The ICLRC took part in the 44th session of the UNCITRAL Working Group VI

On 6-10 May 2024, the Center’s expert Igor Yastrzhembskiy took part in the 44th session of the UNCITRAL Working Group VI, within which a Draft project on negotiable cargo documents (A/CN.9/WG.VI/WP.103 - Negotiable Cargo Documents) has been developed.

The new document aims to create a new type of document of title called a negotiable cargo document, which can perform functions similar to a maritime bill of lading either for multimodal carriage of goods, or for unimodal ones.

The Working Group discussed Articles 7-17 and 1-5 of the Draft. A number of Center’s proposals found support of the Working Group and will be taken into account in the updated document.

In particular, the definition of a transport document was changed; the definition of the right of disposal as an independent separate right was deleted; the title of Article 8 of the Draft was changed to more accurately reflect its content; the term “delivery of a negotiable document” was changed to “transfer”; the reference to the application of the law of transport contract to the delivery of goods to the bearer of a negotiable document was deleted, etc.

The Working Group reviewed presentations on the issue and use of non-negotiable transport documents under the Uniform Legal Requirements for the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Rail (CIM), the Agreement on International Goods Transport by Rail (SMGS), and the Montreal Convention, prepared by the Intergovernmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF), the Organization for Cooperation between Railways (OSJD), and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

All those presentations noted that the relevant transport conventions did not provide for the issuance of negotiable documents and that the provisions of the new convention might, in practical application, conflict with the provisions of those transport conventions.

The Working Group also discussed a proposal by the Government of Singapore for an alternative approach to the regulation of negotiable electronic cargo records, whereby the provisions of Chapter 3 of the Draft were proposed to be replaced by a general provision requiring States parties to adopt, under national law, an appropriate legal framework authorizing and regulating the use of electronic equivalents of negotiable cargo documents and referring to the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records.

The proposal received no general support. There was a view that the Working Group should not miss the opportunity to develop new uniform legal rules to regulate negotiable electronic cargo records, which could be of benefit to sector participants, especially in the context of multimodal transport.

Work on the document will continue at the 45th session, which is expected to take place on 9-13 December in Vienna.