The UNCITRAL ‘Draft convention on contracts for the international carriage of goods wholly or partly by sea’, now known as the Rotterdam Rules, was submitted on October 20th to the International Legal Committee of the United Nations General Assembly.
It is almost certain that the UN will approve the Rotterdam Rules, and a signing ceremony is scheduled for September 2009, with the Rotterdam Rules becoming effective one year after signature by the 20th UN member state.
Application of the Rotterdam Rules would extend to any operator defined as a ‘Maritime Performing Party’, which includes stevedoring companies and cargo terminals at sea ports. This means that, if certain conditions are met, Maritime Performing Parties have the same obligations and liabilities as carriers (but would also be entitled to the carriers’ defences and limitations). Inland carriers are only affected if they operate exclusively within port areas.