International Max Planck Research School, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Hamburg, Germany
The law of the Nordic countries and England shall, respectively, be presented in the following chapter in accordance with the legal traditions of the jurisdiction in question. Whereas in the Nordic countries, adhering to the civil law tradition, statutory law is the primary source of law, supplemented by case law and travaux préparatoires as secondary sources of law, in England case law is the primary source of law. Nonetheless also English law contains a limited amount of statutory law. This includes, inter alia, statues incorporating international Conventions, such as the 1971 COGSA, through which the Hague-Visby Rules have been incorporated into English law.
4.1 Nordic Law
The content of the Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish Maritime Codes of 1994 (collectively referred to here as the 1994 Nordic Maritime Codes (NMCs)) is almost identical, which is explained by the manner in which they were drafted in close collaboration. The Nordic co-operation in maritime law extends back to the end of the nineteenth century and the drafting of the previous Nordic Maritime Codes.
The Earlier Nordic Maritime Codes have proven to be of significant importance when interpreting the 1994 NMCs, as the drafters of the 1994 Codes continuously refer to the former state of law. Thus, after an overview of the Nordic law1 collaboration in the maritime field, there is reason to first summarise the liability regime for deck cargo under the Earlier Nordic Maritime Codes. Thereafter, the general characteristics of the 1994 NMCs and in particular Chapter 13 on the carriage of general goods shall be given account of.
It should be observed that in line with the travaux préparatoires of the 1994 NMCs, the term the “Nordic countries” is used in this study to jointly designate Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. Iceland is not part of the law collaboration and thus is not comprised by the term for the purpose of this work, although indeed also being a Nordic country.2 It is to be noted however, that the 1914 Icelandic Code is modelled on the now repealed 1892 Danish Code and that also the Icelandic maritime law thus, shares certain similarities with the 1994 NMCs.3
4.1.1 The Nordic Maritime Law Collaboration
The Nordic maritime law collaboration was the first of a number of Nordic legislative collaborations within the fields of private and commercial law.4 It dates back to the end of the nineteenth century, when Denmark, Norway and Sweden initiated a joint drafting of a new maritime regulation, resulting in the 1891 Swedish Maritime Code,5 the 1892 Danish Maritime Code6 and the 1893 Norwegian Maritime Code.7 Finland joined the collaboration through the 1939 Finnish Maritime Code8 after the country had gained its independence in 1917. Within the framework of the collaboration, the Nordic countries have over the years jointly transformed (the Nordic countries have a tradition of implementing international law by way of “transformation”) international Conventions and developed a common position on matters not directly covered by the Conventions but related thereto.9
In the 1980s, after roughly 100 years of being in force, the previous Nordic Maritime Codes were held to be outdated. In particular, the development in liner trade required an overhaul of the law. For this reason, a Maritime Code Committee was set up in each Nordic country. The Committees were given the assignment to jointly review the Nordic maritime legislation and to confer upon whether to ratify the Hamburg Rules.10 Their work resulted in four national and essentially identical legislative proposals,11 resulting eventually in the 1994 Swedish Maritime Code,12 the 1994 Norwegian Maritime Code,13 the 1994 Danish Maritime Code14 and the 1994 Finnish Maritime Code.15
It should be noted, however, that the collaboration consists of more than legislative work. The Nordic maritime law reports “Nordiske dome i sjøfartsanliggender” (ND) is an important harmonising instrument, published on a yearly basis since 1900.16 The maritime cases gathered in the reports are referred to by the Nordic courts, without prejudice as to the country of origin, as persuasive evidence of the contents of law of the 1994 NMCs. For harmonisation in the academic field, the Nordic Institute of Maritime Law (Norwegian “Nordisk institutt for sjørett”) was established 1963 at Oslo University. Among its activities, the educational and research institute publishes the periodical MarIus, with over 400 volumes issued so far.17
It should be noticed that the conditions for the co-operation have changed in recent years as the traditionally common Nordic political interests have grown apart and the EU has become more noticeable in the field of maritime law. Whereas shipping has diminished in Sweden and Finland in comparison to other industries, the Danish Maersk Line has become the world’s leading container operator. Also in Norway, shipping remains a vital industry, but with its main interest in the bulk sector. At the same time, the EU Commission has initiated an increasing number of projects in the field of maritime and transport law subsequent to its powers having been extended though the Amsterdam Treaty. Whereas Sweden, Denmark and Finland are EU member states, and thus bound by the Union’s policies, Norway is not. EU membership affects the Nordic collaboration also indirectly as the implementation of EU law may under certain circumstances have to be prioritised at the expense of other legislative initiatives. During the year of the rotating EU chairmanship, moreover, the national governmental administration may have little time for legislative activities in general. This is in particular true for smaller member states, such as the Nordic countries. The other Nordic countries in such a situation may not be able or willing to await the country lagging behind.18
Admittedly, however, there still is “much cooperation between the Nordic countries – in the furthering of private law generally and maritime law in particular – from a practical as well as a jurisprudential point of view”.19 In addition, the future of the Nordic law collaboration depends on more than external factors. The wish to maintain the Nordic maritime law collaboration within the framework of the new European scenery has been emphasised as equally important.20
4.1.2 The Earlier Nordic Maritime Codes
During the nineteenth century, Scandinavism flourished, and the belief in codes as legislative instruments was strong.21 The Nordic drafters therefore wished to gather all regulation related to maritime navigation in one single code. Although the Codes in principle covered all forms of shipping, they were drafted mainly with mercantile shipping in mind.22 The Codes were modelled essentially after the 1861 German Commercial Code (ADHGB) although in particular aspects influenced by other European jurisdictions such as England.23
The Earlier Nordic Maritime Codes underwent two substantial amendments in the second half of the 1930s and in the mid-1970s. Through the first amendment, the Nordic countries adopted the Hague Rules by issuing the Nordic Bill of Lading Acts,24 applicable to any contract covered by the Hague Rules’ scope of application. The Acts were essentially a translation of the 1924 Hague Rules.25 Simultaneously, a new separate chapter (Chapter 5) on affreightment was introduced in the Nordic Codes. Chapter 5 of the Codes would apply to shipments not covered by the Bill of Lading Acts.26 This created a rather complicated two-tracked system for a period of some 50 years to come.27
Through the second amendment, the Hague-Visby Rules were transformed into the Earlier Nordic Maritime Codes’ fifth chapter. The separate Bill of Lading Acts adopting the Hague Rules, however, remained until the mid-1980s when the Nordic countries denounced the Convention. This delay originated in an initial uncertainty as to the success of the Visby Protocol. Moreover, the Nordic countries did not want to create unnecessary tension in their relation with countries still adhering to the Hague Rules in their unamended form.28
For the purpose of the following part – to summarise the liability system under the Earlier Nordic Maritime Codes – focus shall be put on the 1891 Swedish Maritime Code (SMC). This is meant to avert excessive repetition, for as with the 1994 NMCs, the liability for damage to cargo under the respective national Earlier Nordic Code, had almost the same structure and substance.29 Unless otherwise mentioned, reference is made to the amended version of the SMC which was finally rescinded on October 1, 1994.
126.96.36.199 The Fifth Chapter: On the Carriage of Goods
The regulation for the carriage of goods in a broad sense was located in Chapter 5 of the 1891 SMC. The chapter consisted in total of the following four parts: Part I (Sections 71–75) with general provisions for all types of contracts for the carriage of goods, Part II (Sections 76–136) on voyage chartering, Part III (Sections 137–150) on time chartering, and Part IV (Sections 151–170) on bills of lading, mandatory regulation and applicable law.30
The central parts on the carrier’s liability were located in Part II. Unlike today, where charter parties (voyage or time) are commonly seen in opposition to liner trade, at the end of the nineteenth century, when the Earlier Nordic Maritime Codes were drafted, tramp trade was the predominant trade and the legislator, who wished to maintain one single uniform type of “contract of carriage”, chose to treat liner trade as a special form of voyage chartering. Consequently, the provisions of Part II comprised both tramp trade (chartering of vessel – no fixed schedule) and liner trade (carriage of goods – fixed schedule). However, due to the shipping realities at the time of drafting, the provisions were essentially drafted with tramp trade in mind.31 Whereas over the years liner trade strongly increased, the perception of such trade as a subcategory of tramp trade remained throughout the whole period of time that the 1891 Code was in force.32
Although the provisions on contracts of carriage of goods in Part II of the 1891 SMC essentially corresponded to the Hague-Visby Rules, the 1891 SMC went beyond the scope of the Rules on certain matters. The Code, for instance, applied, not merely to carriages performed under a bill of lading but also to carriages performed under any contract of affreightment, including also a contract performed under a charter party or another transport document.33 It also encompassed deck cargo carried on deck in accordance with Art. I(c) of the Hague-Visby Rules, unless the parties’ explicitly agreed otherwise.34 The provisions beyond the scope of the Hague-Visby Rules, however, were not of mandatory character and thus could be set aside by agreement.35
188.8.131.52 When Goods Could Be Carried on Deck
Section 91 of the 1891 SMC on deck cargo stated simply that cargo could not permissibly be carried on deck.36 This general prohibition, however, had to be read together with Section 72, elucidating that the provisions Chapter 5 would not apply where something else had been agreed or followed from custom. Moreover, where deck carriage was imposed by law, such stowage presumably would be held to have been agreed.37
The rule as to deck stowage was not always this concise. It was amended several times throughout the fully 100 years that the 1891 SMC was in force. The original 1891 version of the rule in Section 117 additionally contained a prohibition against stowing cargo in the vessel’s boats or hung on its outside without the shipper’s consent.38 This prohibition was abolished in 1936 however, as it was held to be superfluous on the basis that it followed already from the definition of deck cargo in Section 190 of the 1891 SMC39 that the deck included more than just the open deck.40 Although that definition was later abolished,41 it must be presumed that goods stowed in the vessel’s boats or hung on its outside per definition remained deck cargo, as they must be at least as exposed to the special risks involved in deck carriage as goods stowed on deck.42
Prior to 1936, custom would authorise deck stowage only if included as an express contractual term in the contract of carriage.43 The legislator of the original version of the 1891 Code for this reason held that it would be misleading to expressly include custom as an authorisation ground.44 The view that custom was not an independent authorisation ground was presumably abandoned in 1936, as custom was expressly included alongside consent as an exception to the general prohibition against stowing on deck in Section 91 (replacing the former Section 117). At the latest in ND 1956:526 “Seine”,45 the court seems to have acknowledged the existence of custom without any indication in the charter party.
Between 1936 and 1973, the 1891 SMC contained a dual legitimisation for deck cargo. Deck stowage based on agreement or custom was excepted from the general prohibition in Section 91, first, in Section 91 itself and, second, through a general statement in Section 71 (Section 72 as of 1973) reading that unless otherwise was explicitly stated in the legal text, the provisions in Chapter 5 could be set aside through agreement or custom of trade.46 The dual legitimisation remained until 1973, when Section 91 was given the concise wording given account of above that cargo could not permissibly be carried on deck.
It should be emphasised in this aspect that even if the carrier was authorised by custom or agreement to stow on deck, he did not have an unconditioned right to carry cargo on deck, inasmuch as the deck stowage might render the vessel unseaworthy under Section 28 (Section 26 prior to the 1936 amendments).47
The issue of whether an optional right (liberty clause) to stow cargo on deck authorised deck stowage under the 1891 SMC is unclear. To the author’s knowledge the issue never appeared before a Nordic court. The main opinion in the academic literature, however, is that a liberty clause would have authorised deck stowage vis-à-vis the shipper (pursuant to Section 161 it would not vis-à-vis the consignee or a third party holder).48 It simultaneously suggests, however, that the court’s willingness to incorporate a liberty clause might have been dependant on the type of cargo.49
184.108.40.206 Liability for Deck Cargo
The 1891 SMC laid down a presumed carrier liability in Section 118 (Section 142 before the 1936 amendments). Only through the implementation of the Visby Protocol into the Code in 1973 did the liability scheme become mandatory (although, as stated above, the Hague Rules had already applied in parallel with mandatory force since 1936 as a result of the separate 1936 Bill of Lading Act). The SMC essentially applied with mandatory force only for contracts of carriage covered by a bill of lading. In line with Art. I(c) of the Hague-Visby Rules, moreover, a carrier was pursuant to Section 168 paragraph 2 entitled to exclude under any type of contract the liability for cargo stowed on deck with authorisation. Carriers regularly made use of this possibility.50
220.127.116.11.1 Exclusion of Liability
Pursuant to Section 168 paragraph 2 of the 1891 SMC (before 1973 Section 162 paragraph 2), the carrier could rely on a liability exclusion clause for deck cargo given that the cargo was stated in the transport document as carried on deck and was subsequently also being so carried.51 As the 1891 Code – with exception of Internordic trade52 – only applied with mandatory force to a contract of carriage covered by a bill of lading, the carrier, moreover, could exclude liability for cargo damage under any other type of contract, irrespective of where or how the cargo was stowed.53
In ND 1992.132 “Anthony Rainbow”,54 timber stowed on deck on an open bulk carrier went overboard in heavy seas. The bill of lading contained the following statement in relation to the cargo details: “Stowed on deck. Shipped on deck at shipper’s risk and responsibility without responsibility to owners howsoever or wheresoever caused.” Seen against the presumed fault liability regime in Section 118 of the Danish Maritime Code, the 1892 Danish Maritime and Commercial Court held the clause too generally defined to relieve the carrier from liability for negligence in lashing the cargo on deck.
On appeal, ND 1996.164 “Anthony Rainbow”,55 the Danish Supreme Court freed the carrier from liability, establishing that he had not been negligent in stowing the cargo nor in handling it elsewise. By “starting at the end” like this, dealing directly with the issue of negligence, the court did not have to approach the question of the effect of the liability exclusion clause. A minority of the court, however, stated that they held the clause applicable and that it effectively excluded the carrier’s liability in the absence of circumstances showing otherwise.
However, Gezelius points out that liability exception clauses would not be unconditionally accepted, even though the requirements in Section 168 paragraph 2 were fulfilled; for even if the carrier could as a starting point exclude liability for negligence, he could not rely on such an exclusion clause, no matter how clear the formulation, where he had not taken any measures whatsoever to adhere to his duty to care for the cargo. The carrier ought to have been able, for example, to exclude liability for his servants’ negligence and to a certain extent even for their intentional fault, but not for his own negligence, at least not where gross.56
It is presumed that Gezelius is aiming at an application of the principle of casus mixtus cum culpa, imposing on a person a strict liability for a damage or loss irrespective of whether the causal connection is proximate or not, provided that the damage has been a consequence of his prior negligent or wilful behaviour.57 The principle has been applied in the Nordic countries in the law of damages as well as in the law of tort.58 The rationale behind the principle is that between the owner of property and a person who either disposes over the property without permission or handles it contrary to the owner’s founded expectations, it is most reasonable that the latter should carry the risk for casus. In contractual relationships – in cases other than delay, where the principle will apply also in the case of an insignificant delay – a fundamental breach of the contract is deemed necessary for the application of the principle of casus mixtus.59
In ND 1993.57 “Ni-Nu”,60 leakage in the cargo hatches made the vessel capsize and sink. The carrier invoked a liability exclusion clause for deck cargo. The carrier had been aware of the leaking hatches but put his trust in the bilge. The bilge, however, became clogged by sawdust and other waste that had not been removed from an earlier transport. The Finnish Supreme Court held that the vessel had been unseaworthy at the commencement of the journey and that the carrier had been grossly negligent in failing to remedy the unseaworthiness. In accordance with general contractual principles, the carrier thus had lost his right to rely on the liability exclusion clause.
Due to how the 1891 SMC, as seen above, only applied with mandatory force to a contract of carriage covered by a bill of lading, the carrier would as a starting point be able to exclude or limit liability for cargo damage under any other contract, i.e. also in cases where cargo had been stowed on deck without authorisation. However, also here the principle of casus mixtus is believed to have come to the shipper’s rescue, imposing on the negligent carrier61 a strict liability.62
In the Icelandic case ND 1997.161 “Bakkafoss”,63 unauthorised deck stowage under a contract of carriage covered by a sea waybill was held by the Icelandic Supreme Court to compose a fundamental breach of the contract, depriving the carrier of his right to invoke the ex lege liability limitation.
The only way for the carrier to escape liability under the principle of casus mixtus would be for him to prove that the damage would have occurred in either case, irrespective of the negligent or wilful behaviour. This means that in the case of unauthorised deck stowage, the carrier would have to prove that the damage would have occurred even if the cargo would have been rightly stowed in the hold.64
In ND 1954:183 “Brødrene”,65 galvanised sheet metal was stowed on deck without authorisation. The metal sheets suffered severe damage from white rust. Since the cargo had been carried on deck without authorisation the court held that (author’s translation): “the carrier must be liable if the fact that the cargo was stowed on deck can be presumed to have been a contributory cause of damage”.66 The shipper claimed that the damage was caused by sea water, whereas the carrier claimed that the damage was caused by condensation that would have occurred also if the cargo had been stowed in the hold. The court established that the damage was indeed caused by condensation but that the carrier had not proven that the damage would have occurred also if the cargo would have been stowed in the hold. It thereby held that no importance could be attached to the fact that the carrier had proven that also sheet metal stowed under deck had suffered rust damage, because the conditions for condensation of the humidity had not been the same as under deck (one likely cause of the excessive condensation was the high temperature evolving under the tarpaulins in the summer sun). Consequently, the carrier had not exonerated himself and was held liable. The extent of the liability was not contested.
The case has been held to illustrate that the carrier faces a high evidentiary threshold in proving that a damage would have occurred also if the cargo had been stowed under deck and that, in practice, it would be very difficult to successfully bring such evidence in other than pure disaster cases where the whole vessel is damaged or lost.67
18.104.22.168.2 When the Contract Was Not Excluded from the 1891 Code
If the carrier refrained from excluding liability for deck cargo or stowed the cargo on deck without authorisation under a bill of lading, the liability issue would be settled under the general liability regime found in Sections 118–123 of the 1891 SMC. Also here, the principle of casus mixtus might have deprived a carrier stowing cargo on deck without authorisation of the possibility to invoke the ex lege liability limitation.
22.214.171.124.2.1 Authorised Deck Carriage
As shall be further developed in relation to the 1994 NMCs, the Nordic position has long since been that the so-called Hague or Hague-Visby catalogue,68 with the exception of the catalogue events “error in navigation” and “fire”, does not serve a practical function. Although the 1891 SMC (unlike the 1994 NMCs) included the catalogue, the catalogue thus, was not considered to add anything to the main rule on presumed liability in Section 118 paragraph 1.69
As stowing cargo on deck with authorisation will generally not be a negligent act,70 the carrier in the majority of cases could exculpate himself for damage or loss caused by the special risks involved in the stowage on deck. He would, however, obviously remain liable for damage caused by a failure to care for the cargo in any other aspect, such as for negligent lashing.71
Vis-á-vis a third party in good faith, the carrier would become liable also for damage to deck cargo not involving negligence on his part in instances where the bill of lading did not contain a statement that the cargo was stowed on deck pursuant to Sections 161.72
126.96.36.199.2.2 Unauthorised Deck Stowage
Deck stowage without authorisation will generally be considered negligent per se.73 Thus, under the presumed fault regime of the 1891 SMC, the carrier would be liable for damage that would not have occurred if the cargo had been rightly stowed under deck.74 It cannot be precluded that the principle of casus mixtus cum culpa would additionally have deprived the carrier of the ex lege liability limitation in Section 120 in such a case.75
As from the introduction of a special statutory liability regime for any type of deck cargo (i.e. whether authorised or not) under any type of contract of carriage (i.e. whether covered by a bill of lading or not) in the 1994 NMCs, there is no room for the general legal principle of casus mixtus cum culpa in the case of unauthorised deck stowage.
188.8.131.52 The Need for a Reform
When the 1891 Maritime Code was replaced after a full 100 years in force, the legislator described its existing condition as a “patchwork quilt”. Its original content had been almost completely revised, but since the amendments were made gradually the original structure still remained. The result was a code with gaps or, where space was lacking, unmanageably lengthy sections.76 Selvig stated already in the 1970s that the only remnant of the original 1891 Code was its date of origin and title.77
4.1.3 General Features of the Current 1994 Nordic Maritime Codes
Whereas the idea of an all-embracing codification has generally been abandoned in Nordic law, it lives on to a large extent in the maritime field. The 1994 NMCs are, as the Earlier Nordic Maritime Codes, extensive codifications, comprising everything from public international law to national public, procedural, penal and civil law in their 22 chapters.78
In order to prevent structural problems, like those which gradually arose under the 1891 Code, the legislator sought to create a block-based Code, divided into parts and chapters. The 6 parts and 22 chapters of the 1994 NMCs are identical. It should be observed, however, that the section numeration differs between the Nordic countries; whereas in the Swedish and Finnish Codes the numeration is restarted in each chapter, the Danish and Norwegian Codes contain a running section numeration. Sweden felt that a running numeration would impede the flexibility when incorporating new Sections in the future. The Danish legislator, however, wanted to retain the Danish legislative tradition of running numeration and, as for the issue of future amendments, set aside “empty” Sections within each chapter.79 Norway ultimately chose the Danish numeration system and Finland the Swedish approach. The Swedish and Finnish enumeration shall be used primarily in the following discussion, referred to with chapter and section such that 13:1 designates Chapter 13, Section 1. The Danish and Norwegian section enumeration is provided in brackets immediately thereafter. Thus, in the given example the numeration would appear as 13:1 (251).
4.1.4 Chapter 13 on the Carriage of General Cargo
The legislator of the 1994 NMCs recognised the need for a separate regulation on the carriage of general cargo. Thus, Part II of the fifth chapter in the Earlier Nordic Maritime Codes on voyage chartering, which until then had been considered as including carriage of general cargo,80 was split the into the “cargo oriented” Chapter 13 and the “vessel orientated” Chapter 14 in the 1994 NMCs.81
“Part IV Contracts of Carriage” in the 1994 NMCs comprises in total Chapter 13 on the carriage of general cargo, Chapter 14 on the chartering of vessels and Chapter 15 on the carriage of passengers and luggage. The provisions on deck cargo are located in Chapter 13 but apply also to deck stowage under a charter party.82 However, with the exception of Internordic trade or a contract of carriage covered by a tramp bill of lading,83 the deck cargo regulation is not mandatory in relation to a contract of carriage governed by Chapter 14.84 The decision to restrict the mandatory regulation essentially to Chapter 13 was the result of a balancing of the two main, and sometimes conflicting, interests behind the regulation on the carriage of general cargo under the 1994 NMCs, namely to protect a third party holder of the bill of lading and to provide rules adapted to modern liner trade and multimodal transportation.85
184.108.40.206 Scope of Application
Chapter 13 on the carriage of general cargo has a wide scope of application. Pursuant to 13:2 (252) paragraph 2, Chapter 13 applies to a contract of carriage by sea between two states when:
1. the agreed port of loading is in a contracting State,
2. the agreed port of discharge is in Sweden, Denmark, Finland or Norway,
3. the transport document has been issued in a contracting State, or
4. the transport document provides that the Convention or a law based on the Convention shall apply. 86
The provision is mandatory pursuant to 13:4 (254), with an exception for the scenario that neither the agreed port of loading nor the agreed or actual port of discharge is in a Nordic country, in which case the parties are free to agree that the contract shall be subject to the law of another member state of the Hague-Visby Rules pursuant to 13:2 (252) paragraph 3. In effect, all agreed or actual carriages to and from a Nordic country, as well as carriages governed by a transport document containing a reference to the Hague-Visby Rules will, as a rule, be subject to the Nordic regulation.87
It is not only in this aspect that the scope of application has been widened under the 1994 NMCs in comparison to the Earlier Nordic Maritime Codes. The mandatory scope of the 1994 Codes, in addition, now extends to any contract of carriage, whether governed by a bill of lading or not,88 and covers also the terminal periods.89 Finally, and of particular interest for this study, the mandatory liability regulation now additionally encompasses deck cargo and live animals.90 They have, however, become subject to particular rules.91
220.127.116.11 A Grey Area Between Chapters 13 and 14
Considering that the majority of provisions in Chapter 13 are mandatory, whereas the majority of provisions in Chapter 14 are not, it is essential to know whether a certain contract will be governed by the one or the other. Unfortunately, the distinction in the 1994 NMCs between the “carriage of general cargo” and the “chartering of a vessel” is imprecise, leaving a grey area for contracts of carriage concerning goods that are not general cargo but in which the focus of the agreement is on the carriage of goods (as opposed to the chartering of a vessel).
Unlike the Hague-Visby Rules and the Hamburg Rules, the 1994 NMCs contain no definition of “general cargo” nor of “goods”. Neither is there a definition of “charting of vessels”. 14:1 (321) paragraph 1 states only that the provisions on chartering apply to the whole or the partial chartering of a vessel. 13:2 (252) paragraph 2 states that Chapter 13 applies to “contracts of carriage by sea”, but lacking a definition of this term, the statement is not very enlightening.
The imprecise division has been criticised by several writers. Skovby notices that whereas in the shipping industry, “general cargo” is frequently used to express the opposite of bulk cargo, the 1994 NMCs attach no importance to the characteristics of the goods.92 Tiberg states that the opposite of charter parties must rightly be contracts of carriage of goods of all kinds and not merely general cargo. Conversely, the opposite of general cargo must rightly be bulk cargo.93 Hellner holds that a division into contracts of carriage and charter parties would have been more suitable.94