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Who is at risk? : Is a carrier under a straight bill of lading entitled to deliver goods to the named consignee without presentation of the original bill of lading? Yang, Jie

Abstract

The bill of lading is the single most important legal document in the carriage of goods by sea, and hence in the international trading system as a whole. However, legislation and judicial opinion around the world on the issue of whether or not a carrier, under a straight bill of lading, is entitled to deliver goods to the named consignee without the presentation of the original bill is quite diverse. It is generally accepted that a bill of lading performs three functions. It is a receipt for goods, evidence of a contract of carriage, and a document of title. There is much discussion and many arguments as to whether straight bills of lading should be documents of title in international trade and transportation. Focusing on China, this study explains the problems concerning the carriage of goods by sea without straight bills of lading. It examines international approaches by presenting legislation and cases from several representative shipping countries and districts including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, and Singapore, as well as China (including some cases in which the author acted for one of the parties). It goes on to identify the basic principles on delivery issues for Chinese legislation. Finally, this study explores approaches relating to the resolution of the issues pertaining to delivery of goods without bills of lading, and offers suggestions for improving Chinese legislation.

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