Transport Documents in Carriage of Goods by Sea

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Bill of lading as document of title

7.1 The notion of a document of title

The bill of lading is vested with peculiar attributes of great practical importance. One such attribute is that it is a document of title. Document of title refers to a document which embodies certain rights against the issuer of the document. The existence of those rights is tied to the possession of the document and they can be transferred to a third party by the transfer of the document. A bill of lading being a document of title enables a seller to perform the symbolic delivery of goods before the goods arrive at a given port of destination and, in documentary credit, allows the goods to act as a collateral security to a bank as pledgee. Thanks to this feature, the bill of lading has been able to play a very important role in maritime commerce and, together with the bill of exchange, is considered to be the key instrument in the circulation of goods.

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