While the Hague Rules/Hague-Visby Rules were supposed to improve the position of the holder of a bill of lading as against the carrier of goods by sea, some cargo-generating countries considered that the protection of the shipper was insufficient. In 1978 a new Convention was agreed in Hamburg under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (“UNCTAD”). These became known as the “Hamburg Rules”. However, while the Hague-Visby Rules are in force internationally, by 1990 the Hamburg Rules were not. The Hamburg Rules will enter into force internationally on 1 November 1992. The only way in which they can apply is by incorporating them into a charterparty or bill of lading by an appropriate Clause paramount.
One major difference between the Hamburg Rules and the Hague-Visby Rules is that the latter apply only to documents of title covering (or evidencing) the contract of carriage whereas the former apply to any contract itself where the carrier undertakes to carry goods by sea from one port to another. Therefore, the Hamburg Rules can apply to non-negotiable receipts, which is not considered to be a “Bill of Lading”. Like the Hague-Visby Rules, the Hamburg Rules do not strictly apply to a charterparty. Therefore, an appropriate Clause paramount will again be necessary to incorporate the provisions into a charterparty.