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DELEGATES OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MARITIME LAW, FIFTH SESSION,
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, OCTOBER 17-26, 1922.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
Pursuant to instructions from the Acting Secretary of State, dated September 19, 1922, we attended the meeting of the Comité Maritime International held October 9–11 in London.
Exhibit A herewith is the official list of delegates to the Brussels Conference. The names marked with an asterisk (*) attended also in London. This document sufficiently shows that all the principal maritime nations were in both cities largely represented by the
These men for the most part are, if not practicing lawyers, men of legal training,
The London meeting, however, differing from that in Brussels, was also largely attended by shipowners and cargo shippers. Such men constituted numerically a majority of the attendance, and the discussions were quite as much of a business as a legal nature.
Exhibit B sets forth the “Rules for carriage of goods by sea as submitted to the London meeting of the Comité; they are The Hague Rules of 1921, with such amendments as had been agreed to before the meeting by representatives of ship-owning and cargoowning interests largely British, but also French, Belgian, and Dutch.
The opposition to the substance of these rules as it appeared in London may be summarized under two heads: (1) A fear that the rules would infringe many local laws in many countries as to carriers' responsibilities before loading and after unloading. This was met by strictly limiting the rules to the period between loading and unloading (2) The owners of cargo boats, usually chartered and frequently time-chartered, objected strongly to any legal system which required the master of a chartered ship to issue bills of lading of the definiteness as to quantity and other details required by the rules. This was met as far as it could be by plainly permitting the owner to contract by charter out of the obligation to issue master's bills, while still requiring such bills as might be issued to conform to the rules from the time when they became the actual contract governing the carriage of the goods.
Every clause of Exhibit B was considered by a subcommittee (upon which we were given places) and discussed in plenary session. Some changes in phraseology were made, but except as above noted no change in the spirit of the rules as contained in Exhibit B was adopted. But it is to be noted that no conclusion as to the wording of article III, 6 (the loss and damage clause) was reached. This matter was in terms referred to the Brussels gathering.