Congestion

Unless the contract provides for the shipper to be responsible for the loading and discharging operations, the carrier may be held liable for any cargo damage occurring prior to loading and/or following discharge while the cargo is in the carrier’s possession.  Under these circumstances the terms of carriage are likely to contractually extend the Hague-Visby Rules to include these periods thereby giving the carrier the benefit of the defences. Very rarely a conventional B/L will be a Received for Shipment Bill of Lading. There are circumstances, for example congestion at the docks, whereby cargo may be waiting for shipment on board a vessel. To meet the difficulties which may be caused through such circumstances, the carrier may issue a ‘Received for Shipment Bill of Lading’ which means that the cargo has been handed over to the carrier and is in his custody, but has not been loaded on board the seagoing vessel. The cargo, in these circumstances, may be stowed in a warehouse or transit shed or even on the quayside and, of course, in those unsatisfactory circumstances may be at a great risk. Whereas, under a Shipped bill of lading the cargo is safely on board the vessel in the custody of the shipowner, under the Received for Shipment bill of lading this is not so. The cargo in these circumstances is wide open to the risks of fire, loss or damage caused by the weather or indeed by pilferage. This is obviously a most unsatisfactory situation as it gives no certainty to the safety of the cargo so far as the various parties to the contract of carriage may be concerned. The bill of lading does not in these circumstances evidence actual shipment. It may be that the cargo is not actually put on board the named vessel. There is, therefore, doubt as to the actual fulfilment of the shippers’ legal obligations under the contract. For these reasons the Received for Shipment B/L is, obviously, not acceptable to banks in the transaction of international trade.