TT Talk - Carrier's duty to deliver under a Straight Bill of Lading

  • Date: 30/10/2002
  • Source: TT Talk 27

In a judgment delivered earlier this month, in the case of APL Co Pte Ltd v Peer Voss, the Court of Appeal in Singapore has held that a carrier is not entitled to deliver goods carried under a straight bill of lading, without production of that bill of lading by the named consignee. A straight bill of lading is a non-transferable/non-negotiable bill of lading, in which the consignee is named/identified. It differs from a negotiable bill of lading, where the consignee is expressed as 'to order' or equivalent.

The decision is an important one, since it establishes for the first time in Singaporean law that a straight bill of lading is different from a sea waybill, the presentation of which is not a prerequisite to delivery by the carrier. As regards production on delivery, there is now no difference between a negotiable bill of lading and a straight bill. In both cases, the carrier is at risk if he delivers without requiring the bill of lading to be produced in exchange for the goods. In the case of a straight bill, the consignee claiming delivery must in addition identify himself as the person named as the consignee in the bill.

The decision is contrary to current industry practice, which tends to equate straight bills with sea waybills, but it may be followed in other jurisdictions. For example, the English Court of Appeal, in the recent case of 'The Happy Ranger' indicated that it might not be wise to rely on the textbooks, most of which have to date agreed that a straight bill need not be produced as a pre-requisite to delivery. The effect of the decision on industry practice is currently under debate, and we will keep readers of TT Talk informed, as discussions progress.

Through Transport Mutual Insurance Association Limited and TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited, trading as the TT Club. TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited, registered in the UK (Company number: 02657093) is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority. In Hong Kong, TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited is authorised and regulated by the Hong Kong Insurance Authority, in Singapore by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and in Australia by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. In the United States, TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited is approved as a surplus lines insurer in all states and is accessible through properly licensed surplus lines brokers. The registered offices are: 90 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 4ST.

Through Transport Mutual Insurance Association Limited, registered in Bermuda (Company number: 1750) is authorised and regulated in Bermuda by the Bermuda Monetary Authority. 

The UK VAT Identification number for Through Transport Mutual Insurance Association Limited is: GB 564 5244 35 and for TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited is: GB 564 3375 30. The Italian VAT Identification number for TT Club Mutual Ltd is: 03627210101.

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