chapter  21
34 Pages

Signing of Bills of Lading

The Venezuela [1980] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 393. 21.5 In The Hector [1998] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 287, at page 295, Rix, J., commented that what he

thought Sheen, J., was saying in The Venezuela was that ‘‘without the knowledge that the vessel was on charter, a third party holder of the bill of lading such as the shipper only knew what he was told in the bill: he would therefore suppose that there was no conflict between a bill signed for the master and a bill under which [the sub-charterer] C.A.V.N. was the designated carrier. If, however, the bill had expressly stipulated that the Panamanian owners were the carriers, then that would or might have been different.’’ The position was similar in The Hector. It was, Rix, J., considered, critical that there was nothing in the Hector bill of lading to say who the owners (and therefore the carriers) were, save for a clause stipulating that U.S. Express Lines were the carriers. The Hector was time chartered on an amended New York Produce form to U.S. Express Lines and then sub-voyage chartered. A bill of lading was issued by the sub-voyage charterers on the Conline form which was headed in typescript ‘‘Carrier: U.S. Express Lines’’. The bill was signed by the voyage charterers’ agents ‘‘For and on behalf of the Master’’ and contained an identity of carrier clause to the effect that the contract of carriage was between the merchant and the owner of the vessel, but that if any other was adjudged to be the carrier, such other was entitled to all limitations and exonerations of liability under the bill. The bill contained no demise clause. U.S. Express Lines having got into financial difficulties, the court was asked to determine whether the owners were bound to deliver the cargo to destination.