Mate’s Receipt

The B/L (Bill of Lading) is completed and signed some time after the cargo has actually been loaded thus the details at the moment of loading of non-containerised cargo are recorded in the form of a Mate’s receipt. This was traditionally prepared and issued by the Chief Officer of a vessel whose job it is to check the correct receipt of the goods loaded on board and to supervise its stowage. The Mate’s receipt will show any discrepancies in the quantity or pre-shipment condition of the cargo. From the time of issue of the Mate’s receipt, the shipowner is in full possession of the goods and from that time will be responsible for the safety of that cargo in accordance with the pre-shipment condition of such cargo as stipulated in the Mate’s receipt. Once the goods have been loaded on board the shipper can demand the issue of the bill of lading and all necessary information will be transferred from the Mate’s receipt to the bill of lading itself.  In many ports today the Mate’s receipt is a copy of the shipping note and the checking is carried out by inspectors (tally clerks). Neither the dock receipt nor indeed the Mate’s receipt is in any way referred to as a document of title and the statements that are made therein are not conclusive evidence against the Master or indeed the shipowner. It is not until the bill of lading is issued to the shipper that the important functions of the bill of lading come into being.