No package limitation for bulk cargo under Hague Rules.


In The Aqasia [2016] EWHC 2514 (Comm) the English High Court has determined the effect of Article IV r.5 of the Hague Rules which provides that the carrier’s liability for loss or damage to or in connection with goods shall not exceed £100 “per package or unit”. The shipowners argued that Article IV r.5 can be applied to bulk or liquid cargo by reading the word ‘unit’ as a reference to the unit used by the parties to denominate or quantify the cargo in the contract of carriage, relying on the description of the cargo in the charterparty as “2,000 tons cargo of fishoil in bulk”. The cargo claimants argued that the word ‘unit’ can only refer to a physical item of cargo, or to a combination of physical items bundled together for shipment.


Sir Jeremy Cooke, sitting as a judge of the High Court, found in favour of the cargo claimants’ contention, concluding that “[t]he word “unit” in Article IV Rule 5 of the Hague Rules is not apt to apply to bulk cargoes and that even if it could apply, the only legitimate application would be by way of interpreting the word “unit” as “freight unit”. This cannot be done in the present case in a way which gives rise to a lower limitation figure than the claim because of the lump sum nature of the freight.”



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Professor Simon Baughen

Professor Simon Baughen was appointed as Professor of Shipping Law in September 2013 (previously Reader at the University of Bristol Law School). Simon Baughen studied law at Oxford and practised in maritime law for several years before joining academia. His research interests lie mainly in the field of shipping law, but also include the law of trusts and the environmental law implications of the activities of multinational corporations in the developing world. Simon's book on Shipping Law, has run to seven editions (soon to be eight) and is already well-known to academics and students alike as by far the most learned and approachable work on the subject. Furthermore, he is now the author of the very well-established practitioner's work Summerskill on Laytime. He has an extensive list of publications to his name, including International Trade and the Protection of the Environment, and Human Rights and Corporate Wrongs - Closing the Governance Gap. He has also written and taught extensively on commercial law, trusts and environmental law. Simon is a member of the Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law, a University Research Centre within the School of Law, and he currently teaches at Swansea on the LLM in:Carriage of Goods by Sea, Land and Air; Charterparties Law and Practice; International Corporate Governance.

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