The differences and similarities between sea waybills and marine B/L
It is universally acknowledged that sea waybill is a transport document for maritime shipment which serves as evidence of the contract of carriage and as a receipt for the goods and marine B/L is used primarily in international sales of goods where the carriage of goods is by sea, which are two of the most universal forms of transport document used in contemporary shipping.
To begin with, it is no doubt that there are some similarities between them. They both are the evidencing documents of contract of carriage and the carrier’s receipt of the goods. And at the same time, they are the two basic documents that attest to the carriage of goods by water. In addition, similar to sea waybills, marine bills of lading today usually are standard-form contracts which, in general, are seen as the best evidence of the contract of carriage, although not necessarily the exclusive evidence. However, as the proverb goes “there is no leaf coincided in the world”, the sea waybills and marine B/L also subsist some differences.
Next, in the light of their definition, the major distinction between sea waybills and marine bills of lading is that the bill of lading can transfer title, but the sea waybill cannot do the same. This means that the bill of lading can be used as a form of collateral, unlike the sea waybill, which is a non-negotiable transport document as there is no original issued. 1The reason for this is because the name of the consignee on the sea waybill is locked and cannot be changed after it has been issued by the owner of the cargo. On the contrary, the owner of the cargo or the person whose name is on the bill of lading can transfer the title to anyone with an endorsement.
What’s more, on the basis of their functions, 2the sea waybill, unlike the bill of lading, does not have to be tendered by the named consignee or its agent at the port of discharge or place of delivery in order to take possession of the goods there. It suffices that if the consignee identifies itself as the party identified as such in the document. For this reason, sea waybill lends itself well to contemporary international maritime commerce where negotiability of the transport document is not required by the parties to the contract of sale or by the banks involved in financing the purchase through documentary credits, 3because the waybill consignee does not need to wait for the waybill to arrive by mail from the shipper or to make its way through the complex and rigorous checking process to which bills of lading are exposed in the banking chain in a documentary credit sale.
Furthermore, the marine bill of lading is the legal document that details the type, quantity and ownership of the goods as well as their destination. It also serves as a receipt when the goods arrive at their destination. Simultaneously, sea waybill merely serves as evidence that the consignee has contracted with the shipper to carry the goods to an identified destination. Nonetheless, 4a sea waybill normally contains a list of the items included in the cargo by the shipper, the condition of the cargo, and the name of the consignee.
In conclusion, sea waybills and marine bills of loading play a major role in in international maritime commerce, though, they have similarities and differences, each in its own way has made an important contribution.
2.the Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), “The Use of Transport Documents in International Trade”, UNCTAD/SDTE/TLB/2003/3, dated November 26, 2003