Lading Bills


A lading bill, or Bill of Lading, is an important document issued by a carrier of goods to a shipper during a transaction involving the movement of goods overseas.

Essentially the Bill of Lading is the title document for the goods sent abroad and acts as evidence of the contract for carriage and as a receipt for goods received.

This is important because in the event that something goes wrong or a contract is breached, the buyer may use the Bill of Lading to understand where liability lies for any losses incurred.

The Bill of Lading is issued by the carrier to the company shipping the goods overseas. As a minimum it should detail:

  • The name of the shipping company
  • The flag of nationality
  • The shipper's name
  • The order and notification party
  • A description of goods including gross, net or tare weight
  • The freight rate or measurements and weight of goods or total freight

There are several different types of Bill of Lading available. Your maritime lawyer will help you decide which is most appropriate in your circumstances. These include straight, order, bearer and surrender categories.

Different types of lading bills

With a straight bill the importer is named, and the seller agrees to assign the bill to a buyer. An order bill requires a further action for endorsement, for example the delivery of the goods.

A bearer bill states that delivery is made to whoever holds the bill at that time. This allows the bill to be negotiated during delivery. These bills can operate almost like currency. Under a surrender bill, the title and power of sale is handed over once the Bill of Lading is handed over.

There are also clean Bills of Lading, if the goods are checked and in good order when loaded, and soiled Bills of Lading, when the goods are received by the carrier in anything but good condition.

Bills of Lading are highly technical and small details can significantly impact their use. If you are involved in sending goods abroad, seek legal advice from an experienced maritime lawyer. You can learn more about this subject on our maritime law page.

If you have a case involving overseas shipping, Contact Law can put you in touch with a cost effective shipping solicitor free of charge. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above and one of our advisors will call you back.

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