Carriage of Good by Sea (Amendment) Bill 2019

The Carriage of Good by Sea (Amendment) Bill 2019 (“Amendment Bill”) was passed by the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) of the Malaysian Parliament on 4 December 2019.  Once passed by the Dewan Negara (Senate) and after receipt of the assent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the law will be gazetted and come into operation on a date to be appointed by the Minister of Transport.
The long-awaited Amendment Bill creates a mechanism for the implementation of the 1968 Protocol to Amend the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating to Bills of Lading (“Hague-Visby Rules”) and the 1979 Protocol (SDR Protocol) amending the Hague-Visby Rules (“SDR Protocol”). The Hague-Visby Rules’ predecessor, the 1924 Hague Rules, which is currently applied in Malaysia, no longer adequately serves modern shipping needs and has arguably been an impediment to Malaysia’s aim of becoming a leading maritime nation in the region.
A summary of the salient provisions of the Amendment Bill is set out below.
  1. The type of shipping documents to which the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1950 (“Act”) applies is proposed to be extended to sea carriage document(s).
  1. The proposed new section 6A empowers the Minister of Transport to amend the Schedule of the Act (the 1924 Hague Rules is currently incorporated as the First Schedule of the Act) by way of order published in the Gazette. This will facilitate subsequent adoption of new international conventions without requiring an amendment legislation to be tabled in Parliament each time, enabling Malaysia to promptly implement changes in the international maritime sphere.
According to the explanatory statement of the Amendment Bill, the proposed Amendment Act and the order made under the new section 6A (which we believe will incorporate the Hague-Visby Rules and the SDR Protocol) will come into operation simultaneously.
The amendments are welcome and together with the order will bring Malaysia in line with leading maritime jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore. It is hoped that this will create a ripple effect and expedite modernisation of other archaic shipping legislation adopted in Malaysia such as the Bills of Lading Act 1855.
Alert prepared by Siva Kumar Kanagasabai (Partner) & Trishelea Sandosam (Senior Associate) in the Maritime and Shipping Practice of Skrine.