bill of lading

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Bill of Lading

A document signed by a carrier (a transporter of goods) or the carrier's representative and issued to a consignor (the shipper of goods) that evidences the receipt of goods for shipment to a specified designation and person.

Carriers using all modes of transportation issue bills of lading when they undertake the transportation of cargo. A bill of lading is, in addition to a receipt for the delivery of goods, a contract for their carriage and a document of title to them. Its terms describe the freight for identification purposes; state the name of the consignor and the provisions of the contract for shipment; and direct the cargo to be delivered to the order or assigns of a particular person, the consignee, at a designated location.

There are two basic types of bills of lading. A straight bill of lading is one in which the goods are consigned to a designated party. An order bill is one in which the goods are consigned to the order of a named party. This distinction is important in determining whether a bill of lading is negotiable (capable of transferring title to the goods covered under it by its delivery or endorsement). If its terms provide that the freight is to be delivered to the bearer (or possessor) of the bill, to the order of a named party, or, as recognized in overseas trade, to a named person or assigns, a bill, as a document of title, is negotiable. In contrast, a straight bill is not negotiable.

State laws, which often include provisions from the Uniform Commercial Code, regulate the duties and liabilities imposed by bills of lading covering goods shipped within state boundaries. Federal law, embodied in the Interstate Commerce Act (49 U.S.C. [1976 Ed.] § 1 et seq.) apply to bills of lading covering goods traveling in interstate commerce.

Cross-references

Consignment; Shipping Law.

bill of lading

n. a receipt obtained by the shipper of goods from the carrier (trucking company, railroad, ship or air freighter) for shipment to a particular buyer. It is a contract protecting the shipper by guaranteeing payment and satisfies the carrier that the recipient has proof of the right to the goods. The bill of lading is then sent to the buyer by the shipper upon payment for the goods, and is thus proof that the recipient is entitled to the goods when received. Thus, if there is no bill of lading, there is no delivery.

See: invoice

bill of lading

an instrument that authenticates the transfer of property in goods sent by carrier - whether ship, overland or by air; in form, it is a receipt given by the captain to the shipper or consignor, undertaking to deliver the goods, on payment of the freight, to some person whose name is stated in it or indorsed on it by the consignor. A bill of lading is used both as a contract for carriage and a document of title. It is not, however, a negotiable instrument, and a bona fide purchaser for value obtains no better title to the consigned goods than that enjoyed by the consignor (though it is possible for him to defeat the right of stoppage of an unpaid seller). Nevertheless, it has similarities to a negotiable instrument in that if it is drawn ‘to the order’ of a person it may be endorsed and transferred by delivery.

BILL OF LADING, contracts and commercial law. A memorandum or acknowledgment in writing, signed by the captain or master of a ship or other vessel, that he has received in good order, on board of his ship or vessel, therein named, at the place therein mentioned, certain goods therein specified, which he promises to deliver in like good order, (the dangers of the seas excepted,) at the place therein appointed for the delivery of the same, to the consignee therein named or to his assigns, he or they paying freight for the same. 1 T. R. 745; Bac. Abr. Merchant L Com. Dig. Merchant E 8. b; Abbott on Ship. 216 1 Marsh. on Ins. 407; Code de Com. art. 281. Or it is the written evidence of a contract for the carriage and delivery of goods sent by sea for a certain freight. Per Lord Loughborougb, 1 H. Bl. 359.
     2. A bill of lading ought to contain the name of the consignor; the name of the consignee the name of the master of the vessel; the name of the vessel; the place of departure and destination; the price of the freight; and in the margin, the marks and numbers of the things shipped. Code de Com. art. 281; Jacobsen's Sea Laws.
     3. It is usually made in three original's, or parts. One of them is commonly sent to the consignee on board with the goods; another is sent to him by mail or some other conveyance; and the third is retained by the merchant or shipper. The master should also take care to have another part for his own use. Abbotton Ship. 217.
     4. The bill of lading is assignable, and the assignee is entitled to the goods, subject, however, to the shipper's right, in some cases, of stoppage in transitu. See In transitu; Stoppage in transitu. Abbott on Shipping. 331; Bac. Ab. Merchant, L; 1 Bell's Com. 542, 5th ed.

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