Rule of Prescription Under Article III, Rule 6 of Hague/Hague-Visby Rules: When Does the Clock of Limitation Start Ticking?

Adeel Abid1, Yusra Khalid1, *
1 Surridge and Beecheno, Finlay House, I.I. Chundrigar Road, Karachi, Pakistan

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© 2020 Abid and Khalid.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Surridge and Beecheno, Finlay House, I.I. Chundrigar Road, Karachi, Pakistan; E-mail:,


The pursuit of an internationally recognized regime which governs the allocation of risk of liability has been the predominant purpose of maritime law. At the same time, it is also necessary to set a time limit within which a legal action may be brought against the carrier. There are two regimes which govern the carriage of goods by sea and are adopted by many countries, the Hague Rules, and the Hague-Visby Rules and the time limit for claims set out in the rules against the carrier is one year from the day on which the goods are delivered or should have been delivered by the carrier. The rationale behind this is that the carrier cannot be expected to keep records for long periods and must be notified while the events are still fairly recent and recorded, as to what claims are to be presented. At present, Pakistan has adopted the Hague Rules in its Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1925 and despite the clarity embodied in the period of limitation as laid down under Article III, Rule 6, Pakistani Courts have given various interpretations to the term “delivery”, resulting in different outcome of the cases. In relation thereof, this article examines and discusses several judgments for decades on the subject of rule of prescription, along with the analysis of Article III, Rule 2 on the interpretation of “discharge”, and puts forward some suggestions and recommendations on the law laid down by the Convention.

The rules for transport documents are based on Hague or Hague-Visby Rules, and therefore, it is necessary at the outset of the article to provide an overview of the transport system in the country. The need for efficient working of the transport system in the country is absolutely vital in view of its role in a country’s economic growth.

Keywords: Carrier, Delivery, Discharge, Rule of prescription, Limitation, Transportation.