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THE JAPANESE CARRIAGE OF GOODS BY SEA ACT, 1992

Translated by Prof. Kazuo Iwasaki
Nagoya Keizai University
Article 1 (Scope of Act)
The provisions of this Act (except Article 20bis) shall apply to the carriage of goods by ship from a loading port or to a discharging port, either of which is located outside Japan, and Article 20bis shall apply to the carrier's and his servant's liability for damage to goods caused by their tort.
Article 2 (Definitions)
  • (1) As used in this Act the term "ship" means any vessel which is defined in paragraph (1) of Article 684 of the Commercial Code but excludes those defined in paragraph (2) of the same Article.
  • (2) As used in this Act the term "carrier" means the owner, lessee and charterer of a ship who is engaged in the carriage of goods by ship as specified in the preceding Article.
  • (3) As used in this Act the term "shipper" means a charterer or one who consigns to a carrier the carriage of goods by ship as stipulated in the preceding Article.
  • (4) As used in this Act the term "one unit of account" means the amount equivalent to one Special Drawing Right as defined in paragraph (1) of Article 3 of the International Monetary Fund Agreement.
Article 3 (Carrier's duty to exercise care over the goods)
  • (1) The carrier shall be liable for the loss, damage or delayed arrival of the goods which is caused by his own or his servant's negligence for the receipt, loading, stowage, carriage, custody, discharge and delivery of such goods.
  • (2) The preceding paragraph shall not apply to damage arising or resulting from an act of the master, mariner, pilot or servants of the carrier in the navigation or in the management of the ship, or arising from fire on board (unless the fire is caused with the privity or actual fault of the carrier).
Article 4
  • (1) The carrier shall not be relieved from the liabilities under the preceding Article unless he proves the exercise of due diligence under the same Article.
  • (2) Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding paragraph the carrier shall be relieved from the liabilities under the preceding Article where he proves any one of the following facts and that the damage to the goods is the ordinary result of such facts, provided that such carrier's immunity is not applicable where it is proved that the damage could have been avoided if the carrier had exercised due diligence under the preceding Article and such due diligence has not been exercised:
    •  1) Perils of the sea or other navigable waters;
    •  2) Act of God;
    •  3) Act of war, riots and civil commotions;
    •  4) Act of public enemies;
    •  5) Seizure under legal process, quarantine restrictions or other disposal by governmental authority;
    •  6) Act of the shipper or the owner of the goods or their servants;
    •  7) Strikes, sabotage, lockouts or other industrial disputes;
    •  8) Saving life or property at sea, or any deviation for such purpose, or any other reasonable deviation;
    •  9) Quality or inherent defect of the goods;
    • 10) Insufficiency or inadequacy of packing or marks;
    • 11) Latent defects of cranes or other similar facilities.
  • (3) The provisions of the preceding paragraph shall not preclude the application of the provisions of Article 9.
Article 5 (Duty to exercise due diligence to make the ship seaworthy)
  • (1) The carrier is liable for damages resulting from the loss, damage or delayed arrival of the goods which arise from the carrier's own or his servant's failure at the beginning of the voyage to exercise due diligence to:
    • 1) Make the ship seaworthy;
    • 2) Man, equip, and supply the ship;
    • 3) Make the holds, refrigerating chamber, and other parts of the ship in which goods are carried, fit and safe for their reception, carriage and preservation.
  • (2) The carrier shall not be relieved from the liabilities under the preceding paragraph unless he proves the exercise of due diligence under the same paragraph.
Article 6 (Duty to issue bill of lading)
  • (1) After loading the goods on the ship the carrier or the master or agent of the carrier shall, on demand of the shipper and without delay, issue to the shipper one or more copies of a bill of lading showing that the goods have been loaded on the ship (hereinafter referred to as a "shipped bill of lading"). Even before loading the goods on the ship but after receiving the goods into his charge, the carrier or the master or agent of the carrier shall, on demand of the shipper, issue to the shipper one or more copies of a bill of lading showing that the goods have been received by them (hereinafter referred to as a "received for shipment bill of lading").
  • (2) Where a received for shipment bill of lading has been issued, the shipper may not demand the carrier to issue the shipped bill of lading unless all the copies of the received for shipment bill of lading shall be surrendered in exchange for the shipped one.
Article 7 (Preparation of bill of lading)
  • (1) A bill of lading shall stipulate the following (except 7) and 8) in the case of a received for shipment bill of lading) and shall be signed by the carrier or the master or agent of the carrier or shall have their names with their seal affixed thereon:
    •  1) The kind of goods;
    •  2) The quantity or weight of the goods, the number of packages or pieces, and the marks of the goods;
    •  3) The apparent order and condition of the goods;
    •  4) The shipper's full name or trade name;
    •  5) The receiver's full name or trade name;
    •  6) The carrier's full name or trade name;
    •  7) The ship's name and the country of registration;
    •  8) The loading port and the date of loading;
    •  9) The discharging port;
    • 10) The freight;
    • 11) If the bill of lading has been issued in two or more copies, their number;
    • 12) The place and date of issue.
  • (2) Where a shipped bill of lading is demanded to be issued in exchange for the received for shipment bill of lading, such received for shipment bill of lading with the statement inserted that the goods were shipped and signed by the carrier or the master or agent of the carrier or having affixed their names with their seal thereon may be substituted for the shipped bill of lading. In this case the items 7) and 8) of the preceding paragraph shall also be inserted into it.
Article 8 (Shipper's notice)
  • (1) The items 1) and 2) of paragraph (1) of the preceding Article shall be inserted into the bill of lading in accordance with the shipper's notice if such notice is available in writing.
  • (2) The provisions of the preceding paragraph shall not be applicable where the carrier has reasonable grounds to believe that the notice under the preceding paragraph is not accurate, or where the carrier has no suitable means to confirm the accuracy of such notice.
  • (3) The shipper shall guarantee to the carrier the accuracy of the notice under paragraph (1).
Article 9 (Misrepresentation in a bill of lading)
If any item inserted into a bill of lading is contrary to the truth, the carrier cannot set up against the bona fide holder of the bill of lading such defence that the items inserted into the bill of lading are contrary to the truth.
Article 10 (Provisions applicable mutatis mutandis)
The provisions of Articles 573 to 575, Article 584 and Articles 770 to 775 of the Commercial Code shall apply mutatis mutandis to the bill of lading under this Act.
Article 11 (Disposal of dangerous goods)
  • (1) Goods of an inflammable, explosive or dangerous nature whereof the carrier, master or agent of the carrier has not known at the time of shipment, may at any time before discharge be landed at any place, or destroyed or rendered innocuous by the carrier.
  • (2) The preceding paragraph shall not bar the carrier's claim against the shipper for damages.
  • (3) Goods of an inflammable, explosive or dangerous nature whereof the carrier, master or agent of the carrier has known at the time of shipment, may be landed at any place, or destroyed or rendered innocuous by the carrier if the goods are likely to be dangerous to the ship or cargoes.
  • (4) The carrier shall not be liable for compensation of such goods' damage arising from his disposal under paragraph (1) or the preceding paragraph.
Article 12 (Receiver's and others' duty of notice)
  • (1) The receiver of the goods and the holder of the bill of lading shall give notice in writing to the carrier of loss or damage and its general nature at the time of the receipt of the goods if a part of the goods was lost or damaged. However, if the loss or damage be not apparent and discoverable immediately, it shall be sufficient for them to give such notice within three days from the time of receipt.
  • (2) If such notice under the preceding paragraph has not been given, the goods are presumed to have been delivered without loss or damage.
  • (3) The provisions of the preceding two paragraphs shall not apply if the state of the goods has, at the time of their delivery, been the subject of a joint survey or inspection of the parties.
  • (4) If it is likely that loss of or damage to the goods has occurred, the carrier, the receiver and the holder of the bill of lading shall give all necessary facilities to each other for inspecting the goods.
Article 12bis (Amount of damages)
  • (1) The amount of damages for the goods shall be fixed according to the current market price of the goods at the place and time at which the goods should have been discharged (or according to the commodity exchange price if such price is available). However, if such current market price is not available, the amount of damages for the goods shall be fixed by reference to the normal value of the goods of the same kind and quality at the place and time at which the goods should have been discharged.
  • (2) The provisions of paragraph (3) of Article 580 of the Commercial Code shall be applicable mutatis mutandis to a situation under the preceding paragraph.
Article 13 (Limitation of liability)
  • (1) The carrier's liability for a package or unit of the goods shall be the higher of the following:
    • 1) An amount equivalent to 666.67 units of account;
    • 2) An amount equivalent to 2 units of account per kilo of gross weight of the goods lost, damaged or delayed.
  • (2) The unit of account used in each item of the preceding paragraph shall be the final publicized one at the date on which the carrier pays damages in respect of the goods.
  • (3) Where a container, pallet or similar article of transport (which are referred to as "containers and etc." in this paragraph) is used for the transportation of the goods, the number of containers and etc. or units shall be deemed to be the number of the packages or units of the goods for the purpose of the preceding paragraph unless the goods' number or volume or weight is enumerated in the bill of lading.
  • (4) Where the liability of the carrier's servant is lessened under the provisions of paragraph (2) of Article 20bis to the limit which the carrier's liability is lessened by the preceding three paragraphs which are applied by the provisions of paragraph (1) of the same Article, if the carrier's servant has paid the damages, the carrier's liability for the goods under the preceding three paragraphs shall be further lessened up to the amount paid by the carrier's servant.
  • (5) The provisions of each of the preceding paragraphs shall not be applied where the kind and value of the goods has been declared by the shipper at the consignment of the goods for transport and inserted into the bill of lading if it is issued.
  • (6) In the case of the preceding paragraph, if the shipper knowingly has declared a value which is remarkably higher than the actual price, the carrier shall not be responsible for the damage in connection with the goods.
  • (7) In the case of paragraph (5), if the shipper knowingly has declared a value which is remarkably lower than the actual price, the declared price shall be deemed to be the value of the goods for the purpose of assessing damages in connection with the goods.
  • (8) The provisions of the preceding two paragraphs shall not be applicable if the carrier acted in bad faith.
Article 13bis (Exception to amount of damages and limitation of liability)
Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 12bis and of paragraphs (1) to (4) of the preceding Article, if the damage to goods resulted from an act or omission of the carrier done with intent to cause damage, or recklessly and with knowledge that the damage would probably result, the carrier shall be responsible for any loss of or damage to the goods.
Article 14 (Discharge from liability)
  • (1) The carrier shall be discharged from his liability for the goods unless a legal suit is brought within one year from the date of delivery of the goods (or the date when the goods should have been delivered in the case of the total loss of the goods).
  • (2) The one year period under the preceding paragraph may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties only after the damage to the goods has occurred.
  • (3) Where the carrier has further consigned the transport of the goods to a third party, if the carrier has indemnified the damages or a legal suit has been brought against him within the period specified in paragraph (1), the third party's liability for the goods shall not be discharged even after the expiration of the period specified in paragraph (1) (or the extended period if the period specified in paragraph (1 ) has been extended by the mutual agreement of the carrier and the third party under the preceding paragraph), until the expiration of three months commencing from the day when the carrier has compensated the damages or a legal suit has been brought against him.
Article 15 (Prohibition of special agreement)
  • (1) Any special agreement which is contrary to the provisions of Articles 3 to 5, Article 8, Article 9 or Articles 12 to 14 and is not in favor of the shipper, receiver or holder of the bill of lading, shall be null and void. A benefit of insurance in favor of the carrier or similar agreement shall also be null and void.
  • (2) The preceding paragraph shall not prevent the carrier from making a special agreement which is unfavorable to him. In this case the shipper may demand that such special agreement be inserted into the bill of lading.
  • (3) The provisions of paragraph (1) shall not apply in respect of damage to the goods which has resulted from facts arising before loading of the goods or after discharge of the goods.
  • (4) Where a special agreement under paragraph (1) has been made in respect of the damage to the goods stipulated in the preceding paragraph but not inserted into the bill of lading, the carrier cannot set up such special agreement against a holder of the bill of lading.
Article 16 (Exception to prohibition of special agreement)
The provisions of paragraph (1) of the preceding Article shall not apply to the case where part or whole of a ship is the subject of a contract of carriage. However, the foregoing is not applicable to the relationship between the carrier and the holder of the bill of lading.
Article 17
The provisions of the preceding Article shall apply mutatis mutandis to a carriage where the special character or condition of the goods, or special circumstance under which the carriage is to be performed, justifies the relieving or lessening of the carrier's liability.
Article 18
  • (1) The provisions of paragraph (1) of Article 15 shall not apply to carriage of live animals and cargo carried on deck.
  • (2) Where a special agreement under paragraph (1) of Article 15 has been made in respect of the carriage stipulated in the preceding paragraph but not inserted into the bill of lading, the carrier cannot set up such special agreement against a holder of the bill of lading. A comparable rule shall also apply in the case where the goods are carried on deck and the fact is not inserted into the bill of lading.
Article 19 (Preferential right against ship)
  • (1) Where part or whole of a ship has been the object of a contract of carriage for the goods, and the charterer in turn has made a contract of carriage with a third party, those who may claim the compensation for damage to the goods arising within the scope of the master's duties may exercise a preferential right for his claim against the ship and her accessaries.
  • (2) Where there is any conflict between the preferential rights under the preceding paragraph and under Article 842 of the Commercial Code, the former shall has the precedence next to paragraph (8) of that Article.
  • (3) The provisions of paragraphs (2) and (3) of Article 844, Article 845, Article 846, paragraph (1) of Article 847 and Article 849 of the Commercial Code shall apply mutatis mutandis to the preferential right under paragraph (1).
Article 20 (Application of the Commercial Code, etc.)
  • (1) The provisions of the Commercial Code except Articles 738, 739, 759 and 766 to 776 shall apply to the carriage of goods by ship under Article 1 of this Act.
  • (2) The provisions of Articles 576, 578, 579, 582 and 583 of the Commercial code shall apply mutatis mutandis to the carriage of goods by ship under Article 1 of this Act.
Article 20bis (Tort liability of carrier and others)
  • (1) The provisions of paragraph (2) of Article 3, paragraph (4) of Article 11, Articles 12bis to 14 and paragraph (2) of the preceding Article shall apply mutatis mutandis to the carrier's liability for damage to the goods caused by his tort against the shipper, receiver or holder of the bill of lading. In this connection the phrase "the preceding paragraph" in paragraph (2) of Article 3 shall be read to be the principle part of paragraph (1) of Article 715 of the Civil Code (Law No. 89 of 1896) and Article 690 of the Commercial Code (including such case where the lessee of a ship is deemed to have the same rights and owe the same obligations as a shipowner by the application of paragraph (1) of Article 704).
  • (2) Where the carrier's liability for the goods is relieved or lessened, the tort liability of the carrier's servant to the shipper, receiver or holder of the bill of lading for damage to the goods shall also be relieved or lessened to the same extent as the carrier's liability is relieved or lessened.
  • (3) The provisions of paragraph (2) and (3) of Article 4 shall apply mutatis mutandis to the case where the provisions of Article 705 of the Commercial Code is applicable to the tort liability of the master employed by the carrier to the shipper, receiver or holder of the bill of lading. In this connection the following word or phrases of "carrier", "the preceding paragraph" and "the preceding Article" in paragraph (2) of Article 4 shall be read as "the master", "Article 705 of the Commercial Code" and "the same Article" respectively.
  • (4) The provisions of paragraph (4) of Article 13 shall apply mutatis mutandis to the liability of the carrier's servant for the goods in such case where the carrier's liability for the goods is relieved by the provisions of paragraphs (1) to (3) of the same Article (including the mutatis mutandis application under paragraph (1)) and the carrier has compensated the damages.
  • (5) The provisions of the preceding three paragraphs shall not apply to the case where the damage to the goods has resulted from an act or omission of the carrier's servant done with intent to cause damage or recklessly and with knowledge that the damage would probably result.
Article 21 (Carriage of mail)
This Act shall not apply to the carriage of mail.
Supplementary Provisions:
  1. This Act comes into force from the date when the Protocol of February 23, 1968 which amends the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating to Bills of Lading dated August 25, 1924 comes into force for Japan.
  2. The former law and regulations shall still apply to the contracts of carriage which have been made prior to the effective date of this Act and to the tort liability of the carrier and his servants to compensate for damage to the goods under the foregoing contracts of carriage.