Chapter 2 International sales
Maritime law is about ships and cargoes, but the cargoes are usually carried pursuant to an international sale contract. The sale contract determines who has property in the goods, and who bears the risk of loss or damage. It determines who makes the contract with the carrier to carry the goods, who insures the goods, and who has an insurable interest in the goods. It is appropriate in a book on maritime law to begin with international sale contracts.1
This chapter introduces sale contract issues. We see, especially in section [2.10], some of the problems of applying the general law of contract, without exception, to international sales of goods. At the end of the chapter, in section [2.14], we introduce challenges posed by modern trading practices, issues which are examined further in sections [6.1] and [6.3].
In terms of tonnage, the bulk commodity trade predominates, far out-stripping container traffic (by tonnage, but not necessarily by value). A feature of the bulk trade is that goods are purchased for resale. There is therefore often a string (or chain) of international sale contracts, where the buyer under one contract re-sells as seller under the next, the goods being finally destined for the buyer in the last contract in the string (or chain). String contracts, though the norm in bulk trades, are unusual for container cargoes, which are not generally purchased for immediate resale. For this reason, solutions to problems that work for container cargoes do not...
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