The impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related response measures have resulted in significant operational disruptions and delays across global networks, with important implications for the performance of international commercial contracts. Much of global commodities’ trade is conducted on CIF and FOB terms and more than 80% of the volume of global merchandise trade is carried by sea. Therefore, the implications of the pandemic for international sale of goods on shipment terms and contracts of carriage of goods by sea, as well as related contractual rights and obligations deserve particular attention and need to be better understood, to reduce the need for costly litigation and to help inform commercial contracting practice into the future.
Against this background, UNCTAD has developed a four-day virtual training course with a focus on the implications of the pandemic for some of the key commercial contracts in international shipping and trade, in particular contracts for the international sale of goods on Shipment Terms CIF and FOB and carriage of goods by sea under charterparties and bills of lading. The course is designed to help in the understanding and assessment of key issues arising from the pandemic for the different types of closely interconnected contracts; the relevant legal implications; as well as contractual approaches to addressing some of these, in particular the use of standard form clauses for commercial risk-allocation between the parties. As commercial and maritime law contracts at the international level are often subject to English law, by agreement of the parties, the course focuses on the position under English law, although reference will also be made as appropriate to other legal systems.