Maritime Law. Declaratory action for the termination of an international shipping contract

Decision no. 5.990/14.12.2005 of the High Court of Cassation and Justice – unpublished /


Upon the loading of the vessel in question, i.e. 1999, the 1924 Hague Rules on the carriage

based on bills of lading were in force in Romania, Rules subsequently denounced by Romania by

Law no. 9/2002.

The reasoning of the Supreme Court highlights the following law issues:

  1. The text of Article 3 (3) of the 1924 Hague Rules gives the master an exclusive right to

make remarks on the bill of lading and a diligence obligation to verify the status and the

apparent condition of the goods, a right that must be exercised in good faith and reasonableness,

and only in accordance with the purpose thereof. This right cannot be allowed by the unilateral

will of the loader which, in turn, must show the same good faith and reasonableness during

the negotiation of the clauses of the bill of lading and also honesty in its statements.

  1. The ship’s master may have been held liable if he issued clean bills of lading in consideration

of receipt of a letter of guarantee, with a possible consequence of loss of P&I insurance compensation.

  1. During the pre-contractual or extra-contractual phase only tort liability for damages

produced may occur, when the conditions set by Article 998 of the Civil Code are met.