BILLS OF LADING IN EXPORT TRADE
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BILLS OF LADING IN EXPORT TRADE

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This research paper explains what bills of lading are and how they are used in export trade and discusses some of the current legal issues which arise out of their use.

Definitions, Types and Uses of Bills of Lading

The ordinary bill of lading is a transportation document and document of title, commonly used in ocean and land transport. (Airway bills of lading are outside the scope of this paper). A bill of lading can be defined as a “document giving title to the goods, signed by the captain or his deputy or by the shipping company or its agent, containing the declaration regarding receipt of the goods (cargo), the conditions on which transportation is made, and the engagement to deliver goods at the prescribed port of destination to the lawful holder of the bill of lading.” It is “a receipt, a contract of carriage, and a document of title.”

A bill of lading is the primary document which acknowledges “receipt of the cargo delivered by the shipper [exporter], charterer, or master of the vessel and [summarizes] the principal terms of the contract of ocean freight.” Its contents typically include: the name and address of the shipper (exporter), the name and address of the party to whom the goods are to be delivered, the shipping route to be followed, port of destination, a general description of the cargo, its weight and measurement, who is to pay for freight costs, for example, “on board-freight prepaid,” the number of any required import license, the number of any letter of credit under which payment for delivery of the goods against presentation of documents is to be made, the date of issuance and the signature of the issuer.

1. Bill of lading as proof of delivery of the goods to the carrier or his representative. Under the Uniform Customs and Practices for Documentary Credits (UCP), Art. 34, a ‘clean bill of lading’ is “one which bears no superimposed clause or notation which expressly declares a defective co…

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