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the dock receipt indicating the package is insecure, and we would like to have an opportunity to examine it and to determine whether it is insecure or improperly packed,” we were unable to make that examination, as I say, because the shipment was on the boat and the boat was on its way to sea. I also found, frequently, that the rubber stamps were used just as a matter of precaution and protection, or the particular rubber-stamp condition was not applicable to the particular steamship company, but involved an entirely different question. So that the provision contained in this proposed law, as to the adding of any conditions to the bill of lading that are contrary to the law, is very appropriate and I think the carrier should be prevented from engaging in the practices they have engaged in in the past.
The association for whom I am speaking is, therefore, very much in accord with the establishment of uniform bills of lading, setting forth the rights of the carriers and the shippers while the goods are on the high seas, from port to port, and we urge the passage of this bill.
The benefits to be derived from this bill, if enacted into law, are three--all important provisions. One is the valuation, fixing the value at $500 per package, or £100 per package, which is equivalent to $486 and odd in American money. That is a very decided protection and concession to shippers over existing conditions and over anything the carriers have been willing to accord heretofore.
A second important provision that is granted in this bill and under the rules is in relation to the presentation of claims. Formerly, claims would be declined if they were not presented, in the case of damage which was apparent at the time of the delivery, at that time. The present provision simply provides that in a case of visible damage, notice of intention to file a claim shall be given; but if the shipper fails to present his claim, when that is for damage and the damage is visible, he has one year within which to present his claim or to sue for recovery, and, if the property was received in apparently good order and condition, the burden is upon him to prove that the loss occurred while the goods were in the possession of the steamship company. If, however, the package was in bad order and there was apparent loss or damage at the time of delivery, and was noted, the burden is then upon the carrier to prove freedom from negligence.
The other important provision, as I say, is the matter of the carrier liability for placing conditions in the bill of lading which are contrary to law, or which are in direct conflict with the provisions contained in the Brussels agreement, or as set forth in H. R. 14166.
I might say, gentlemen, that my connection with transportation has extended over quite a period of years. For about 30 years, I was with the railroads, in the railroad service, and for about 10 or 15 years in the shippers' service. In the railroad service, I recall quite distinctly the difficulties we had in connection with the issuance. On the rail and ocean bills of lading, we were never able to reach any agreement with the ocean carriers or to adopt a uniform bill, although we did, in 1906, enter upon negotiation with the ocean carriers in an effort to secure uniform ocean bills of lading. That failed of accomplishment. Since then, at various times, efforts have been made to secure a uniform ocean bill of lading, something that is very much desired by the shippers of this country, but without success.
In my judgment, about the only way to bring about uniformity will be through an international agreement and by appropriate legislation to carry out such agreement. All efforts in the past have failed to bring about uniformity. They failed more or less in connection with our own domestic bills of lading. But now we have a domestic bill of lading used in interstate commerce, on rail carriers, that has very few conditions. It is very easy to read. I believe, as time progresses, that we can establish an international code, and that we can thus bring about the same simplification of the bill of lading in its other essentials, as well as those relating to ocean transportation, that has been obtained in our domestic bills of lading.
That is all I have to say.
Mr. HEINEMANN. Mr. Lincoln, how was this uniform domestic bill of lading arrived at? You participated in those proceedings, did you not?
Mr. LINCOLN. The uniform domestic bill of lading was arrived at by a joint conference between the rail carriers, the shippers, the bankers, and various interests, and was finally indorsed by the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Mr. HEINEMANN. Do you know of any joint conference in which the shippers participated with respect to these rules?
Mr. LINCOLN. As to these rules?
Mr. LINCOLN. I can state in this way, that the representatives attending the International Chamber of Commerce at various times when these matters were under considertion were representing the shippers' organizations.
Mr. HEINEMANN. I asked for the citation of any single shipper or shippers' organization.
Mr. LINCOLN. That were represented at this conference?
Mr. LINCOLN. I am not speaking for the Hague conference; I am speaking of the rules relating to uniform ocean bills of lading. I could not say as to the Hague conference. I was under the impression the shippers' interests were represented at the Hague conference, but I won't say that definitely.
Mr. HEINEMANN. Before the Interstate Commerce Commission hearings, am I wrong in saying that the International Industrial League was perhaps the chief interest representing the shipper?
Mr. LINCOLN. On the domestic bill of lading? Mr. HEÇNEMANN. Yes. Mr. LINCOLN. That is correct. Mr. HEINEMANN. I think you are quite active in the executive affairs of that organization, and do you know whether they were invited to participate in any of these conferences on the Hague rules?
Mr. LINCOLN. I could not answer that; I do not know that they were.
Mr. Haight. I can say, Mr. Chairman, that at the original Hague Conference the shippers were probably more largely represented than any other single interest. The French shippers absolutely dominated the conference in forcing the £100 limit per package. The fact that the American shippers were not represented was only because they did not take the pains to go. Everybody had exactly the same opportunity of being there, if he took the pains; only he had, like everybody else, to subscribe to the rules, which meant that you had to take the pains to become associated with the organization that was calling the conference, and the bankers and the cargo underwriters of all the rest of the world did that. The chairman of Lloyds represented the cargo underwriters, with a lot of other representaives; and the British bankers became members of the organization and sent a delegation. Unfortunately, until the London conference of the Comite Maritime, American representation was missing; but at the meeting of the Comite Maritime, Judge Hough, who is probably the most learned admiralty judge on the bench, and Mr. Beecher, who is the special admiralty counsel of the Shipping Board, were both present, and so was I. Whether that answers the question, I will leave to Mr. Heinemann.
At the Brussels conference, the President had named Judge Hough and Mr. Beecher as the American representatives, and I do not think anybody will suggest that they were not trying to represent all parties alike.
Mr. Laws. Was any invitation sent out to American shippers to attend at any one of these conferences?
Mr. Haight. There was not any invitation sent out to anybody, Mr. Laws, any more than you are invited to luncheon at my club unless you will take the pains to join my club; but everybody knew and everybody was given the same opportunity to associate himself with the Comite Martime, or with the International Law Association. Everybody had the same opportunity. It is not an exclusive organization. If you did not take the pains to go and to indicate you wanted to go, you were absent. Other people went.
Mr. HEINEMANN. While this is in order, I think it might be helpful if Mr. Haight would tell us what steps he took, as chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce Bill of Lading Committee, to ascertain the American shippers' views as to what might or might not be desired in these rules.
Mr. Haight. I will be glad to answer it, sir. I have discussed it at great length with the council and subsequently before the resolutions committee of the United States Chamber of Commerce. That is the biggest organization that we have in the United States. It represents, I suppose, more perfectly the commercial interests of America than any other organization ever has. Mr. Heinemann will remember that both of us appeared before the resolutions committee of the United States Chamber last May, the committee being headed by as effective a man as Mr. Strong, of Chicago; and the resolutions committee, with one dissenting vote, I think, agreed upon the resolution as passed.
The New York Chamber of Commerce has adopted the rules and favored them; the merchants association has adopted the rules and favored them.
So far as I am at present advised, the chief and practically the only opponents of the rules are the packers. They have consistently opposed them, quite frankly, saying that what they wanted was the McKellar bill and not a bill of this character. Of course, the McKellar bill is radically different. It will impose upon the steamship owners a liability unlimited per package—the market value of the goods. It would deprive the steamship owner of any exemption from liability in case of errors of navigation, or in the management of the ship. I do not think, while Congress is trying to pass a subsidy to support American steamship owners, that we are going to impose upon our carriers a liability which has never been imposed upon any steamship carriers of the world heretofore. If I am right in that position, I do not think that the extreme legislation that the Chicago packers have asked for can ever be had and, if they defeat the present movement, they would simply leave us indefinitely in this morass of confusion and litigation and offer no solution at all.
The CHAIRMAN. I will next call on Mr, Price, of the Millers’ Association. You are in favor of the bill, are you?
Mr. PRICE. I am, sir.
STATEMENT OF MR. F. H. PRICE, EXPORT AGENT, MILLERS
The CHAIRMAN. Give the stenographer your name and address, and state your whom you appear,
Mr. Price. F. H. Price; export agent of the Millers National Federation. Our headquarters are at Chicago and my office is in New York
Mr. CHINDBLOM. Who are members of your assocaition? Mr. PRICE. Approximately 2,000 flour millers of this country. My interest is confined to the export trade engaged in by the millers who export. Their principal problem is to compete in European countries, with flour made from their American and other foreign wheats. Our flour becomes damages more or less in transit, so that it becomes undeliverable under a contract to sell sound delivered. Consequently, we have had a great deal of difficulty at various times with the steamship companies, as well as the rail companies, because of this loss and damage.
Mr. CHINDBLOM. Is that due to the nature of the goods shipped, or is it due to the methods of shipment?
Mr. PRICE. Îhe methods of shipment; the methods of carrying the goods. We have had to confer with the carriers, the water carriers principally, and they really enjoy many of the benefits which these rules would convey to others.
Our principal difficulty was with regard to the time within which claims must be filed, or to notify the carriers; also, with regard to the proper methods of storage and handling. So that when these rules came up for discussion, the millers National Federation adopted them at length and principally they adopted a resolution, none dissenting, in favor of these rules or of any rules of this characeter, or legislation which would make these rules or similar rules binding. I have not with me a copy of that resolution, but I shall be glad to send it to the committeemen, if you would care to have it on file.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Mr. Price. And this morning, in conferring with the president of our organization, he again confirmed the position taken by the federation and I am instructed to speak on behalf of the federation in favor of these rules.
I do not think you want me to go into detail. I could not say nearly so well what has been said already. Unless further questions are desired to be asked, I shall clcse.
Mr. CHINDBLOM. As I understand your statement so far, you have taken a general position in favor of the rules. Do you specifically indorse H. R. 14166?
Mr. PRICE. We have not had an opportunity to consider this bill; but as this bill contains rules we have approved and considered, we approve the bill; because our resolution approves of the Hague rules as they are amended and any legislation which is intended to put them into effect.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Does your association, or the members of your association, give preference to American ships in the carriage of cargoes, or do you ship with the carrier giving the cheapest rates, irrespective of the nationality?
Mr. PRICE. The question is to be answered by saying that the nature of the business requires us to ship by a regular freight service, so that we take whatever ships are in regular service, whether they happen to be American or foreigu ships. But the Millers National Federation has been on record as approving the principle of giving American ships the preference, if they can.
Mr. CAMPBELL. At the same rates. Supposing the British ship would underquote an American ship. What would be the practice of the members of your federation—to take the lower rate?
Mr. PRICE. Probably to ship on the cheapest ship, which is natural enough.
The CHAIRMAN. If there are no other shippers present who desire to be heard in favor of the bill, we will now hear from Mr. McGee, president of the American Institute of Marine Underwriters. STATEMENT OF MR. WILLIAM H. McGEE, PRESIDENT OF THE
AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF MARINE UNDERWRITERS. Mr. McGEE. On this occasion I am president of the American Institute of Marine Underwriters, of New York, an association composed of substantially all of the marineinsurance companies transacting business in the United States.
Mr. Chairman, we come before you at this time not as a proponent of the bill, but as those who are very anxious to see some uniform and reasonable legislation upon a subject which has been the cause of a great deal of trouble for a great many years. There are some things, both in The Hague rules or, as I believe they are now called, the Brussels rules, as well as this legislation, which do not altogether please the underwriter.
A marine underwriter stands in the shoes of the shipper of the cargo. If he does not stand in those shoes, he has no position or standing whatever in a matter of this sort. The marine underwriter appears because he does represent a large number of cargo shippers; he represents and speaks for a large number of people who could not come and speak for themselves.
We feel that this legislation, this proposed bill, The Hague rules, is a very long step in advance, and as such we should like very much to see them put into effect. There occurred to me this afternoon just one thought as I listened to other gentlemen speaking with reference to this, gentlemen who pointed out the need for uniformity, and the thought came to me, as the gentleman appearing for the bankers was speaking, that I think we are very apt to forget that a great many of our ocean bills of lading are in effect through bills of lading. We take the bill of lading of a steamship company which takes the goods from New York, and your goods are going to Bangkok, and at London or Liverpool they are to be transshipped to some other steamship line. The American steamer, or the steamer leaving the United States, is very apt to incorporate in the bill of lading that for the voyage from New York to London this bill of lading applies; but from London to Bangkok the bill of lading for the steamship line which performs that part of the voyage shall govern. As it stands now, the shipper and the banker have no knowledge whatever (they can not have, naturally) of what is going to happen, of where the responsibility is going to lie, after the goods reach London. With The Hague rules universally adopted, as they seem destined to be, we shall know; we shall know because that bill of lading carries on not only from New York to London but from London to Bangkok.
I do not know there is anything further I can add except to quote the resolution under which I and my committee are acting. At a meeting of the American Institute of Marine Underwriters, held January 22, 1923, the following resolution was passed:
That while these aules do not meet all the points we would like to have embodied in them, we feel that as they stand they deserve the support of the institute.
I do not know that there is anything I can add to it; but I should like the privilege, Mr. Chairman, of perhaps asking our Mr. Englar at the close of the hearing to perhaps say a few further words for us.
Mr. CHINDBLOM. Would the adoption of these rules and the application of them have any appreciable effect upon the cost of marine insurance?
Mr. McGEE. None whatever, I believe, except to steady them; because then the underwriters would be dealing with known quantities instead of unknown quantities as they are now.
Mr. CHINDBLOM. If your risk were less, you could afford to do business at a lower rate?
Mr. McGEE. Unquestionably. If the risk is less, it will be reflected in the premium. It is in the losses, in the claims made against insurance companies, it is the losses that they pay that give the insurance company the measure for the rate of premium.
Mr. CHINDBLOM. And you need a reasonable time to get the experience?
Mr. CAMPBELL. I should like to be heard before you go to those who are bitterly opposed to the rules, Mr. Chairman. The CHAIRMAN. You want to come on before those who are opposed to them?
Mr. CAMPBELL. Before those who are bitterly opposed to them; yes.
Mr. CAMPBELL. I do not want to be classed with those who are obstinately opposed to the Brussels convention; neither do I want to be classed as amongst those who are strong proponents of the present bill.
Mr. CHINDBLOM. You want to be a moderate?
STATEMENT OF MR. IRA A. CAMPBELL, ON BEHALF OF THE
AMERICAN STEAMSHIP OWNERS' ASSOCIATION.
Mr. CAMPBELL. I speak for the American Steamship Owners' Association. The steamship owners are of the opinion that the Brussels rules, the Brussels convention, impose unfair and unjust burdens upon the shipowners, which are going to work to the disadvantage of American shipowners. The shipowners, however, believe that uniformity in shipping documents is very desirable, if it is possible to have fair, uniform documents.
When the original Hague rules were up for consideration, at the conference before the Shipping Board and thereafter, the Steamship Owners' Association caused to be prepared a set of rules which embodied what the shipowners believed constituted a fair and proper distribution of the responsibilities and liabilities as between shippers and carriers.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you desire to submit that as a substitute for this?
Mr. CAMPBELL. No; not just now. Some of the suggestions embodied in those proposed rules were carried into the Brussels Rules, but many of the provisions which sought to lessen the burdens imposed upon the shipowners were completely ignored. The shipowners are not, however, going to assume a position of obstinacy and stand in the way of uniformity in shipping documents; and so the association is not going to oppose the adoption of the Brussels Convention or the Rules for the Carriage of Goods by Sea as they came from the Brussels Conference. But they are opposed to any legislation which shall seek to modify in any
particular the convention; and the reason I can not appear as a proponent of H. R. 14166 is because the draftsman of the bill has already sought to get away from the convention and has struck at the principle of uniformity.
It is perfectly idle for any one to suggest changes in the terminology of the rules or in this bill, so as to make the provisions of the bill differ from the rules, and think he is still adhering to the principal of uniformity. These rules should either be accepted or rejected as they are. Congress should not seek to append to the rules interpretative reservations. The moment some draftsman suggests that the language of the rules be changed, he does so because he does not believe that the language means what he thinks it should mean, and so he endeavors to place his particular interpretation upon it in language that will make his interpretation unmistakable. The representatives or the legislators of the other nations will have exactly the same privilege, and the result will most certainly be that, instead of having uniformity, you will have a set of rules which will differ in their wording and which will, necessarily, receive different interpretations by the courts. If, therefore, there is to be anything done in this country with respect to the rules, from our point of view it should be confined to an acceptance of them, to an adherence to the agreement which has been reached in the diplomatic conference between the several nations.
There is no assurance at the present time that England will adopt these rules as they came from the conference, or that France, or Japan, or Germany, or Norway, or Sweden, or Denmark, or any of the other principal maritime nations will adopt them. We think, therefore, that the American Congress should not enact legislation that will carry into effect these burdensome rules until it has assurance that the rules are going to be adopted as they came from the Brussels conference by the other maritime nations. Either there should be appended to the bill as passed, embodying these rules, a provision making the act effective only when the other nations, who were parties to the Brussles convention, have passed legislation carrying the rules into effect, or this bill or any bill should be held in abeyance until the Secretary of State has submitted to the Senate the Brussels convention and it has been ratified as a treaty by the Senate and has been adopted by the other nations. I do not believe that this committee
Mr. CHINDBLOM. Just let me ask right there: If that were done, you would not need any further legislation, would you?
Mr. CAMPBELL. I am not so sure about that, Mr. Chindblom, for this reason: I believe the courts have held that the acts of Congress and treaties are equally the law of the land; and I am rather inclined to believe