Chapter 3 Carriage of goods by sea
The law of carriage, which is at the heart of maritime law, divides into that of charterparties and bills of lading. The former are governed almost exclusively by the common law, disputes mostly being concerned, ultimately at least, with interpretation of contracts. Some aspects of bills of lading are also governed by the common law, but the substance of bill of lading contracts is partly regulated under UK law by the Hague-Visby Rules, an international convention brought into force domestically by the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971 (see section [3.9.2]). Legislation, in the form of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992, also governs transfer of carriage contract rights and obligations. The study of bills of lading involves some statutory interpretation, therefore.
Charterparties have a long history, but time charterparties (in section [3.3.3]) came into widespread use only in the late nineteenth century, when they enabled the parties to take advantage of technological change. Charterparty development today consists largely of more sophisticated standard forms, but there are also new instruments such as slot charters, which were devised as a response to late-twentieth-century container transport (see sections [3.10] and [6.1.4]).
As we saw in section [2.3], the law clarified the effect of bills of lading as documents of title in the nineteenth century. We also saw (in section [2.14]) how this role has been threatened in recent years, and we will look in section [6.3] at the possibility that they may be...
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