You are here:

Carriage of goods by sea


The law of Carriage of Goods by Sea is generally referred to as Dry Shipping Law because it mainly focuses on the legal implications of the agreements for the transport of cargoes by sea and for the chartering of vessels. The business of carriage of goods by sea is obviously risky. The cargo may arrive late or not at all. How are the various risks allocated between the carriers and the various other parties who might have an interest in the ship and her cargo? Contract of carriage can come in various shapes and in this course you will study the two main forms of contract and carriage and their uses.

Module A: Contracts of affreightment and voyage charter parties


  • Owners’ implied obligations: seaworthiness, reasonable despatch and no deviation; consequences for breach under common law; conditions, warranties, innominate terms; representations (descriptions of ship, date of arrival, cancelling
  • Charterers’ obligations: nomination of safe port, notification of owners of dangerous cargo
  • Voyage Charter parties: Owners’ obligation as to the ship, readiness to load and cancelling clauses; Charterers’ duty to load a full and complete cargo; Loading and discharging; Laytime and demurrage; Freight, lien and cesser clauses

Module B: Time charter parties


  • Nature; description of ship, delivery date and cancelling clause; charter period; early or late redelivery; remedies arising from early or late delivery; payment of hire; off-hire; deductions from hire; withdrawal of ship for no punctual payment; employment and indemnity clause; owners' liens on freight or sub-freight

Module C: The bill of lading contract and functions


  • The bill of lading as a contract; incorporation of charter party terms; identity of carrier; the bill of lading and third parties
  • The bill of lading as a receipt; representations as to quantity, condition and identity (leading marks) of cargo; common law and statutory estoppel
  • The bill of lading as a document of title and the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992
  • Legal functions of other types of transport document: seaway bills, ship’s delivery orders and multimodal transport documents

Module D: International conventions regulating the rights and obligations of the parties to the bill of lading contract


  • The Hague and Hague–Visby Rules; the Hamburg Rules; the Rotterdam Rules; genesis of the Rules and comparison. When do these rules apply? Excluded cases; period covered; no contracting out; the carrier’s duties; the carrier’s defences; responsibilities of cargo owner or shipper. Freight
  • Time limit for making a claim; limitation of liability


Each module is assessed by a 45-minute unseen written exam.


It is strongly recommended you attempt the modules in order.

Academic Co-ordinator

Dr Melis Ozdel

Dr Melis Ozdel

Dr Melis Ozdel is the director of the UCL Centre for Commercial Law and specialism convenor for Maritime Law studies. She is the Course Convenor for the International Trade Law and Carriage of Goods by Sea modules and co-convenes the International Arbitration Law module. She is also the chief examiner for the Carriage of Goods by Sea and International Trade Law modules on the University of London international programme.

Dr Ozdel has written extensively in the areas of international trade law, carriage of goods by sea, international commercial arbitration and conflict of laws and jurisdiction. She is the author of Bills of Lading Incorporating Charterparties (2014, Hart Publishing) and co-author of EU Transport Law (2016, Hart-Nomos-Beck). She is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a supporting member of the London Maritime Arbitrators Association.

Dr Ozdel qualified at the Turkish Bar Association and she then practised as an advocate in Türkiye for two years in the areas of construction, media and carriage of goods by air. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and Türkiye Bar Association. She is also a supporting member of the London Maritime Arbitrators Association.