Transport and title documents
Produced in partnership with Quentin Tannock of 4 Pump Court and James Watthey of 4 Pump Court
Transport and title documents

The following Commercial practice note Produced in partnership with Quentin Tannock of 4 Pump Court and James Watthey of 4 Pump Court provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Transport and title documents
  • Documents of title
  • Bills of lading
  • Straight bills
  • Transport documents
  • Air waybills
  • Consignment notes

This Practice Note outlines some classes of documents performing the functions of both a document of title and a document under which goods are carried.

Documents under which goods are carried, and those proving title to goods, are essential to the smooth running of international trade. By far the most important such document in international trade is the bill of lading, see Practice Note: Carriage of goods by sea—bills of lading and sea waybills.

Documents of title

Documents of title in international carriage and/or sales of goods often allow the holder to:

  1. show themselves to be the owner

  2. collect goods from a carrier

The designation of a document as a ‘document of title’ applies the Hague-Visby Rules to the contract of carriage, by virtue of provisions of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971.

Documents of title include, or may include, the following:

  1. bills of lading

  2. straight bills

Bills of lading

A bill of lading:

  1. is produced by or for a carrier of goods to the person with whom the contract of carriage is entered

  2. contains or evidences the contract of carriage and its terms

  3. provides evidence of the receipt of the goods

  4. is a document of title

The description of a bill of lading as a ‘document of title’ refers to its negotiability and the fact that the transfer of a bill of lading constitutes:

  1. a transfer of constructive possession

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