Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law relating to
Bills of Lading ("Hague Rules"), and Protocol of
(Brussels, 25 August
The President of the German Republic,
the President of the Argentine Republic, His Majesty the King of the
Belgians, the President of the Republic of Chile, the President of
the Republic of Cuba, His Majesty the King of Denmark and Iceland,
His Majesty the King of Spain, the Head of the Estonian State, the
President of the United States of America, the President of the
Republic of Finland, the President of the French Republic, His
Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India, His
Most Supreme Highness the Governor of the Kingdom of Hungary, His
Majesty the King of Italy, His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, the
President of the Latvian Republic, the President of the Republic of
Mexico, His Majesty the King of Norway, Her Majesty the Queen of the
Netherlands, the President of the Republic of Peru, the President of
the Polish Republic, the President of the Portuguese Republic, His
Majesty the King of Romania, His Majesty the King of the Serbs,
Croats and Slovenes, His Majesty the King of Sweden, and the
President of the Republic of Uruguay,
HAVING RECOGNIZED the utility of
fixing by agreement certain uniform rules of law relating to bills
HAVE DECIDED to conclude a
convention with this object and have appointed the following
WHO, duly authorized thereto, have
agreed as follows:
In this Convention the following words
are employed with the meanings set out below:
(a) "Carrier" includes the owner or the
charterer who enters into a contract of carriage with a
(b) "Contract of carriage" applies only
to contracts of carriage covered by a bill of lading or any similar
document of title, in so far as such document relates to the
carriage of goods by sea, including any bill of lading or any
similar document as aforesaid issued under or pursuant to a charter
party from the moment at which such bill of lading or similar
document of title regulates the relations between a carrier and a
holder of the same.
(c) "Goods" includes goods, wares,
merchandise and articles of every kind whatsoever except live
animals and cargo which by the contract of carriage in stated as
being carried on deck and is so carried.
(d) "Ship" means any vessel used for
the carriage of goods by sea.
(e) "Carriage of goods" covers the
period from the time when the goods are loaded on to the time they
are discharged from the ship.
Subject to the provisions of Article 6,
under every contract of carriage of goods by sea the carrier, in
relation to the loading, handling, stowage, carriage, custody, care
and discharge of such goods, shall be subject to the
responsibilities and liabilities, and entitled to the rights and
immunities hereinafter set forth.
1. The carrier shall be bound before
and at the beginning of the voyage to exercise due diligence
(a) Make the ship seaworthy.
(b) Properly man, equip and supply the
(c) Make the holds, refrigerating and
cool chambers, and all other parts of the ship in which goods are
carried, fit and safe for their reception, carriage and
2. Subject to the provisions of Article
4, the carrier shall properly and carefully load, handle, stow,
carry, keep, care for, and discharge the goods carried.
3. After receiving the goods into his
charge the carrier or the master or agent of the carrier shall, on
demand of the shipper, issue to the shipper a bill of lading showing
among other things:
(a) The leading marks necessary for
identification of the goods as the same are furnished in writing by
the shipper before the loading of such goods starts, provided such
marks are stamped or otherwise shown clearly upon the goods if
uncovered, or on the cases or coverings in which such goods are
contained, in such a manner as should ordinarily remain legible
until the end of the voyage.
(b) Either the number of packages or
pieces, or the quantity, or weight, as the case may be, as furnished
in writing by the shipper.
(c) The apparent order and condition of
Provided that no carrier, master or
agent of the carrier shall be bound to state or show in the bill of
lading any marks, number, quantity, or weight which he has
reasonable ground for suspecting not accurately to represent the
goods actually received, or which he has had no reasonable means of
4. Such a bill of lading shall be
prima facie evidence of the receipt by the carrier of the
goods as therein described in accordance with paragraph 3(a), (b)
5. The shipper shall be deemed to have
guaranteed to the carrier the accuracy at the time of shipment of
the marks, number, quantity and weight, as furnished by him, and the
shipper shall indemnity the carrier against all loss, damages and
expenses arising or resulting from inaccuracies in such particulars.
The right of the carrier to such indemnity shall in no way limit his
responsibility and liability under the contract of carriage to any
person other than the shipper.
6. Unless notice of loss or damage and
the general nature of such loss or damage be given in writing to the
carrier or his agent at the port of discharge before or at the time
of the removal of the goods into the custody of the person entitled
to delivery thereof under the contract of carriage, or, if the loss
or damage be not apparent, within three days, such removal shall be
prima facie evidence of the delivery by the carrier of the
goods as described in the bill of lading.
If the loss or damage is not apparent,
the notice must be given within three days of the delivery of the
The notice in writing need not be given
if the state of the goods has, at the time of their receipt, been
the subject of joint survey or inspection.
In any event the carrier and the ship
shall be discharged from all liability in respect of loss or damage
unless suit is brought within one year after delivery of the goods
or the date when the goods should have been delivered.
In the case of any actual or
apprehended loss or damage the carrier and the receiver shall give
all reasonable facilities to each other for inspecting and tallying
7. After the goods are loaded the bill
of lading to be issued by the carrier, master, or agent of the
carrier, to the shipper shall, if the shipper so demands, be a
"shipped" bill of lading, provided that if the shipper shall have
previously taken up any document of title to such goods, he shall
surrender the same as against the issue of the "shipped" bill of
lading, but at the option of the carrier such document of title may
be noted at the port of shipment by the carrier, master, or agent
with the name or names of the ship or ships upon which the goods
have been shipped and the date or dates of shipment, and when so
noted, if it shows the particulars mentioned in paragraph 3 of
Article 3, shall for the purpose of this Article be deemed to
constitute a "shipped" bill of lading.
8. Any clause, covenant, or agreement
in a contract of carriage relieving the carrier or the ship from
liability for loss or damage to, or in connexion with, goods arising
from negligence, fault, or failure in the duties and obligations
provided in this Article or lessening such liability otherwise than
as provided in this Convention, shall be null and void and of no
effect. A benefit of insurance in favour of the carrier or similar
clause shall be deemed to be a clause relieving the carrier from
1. Neither the carrier nor the ship
shall be liable for loss or damage arising or resulting from
unseaworthiness unless caused by want of due diligence on the part
of the carrier to make the ship seaworthy and to secure that the
ship is properly manned, equipped and supplied, and to make the
holds, refrigerating and cool chambers and all other parts of the
ship in which goods are carried fit and safe for their reception,
carriage and preservation in accordance with the provisions of
paragraph 1 of Article 3. Whenever loss or damage has resulted from
unseaworthiness the burden of proving the exercise of due diligence
shall be on the carrier or other person claiming exemption under
2. Neither the carrier nor the ship
shall be responsible for loss or damage arising or resulting
(a) Act, neglect, or default of the
master, mariner, pilot, or the servants of the carrier in the
navigation or in the management of the ship.
(b) Fire, unless caused by the actual
fault or privity of the carrier.
(c) Perils, dangers and accidents of
the sea or other navigable waters.
(d) Act of God.
(e) Act of war.
(f) Act of public enemies.
(g) Arrest or restraint or princes,
rulers or people, or seizure under legal process.
(h) Quarantine restrictions.
(i) Act or omission of the shipper or
owner of the goods, his agent or representative.
(j) Strikes or lockouts or stoppage or
restraint of labour from whatever cause, whether partial or
(k) Riots and civil commotions.
(l) Saving or attempting to save life
or property at sea.
(m) Wastage in bulk or weight or any
other loss or damage arising from inherent defect, quality or vice
of the goods.
(n) Insufficiency of packing.
(o) Insufficiency or inadequacy of
(p) Latent defects not discoverable by
(q) Any other cause arising without the
actual fault or privity of the carrier, or without the actual fault
or neglect of the agents or servants of the carrier, but the burden
of proof shall be on the person claiming the benefit of this
exception to show that neither the actual fault or privity of the
carrier nor the fault or neglect of the agents or servants of the
carrier contributed to the loss or damage.
3. The shipper shall not be responsible
for loss or damage sustained by the carrier or the ship arising or
resulting from any cause without the act, fault or neglect of the
shipper, his agents or his servants.
4. Any deviation in saving or
attempting to save life or property at sea or any reasonable
deviation shall not be deemed to be an infringement or breach of
this Convention or of the contract of carriage, and the carrier
shall not be liable for any loss or damage resulting
5. Neither the carrier nor the ship
shall in any event be or become liable for any loss or damage to or
in connexion with goods in an amount exceeding 100 pounds sterling
per package or unit, or the equivalent of that sum in other currency
unless the nature and value of such goods have been declared by the
shipper before shipment and inserted in the bill of lading.
This declaration if embodied in the
bill of lading shall be prima facie evidence, but shall not
be binding or conclusive on the carrier.
By agreement between the carrier,
master or agent of the carrier and the shipper another maximum
amount than that mentioned in this paragraph may be fixed, provided
that such maximum shall not be less than the figure above
Neither the carrier nor the ship shall
be responsible in any event for loss or damage to, or in connexion
with, goods if the nature or value thereof has been knowingly
misstated by the shipper in the bill of lading.
6. Goods of an inflammable, explosive
or dangerous nature to the shipment whereof the carrier, master or
agent of the carrier has not consented with knowledge of their
nature and character, may at any time before discharge be landed at
any place, or destroyed or rendered innocuous by the carrier without
compensation and the shipper of such goods shall be liable for all
damage and expenses directly or indirectly arising out of or
resulting from such shipment. If any such goods shipped with such
knowledge and consent shall become a danger to the ship or cargo,
they may in like manner be landed at any place, or destroyed or
rendered innocuous by the carrier without liability on the part of
the carrier except to general average, if any.
A carrier shall be at liberty to
surrender in whole or in part all or any of his rights and
immunities or to increase any of his responsibilities and
obligations under this Convention, provided such surrender or
increase shall be embodied in the bill of lading issued to the
The provisions of this Convention shall
not be applicable to charter parties, but if bills of lading are
issued in the case of a ship under a charter party they shall comply
with the terms of this Convention. Nothing in these rules shall be
held to prevent the insertion in a bill of lading of any lawful
provision regarding general average.
Notwithstanding the provisions of the
preceding Articles, a carrier, master or agent of the carrier and a
shipper shall in regard to any particular goods be at liberty to
enter into any agreement in any terms as to the responsibility and
liability of the carrier for such goods, and as to the rights and
immunities of the carrier in respect of such goods, or his
obligation as to seaworthiness, so far as this stipulation is not
contrary to public policy, or the care or diligence of his servants
or agents in regard to the loading, handling, stowage, carriage,
custody, care and discharge of the goods carried by sea, provided
that in this case no bill of lading has been or shall be issued and
that the terms agreed shall be embodied in a receipt which shall be
a non-negotiable document and shall be marked as such.
Any agreement so entered into shall
have full legal effect.
Provided that this Article shall not
apply to ordinary commercial shipments made in the ordinary course
of trade, but only to other shipments where the character or
condition of the property to be carried or the circumstances, terms
and conditions under which the carriage is to be performed are such
as reasonably to justify a special agreement.
Nothing herein contained shall prevent
a carrier or a shipper from entering into any agreement,
stipulation, condition, reservation or exemption as to the
responsibility and liability of the carrier or the ship for the loss
or damage to, or in connexion with, the custody and care and
handling of goods prior to the loading on, and subsequent to, the
discharge from the ship on which the goods are carried by
The provisions of this Convention shall
not affect the rights and obligations of the carrier under any
statute for the time being in force relating to the limitation of
the liability of owners of sea-going vessels.
The monetary units mentioned in this
Convention are to be taken to be gold value.
Those contracting States in which the
pound sterling is not a monetary unit reserve to themselves the
right of translating the sums indicated in this Convention in terms
of pound sterling into terms of their own monetary system in round
The national laws may reserve to the
debtor the right of discharging his debt in national currency
according to the rate of exchange prevailing on the day of the
arrival of the ship at the port of discharge of the goods
The provisions of this Convention shall
apply to all bills of lading issued in any of the contracting
After an interval of not more than two
years from the day on which the Convention is signed, the Belgian
Government shall place itself in communication with the Governments
of the High Contracting Parties which have declared themselves
prepared to ratify the Convention, with a view to deciding whether
it shall be put into force. The ratifications shall be deposited at
Brussels at a date to be fixed by agreement among the said
Governments. The first deposit of ratifications shall be recorded in
a procès-verbal signed by the representatives of the Powers
which take part therein and by the Belgian Minister of Foreign
The subsequent deposit of ratifications
shall be made by means of a written notification, addressed to the
Belgian Government and accompanied by the instrument of
A duly certified copy of the
procès-verbal relating to the first deposit of ratifications,
of the notifications referred to in the previous paragraph, and also
of the instruments of ratification accompanying them, shall be
immediately sent by the Belgian Government through the diplomatic
channel to the Powers who have signed this Convention or who have
acceded to it. In the cases contemplated in the preceding paragraph,
the said Government shall inform them at the same time of the date
on which it received the notification.
Non-signatory States may accede to the
present Convention whether or not they have been represented at the
International Conference at Brussels.
A State which desires to accede shall
notify its intention in writing to the Belgian Government,
forwarding to it the document of accession, which shall be deposited
in the archives of the said Government.
The Belgian Government shall
immediately forward to all the States which have signed or acceded
to the Convention a duly certified copy of the notification and of
the act of accession, mentioning the date on which it received the
The High Contracting Parties may at the
time of signature, ratification or accession declare that their
acceptance of the present Convention does not include any or all of
the self-governing dominions, or of the colonies, overseas
possessions, protectorates or territories under their sovereignty or
authority, and they may subsequently accede separately on behalf of
any self-governing dominion, colony, overseas possession,
protectorate or territory excluded in their declaration. They may
also denounce the Convention separately in accordance with its
provisions in respect of any self-governing dominion, or any colony,
overseas possession, protectorate or territory under their
sovereignty or authority.
The present Convention shall take
effect, in the case of the States which have taken part in the first
deposit of ratifications, one year after the date of the protocol
recording such deposit.
As respects the States which ratify
subsequently or which accede, and also in cases in which the
Convention is subsequently put into effect in accordance with
Article 13, it shall take effect six months after the notifications
specified in paragraph 2 of Article 11 and paragraph 2 of Article 12
have been received by the Belgian Government.
In the event of one of the contracting
States wishing to denounce the present Convention, the denunciation
shall be notified in writing to the Belgian Government, which shall
immediately communicate a duly certified copy of the notification to
all the other States, informing them of the date on which it was
The denunciation shall only operate in
respect of the State which made the notification, and on the expiry
of one year after the notification has reached the Belgian
Any one of the contracting States shall
have the right to call for a fresh conference with a view to
considering possible amendments.
A State which would exercise this right
should notify its intention to the other States through the Belgian
Government, which would make arrangements for convening the
DONE at Brussels, in a single
copy, August 25th, 1924.
SIGNATURE At the
time of signing the International Convention for the Unification of
Certain Rules of Law relating to Bills of Lading the
Plenipotentiaries whose signatures appear below have adopted this
Protocol, which will have the same force and the same value as if
its provisions were inserted in the text of the Convention to which
The High Contracting Parties may give
effect to this Convention either by giving it the force of law or by
including in their national legislation in a form appropriate to
that legislation the rules adopted under this Convention.
They may reserve the right:
1. To prescribe that in the cases
referred to in paragraph 2(c) to (p) of Article 4 the holder of a
bill of lading shall be entitled to establish responsibility for
loss or damage arising from the personal fault of the carrier or the
fault of his servants which are not covered by paragraph (a).
2. To apply Article 6 in so far as the
national coasting trade is concerned to all classes of goods without
taking account of the restriction set out in the last paragraph of
DONE at Brussels, in single
copy, August 25th, 1924.