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Multimodal transport documents in the context of international trade law

Multimodal transport documents in the context of international trade law
Multimodal transport documents in the context of international trade law
The current cross-border transport of goods has been shifted from unimodal carriage of goods to an integrated multimodal transport where two or more modes of transport are involved in one journey under a single contract. This phenomenon is obviously a by-product of containerisation and technological developments in terms of transport operations and relevant infrastructure.

Despite the constant growth of containerisation and multimodal transport operations, the peculiar but true fact is that, in terms of regulatory framework, there has been no successful attempt that could achieve global uniformity. Almost four decades of the failure of the 1980 MT Convention, coupled with the hopeless situation of the 2009 Rotterdam Rules imply that the fragmented current legal framework on multimodal transport, which involves a mixture of international unimodal conventions, regional/sub-regional agreements, national laws and standard contractual forms, will continue to be applicable to multimodal transport. Therefore, the issues of legal uncertainty and unpredictability, together with conflicts and inconsistencies will remain.

In terms of multimodal transport documents, the number of this type of documents used in transport industry is significantly escalating as a result of the rapid growth of door-to-door transport. However, a lack of international set of rules regulating multimodal transport leads to the situation where the legal status and functions of multimodal transport documents are ambiguous and it can possibly jeopadise the legal value of this type of transport documents in various dimensions, not only for consignors and consignees under carriage of goods contracts, but also for buyers and sellers under sale of contracts as well as banks as examiners of required documents under letters of credit. Thus, an in-depth analysis of legal status and functions of multimodal transport documents in the context of international trade law is the main focus of this thesis.

To tackle with documentary issues, for the short term, the proposed solutions include judicial recognition with regard to the legal status of multimodal transport documents in the same level as maritime bills of lading and an amendment of relevant statutes i.e. COGSA 1992 where a sea carriage is involved as a part of multimodal transport journey. For the long-term solution, an international uniform set of rules on multimodal transport is very likely to be the most optimal way forward to comprehensively cope with the current conundrums regarding the use of multimodal transport documents. Although this long-term solution seems impractical at the moment due to multiple factors, this thesis calls attention to the evolution and upcoming changes in terms of multimodal transport operations which will emphasise the unique characteristics of multimodal transport as a contract sui generis and, in order to reflect the real-world trade practice and facilitate international trade transactions, a need for an international convention governing multimodal transport with absolute multimodal thinking will be inevitable in the near future.
University of Southampton
Kongphok, Pimkamol
53701989-4f37-4e65-80e6-e149628b581e
Kongphok, Pimkamol
53701989-4f37-4e65-80e6-e149628b581e
Gibbs, Alun
c8a57ffe-7bf9-4ca1-a2d9-523f37647229

Kongphok, Pimkamol (2018) Multimodal transport documents in the context of international trade law. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 247pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The current cross-border transport of goods has been shifted from unimodal carriage of goods to an integrated multimodal transport where two or more modes of transport are involved in one journey under a single contract. This phenomenon is obviously a by-product of containerisation and technological developments in terms of transport operations and relevant infrastructure.

Despite the constant growth of containerisation and multimodal transport operations, the peculiar but true fact is that, in terms of regulatory framework, there has been no successful attempt that could achieve global uniformity. Almost four decades of the failure of the 1980 MT Convention, coupled with the hopeless situation of the 2009 Rotterdam Rules imply that the fragmented current legal framework on multimodal transport, which involves a mixture of international unimodal conventions, regional/sub-regional agreements, national laws and standard contractual forms, will continue to be applicable to multimodal transport. Therefore, the issues of legal uncertainty and unpredictability, together with conflicts and inconsistencies will remain.

In terms of multimodal transport documents, the number of this type of documents used in transport industry is significantly escalating as a result of the rapid growth of door-to-door transport. However, a lack of international set of rules regulating multimodal transport leads to the situation where the legal status and functions of multimodal transport documents are ambiguous and it can possibly jeopadise the legal value of this type of transport documents in various dimensions, not only for consignors and consignees under carriage of goods contracts, but also for buyers and sellers under sale of contracts as well as banks as examiners of required documents under letters of credit. Thus, an in-depth analysis of legal status and functions of multimodal transport documents in the context of international trade law is the main focus of this thesis.

To tackle with documentary issues, for the short term, the proposed solutions include judicial recognition with regard to the legal status of multimodal transport documents in the same level as maritime bills of lading and an amendment of relevant statutes i.e. COGSA 1992 where a sea carriage is involved as a part of multimodal transport journey. For the long-term solution, an international uniform set of rules on multimodal transport is very likely to be the most optimal way forward to comprehensively cope with the current conundrums regarding the use of multimodal transport documents. Although this long-term solution seems impractical at the moment due to multiple factors, this thesis calls attention to the evolution and upcoming changes in terms of multimodal transport operations which will emphasise the unique characteristics of multimodal transport as a contract sui generis and, in order to reflect the real-world trade practice and facilitate international trade transactions, a need for an international convention governing multimodal transport with absolute multimodal thinking will be inevitable in the near future.

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Final thesis - Version of Record
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.
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Published date: November 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 426344
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/426344
PURE UUID: 0b552d2d-8101-4bb7-9736-bb16205e109f

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Date deposited: 23 Nov 2018 17:30
Last modified: 25 Mar 2019 17:30

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