Rotterdam Rules: A Practical Annotation
Scope of Application
Article 5. General scope of application
- (a) The place of receipt;
- (b) The port of loading;
- (c) The place of delivery; or
- (d) The port of discharge.
The Rotterdam Rules may operate as a maritime multimodal convention. The Rotterdam Rules apply only to contracts of carriage. In the definition of “contracts of carriage”,1 it is stated inter alia that “the contract shall provide for carriage by sea and may provide for carriage by other modes of transport in addition to the sea carriage”. The reference to carriage by “sea” would appear to exclude by implication carriage by “water”. Carriage by sea is mandatory for the Rotterdam Rules to apply. Carriage by an inland waterway, for example, is not a substitute for carriage by sea, although carriage by inland waterway before or after sea carriage does not exclude the application of the Rules. Given that a sea leg in the carriage is essential, the Rotterdam Rules have been accurately, albeit awkwardly, styled as providing for the carriage of goods “wholly or partly by sea”. This is in recognition of the fact that nowadays the carriage of goods by sea—especially in the liner trade of containerised cargo—often represents only a small part of the international transportation of goods from warehouse to warehouse or from door to door. Had the phrase “or partly” been omitted from the title of the Convention, then the Rotterdam Rules would of course have been limited, at least in terms of the title of the Convention, to contracts involving sea carriage exclusively. The Rotterdam Rules can be described as operating as a “maritime multimodal convention”, a “wet multimodal convention”, “maritime plus multimodal convention”, or some such convention; but not as a fully-fledged multimodal convention. And, provided there is carriage by sea, it appears to make no difference whether the other modes of transport are prior to, or after, the sea carriage.