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What is Bill of Lading

In international trade shipping occupies an important place as a mode of transport.  The document evidencing the carriage of goods by sea is the ‘bill of lading’.

A bill of is a document issued by the shipping company or its agent, acknowledging the receipt of goods for carriage, which are deliverable to the consignee or his assignee in the same condition as they were received.
Bill of Lading

A bill of lading is an international document in the sense that the rules embracing them have international ramifications.  An attempt was made to evolve a set of rules relating to bills of lading, so that the rights and liabilities of ship owners and shippers are subject to rules of general application.  The International Law Association in their meeting held at The Hague made the first attempt in this direction in 1921.  These rules were embodied in the articles of an International Convention at Brussels in 1924.  The rules, known as Hague Rules, were given the legal status in India by incorporating them in the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1925 and in England in the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1924 of England.

The Hague rules were amended by a Protocol signed in 1968.  In England, the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1971 was passed to give effect to it.  United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) brought out a set of new rules, which came to be known as the Hamburg Rules.  Neither the Hague Rules nor the Hamburg Rules are a statute.   They gain the status by their incorporation in the enactments of the countries concerned.  The parties concerned may also adopt them by making them a part of the conditions of the bill of lading.

In India, the following two statutes govern the issue of bill of lading:
  1.  Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1925.
  2.  Bill of Lading Act, 1956.
As already stated, the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act incorporates the Hague Rules.

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