1 November 2023
Freight News

Canada Officially Jettisons the Hamburg Rules: Marine Liability Act Amended

After two decades of consistent recommendations by Transport Canada, it appears that the Canadian Parliament has finally given up hope of implementing the Hamburg Rules as a new liability regime for the carriage of goods by water. Among the several amendments made by the omnibus Budget Implementation Act, 2023, No. 1 (S.C. 2023, c. 26) to the Marine Liability Act (S.C. 2001, c. 6) (the MLA), all mention of the Hamburg Rules has been removed from the MLA, effective as of June 22, 2023.

The Hamburg Rules, officially known as The United Nations Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea, 1978, were drafted by UNCITRAL in 1976 as a proposed replacement for the Hague Rules of 1924 and the Hague-Visby Rules of 1968. While Canada has not ratified any of these instruments, it has incorporated the Hague-Visby rules into its domestic law with certain changes, through the MLA.

The coming-into-force provision for the Hamburg Rules, s. 45 MLA, was repealed on January 1, 2021 by an amendment implementing s. 3 of the Statutes Repeal Act (S.C. 2008, c. 20), as the provision had not come into force for over 10 years. Pursuant to the reporting requirement in s. 44 MLA, Transport Canada had been reporting to Parliament every 5 years on the possibility of applying the Hamburg Rules and having s. 45 MLA come into force.

However, each TC report had recommended not to take any action to apply the Hamburg Rules, due to insufficient international adoption. The last TC report had been delivered in 2019, and it had followed all preceding reports in recommending that the Hamburg Rules not be adopted.

Read more in an article from Stikeman Elliott LLP on Lexology.

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