Articles

CARRIAGE OF GOODS UNDER INTERNATIONAL TRADE LAWS: DEVELOPMENTS IN THE PAST DECADE

 

This article is written by Riddhi Patni, a student at Maharashtra National law University, Aurangabad.

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INTRODUCTION

The globalization of global currencies, global economic integration, the removal of trade barriers, and competitive pressures have increased business reliance on transportation significantly. A carriage contract must be signed in order to transport goods from one location to another. Carriers are associations or organizations that engage in the transportation business. Carriage of goods is the legal term for the transportation of goods by land, sea, or air. The relevant legislation governs the rights, responsibilities, obligations, and exceptions of the carrier and those who use its services. Goods can be transported by land, sea, or air, depending on the mode of transportation. Multimodal transport refers to the movement of cargo via two or more modes of transportation. The importance of moving goods from one location to another cannot be overstated in any country’s commercial life. Goods must also be transported from one country to another. 

HISTORY/BACKGROUND 

Water was the most common mode of transportation until the development of railroads. Overland transportation of goods was weak, expensive, and dangerous. As a result, the law governing goods carriage by sea developed much sooner than that governing inland transport services. Unless they could prove that the loss or damage was caused by an excepted cause, the carrier was always liable for the loss of the goods and also for any damage to the goods. This duty of the carrier to deliver the goods safely was deemed to exist in the absence of any contractual obligations between the parties. It was imposed by the law because he was in possession of someone else’s property. In legal terms, this meant that the carrier was considered a Bailee who, under certain conditions, was liable to the bailor if the goods were not delivered intact.

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 Prior to the emergence of the modern state system in the 17th century, trade was free, and merchants travelled all over the world buying and selling goods while also spreading knowledge and culture. They were the forerunners of modern civilization in this way. However, once the organised state system was established, governments began interfering with commercial transactions. To begin with, they began to levy tariffs on incoming goods in order to increase their revenue. Manufacturing became an important component of the national economy with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. At that time, states began to use tariffs and other tools to protect their domestic economies from foreign competitors. From then on, free trade and protectionism coexisted, one following the other like a shadow.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE LAW

International Trade Law (ITL) is the body of law that governs international trade. It is divided into two parts: public and private. The public aspect of ITL seeks to coordinate state commercial policies and is a branch of Public International Law. The private aspect of ITL governs international commercial transactions between citizens of different countries. The goal of ITL has always been to promote free trade among nations. In this context, free trade means that people should be free to buy and sell goods across national borders. In other words, a person should be free to purchase a product from any location in the world where he can get the best quality at the lowest possible price. Similarly, he should be free to sell his product at the highest possible price anywhere in the world. 

CARRIAGE OF GOODS BY SEA

Goods that are transported by sea are regulated through legislations like- :(i) The (Indian) Bills of Lading Act, 1856. (ii) The Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1925. (iii) The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. (iv) The Marine Insurance Act, 1963.

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Before the advent of modern nation-states, the law governing maritime trade in the Western world was essentially standardised. However, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, detailed legislation and court decisions pursuing national interests gradually removed the ancient and universal rule of the sea from many countries and created serious conflicts in the rule. Throughout the era when technological advancement and the spread of the Industrial Revolution led to the global expansion of maritime trade, the flow of goods from country to country was thus hampered. From the last decades of the nineteenth century, it became increasingly clear that these legal disputes could be resolved through international conventions. Of course, the law of commercial shipping was one of the first branches of private law to draw attention to future foreign legislation. The uniform movement resulted in the signing of some legal codes relating to Lading’s bills by the Convention in 1924. It was simply intended that all laws concerning loading bills and damage to hangar shipment other than live animals be consolidated.

Any landing bills enclosed by the convention shall be subject to certain standard provisions that describe the risk assumed by the carrier and which, unless consented otherwise, shall be absolute, unalterable by contrary agreement, and shall enjoy immunities for the carrier. In general, clauses that absolve the carrier of liability for negligence in the loading, handling, storage, transport, and disposal of goods, or that reduce the carrier’s obligation to provide seamanship, are deemed void. However, the carrier shall be absolved of all liability for errors in navigation or ship handling, as well as the full guarantee of navigability. 

The majority of maritime countries have ratified or acceded to the Convention, and other states, including Greece and Indonesia, have enacted national legislation, including those negotiated in Brussels. Germany, Belgium, Turkey, and the Netherlands are among the countries that have incorporated the Convention’s principles into their commercial codes. Furthermore, the Convention has been given legal force, and several countries, including France, Italy, Egypt, and Switzerland, have adopted domestic legislation based on the Convention. Concrete requirements for container loading in maritime transport have essentially become universal in most parts of the Western world. 

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CARRIAGE OF GOODS BY AIR

Goods that are transported by air are regulated through legislation like- The Carriage by Air Act, 1972.

The 1929 Warsaw Convention, as amended by the 1955 Hague Protocol, explains another regulatory approach to problems posed by goods transport. It is a significant step toward universal air carriage law unification. The Convention shall apply to both paid international carriage of passengers, baggage, and supplies and free carriage by an airline. It applies to aircraft owned by private individuals or public bodies; however, reasonable reservations may be made to exclude the application of the Convention to aircraft owned directly by a State.

The Convention states that where the transfers and locations are in separate contracting states or the same contracting state, international carriage is made accessible because the stoppage has been decided in another state, even if that state is not a convention member. The convention shall apply to any aircraft, airfield, or other plant where the carriers are in charge of the products. It is not true when goods are transported by a land, sea, or inland water carrier. The Convention is signed by many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

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CONCLUSION

Certain countries’ foreign trade in goods can be governed by agreements other than the Berne Convention, the Brussels Convention of 1923, or the Warsaw Convention of 1929. During the Cold War, Eastern European countries developed a uniform movement system similar to the Berne Convention. Other agreements on the subject are included in the 1956 Geneva Convention on the Transport of Goods by Road. The convention was established in 1961, with France, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia among the original signatories. Except for certain items such as postal service, it refers to the international transportation of goods by road. Carriage is considered international when two countries are involved, one of which is a member of the convention. Initially, the Geneva Convention is defined by mixed-carrier transport. It is true for the entire journey, even if the road vehicle was transported by other means of transportation without being removed, unless proof of harm occurred in a section of the journey other than road transport has been provided.

Despite the briefness of the Sea Carriage Act of 1992, significant changes have occurred in both national and international trade legislation. As previously stated, it addresses many of the problems associated with the old law, and the transport law for the twenty-first century should at the very least be considered in relation to the possibility of implementing an electronic lading bill.

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