This chapter explores the approach of the Rotterdam Rules, a never-ratified convention that deals with the issue in a more multilateral way. The book, however, takes issue with the geographical approach.

Under the Rotterdam Rules, the carrier is responsible for different third parties. However, while the carrier is responsible for a substantial chain of third parties, not all of them receive the same protection.

The Rotterdam Rules have provisions similar to those of the Hague-Visby Rules and the Hamburg Rules in respect of the servants and agents of the carrier. However, with the adoption of the notion of maritime performing parties they have widened the category of persons to whom they apply and clearly provide that all such persons are also subject to the obligations and liabilities of the carrier. The action against them is, therefore, clearly in contract. This provision shows one of the most controversial aspects of the Rotterdam Rules; the fact that only the maritime performing parties have the same obligation as the carrier. Therefore, some categories of party involved in the carriage of goods by sea might hope that the Rotterdam Rules will not be ratified, because they wish to avoid this liability.