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Carriage of Goods by Sea Act

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (Cap 33, 1998 Rev Ed)

The Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (“COGSA”) in Singapore gives effect to the Hague-Visby Rules (“the Rules”): see s 3(1) of COGSA which provides that the provisions of the Rules “shall have the force of law”. This has the effect of making the application of the Rules mandatory.

Singapore is a signatory to the Rules. The Rules essentially set out to regulate the rights and duties of the carrier and shipper under a contract of carriage by sea covered by a bill of lading.

However, the Rules are not adopted wholesale into Singapore law because some modifications are made. The most notable change is to Article X of the Rules, which provides that the Rules apply to every bill of lading relating to the carriage of goods between ports in two different States if the bill of lading is issued in a contracting state of the Rules, or the carriage is from a port in a contracting state, or the contract contained in or evidenced by the bill of lading provides that the rules or legislation of any state giving effect to the Rules are to govern the carriage. However, s 3(2) of COGSA provides that the Rules would also have the force of law whether or not the carriage is between ports in two different States so long as the port of shipment is from Singapore. Thus, the Rules also apply to domestic voyages within Singapore.

Another noteworthy modification is the inclusion of live animals and deck cargo where the contract provides for such delivery notwithstanding the words in Article I(c) of the Rules: see 3(6) of the COGSA.

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