, according
to the current market price, or, if there be no commodity exchange price
or current market price, by reference to the normal value of goods of the
same kind and quality.
(c) Where a container, pallet or similar article
of transport is used to consolidate goods, the number of packages or units
enumerated in the Bill of Lading as packed in such article of transport
shall be deemed the number of packages or units for the purpose of this
paragraph as far as these packages or units are concerned. Except as aforesaid
such article of transport shall be considered the package or unit.
(d) A franc means a unit consisting of 65.5
milligrammes of gold of millesimal fineness 900'. The date of conversion
of the sum awarded into national currencies shall be governed by the law
of the Court seized of the case.
(e) Neither the carrier nor the ship shall
be entitled to the benefit of the limitation of liability provided for
in this paragraph if it is proved that the damage resulted from an act
or omission of the carrier done with intent to cause damage, or recklessly
and with knowledge that damage would probably result.
(f) The declaration mentioned in sub-paragraph
(a) of this paragraph, if embodied in the Bill of Lading, shall be prima
facie evidence, but shall not be binding or conclusive on the carrier.
(g) By agreement between the carrier, master
or agent of the carrier and the shipper other maximum amounts than those
mentioned in sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph may be fixed, provided
that no maximum amount so fixed shall be less than the appropriate maximum
mentioned in that sub-paragraph.
(h) Neither the carrier nor the ship shall
be responsible in any event for loss or damage to, or in connection with,
goods if the nature or value thereof has been knowingly mis-stated by the
shipper in the Bill of Lading".
Between Articles 4 and 5 of the Convention
shall be inserted the following Article 4bis:
"1. The defences and limits of liability provided
for in this Convention shall apply in any action against the carrier in
respect of loss or damage to goods covered by a contract of carriage whether
the action be founded in contract or in tort.
2. If such an action is brought against a
servant or agent of the carrier (such servant or agent not being an independent
contractor), such servant or agent shall be entitled to avail himself of
the defences and limits of liability which the carrier is entitled to invoke
under this Convention.
3. The aggregate of the amounts recoverable
from the carrier, and such servants and agents, shall in no case exceed
the limit provided for in this Convention.
4. Nevertheless, a servant or agent of the
carrier shall not be entitled to avail himself of the provisions of this
Article, if it is proved that the damage resulted from an act or omission
of the servant or agent done with intent to cause damage or recklessly
and with knowledge that damage would probably result".
Article 9 of the Convention shall be deleted
and replaced by the following:
"This Convention shall not affect the provisions
of any international Convention or national law governing liability for
Article 10 of the Convention shall be deleted
and replaced by the following:
"The provisions of this Convention shall apply
to every Bill of Lading relating to the carriage of goods between ports
in two different States if:
(a) the Bill of Lading is issued in a Contracting
(b) the carriage is from a port in a Contracting
(c) the contract contained in or evidenced
by the Bill of Lading provides that the rules of this Convention or legislation
of any State giving effect to them are to govern the contract
whatever may be the nationality of the ship,
the carrier, the shipper, the consignee, or any other interested person.
Each Contracting State shall apply the provisions
of this Convention to the Bills of Lading mentioned above.
This Article shall not prevent a Contracting
State from applying the rules of this Convention to Bills of Lading not
included in the preceding paragraphs".
As between the Parties to this Protocol the
Convention and the Protocol shall be read and interpreted together as one
A Party to this Protocol shall have no duty
to apply the provisions of this Protocol to Bills of Lading issued in a
State which is a Party to the Convention but which is not a Party to this
As between the Parties to this Protocol, denunciation
by any of them of the Convention in accordance with Article 15 thereof,
shall not be construed in any way as a denunciation of the Convention as
amended by this Protocol.
Any dispute between two or more Contracting
Parties concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention
which cannot be settled through negotiation, shall, at the request of one
of them, be submitted to arbitration. If within six months from the date
of the request for arbitration the Parties are unable to agree on the organization
of the arbitration, any one of those Parties may refer the dispute to the
International Court of Justice by request in conformity with the Statute
of the Court.
(1) Each Contracting Party may at the time
of signature or ratification of this Protocol or accession thereto, declare
that it does not consider itself bound by Article 8 of this Protocol. The
other Contracting Parties shall not be bound by this Article with respect
to any Contracting Party having made such a reservation.
(2) Any Contracting Party having made a reservation
in accordance with paragraph 1 may at any time withdraw this reservation
by notification to the Belgian Government.
This Protocol shall be open for signature
by the States which have ratified the Convention or which have adhered
thereto before the 23rd February 1968, and by any State represented at
the twelfth session (1967-1968) of the Diplomatic Conference on Maritime
(1) This Protocol shall be ratified.
(2) Ratification of this Protocol by any State
which is not a Party to the Convention shall have the effect of accession
to the Convention.
(3) The instruments of ratification shall
be deposited with the Belgian Government.
(1) States, Members of the United Nations
or Members of the specialized agencies of the United Nations, not represented
at the twelfth session of the Diplomatic Conference on Maritime Law, may
accede to this Protocol.
(2) Accession to this Protocol shall have
the effect of accession to the Convention.
(3) The instruments of accession shall be
deposited with the Belgian Government.
(1) This Protocol shall come into force three
months after the date of the deposit of ten instruments of ratification
or accession, of which at least five shall have been deposited by States
that have each a tonnage equal or superior to one million gross tons of
(2) For each State which ratifies this Protocol
or accedes thereto after the date of deposit of the instrument of ratification
or accession determining the coming into force such as is stipulated in
paragraph (1) of this Article, this Protocol shall come into force three
months after the deposit of its instrument of ratification or accession.
(1) Any Contracting State may denounce this
Protocol by notification to the Belgian Government.
(2) This denunciation shall have the effect
of denunciation of the Convention.
(3) The denunciation shall take effect one
year after the date on which the notification has been received by the
(1) Any Contracting State may at the time
of signature, ratification or accession or at any time thereafter declare
by written notification to the Belgian Government which among the territories
under its sovereignty or for whose international relations it is responsible,
are those to which the present Protocol applies.
The Protocol shall three months after the
date of the receipt of such notification by the Belgian Government extend
to the territories named therein, but not before the date of the coming
into force of the Protocol in respect of such State.
(2) This extension also shall apply to the
Convention if the latter is not yet applicable to those territories.
(3) Any Contracting State which has made a
declaration under paragraph (1) of this Article may at any time thereafter
declare by notification given to the Belgian Government that the Protocol
shall cease to extend to such territory. This denunciation shall take effect
one year after the date on which notification thereof has been received
by the Belgian Government; it also shall apply to the Convention.
The Contracting Parties may give effect to
this Protocol 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 Protocol.
The Belgian Government shall notify the States
represented at the twelfth session (1967-1968) of the Diplomatic Conference
on Maritime Law, the acceding States to this Protocol, and the States Parties
to the Convention, of the following:
1. The signatures, ratifications and accessions
received in accordance with Articles 10, 11 and 12.
2. The date on which the present Protocol
will come into force in accordance with Article 13.
3. The notifications with regard to the territorial
application in accordance with Article 15.
4. The denunciations received in accordance
with Article 14.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned
Plenipotentiaries, duly authorized, have signed this Protocol.
DONE at Brussels, this 23rd day of
February 1968, in the French and English languages, both texts being equally
authentic, in a single copy, which shall remain deposited in the archives
of the Belgian Government, which shall issue certified copies.