In what amounts to a proposed new Convention to replace the "Hague Rules," the United Nations Commission on International Law (UNCITRAL) has included an Article (22) authorizing parties to a contract for the carriage of goods to provide for arbitration of disputes arising therefrom. States which become parties to the Convention would be required to give effect to such a contract. The proposed Convention gives the plaintiff much the same options with respect to either the judicial or the arbitral forum. These options as to locale tend to favor the defending party -- usually the carrier. On the other hand, Article 22 also permits the parties to agree on a locale after a dispute has arisen, an arrangement which would probably reflect the interests of the plaintiff (usually the cargo owner). In addition, the Convention provides that the good faith purchaser of a bill of lading issued pursuant to a contract of carriage would not be bound by an arbitration agreement between the original parties to the contract, unless it appeared in the bill of lading itself.
Gabriel M. Wilner,
The Revised Hague Rules on Bills of Lading
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/557