In 1968, Hague-Visby Rules introduced a modified version of International Convention for Unification of Certain Rules of Law relating to Bills of Lading [Hague Rules, 1924]. Hague-Visby Rules are enacted into English law by Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1971. Hague/Hague-Visby Rules were widely adopted internationally. Hamburg Rules were not accepted and Rotterdam Rules have also not been uniformly implemented. In modern English law, Bills of Lading are governed by Hague-Visby Rules.
There is no doubt, in international trade, documents are of immense value.
Bills of Lading are commonly used when a vessel is employed as a general ship, being put up for a particular voyage to carry goods of any person. There is no universally accepted definition. To quote Sir Richard Aikens, Bills of Lading, (2006) – “like an elephant, a Bill of Lading is generally easier to recognize than to define.”
Bill of Lading is not a contract but it is excellent evidence of terms of contracts [Cho Yang Shipping Co. Ltd. v. Coral (UK) Ltd., (1997) 2 Lloyd’s Rep 641].
– Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee, Owners and Parties Interested in M.V. Polaris Galaxy v. Banque Cantonale de Genève, [Civil Appeal Nos. 6897-6898 of 2022].