Associate Professor of Law, University of Georgia; formerly legal officer Intentional Trade Law Branch (UNCITRAL) and subsequently consultant on the revision of the Hague Rules. The opinions expressed in this note are meant to reflect only those of the author.
The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) * has recently completed its work on a revision of the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to Bills of Lading, 1924, commonly known as the Hague Rules. It appeals that the changes are so extensive that a new Convention will in fact have been created. This is not inconsistent with the mandate given to the Commission by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Of course, the most fundamental change in the 1924 Convention (which has been ratified by more than 80 states) made by the revisers is the change in structure of the liability of the carriers in the maritime carriage of goods. The revised rules retain the principle of fault as the basis of carrier liability; however, the exceptions to this general liability, which in the present Convention, under certain circumstances, permit the carrier to be exculpated even if he is at fault, are removed and the burden of proof is, with one exception, placed on the earner.