Rotterdam Rules: A Practical Annotation


Electronic Transport Records

Article 8. Use and effect of electronic transport records

    Subject to the requirements set out in this Convention:
    (a) Anything that is to be in or on a transport document under this Convention may be recorded in an electronic transport record, provided the issuance and subsequent use of an electronic transport record is with the consent of the carrier and the shipper; and (b) The issuance, exclusive control, or transfer of an electronic transport record has the same effect as the issuance, possession, or transfer of a transport document.


[8-01] Electronic bills of lading under current English law. English statute law does not currently make any provision for the use of electronic transport documents in international trade. This does not mean that carriers do not or cannot use such records and subject their use to the English law of carriage of goods by sea as it applies to paper transport documents mutatis mutandis: there is nothing in English law actually prohibiting the use of electronic transport records. It simply means that COGSA 1971 does not actively accommodate electronic transport records; and that COGSA 1992 provides a power to extend by regulation the application of that Act, with or without modification, to electronic communications networks.1 No such regulations have been made to date: consequently, the Rotterdam Rules would represent the first statutory structure for electronic transport records in English law.

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