The volume contract regime is probably the most revolutionary and undoubtedly the most controversial feature of the Rotterdam Rules. Much has been said about its legal characteristics, and the focus has been on those provisions which allow derogation from the Rules. It has even caused the Rules to be described as taking world shipping back to the chaos that prevailed before the Hague Rules. However, the concept of the volume contract albeit in another incarnation, generally referred to as the service contract, and regarded mainly as an American phenomenon ^ has already proved to be of considerable benefit to the global trading community.
This article attempts to examine the volume contract concept from the perspective of the shipper, nowadays often a non-traditional entity such as a logistics provider or freight forwarder. Its main objective is to look at the position of the shipper from the perspectives of its size and the jurisdiction in which it operates, given the variations in competition policy and trade regulation regimes. It is submitted that under the Rotterdam Rules, small and medium shippers may be at a disadvantage in some instances in certain jurisdictions, although the growing role of consolidators may in fact allow such shippers to enjoy a hitherto unrealized degree of bargaining power.
The authors investigate the legal position relating to the regulation of trade and how it impacts on shippers in a number of jurisdictions, the correlation between such jurisdictional characteristics and the size of the shipper entity and the commercial viability of volume contracts from the shipper's perspective.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/abhinayan_basubal/2/