- Formation of contract — Bills of lading — Obligations of the buyer — Obligations of the seller — Documents of title — Passing of property
This chapter discusses the notion of the bill of lading as a document of title, before undergoing a legislative treatment of the subject as a whole. It had been decided in the eighteenth century, in recognition of mercantile custom to this effect, that the ocean bill of lading was a negotiable document of title. In consequence, the due negotiation of it by the seller to the buyer could transfer the property in the underlying goods. More importantly, it meant that constructive possession could be transferred and that the carrier had to deliver the cargo to the new holder (subject to any lien for unpaid freight) and could not plead that, without attorning directly to the new holder, they might not be made to do so. The new holder acquired the right to immediate possession and thus the necessary standing to maintain a tort action against the carrier.