How long is a bank guarantee issued in lieu of a lost original bill of lading valid..?? – Update

Hi David Murray, I am answering your comments on my previous post How long is a bank guarantee issued in lieu of a lost original bill of lading valid..?? as a post..

Firstly, I think the confusion is because – The Bank Guarantee that i was talking about is related to release of cargo without presentation of original bill of lading and not the Bank Guarantee that comes into play when a transaction is completed successfully but the buyer does not pay for the goods.. IF that is not the case, then here’s the explanation..

bank guaranteeQ 1: You say “bank guarantee” . . . . are you talking about a Letter of Credit? If not, please more fully describe what is a bank guarantee? I am confused

A 1: Bank Guarantee is different from a Letter of Credit.. Letter of Credit is established between a buyer and seller to carry out their trade and ensure that all the conditions of trade are met.. Bank Guarantee, if required, comes into play AFTER the shipment has been effected..

Purpose of a Bank Guarantee is to secure release of goods without the presentation of original bill of lading which may not be available due to postal delays or loss or due to issuance of a replacement bill of lading (original misplaced or lost)..

It is required by the shipping line in above cases and this is the only way a consignee can secure release of his goods where an ORIGINAL bill of lading is required..

Q 2: One more thing . . . we would need to know the terms of the “bank guarantee” . . . does the bank guarantee have an end date? If is, the buyer is not really protected. Would not the bank guarantee need to be good through the delivery of the goods to the buyer? If the bill of lading is lost, it would seem natural that the bank guarantee would be good until such time as the necessary documents are produced to conclude the sale and to see that the seller gets paid.

What am I missing here? I really don’t understand what is a “bank guarantee” and why a Letter of Credit was not used. And what is the big deal about a lost bill of lading? Why should a guarantee of payment be cancelled because of a paperwork snafu?

I’m afraid I don’t understand any of this. Thanks for clarifying.

A 2: Depending on the issuing bank, country and type of guarantee, a bank guarantee may or may not have a time frame attached to it..

If a bank guarantee has a term of say 5 years, then should the person who took out the guarantee wait for 5 years before the guarantee is released even if the cargo has been released to the right party and both sides have settled their payments..

That was the question i was trying to answer..

The answer is NO, they don’t need to wait.. If the conditions as per my article are met, then the banks generally will cancel the guarantee.. 

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Q 3: And, sorry, but what does Alexander Robertson’s comment “Besides the comments above, as a carrier I will want to ensure that any claim which any party may have against the carrier is well and truly time barred.” have to do with whether or not a bank guarantee has a due date of cancellation because of a lost bill of lading? And if the carrier lost the original bill of lading, is it not the carrier who is responsible? And what does ” . . . well and truly time barred.” Mean. What is “time barred”? Is Alexander talking about a statute of limitations of actions under the laws of a particular jurisdiction?

I’m even more confused than ever on this.

A 3: Each shipping line has their own format of indemnity letter that the consignee would need to submit before securing release of goods against presentation of a Bank Guarantee..

When Alexander is talking about “time barred”, it relates to protecting the shipping line’s interest..

He is saying the carriers indemnity must be worded appropriately so that, any claims relating to improper release of the goods (even if it is against a bank guarantee) must be raised with the shipping line (if applicable) within a period of say “6 months or 1 year etc”..

Please also read this self explanatory document from Maersk Line which is a good example of the indemnity format, the banks confirmation and also the bank guarantee redemption/cancellation format and will help understand this subject more..


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5 thoughts on “How long is a bank guarantee issued in lieu of a lost original bill of lading valid..?? – Update”

  1. On what condition does the importer’s bank gives the bank guarantee letter? Can the importer’s bank issue this letter before the exporter’s bank has received the documents at his bank?

    P.S. The reason for this question is, I (exporter ) and my bank are located far from the port, hence it will take minimum 2 days for me to get the original B/L and other documents at my end. I intend to submit documents to my bank for it to send it to the importer’s bank with the bill of exchange (since its a d/a transaction and the bank is involved). Now, the container reaches in 4 days from the date of sailing, so it is obvious that the documents will not reach on time to the importer’s bank, so the importer will have to get the bank guarantee letter. Also, after the bank guarantee letter how much time will it take for importer to get the d/o for release of cargo. Since, the goods are perishable I am very concerned about the timely release from importer’s end. Also, If I discuss it with my importer he might think of me as a new exporter, that is why I can not ask him

  2. what is responsibility of the (freight forwarder) booking party in case losing the BL from shipper courier and can carrier claim the booking party in the court to get his demurrages ?

  3. I have an question in any case do we need to get the confirmation from the load port consingee/ shipping line prior to accepting the bank guarantee. In middle east normally the bank guarantee says just to release the cargo and they never mention anyting about the value.

    i feel acceptance of load port / shipper is required even if the BG is presented.

  4. Hi Guys – reading through the comments above , I think you may be missing the point of Davids question. I think what he is referringg to is the following – when you obtain a bank guarantee in order to clear cargo on a lost or missing bill of lading, the bank in turn either asks for a deposit or guarantee of some sort from the consignee to cover themselves against any claim on them for issuing the guarantee. I believe that David may be referring to this? In theory, once the cargo is cleared and the consignee can prove to the bank that there is no other claim for the cargo – ie that it was not sold to a 3rd party en route and the bills endorsed over to the 3rd party or that the bills were not surrendered to another 3rd party as security for a loan etc or that no other party is holdiing the bills as a lien for whatever reason, then the bank should release the consignee from their obligation. This does not release the shipper or consignee from their obligation to surrender the bills to the line if/when they do pitch up.
    Hope this helps?


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