Although most European states are parties to the Hague-Visby Rules, it should be noted that there are a significant number of countries, such as the USA, which are party to the more restrictive unamended Hague Rules.
The Hague-Visby Rules apply to any bill of lading or similar document of title relating to the carriage of goods between ports in different states, if the bill of lading is issued in a contracting state; or the carriage is from a port in a contracting state; or the contract expressly provides that the Rules shall govern. The carrier must issue a bill of lading which shows details the condition and either number of packages, or the weight, or the quantity of the goods. The exporter is responsible for giving accurate particulars of the goods; packing the goods properly and making claims within set limits. The sea carrier must properly and carefully load, handle, stow, carry and discharge the goods. However, the carrier can deny liability in the event of fire; perils, dangers and accidents of the sea; strikes and inherent vice, etc.
Compensation is calculated in relation to the value of the goods at the time and place at which the goods are, or should have been, discharged from the ship. The shipper can opt to be compensated either on a per package (providing the number of packages is stated on the bill of lading), or per kg of gross weight basis. Compensation is fixed per package or per kg.