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WHO stands to gain by using the Rotterdam Rules as opposed to the other carriage options? That was the question before the panel at the London Shipping Law Centre's March seminar to discuss the issue. Hamburg, Hague-Visby – there are any number of regimes to consider.

According to Professor Richard Williams of Swansea University, it does not appear the Rotterdam Rules will have a substantial impact on the carriage of bulk cargo. On the other hand, he told delegates, they are likely to have a much greater impact on long haul multi-modal transport, with the liability of carriers and maritime performing parties likely to increase. At the same time, he concluded the new rules would have limited impact on ro-ro- traffic in relation to non-maritime risks, but more impact for purely maritime risks, and greater impact on the liability of carriers in relation to short haul lo-lo traffic than ro-ro traffic. You have been warned.

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