Duhaime's Law Dictionary

York-Antwerp Rules Definition:

A set of internationally-accepted rules, first published in 1890, proposing points of detail in the application of the maritime law principle of general average.

Since at least 800 BC (the Lex Rhodia), mariners had been adhering to what has become known as general average to proportionately oblige all interested parties in a shipping endeavor where cargo had been jettisoned to save the ship, or some other similar emergency expense; and to thus compensate the owner of the jettisoned cargo.

As shipping grew in territorial expanse and size of both vessel and cargo, the basic premises of the law of general average ran into difficulties, as stated in Chorley and Giles':

"... important differences exists which make for uncertainty especially as general average adjustments may have to take place in various countries. This gave rise to troublesome problems under conflict of laws....

"(S)hipowners, merchants, underwriters and average adjusters have therefore collaborated and after joint deliberations produced a standard set of rules relating to general average.

"These rules are known as the York-Antwerp Rules, so called from the seats of the conferences which brought them into being."

The rules first came out in 1890 and allow all parties to the voyage during which the general average act occurred, to calculate, fairly, points of detail such as the relative proportions and interest.

The Comité Maritime International has undertaken to house and administer the York-Antwerp Rules and the name continues upon subsequent versions of the Rules, including those of 1974, 1994 and of 2004.


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