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Also a letter from the National Foreign Trade Council, in which they state the resulting compromise seems to have been as satisfactory a one as was practicable.
Also a letter from Chubb & Son, insurance people, in which they virtually say the same thing, on account of uniformity.
A letter from the Marine Office of America saying practically the same thing.
All of them have some objections to one point or another, but, as a general thing, they think it is a step forward.
The Tanners Council think a real effort is being made to arrive at the terms of an international bill of lading on a fair basis.
The United Shoe Machinery Corporation think they are very much improved over the draft submitted at the meeting in Washington last October. They still have some objections, but, as a general thing, they think it is an advance.
The American Exporters and Importers' Association consider the proposed convention a great improvement over the present state of affairs.
If there is no objection, I will put these letters in the record.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS
Washington, February 13, 1923.
House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. EDMONDS: You have very kindly sought an expression of the viewpoint of the National Association of Manufacturers as respects H. R. 14166 relating to the carriage of goods by sea, introduced in the House of Representatives by you on February 2, 1923.
The viewpoint of the National Association of Manufacturers upon this general subject was expressed in a resolution adopted at its annual convention on May 10, 1922, which resolution reads as follows:
"Whereas, there is manifest need of a uniform bill of lading more satisfactorily defining the liability of overseas cargo carriers in terms commonly understood and mutually acceptable to shipper and carrier; an
“Whereas The Hague rules of 1921 are a step in securing this desirable end by voluntary agreements between representatives of shipper and carrier: Be it
“Resolved, That the National Association of Manufacturers, in convention assembled, approve them as a practical step forward, but not as a final substitute for highly desirable national legislation fortified by international agreements.'
The association participated in hearings on this subject held by the United States Shipping Board some months ago, previous to the departure of the delegates from this country to the convention at Brussels, at which time the viewpoint of the association was directed to some specific questions presented by the draft of the so-called Hague rules.
We understand that your mentioned bill conforms to the draft of these shipping rules as determined at the Brussels convention.
Permit us to suggest that paragraph e, under section 1 would permit a distinct hiatus of responsibility for the care and custody of goods destined for ocean transportation. The mentioned paragraph defines the term “carriage of goods” as beginning at the time the goods are “loaded on” to the time they are discharged” from the ship. Many ocean carriers maintain docks and warehouses for the assembling of freight destined for their ships. It seems to us that the ocean carrier should be responsible from the time the land carrier delivers such goods to the ship's designated receiving station until the time such goods are delivered to a further land carrier or to the consignee at the port of debarkation.
It occurs to us that paragraph b of section 3 should be modified so as to provide that the carrier should carefully receive” and that after the word “discharge” in line 3 the additional words “and deliver” should be added.
The reasons for this suggestion are the same as those offered for the modification proposed to section 1, paragraph e.
Under paragraph f, of section 3, it occurs to us that the provisions as respects loss or damage are undúly harsh, particularly unless the modification indicated for the previous sections are incorporated.
As respects paragraph g of section 3, it occurs to us that a “shipped” bill of lading should be available upon the “receipt” of the goods by the ocean carrier instead of when “loaded.”
Serious objections are suggested to the provision of No. 10 in paragraph b of section-4 relating to strikes or lockouts.
It occurs to us that it is the duty of ocean carriers as well as land carriers to discharge their duties to the public which is to provide service and that the inclusion of strikes or lockouts or stoppage or restraint of labor in the class of act of God, war, and public enemies is unsound in principle and not justified by any fair consideration of the public duty of the carrier to provide carriage.
The courts of this country have frequently held that no excuse of this kind will absolve the land carrier from performing its public duty.
There appear no sound reasons why such an exemption should be afforded ocean carriers.
In line 15 of section 6, we suggest the insertion of the word "receiving” in advance of the word “loading” and in line 16 of the same section we suggest the insertion of the words “and deliver” after the word “discharge.” Respectfully submitted.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS, By NATHAN B. WILLIAMS, Associate Counsel.
NATIONAL FOREIGN TRADE COUNCIL,
New York, January 25, 1923. Hon. GEORGE W. EDMONDS, United States House of Representatives,
Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. EDMONDS: Replying to your letter of January 16, I have consulted with our committee on ocean bills of lading, and am instructed by them to advise you that the National Foreign Trade Council desires to reiterate the position previously taken with regard to the Hague rules. It is our feeling that our position in the matter has not been materially affected by any of the changes recently made, but has been strengthened by the removal of some of the reasons for objection to the rules. I inclose herewith a printed statement of our position in the nfatter.
“Our position is not merely that of shippers of our products, but we are also shipowners, and interested in securing for ourselves and for the American merchant marine generally, a square deal and conditions which will not handicap us in competition with British or other foreign shipowners in overseas trade.
* Great Britain still is, and will doubtless continue to be, the largest maritime power. It is essential to the successful operation of American merchant ships that they be not burdened by responsibilities from which their competitors are free, as such responsibilities must necessarily be offset by higher rates of freight, and successful competition would be, to that extent, prevented. It is not practicable for American shipping interests to impose their ideas as to what the rules governing the transportation of goods by sea should be, on the other maritime nations of the world, with whom they are in competition. The Hague rules, in the present form, are the result of very extended discussion between British shipowners and representatives of British shippers, whose views and interests were opposed, and the resulting compromise seems to have been as satisfactory a one as was practicable. In our opinion, it is much better for the United States to follow the standard of the British in shipping matters, than to set up, independently, standards of their own which there is no prospect of inducing the other maritime nations to adopt.” Faithfully yours,
0. K. DAVIS, Secretary..
OCEAN CARRIERS URGED TO PUT HAGUE RULES INTO EFFECT-ADDITIONAL PROTECTION
FOR SHIPPERS PROVIDED IN NEW RULES-UNIFORM OCEAN BILL OF LADING DESIRED.
American shipowners and operators are urged by the National Foreign Trade Council to issue, as soon as possible, bills of lading drawn in conformity with the Hague rules, 1921. These rules make material changes in the distribution of rights and liabilities between cargo owners and shipowners.
The carrier’s liability for loss or damage is increased from $100 to £100 (now about $435), and the carrier is not authorized to prorate losses. The time within which claims for loss or damage can be filed, is materially lengthened. In case of loss, the burden of proof is placed upon the carrier to show that the loss did not occur while the goods were in his charge.
The following statement represents the views of the executive committee of the council, of which Mr. James A. Farrell, president of the United States Steel Corporation, is chairman:
“The committee believes that these rules embody as favorable a readjustment of the distribution of liability between shipper and carrier, as can at present be secured. While fully cognizant that these rules do not satisfy many of the demands of the shippers, the committee is of the belief that their adoption will constitute a substantial step in the right direction, and will, in fact, confer very real benefit on the foreign trade of the United States.
“The committee wishes to point out that ocean transportation is an international business, and that American companies can not continue to compete in the carrying trade of the world if saddled with burdens not imposed on their foreign competitors. If it is desired to secure additional modifications in the relationship between shipper and carrier, the committee feels that action to this end should be taken simultaneously by the leading maritime powers.
“The committee is of the opinion that the principle of uniformity of commercial documents, to which the National Foreign Trade Council has frequently declared its allegiance, will be materially aided by the adoption of the Hague rules, 1921.
“The committee urges upon American ocean carriers the desirability of putting these rules into effect at the same time that they are first applied elsewhere, thus enabling our shippers to offer their foreign customers shipping documents providing as great a degree of protection as will be afforded by our competitors' bills of lading.
"Inasmuch as the Hague rules, 1921, embody some provisions not in complete conformity with the Harter Act, 1893, which is the controlling legislation in the United States, the committee is of the opinion that Congress should pass enabling legislation which, while retaining the Harter Act in force, will permit American ocean carriers to make contracts in accordance with the provisions of the Hague rules, 1921. The committee feels that such enabling legislation will meet the situation, and can be secured more promptly than a general revision of the Harter Act to bring it into conformity with the Hague rules.
The National Foreign Trade Council is planning to call a meeting of shipowners, traffic managers, bankers, and insurance men, during the Philadelphia Foreign Trade Convention, May 10, 11, 12, in order to consider these rules and to take steps necessary to secure their adoption.
NEW YORK, February 12, 1923. Hon. GEORGE W. EDMONDS,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: We are sorry to say that the sudden death of one of our associates makes it impossible for any member of our firm to attend the hearings before your committee tomorrow and Wednesday. We are anxious, however, to place on record the fact that our firm and the companies which we represent are strongly in favor of the acceptance, by this country, of the international code governing bills of lading, as it was agreed to by the diplomatic representatives of 24 commercial nations at the recent Brussels conference.
The changes which have been made in the Hague rules since they were first drafted have practically all of them been in line with American views, and, as they stand today, the rules represent, in our judgment, a fair compromise between the different interests.
The dispute between shippers and carriers has been a long one, and its termination is much to be desired, and, from the American standpoint, the present code certainly should be acceptable, since it is virtually a codification of our Harter Act, with several important additions for the protection of shippers, which they very much need and for which they have long contended.
Underwriters and bankers, as well as carriers, need international uniformity in the law governing ocean shipments, and, to-day, we have a chance to secure that uniformity which has never before been presented. We sincerely hope that the rules will be adopted without any change whatever. Sincerely yours,
CHUBB & Son.
MARINE OFFICE OF AMERICA,
New York, February 10, 1923. Hon. G. W. EDMONDS,
House Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. EDMONDS: This letter is in reference to the bill introduced by you (H. R. 14166) incorporating the rules of the Brussels conference into legislative form. I will not be able to come down to Washington for this hearing, but Mr. William H. Jones, manager of our adjusting department, will be there. Mr. Jones has been to Washington before on bill of lading matters and he is thoroughly familiar with the Hague rules and developments up to date.
Under the Brussels conference the shipowners were willing to have the liability imposed on them of approximately $500, and in view of this voluntary agreement there seems to be no good reason to reduce in American legislation the limit of liability to $100, which would be a step backward from what was agreed in Europe; and American legislation will be more or less of a model to future European legislation. If there is legislation at all on the limit of liability it should be $500.
This bill and the conference rules refer solely to the liability of the shipowner while the goods are actually loaded on the vessel. This is only a part of the shipowner's liability, which extends throughout the entire bill of lading period; that is, from the time the carrier receipts for the goods until a proper delivery is made.
Due to various laws and customs it may be advisable to attempt to have international agreement only while the goods are on board the ship, and permit local legislation to fix the carrier's liability while the goods are on shore; or at least while they are not on board the steamer. We feel very strongly that if the United States is going to adopt the Brussels conference rules by legilsation that there should be another act or additional sections of this act covering the shipowner's liability in respect to the period of time that the goods are not on board the steamer, and the carrier's liability during that period should not be less than it is while they are in the steamer. International agreement may be very difficult to secure during this period, and it may be the best policy if international agreement can not be secured for the whole period to have it agreed to in two divisions, and agree on the water-borne period at one time and the remaining period later. In any event, we feel that the position of this country should be clearly set forth and an attempt be made at international agreement on the remaining portion.
We feel that one of the most important provisions of the Harter Act is that the shipowner must make proper delivery of the goods, and there is nothing contained in H. R. 14166 making any such requirement, and we feel that this later legislation may be considered as to some extent overriding the Harter Act, even though it is stated that the “Rights and obligations of the carrier under the provisions of sections 4281 to 4289, inclusive, of the Revised Statutes of the United States are not affected by the new act." Very truly yours,
S. D. McComb, Manager.
MARINE OFFICE OF AMERICA,
New York, February 21, 1923. Dr. S. S. HUEBNER, United States Shipping Board,
Washington, D. C. DEAR Doctor IIUEBNER: This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 16th February. I regret that I was not able to be in Washington for the hearings on the 13th and 14th for the bill covering the Brussels convention, and to have a talk with you and Congressman Edmonds.
I think all interests appreciate that if this country is to become a party to the Brussels convention it is necessary to pass this bill without change, but unless there is another bill accompanying it I think that it is going to produce a considerable amount of confusion.
The Brussels convention only provides for the time the goods are actually loaded on the ship, and as the bill if passed will not override the Harter Act, the latter will apply all the time, and particularly outside the period the goods are on the vessel. There is no limitation in the Harter Act as to the period when it applies, as this is an act governing what clauses may or may not be put in a bill of lading, and is intended to prevent the shipowner from evading certain responsibility: One of the most important features in the Harter Act, I have always felt, is the requirement for making a proper delivery; and this feature carriers have always been most anxious to avoid.
In regard to the new bill, the commencement of carriage will probably be very difficult to fix exactly, and undoubtedly there will be considerable argument and litigation. We feel that if the Brussels convention is adopted without any additional legislation the situation will apparently work out
1. From the time the goods are received by carrier until the time when carriage begins, carrier's liability is governed by common law as warehouseman or bailee.
2. From the moment the carriage begins to the time when the goods are loaded on the steamer, carrier's liability is governed by the Harter Act.
3. From the moment goods are loaded on the ship until they are discharged, carrier’s liability is governed by the Brussels convention.
4. From the moment of discharge until proper delivery is made the carrier's liability is governed by local laws covering warehouseman or bailee liability or by the Harter Act.
As a practical matter this situation will probably not work very satisfactorily in some cases, and will lead to complications, especially in cases where it can not be proved the damage to the goods occurred while they are actually loaded on board the ship. It therefore seems to us very desirable to have some companion legislation covering the goods from the time they go into the custody of the carrier until delivery is made, excluding the time covered by the Brussels convention. We think that an endeavor should be made to reach international agreement on this, but that Congress should act here without waiting for an international agreement, so that shippers and underwriters in this country at least will be free of these complications and I think that if the United States did enact such a law the other countries would very readily follow suit.
There is another very important feature that possibly could be taken care of by having two sections added to H. R. 14166, to take care of cargo carried on deck and
Deck cargo: The Brussels convention and H. R. 14166 exclude deck cargo. There seems to be no good reason why the liability of the carrier in respect to the cargo carried on deck should not be governed by international agreement as well as cargo carried under deck.
Bulk cargo: There is no provision of any kind in the Brussels convention or H. R. 14166 for bulk cargo. The limitation of liability clause limits liability to £100 per package or unit, and it is surely not intended to consider an entire cargo of a vessel as one unit and limit it to £100.
We would recommend that in cases of bulk cargo either a ton or 100 cubic feet be considered as a unit; and the carrier would then be liable up to £100 for each ton of 100 cubic feet. There is no reason why an international agreement should not cover bulk cargoes as well as package freight, and we think that provişions should be made for this.
I am sending a copy of this letter to Congressman Edmonds.
S. D. McComb.
TANNERS' COUNCIL OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
New York, February 5, 1923. Hon. GEORGE W. EDMONDS,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR Sir: Supplementing my reply to your letter of January 16 I have discussed the question of advocating the adoption of The Hague rules with Mr. W. C. Mitchell, chairman of our traffic committee and with other authorities in the industry,
As a result, our feeling is that while shippers of leather, like those of other commodities, are undoubtedly interested in the outcome, the question of the exact form of the rules or of the uniform bill of lading to be adopted has now come down to the settlement of technical details in which the interests of shippers are represented as well as circumstances permit by organizations like the National Industrial Traffic League and the Merchants' Association of New York. There seems some reason to think that a further expression of our opinion, without a thorough knowledge of all the details just referred to, might complicate such a settlement rather than facilitate it.
We think a real effort is being made to arrive at the terms of an international bill of lading on a fair basis and that the disposition of our industry will be to wish that whatever form may be worked out among the organizations best qualified be given a fair and thorough trial. We wish, however, to express our appreciation of your taking the matter up with us. Yours faithfully,
Ed. BRAND, Secretary.
UNITED SHOE MACHINERY CORPORATION,
Boston, Mass., January 20, 1923. Mr. G. W. EDMONDS, Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries,
Washington, D. C. DEAR Sır: Your kind favor of the 16th instant, inclosing a final draft of The Hague rules as amended, was received, and I am pleased to say that they are very much improved over the draft submitted at the meeting in Washington last October. There