Contract of Carriage

Vessels carrying dangerous goods must have on board a dangerous goods manifest and a copy of the dangerous goods declaration for each item of cargo. Throughout the European Community, in the USA and in many other parts of the world there are very stringent rules relating to the ability of the carrier through its nominated local ship’s agent to provide details of dangerous cargoes carried to the authorities on demand. Before accepting dangerous cargo, the Ship manager must check: If the ship can meet with the onboard stowage conditions. If either the vessel’s Hull Underwriters or P & I Club have to be advised. It is in fact wise to consult with the P & I Club who should have useful additional information and guidance for the Owners in respect of the loading, stowing and discharge of the dangerous cargo. If the vessel’s articles call for additional payment to the crew if dangerous cargo is carried. As each consignment is loaded the “Mate’s Receipt” is issued.  This notes the nature of the consignment, its weight, marks and condition.  From these receipts the Bill of Lading is drawn up.  A Bill of Lading is: The Master’s formal receipt for the goods and when released to the Shipper becomes the document of title to the goods. Evidence of the contract of carriage. A Ship manager will frequently come upon requests that the Bill of Lading be endorsed: “Freight Prepaid” or “Freight Paid”.  In this case it also becomes a receipt for the freight.  Some Shippers ask that the Bills of Lading be so endorsed against a promise to pay the freight later. It must be recognised that once the Bill of lading has been marked  “Freight Paid” the consignee is entitled to demand delivery of the goods at destination. In the event that the shippers promise to pay has not been fulfilled the ship owner has lost the security of his lien on the cargo for that freight.  The Ship manager will therefore come to his own commercial decision about giving a receipt for what can be a substantial sum without actually having received it.