York Antwerp Rules

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Rule XIX: Undeclared or Wrongfully Declared Cargo

Rule XIX: Undeclared or Wrongfully Declared Cargo

  • (a) Damage or loss caused to goods loaded without the knowledge of the shipowner or his agent or to goods wilfully misdescribed at the time of shipment shall not be allowed as general average, but such goods shall remain liable to contribute, if saved.
  • (b) Where goods have been wrongfully declared at the time of shipment at a value which is lower than their real value, any general average loss or damage shall be allowed on the basis of their declared value, but such goods shall contribute on the basis of their actual value.


31.01 The purpose of the Rule is to prevent a fraudulent shipper of goods from gaining at the expense of honest contributors in general average. There is no known English authority on the subject, although Arnould stated that there can be no claim to contribution in the case of a jettison of goods for which there is no bill of lading.1 However, in so saying, he was probably relying upon statements in the commercial codes of civil law countries. 31.02 No amendments to the Rule, nor objections to it, were made from its introduction until 2016 when the second paragraph was reworded for the sake of clarity only.


31.03 The first paragraph precludes allowance in general average for loss or damage caused to two categories of goods which are wrongfully loaded. It does not have any application to property, other than goods, which are quite properly shipped on board without a bill of lading. The two categories of goods intended to be caught by the Rule are as follows:
  • • Goods loaded without the knowledge of the shipowner or his agent: this appears to accord with the continental practice of excluding any claim in general average in respect of goods which do not appear on the ship’s manifest or for which no bill of lading has been issued.
  • • Goods wilfully misdescribed at the time of shipment. A not too fanciful example would be guns and other small arms shipped as “vacuum cleaner parts”.

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31.04 The second paragraph, which exacts a lesser penalty, is designed to catch an owner of goods of high value, who has wrongfully declared them to the ship’s agent at a lower value in order to gain the benefit of a lower rate of freight. If subject to general average loss or damage, the amount made good will be reduced pro rata to the amount declared, whereas if called upon to pay general average contribution, such goods will be assessed for contribution at their actual invoice value. 31.05 The Rule is hardly ever invoked, but in those limited cases where it will apply, its effect is to make the punishment fit the crime.