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Unification in the Traditional Sense: Choosing from the Varieties

The Cape Town Convention is a uniform law instrument, with the aim of converging the domestic law rules that vary from one jurisdiction to another. However, such unification is achieved only on some issues. On several other issues, the Cape Town Convention leaves options that are open to State Parties to choose through declaration.

Limiting the uniform rules to some important issues is not exceptional. In fact, it has been quite common for a traditional uniform law treaty to explicitly state in its title that only “certain rules” are regulated.[1] In such a case, the applicable domestic law determines the issues that fall beyond the scope of the treaty. The Cape Town Convention is not different, though it requires the solution “in conformity with the general principles on which it [the Convention] is based” to be considered, before resorting to the applicable law.[2]

The following sections describe the issues on which laws of various states differ and for which the Cape Town Convention provides for a uniform solution. Here the Cape Town Convention serves as the uniform law treaty in the traditional sense.

  • [1] Examples are the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relatingto the Bills of Lading, 1924 (the so-called Hague Rules) and the Convention for the Unification ofCertain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air (the Warsaw Convention), 1929.
  • [2] Article 5(2) of the Base Convention.
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