Differences and similarities between a sea waybill and a marine B/L
In the international trade, sea transport is the most widely used form of transportation because of its adaptability. As the rapid development of economic globalization and international trade, the connotation and form of sea transport are constantly changing, including the ocean transport document. Generally speaking, there are mainly two kinds of transport documents in international sales of goods where the carriage of goods is by sea--marine bills of lading and sea waybills. By comparing them, it is not difficult to understand and figure out the real meaning of them.
First of all, in terms of the definition, they both are receipts for the goods shipped and evidences of the terms of the contract of affreightment, but the sea waybill cannot be regarded as a document of tittle to the goods, which is the most different between marine bills of lading and sea waybills. From the legal point of view, the holder of the bill of lading means owning the possession of the goods recorded in the bill of lading. However, this right in law is not used by the holder of sea waybill for that the goods entitled by sea waybill cannot be transferable and negotiable.
Secondly, in the part of the movement, it is common that they need a carrier, an exporter and an importer to have a international business, but marine bill of lading needs the third party--an issuing bank and a nominated bank--to get involved. The sea waybill issued directly by the carrier is sent to the consignee, and it does not need to be transferred by the issuing bank, which also means the sea waybill is a non-negotiable document. For importers, it is more convenient and simple to take delivery of goods by sea waybill because it can simplify the movement and save the cost.
Thirdly, for contract forms, the front of these documents are roughly the same, yet the back of them are required differently. Classically, on the back of marine bills of lading, there are various clauses describing the rights, obligations and responsibilities of the shipper and the carrier and it also lists the law applicable to marine bills of lading, while sea waybills are not definitely stipulated in law. Namely, sea waybills are usually used under a close business relationship between businesses. In that case, the both traders are in close contact with each other and have a long-term cooperation.
Last but not least, compared with marine bill of lading, sea waybill is more like a high-risk option for consignees. Assuming that the bill of lading cannot reach the destination punctually, consignees will not be able to pick up the goods in time and then it will also cause a loss to the consignee. At this time, the consignee can ask the nominated bank for issuing a letter of guarantee and take the goods by providing a letter of guarantee, which means marine bill of lading can protect greatly consignees’ benefit. Nevertheless, consignees cannot turn to bank for help in sea waybill.
To sum up, as ocean transport documents, marine bills of lading and sea waybills, differ in many aspects and also have a lot in common. In my point, in the international sea transport, sea waybills will not replace marine bills of lading in the long term for the reason that they both have irreplaceable advantages over each other.
1. 张为群,论海运提单与海运单的区别 [C].《经济关注》