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Chapter 5 Liability of the Carrier for Loss, Damage or Delay

Rotterdam Rules: A Practical Annotation

5

Liability of the Carrier for Loss, Damage or Delay

Article 17. Basis of liability

    1. The carrier is liable for loss of or damage to the goods, as well as for delay in delivery, if the claimant proves that the loss, damage, or delay, or the event or circumstance that caused or contributed to it took place during the period of the carrier’s responsibility as defined in chapter 4. 2. The carrier is relieved of all or part of its liability pursuant to paragraph 1 of this article if it proves that the cause or one of the causes of the loss, damage, or delay is not attributable to its fault or to the fault of any person referred to in article 18. 3. The carrier is also relieved of all or part of its liability pursuant to paragraph 1 of this article if, alternatively to proving the absence of fault as provided in paragraph 2 of this article, it proves that one or more of the following events or circumstances caused or contributed to the loss, damage, or delay:
    (a) Act of God; (b) Perils, dangers, and accidents of the sea or other navigable waters; (c) War, hostilities, armed conflict, piracy, terrorism, riots, and civil commotions; (d) Quarantine restrictions; interference by or impediments created by governments, public authorities, rulers, or people including detention, arrest, or seizure not attributable to the carrier or any person referred to in article 18; (e) Strikes, lockouts, stoppages, or restraints of labour; (f) Fire on the ship; (g) Latent defects not discoverable by due diligence; (h) Act or omission of the shipper, the documentary shipper, the controlling party, or any other person for whose acts the shipper or the documentary shipper is liable pursuant to article 33 or 34; (i) Loading, handling, stowing, or unloading of the goods performed pursuant to an agreement in accordance with article 13, paragraph 2, unless the carrier or a performing party performs such activity on behalf of the shipper, the documentary shipper or the consignee; (j) Wastage in bulk or weight or any other loss or damage arising from inherent defect, quality, or vice of the goods; (k) Insufficiency or defective condition of packing or marking not performed by or on behalf of the carrier; (l) Saving or attempting to save life at sea; (m) Reasonable measures to save or attempt to save property at sea; (n) Reasonable measures to avoid or attempt to avoid damage to the environment; or (o) Acts of the carrier in pursuance of the powers conferred by articles 15 and 16.
    4. Notwithstanding paragraph 3 of this article, the carrier is liable for all or part of the loss, damage, or delay:
    (a) If the claimant proves that the fault of the carrier or of a person referred to in article 18 caused or contributed to the event or circumstance on which the carrier relies; or (b) If the claimant proves that an event or circumstance not listed in paragraph 3 of this article contributed to the loss, damage, or delay, and the carrier cannot prove that this event or circumstance is not attributable to its fault or to the fault of any person referred to in article 18.
    5. The carrier is also liable, notwithstanding paragraph 3 of this article, for all or part of the loss, damage, or delay if:
    (a) The claimant proves that the loss, damage, or delay was or was probably caused by or contributed to by (i) the unseaworthiness of the ship; (ii) the improper crewing, equipping, and supplying of the ship; or (iii) the fact that the holds or other parts of the ship in which the goods are carried, or any containers supplied by the carrier in or upon which the goods are carried, were not fit and safe for reception, carriage, and preservation of the goods; and (b) The carrier is unable to prove either that: (i) none of the events or circumstances referred to in subparagraph 5 (a) of this article caused the loss, damage, or delay; or (ii) that it complied with its obligation to exercise due diligence pursuant to article 14.
    6. When the carrier is relieved of part of its liability pursuant to this article, the carrier is liable only for that part of the loss, damage or delay that is attributable to the event or circumstance for which it is liable pursuant to this article.

NOTES

[17-01] In order to establish the liability of the carrier the claimant has two options under Article 17.1: either to establish that the loss of, damage to the goods or delay took place during the period of the carrier’s responsibility under Article 14, or that a causative event or circumstance took place during the same period. For instance, where the cargo becomes wet and as a result it later becomes damaged by rust, it would be sufficient for the claimant to prove that the cargo became wet while in the period of responsibility of the carrier. Thus liability is established with respect to the timing of the damage, the loss or the delay and not by proving a specific breach of contract.

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