How can a solicitor help me to set up my business transporting goods by ship?


International trade is being billed as the saviour of our economy. With serious tax incentives and funding available for manufacturing and export, more and more businesses are looking to foreign markets to alleviate stagnating sales from within the UK.

However, making the decision to sell abroad, and actually doing so are quite different things. In addition to attracting overseas buyers, a crucial element of your planning will involve working out how to actually get your goods to your overseas customers.

If you require general help with setting up a business, visit our commercial law pages.

Shipping of goods

Shipping valuable commodities overseas involves significant paperwork which must be correct to ensure safe passage. A specialist maritime law or commercial solicitor will specialise in preparing paperwork for overseas shipping, meaning that your goods get to where they need to go with as few problems as possible.

The first item on the agenda for your shipping solicitor will be providing an Export Cargo Shipping Instruction (ECSI). This is given to the shipping company to detail your goods and shipping instructions. This will be supplemented by a Standard Shipping Note for non-hazardous goods, or a Dangerous Goods Note, for hazardous items.

Bill of Lading

In addition to the ECSI and notes, your shipping solicitor can also check a Bill of Lading. This is provided by the carrier and serves several purposes; it shows that the carrier company have received the goods, provides evidence of the contract between you and the carrier for their services, and serves as a document of title.

Given its significance, having an experienced shipping solicitor look over this document can be a big advantage.

As an alternative to a Bill of Lading, your solicitor may recommend a Sea Waybill, which amounts to the same thing, but does not serve as a document of title, and is usually used once you have established a good relationship with your foreign buyer and carriers.

Your solicitor will also offer legal advice on the different types of shipping available, and obtaining appropriate cargo insurance to ensure your products are protected whilst at sea.

You can learn more about this subject on our international trade page.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on setting up your export business, Contact Law can put you in touch with a local shipping solicitor free of charge. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above to speak to an advisor.

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