Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bill of lading (B.L)

Bill of lading 

A bill of lading (BL - sometimes referred to as BOL or B/L) is a document issued by a carrier to a shipper, acknowledging that specified goods have been received on board as cargo for conveyance to a named place for delivery to the consignee who is usually identified. A through bill of lading involves the use of at least two different modes of transport from road, rail, air, and sea. The term derives from the verb "to lade" which means to load a cargo onto a ship or other form of transportation.

A bill of lading can be used as a traded object. The standard short form bill of lading is evidence of the contract of carriage of goods and it serves a number of purposes:
*. It is evidence that a valid contract of carriage, or a chartering contract, exists, and it may incorporate the full terms of the contract between the consignor and the carrier by reference (i.e. the short form simply refers to the main contract as an existing document, whereas the long form of a bill of lading (connaissement intégral) issued by the carrier sets out all the terms of the contract of carriage);

*. It is a receipt signed by the carrier confirming whether goods matching the contract description have been received in good condition (a bill will be described as clean if the goods have been received on board in apparent good condition and stowed ready for transport); and
It is also a document of transfer, being freely transferable but not a negotiable instrument in the legal sense, i.e. it governs all the legal aspects of physical carriage, and, like a cheque or other negotiable instrument, it may be endorsed affecting ownership of the goods actually being carried. This matches everyday experience in that the contract a person might make with a commercial carrier like FedEx for mostly airway parcels, is separate from any contract for the sale of the goods to be carried; however, it binds the carrier to its terms, irrespectively of who the actual holder of the B/L, and owner of the goods, may be at a specific moment.

The BL must contain the following information:
Name of the shipping company;
Flag of nationality;
Shipper's name;
Order and notify party;
Description of goods;
Gross/net/tare weight; and
Freight rate/measurements and weighment of goods/total freight

While an air waybill (AWB) must have the name and address of the consignee, a BL may be consigned to the order of the shipper. Where the word order appears in the consignee box, the shipper may endorse it in blank or to a named transferee. A BL endorsed in blank is transferable by delivery. Once the goods arrive at the destination they will be released to the bearer or the endorsee of the original bill of lading. The carrier's duty is to deliver goods to the first person who presents any one of the original BL. The carrier need not require all originals to be submitted before delivery. It is therefore essential that the exporter retains control over the full set of the originals till payment is effected or a bill of exchange is accepted or some other assurance for payment has been made to him. In general, the importer's name is not shown as consignee. The bill of lading has also provision for incorporating notify party. This is the person whom the shipping company will notify on arrival of the goods at destination. The BL also contains other details such as the name of the carrying vessel and its flag of nationality, the marks and numbers on the packages in which the goods are packed, a brief description of the goods, the number of packages, their weight and measurement, whether freight costs have been paid or whether payment of freight is due on arrival at the destination. The particulars of the container in which goods are stuffed are also mentioned in case of containerised cargo. The document is dated and signed by the carrier or its agent. The date of the BL is deemed to be the date of shipment. If the date on which the goods are loaded on board is different from the date of the bill of lading then the actual date of loading on board will be evidenced by a notation the BL. In certain cases a carrier may issue a separate on board certificate to the shipper.

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