The Carrier’s Obligations and Liabilities Under the Saudi Arabian Maritime Law and Rotterdam Rules: A Comparative Study

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The United Nations Convention on Contract for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea 2008 (‘the Rotterdam Rules’) provide the modern alternative regulation for the contract of carriage. They provide significant changes and expansion to the Hague Rules, Hamburg Rules, and Hague-Visby Rules from different perspectives. The Rotterdam Rules impose specific obligations and liabilities on the carriers, including the duties to handle, load, and stow the goods, following the model of the Hague-Visby Rules. However, the Rotterdam Rules expand the scope of the Hague-Visby Rules on the carrier’s obligations by adding more responsibilities such as the carrier’s duty to receive and deliver the goods. Also, the carrier is expected to exercise due diligence in providing a seaworthy vessel not only at the commencement of the journey but also during the entire voyage for the carriage of goods by sea. However, the Rotterdam Rules are yet to be in force, mainly because most major maritime nations do not favour them since they increase the carrier’s obligations and liabilities. It would be crucial to conduct a study to determine what would happen on domestic maritime regulations when the Rotterdam Rules comes into force. As a result, this thesis applies the doctrinal approach to evaluate and analyse the extent to which the carrier’s liabilities and obligations are expanded or extended under the Rotterdam Rules. The primary aim of this study is to analyse the new Saudi Merchant/Commercial Marine Law (MML) 2019 on the carrier’s liability and obligations in light of the Rotterdam Rules. The study compares the provisions of the Rotterdam Rules with the MML on the carrier’s obligations and liability to determine the differences between the two frameworks. In addition, this study aims to determine whether the new MML and its provisions follow the current international regulatory framework provided by the Rotterdam Rules. The new Saudi MML has many loopholes and challenges, which may contribute to severe legal insecurity in the protection of shippers and carriers, ambiguity in interpretation, and confusion when undertaking various activities for the carriage of goods by sea. This study provides several challenges facing the MML and recommendations to solve these problems. Indeed, the carrier’s obligations and liabilities envisaged under the Rotterdam Rules facilitate the balance between the shippers and shipping companies. Therefore, it would be beneficial for various Member States such as Saudi Arabia, to go for acceptance, ratification, accession or approval of the Rotterdam Rules.