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May 03, 2023



International Trade law generally involves the trade between two countries on international basis that includes transportation of the goods through various modes, international trade law often includes the rules and customs which includes often governs the trade between countries beyond international boundaries.  International transport as part of the trade also includes the role of contracts as a part of legal functions in the form of contract between the seller and buyer which is conducted in the form of documentation in the form of Bill of lading, which becomes the evidence of the delivery of the goods through the carriers in case of international transportation. In international trade the proper documentation gives a validity to file a legal claim in case the goods are being lost or destroyed in case of transit so that the rights of the seller and buyer are both intact.  The following paper highlights on the role of electronic bill of lading in international trade law, usefulness of the e-bill of lading, benefits of the e-bill of lading, limitations of using the same as well as risks associated with the e-bills, their contribution to the international trade law by providing protection against default on payment or perpetration of fraud. and followed by conclusion.

Usefulness Of E-Bill Of Lading In International Trade Law

In the International trade law, the legality of the contract is often formed through the contract in the form of Bill of lading, it is often used by the carrier while transporting the goods in order to acknowledge the receipt of cargo for the shipment purposes. These are the most important documents which are often used in the international trade in order to ensure the receiving of the payments and merchandise by the exporter and the seller. Bill of lading ensures both the policy and an invoice and is a kind of negotiable instruments. It is acts as the conclusive receipt of the transaction and is also considered as an evidence in case of contract of carriage. Since with the Bill of lading being on paper there is a possibility of fraud being done, so with the modernization of the trade practices on an international level and the world turning into digitization the e-Bill of lading is being introduced by the government of United Kingdom through which the transactions are being considered on an international as well as domestic level. The United Kingdom also ratified the e-CMR Protocol which has enabled both the transactions using digital waybills, it ensures to conduct the safe transit and payment of the transactions, the very purpose the digitization is to improve the channels of synchronisation and communications between both the parties through automatic processing and decision making on the basis of fact. Since there can be fraud which can be done through the bill of lading in the paper form so ensuring it as the electronic transaction can be beneficial and safer for safe transaction. Besides that, the COVID Pandemic has also made the shipping and transaction industry to adopt electronic bills of lading and making it another accepted option in the shipping industry. Moreover, the obligations undertaken by the career to ensure that the goods have been delivered safely, completely depends upon the terms of the Bill of Lading, the same has been held in the case Glyn Mills & Co and west India Dock Co. court held: nature and extent of the obligations undertaken by the ship owner to consider a safe delivery of the goods to the contracted destination totally depends upon the terms of bill of lading which have been previously decided in the contract with the shipper where the assignee of the  bill of lading has notice of the same and thus is considered to be bounded by the which have been introduced in to the stipulations mentioned in the contract in order to protect his rights against any kind of loss of fraud. The main purpose of the bill of lading be it either in paper form of in the form e- bill of lading is to protect the rights of both the parties also to provide damages or compensation in case of failure to deliver the assignment on time. The same has been held in the case Gard Shipping AS- v- Clearlake Shipping Pte Ltd (Comm)Grade shipping, a voyage charter party agreed to let crude oil tanker to Clearlake shipping Pte Ltd.  From one safe port to another safe port, no formal document was ever drawn up but a fixture recap was decided to be paid up upon breach, the charter party varied to deliver a second voyage which gave rise to the dispute. Court held:  in the present case the owners were entitled to only the ordinary rate of demurrage which was set in the fixture recap as opposed to the escalated rate. Moreover, the bill of lading also ensures the completion of contract as well as the safe transit of the goods upon handing over the documents relating to the bill of lading.  The same was held in the case of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. -v- Glencore International AG, court in this case considered what could be the safe point where effective delivery of the goods through the electronic bill of lading can be made and whether or not an electronic system of pin codes can be considered to be sufficient substitute for bill of ladings or not. Glencore made the shipment of Cargo which was carried through the Mediterranean Sea, the cargo was supposed to deliver three containers which were lost by the carriage, which was contracted on the eBill of lading and thus pin code was provided. Court held, while adopting the new technologies for the purpose of international trade, every company should ensure itself of the legal implications of the same and the companies must protect themselves contractually upon the adoption of the new technologies.   Benefits of using eBills of lading With the liberalization and privatization many markets are emerging along with various buyers and sellers which often lack government support, so without any proper authorization and maintenance of records it can be difficult to keep a check on the on-going activities which could result in the increase of frauds and risks in trading of the goods with the fraudulent delivery of the bill of lading in the paper format, so with the globalization in the international trade the system of electronic bill of lading in the form of eBill if lading has been introduced, which have its own benefits if using the same. One of the benefits of using the e Bills is that it does not include the cost of transport which is almost around 10 to 15% which may often result by the use of paper documents.
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