440. Yemgas FZCO v Superior Pescadores SA Panama (the ”Superior Pescadores”) [2014] EWHC 971 (Comm)

 Bills of Lading – Whether possible for both Hague Rules and Hague-Visby Rules to apply to same BOL

 The Facts

Machinery and equipment was shipped from Antwerp to Balhaf in Yemen under six bills of lading which incorporated a clause paramount in the following terms:

 “PARAMOUNT CLAUSE

The Hague Rules contained in the International Convention for the Unification of certain Rules relating to Bills of Lading, dated Brussels 25 August 1924 as enacted in the country of shipment shall apply to this contract.  Where no such enactment is in force in the country of shipment, the corresponding legislation of the country of destination shall apply, but in respect of shipments to which no such enactments are compulsorily applicable, the terms of the said Convention shall apply.”

 While the vessel was crossing the Bay of Biscay, the cargo in one of the holds shifted causing significant damage.

It was common cause that the proper law of the contract was English Law and that the Hague-Visby Rules were compulsorily applicable.

Cargo owners argued that by agreeing to the clause Paramount parties intended that both sets of Rules would apply, allowing them (cargo) to choose the package limitation yielding the highest value for any particular package.

Findings

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