Gosse Millard v Canadian Government Merchant Marine: 1927

Wright J said of the Hague Rules: ‘These Rules, which now have statutory force, have radically changed the legal status of sea carriers under bills of lading. According to the previous law, shipowners were generally common carriers, or were liable to the obligations of common carriers, but they were entitled to the utmost freedom to restrict and limit their liabilities, which they did by elaborate and mostly illegible exceptions and conditions.’ He then said that under the rules these liabilities rights and immunities were precisely determined and, after quoting article III rule 2, said: ‘The word ‘discharge’ is used, I think, in place of the word ‘deliver’, because the period of responsibility to which the Act and Rules apply (article I (e)) ends when they are discharged from the ship.’
‘I do not think that the terms of article III put the preliminary onus on the owner of the goods to give affirmative evidence that the carrier has been negligent. It is enough if the owner of the goods proves either that the goods have not been delivered, or have been delivered damaged. The carrier is a bailee and it is for him to show that he has taken reasonable care of the goods while they have been in his custody (which includes the custody of his servants or agents on his behalf) and to bring himself, if there be loss or damage, within the specified immunities. It is, I think, the general rule applicable in English law to the position of bailees that the bailee is bound to restore the subject of the bailment in the same condition as that in which he received it, and it is for him to explain or to offer valid excuse if he has not done so. It is for him to prove that reasonable care had been exercised.’

Wright J
[1927] 2 KB 432
Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1924
England and Wales
Cited by:
At First InstanceGosse Millard v Canadian Government Merchant Marine HL 1929
. .
CitedVolcafe Ltd and Others v Compania Sud Americana De Vapores Sa SC 5-Dec-2018
The claimant appellants, arranged shipment of bagged Colombian green coffee beans, stowed in 20 unventilated 20-foot containers from Panama to Rotterdam, Hamburg or Bremerhaven for on carriage to Bremen. The bill of lading for each consignment . .
AppliedSilver v Ocean Steamship Co Ltd CA 1930
The Hague Rules had made no difference to the incidence of the burden of proof in cases of bailment for carriage. . .

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Updated: 30 November 2021; Ref: scu.670136