Achieving uniform interpretations of uniform rules : a case study of containerisation and carriage of goods by sea
This thesis explains that the development of the law of the carriage of
goods by sea has led to the appearance of the Hague, Hague-Visby and
Hamburg Rules. The existence of these different conventions plainly
contributes to the breakdown of uniformity. The thesis, nevertheless, argues
that international uniformity is still valuable since it reduces the legal costs
significantly. However, many conflicts arise among the various countries in
interpreting these conventions. Such conflicts lead to uncertainty and
unpredictability, and in consequence, to the increase of legal costs. In proving
the latter, the thesis examines and evaluates the conflicts of interpretations of
these conventions brought on by containerisation.
The thesis proves the inadequacy of various propositions on the
question of how to avoid such conflicts. It argues, however, that the failure to
consider foreign decisions is a significant factor of having such conflicts. In
proving the latter, the thesis provides a comparative study in evaluating
various courts' decisions that relate to containerisation. The thesis, however,
evaluates different measures to achieve international uniform interpretations.
Most of these measures are not completely satisfactory solutions to such
achievement. Accordingly, the thesis examines the obstacles that may face the
applicability of comparative law in practice, and the capability of avoiding
these obstacles. The thesis also offers various observations in relation to how
the national courts shall consider comparative law.
The key point is that the divergence that characterised the
interpretation of the existing conventions will reappear unless there is some
obligation on national courts to consider and apply comparative law. The
thesis therefore proposes that any future convention relating to the law of
carriage of goods by sea shall specify that the national courts of every
contracting state shall refer to the decisions of the other contracting states
when dealing with questions of interpretation.