Car­riage of Goods by Sea

Enterprise - - Letter -

Just over a fort­night ago, the Na­tional Assem­bly Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Ports and Ship­ping unan­i­mously passed the Car­riage of Goods by Sea Bill 2011 to be pre­sented be­fore the Na­tional Assem­bly for fur­ther leg­is­la­tion and house vote. The pro­po­nents / lob­by­ists be­hind the Bill claim that this was a ne­ces­sity as the time had come to up­date / re­place Bri­tish era laws and bring them at par with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices. It is un­ques­tion­able that ar­chaic laws need be amended in due course to bring them in line with the chang­ing re­quire­ments of the world. How­ever, when one em­barks on such a task it should be done keep­ing in mind not only the pre­vail­ing in­ter­na­tional prac­tices but also its eco­nomic and com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity and poli­cies. The Bill that is pro­posed is one favour­ing a Neo­colo­nial­ist ap­proach, i. e be­ing skewed in fa­vor of the First World ship own­ing na­tions and their P&I Clubs rather than our own mer­can­tile / busi­ness com­mu­nity.

The Hague Visby Rules 1968 (as amended by SDR Pro­to­col of 1979) and the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Car­riage of Goods by Sea 1978 (in­for­mally known as the Ham­burg Rules) are the prin­ci­pal in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions deal­ing with laws in re­spect of car­riage of goods by sea. The ob­jec­tive of Hague-Visby Rules was to pro­tect ship­pers / cargo own­ers from wide­spread ex­clu­sion of li­a­bil­ity by sea car­ri­ers / ship own­ers. The 1968 Rules, how­ever, failed to dis­place the up­per hand the car­ri­ers his­tor­i­cally held against the cargo own­ers. As a con­se­quence the Ham­burg Rules were in­cor­po­rated; the driv­ing force be­hind the con­ven­tion was an at­tempt by the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to level the play­ing field via a vis the shift of power be­tween the ship­per / cargo own­ers and the ship owner / car­ri­ers. Mazhar Im­tiaz Lari,

Karachi

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