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Part II Bills of Lading and Other Documents of Carriage, 7 The Bill of Lading as Evidence of the Contract of Carriage

From: Carriage of Goods by Sea (3rd Edition)

Stephen Girvin

From: Oxford Legal Research Library (http://olrl.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 24 June 2024

Bills of lading and carriage of goods — Documents of carriage

This chapter assesses the bill of lading as evidence of the contract of carriage. Where the contract of carriage is concluded before the bill of lading is issued, the shipowner cannot unilaterally alter the terms of the contract by introducing contradictory written terms in the bill of lading. At most, the written statements on the reverse of the bill of lading should be considered as excellent evidence of the terms of the contract. The normal rule differs when there is a charterparty relationship between a charterer and a shipowner. Where the charterer also holds a bill of lading as the shipper of the goods, the bill of lading is merely a receipt for the goods because all terms of carriage are in the charterparty. So far as third parties are concerned, the matter is clarified by section 2(1) of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992, which provides that the lawful holder has all the rights of suit under the bill of lading ‘as if he had been a party to that contract’.

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