International Trade and Carriage of Goods

Page 114


Discrepant declarations about containerised goods ‘… in the middle of a chain reaction’

Discrepant declarations about containerised goods ‘… in the middle of a chain reaction’

Professor Dr Olivier Cachard

Standards in shipping sometimes share the same destiny as standards in pop music: they create a sense of familiarity and broad knowledge, although part of the wording is out of reach of our minds. If some of us share the memories of Diana Ross singing Chain Reaction in 1985, absolutely all of us are conscious that, from about the same time, containerisation has dramatically been changing the course of trade in goods and even commodities. But the answer of the international community to this revolution has been rather limited. The UN Convention on International Multimodal Transport of Goods, adopted in high hopes in 1980, never came into force. The Rotterdam Rules have been depicted as ‘minimal music’ by Ralph de Wit;2 their entry into effect remains in the future (and the balance). Even in civil law countries where neat conceptualisation is usually cherished, legal science has also played ‘minimal music’. The nearest anyone describing the legal nature of the container came to precision came in the (supposedly) comic statement that it was un truc avec des machins dedans.3

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