Maritime Letters of Indemnity




7.1 Letters of indemnity issued in exchange for delivery of cargo without production of the original bill of lading are the most common letter of indemnity encountered in practice. In examining the use of this maritime letter of indemnity, we will first explore the practical difficulties associated the presentation rule, as well as the factors preventing or creating difficulties1 for its fulfilment. The essence of the presentation rule is that production of a bill of lading is required prior to delivery of the cargo entrusted to the carrier.2 We will also look at the consequences if the presentation rule is not complied with as well as those created by the use of the letter of indemnity.3 Those parts of the law which are clear will be differentiated from the grey areas which still exist, particularly with respect to the position of financing banks when a letter of indemnity is used to obtain delivery of the cargo. The possibility of protecting the carrier contractually from exposure to liability by using an Antwerpen 4 clause will also be considered.

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