Churchill

Where the bill of lading states that the goods were “shipped in good order and condition” or shipped in “apparent good order and condition” the shipper is estopped as against an indorsee for value of the bill and against a person rightfully presenting the bill of lading and taking delivery thereunder, from proving that the goods were not in apparent good order and condition, unless it was clearly shown to the indorsee or person presenting the bill that the statement was untrue; or it is proved that he did not act on the faith of the statement. In Compagnia Naviera Vascongade v. Churchill v. Sim (1947) timber although obviously stained with petroleum was stated in the bill of lading to be “shipped in good order and condition”.  The Court held that the indorsee of the bill of lading could sue the shipowner for damages and the shipowner was estopped from denying that the timber was shipped in good condition.  Under Hague/ Hague Visby Rules the carrier is bound to issue a bill of lading showing the apparent order and condition of the goods. Such a bill is prima facie evidence of the receipt of the goods by the carrier in the order and condition stated.  The shipowner is estopped from showing that the goods shipped were marked otherwise than stated on the bills of lading if the marks denote the commercial character or description of the goods but not if they were inserted for ease of identification. The bill of lading as evidence of the contract of carriage   After the shipment of goods under a contract of carriage by sea, the bill of lading is signed and delivered to the shipper.  It is not the contract that has been made before the bill of lading was signed and delivered but it is excellent evidence of the terms of the contract and in the hands of the indorsee is the only evidence.  However it is open to the shipowners to prove by oral evidence that the true terms of the contract are not those contained in the bill of lading.