Assignment

It is a matter of some regret that the UK legislators chose a name for the new Act which would cause confusion.  One must school oneself to remember that The Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971  is the ratification of the Hague-Visby Rules while The Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992 is the Act which replaces the UK Bills of Lading Act 1855; it does not replace the 1971 Act. One can perhaps understand that, because the new act deliberately sought to include documents other than B/Ls (e.g. Sea Waybills), there was a need to omit bills of lading from the Act’s title but many practitioners in shipping business feel that a less confusing title could have been found. Other jurisdictions have their own legislation covering bills of lading but the UK Act will be studied in order to address the problems of legal action in connection with B/Ls. The Bills of Lading Act 1855 was overdue for revision because it had certain shortcomings when B/Ls were transferred and it had no ability to cope with some present-day practices. Assignment is a device which enables one party to transfer the benefit of a performance which he has contracted to receive to another person in such a way that the assignee (to whom the benefit is transferred) may enforce performance. In this situation it should be understood that the original contract does not stipulate that the benefit of performance should go to a third party. An involuntary assignment by operation of law may occur upon death or bankruptcy. The common law originally, however, made no provision for voluntary assignment of contract.