Discharging Port

Cargo should only be delivered to a party (a consignee) who can produce an original bill of lading covering the item of cargo claimed. The port agent should examine the bill of lading thus presented so as to ensure its good order and, once he is satisfied that all is correct, he will release the cargo, or issue a “delivery order” in exchange for the bill of lading. The consignee thereafter presents the delivery order to the dock authority/terminal operator or the stevedores and claims release of the item/cargo concerned. In the meantime, the original bill of lading presented should be stamped, signed and dated by the port agent, and in doing this he is said to have “sighted” the bill of lading on the master’s behalf. Should the agent return the bill of lading to the consignee where this is the custom instead of issuing a delivery order, he must keep a careful record, as it is essential that not more than one “original” be “sighted”, or more than one “delivery order” be prepared for every set of bills. As an aid to record keeping in this regard, a copy of the “cargo manifest” may be utilised, on which to record “sighted” bills. Where the consignee claims an original bill from the “ship’s bag”, the master and/or port agent must, of course, satisfy themselves of the correct identity of the claimant. It is customary in certain trades for a consignee to endorse the reverse sides of bills of lading with confirmation of receipt of cargo, and such bills are said to be “accomplished”. Occasionally it is necessary for a shipowner to obtain an “accomplished” bill of lading as a prerequisite for all or for part of his freight. Where bills of lading arrive at a discharge port unreasonably late (for example, after a ship’s arrival) they may be said to be “stale”, the same term being used to describe bills presented to a bank for freight collection later than the terms set by a letter of credit.