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Bill of Lading Freight

Bill of Lading, Nature of

Consignee and Indorsee, Bill of Lading
Last updated: 01-Apr-2015

In Standard Chartered Bank v Dorchester LNG & Anor (Rev 1) [2014] EWCA Civ 1382 Moore-Bick LJ said at para 16:

16. [T]he consignee, though not in the true sense an original party to the contract, is the person to whom the carrier has agreed to deliver the goods against production of the bill of lading and who alone, therefore, can call for their delivery. In those circumstances possession of the bill of lading on his part is all that is required to enable the contract to be performed in accordance with its terms. The same is not true in the case of an indorsee, however, whose position as such depends on the decision of an existing holder. Indorsing the bill, in the sense of adding and signing an instruction to deliver the goods to a third party, is an inchoate act. While the bill remains in the hands of the holder the indorsement is revocable, since he may cancel or vary it as he pleases. It is only when he delivers the bill to the indorsee that the indorsement becomes irrevocable and effective to transfer the rights of suit which it represents. Delivery therefore represents an essential element in a series of voluntary acts designed to give effect to the holder’s intention to transfer the rights which it represents. To that extent there is, in my view, a clear analogy between the indorsement of bills of lading and the indorsement of bills of exchange, which may explain why the draftsman of the Act chose to use language similar to that found in the Bills of Exchange Act 1882.

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