A Bill of Lading is one of the most important documents in the shipping cycle and comes in different forms such as Negotiable or Order Bill of Lading, Seaway Bill of Lading or Express Bill of Lading and Straight Bill of Lading with further permutations and combinations such as Port to Port Bill of Lading, Combined Transport Bill of Lading or Multimodal Bill of Lading and Through Bill of Lading ..
As most of you may know by now, a Bill of Lading has 3 basic purposes or roles..
- Evidence of Contract of Carriage;
- Receipt of Goods; and
- Document of Title to the goods
In its role as Evidence of Contract of Carriage, the emphasis is on the term “Evidence” because contrary to popular belief, a Bill of Lading is neither
- a contract between the Seller and the Buyer nor
- a contract of carriage between the Carrier and Shipper
So if the bill of lading is the evidence of the contract of carriage, then what is the contract of carriage..??
This is the question in the minds of many in the industry and I will try to shed some light on this issue here..