In a world comprising cargo owning nations, and ship owning nations, and where most nations are both, there is a continual balancing of risk allocation concerning the damage or loss of sea-borne cargo. This conflict is between the ship owning interests and the cargo owning interests and poses the following questions: who bears the risk, and, under what rules of risk allocation should the world’s sea-borne cargo cross the oceans? Should the ship owner/carrier have the liability for loss or damage while the goods are in their possession? Should governments withdraw from trying to regulate a commercial transaction and leave it to the parties to determine the extent of liability?

This conflict is not new, nor is it ever likely to be resolved with all parties satisfied. The most each interested party could hope for is a ’best possible alternative: a ’win, win’ situation.’ Is this likely to be achieved under the possible introduction of the Hamburg Rules which came into force internationally on the 1st November, 1992?