Signing bills of lading by ship master and related procedure for cargo ships agreement

Signing bills of lading

Where a shipmaster has to sign and issue original bills of lading, great care must be taken to see that all potential contractual pitfalls are covered. In such cases it would be advisable to consult the P&I club correspondent beforehand.

“Shipped” bills of lading are signed on behalf of the carrier by or for the master of the carrying ship. A full set of original bills will be signed, then returned (via the agent) to the shipper. Freight may be payable before signing bills, depending on the carrier’s terms.

Where a mate’s receipt was issued to the shipper on shipment of cargo, this may be required to be surrendered in exchange for the “shipped” bills of lading.

The master or his authorised deputy should always check the following when signing a bill of lading:

1. that the goods have actually been shipped (which may be determined from the ship’s copy of any mate’s receipt issued; this should be identical to the original mate’s receipt issued to the shipper, which should be presented by the shipper when requesting his bills of lading);

2. that the date of shipment is correct, i.e. as stated on the mate’s receipt or standard shipping note;

3. that the bill of lading is not marked “freight paid” or “freight prepaid” if not true;

4. that any clausing of the corresponding mate’s receipt is also contained in the bill of lading;

5. that reference is made to the charter party where one exists;

6. that any charter party terms do not conflict with the bill of lading terms; and

7. that the number of original bills in the set is stated.

Every original in the set must be signed.

Related articles

Function of bill of lading in cargo ships employment

Defining contents of bills of lading

Defining various types of bill of lading

Problem of clean bill of lading

Function of Mate’s receipts and tallies

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