Bills of Lading & Related Cargo Claims

Programme Topics:-

English Maritime Law and its Importance in Bill of Lading Disputes

A half-day introduction to English Maritime Law will be provided at the start of the course. It is designed for those who do not have an English law background but nevertheless need to understand the legal context in which many bill of lading disputes are resolved — namely in the English Courts. The two main subjects addressed are: 1) The Origins and Sources of English law — the concept of Precedence; and 2) Basic Principles of the Law of Contract. The Basic Principles of the Law of Tort with particular emphasis on the tort of negligence will be provided in the text of the papers but will not be the subject of a lecture.

Functions and Problems of the Bill of Lading

Looks at the importance of the Bill of Lading and its function in the carriage of goods by sea. Letters of Indemnity will also be discussed, especially those concerned with delivery of cargo without production of the Bill of Lading.
The Hague, Hague-Visby Rules and the Hamburg Rules
The core subject in understanding the legal position of a bill of lading in various jurisdictions. This session will give a resumé of the above Rules, illustrating when and where they differ, and highlighting: their legal effect; who is the carrier; obligations, responsibilities, rights and immunities of the carrier; limitation of liability; and time limits.

Package Limitation: Title to Sue

Whilst International Rules bring obligations, they also provide the limitations of liability, the knowledge of which is essential in defending cargo claims. The first part of this session examines package limitation defences. In the past the question of who is entitled to sue the carrier has been a problem area. The extent to which these problems have been solved will be looked at in the second part of this session.

Incorporation of Charter Party Terms into Bills of Lading

Virtually all tramp Bills of Lading are issued under a Charter Party but these two differing documents can often conflict. Such problems need a solution and this session offers guidance on how to resolve the more commonly encountered difficulties.

Risk Allocation amongst Owner, Charterer and Cargo

Under a time charter, Owners and Charterers have differing priorities in the settlement of cargo claims which led a number of years ago to the introduction of the Inter-Club Agreement by the P&I Clubs. Adding in cargo interests who themselves may bear losses excepted by the Hague-Visby Rules, the sharing of risk under contracts of carriage becomes a complex issue which will be further explored here.

Case Study

This case study highlights events that could occur on a single voyage where the vessel is operated under a period time charter and subsequently sub-let for a trip charter. Owners, charterers, sub-charterers and cargo interests all contribute in varying ways to the confusion that may arise in the event of a cargo claim arising.

Special Problems in the Tanker Trades

Many Bill of Lading problems are peculiar to specific trades and this lecture considers those applicable to the carriage of oil. The nature of oil and its products and the characteristic of tankers result in a number of major problem areas including: shortages, contamination and "paper" claims which will be examined in some detail during this session.

Dry Cargo Claims Analysed

Short delivery, mis-delivery and damage are the three main categories for cargo claims in the dry-cargo trades. This session will consider the practical problems of pursuing or defending a claim and highlight the importance of evidence, using leading law cases to illustrate good and bad practice.

Electronic Bills of Lading

This session will examine the latest developments in Electronic Bills of Lading and whether they will replace the traditional form. It will provide an up-date on current initiatives and look at the interface with other trade documents.

Bills of Lading Frauds

The first session will examine the modus operandi of documentary frauds involving bills of lading together with preventative and remedial measures. The second session introduces a fraud case study involving bills of lading. Delegates will be invited to provide possible solutions. The objective is to learn the considerable potential for fraud with bills of lading – forewarned is forearmed!


All of the speakers have practical experience in dealing with either charter party negotiation, bills of lading disputes or arbitration and dispute resolution generally. The following form the core of the Faculty who have lectured on this course in recent years.

Course Leader:

David Martin-Clark, Consultant, Arbitrator and Mediator, previously Chairman and Chief Executive of Miller Holding Company and Chairman and Director of its subsidiaries in the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the US. The Thomas Miller Group is best known for its management of mutual insurance associations in the shipping and transport industry, such as the UK Pand I Club, the UK Defence Club and the TT (Through Transport) Club.  David also founded and is the Editor of DMC's CaseNotes web site, a valuable reference source of recent law cases with significant relevance to maritime law. (

  • Francesco Bastianello, Project Manager, Electronic Shipping Solutions, London
  • Marina Comninos, General Counsel & Head of Solution Delivery, Electronic Shipping Solutions, London
  • Dr John M Doviak, Director, Cambridge Academy of Transport
  • Reg Fowler, Legal Counsel, Shell International Trading & Shipping Co Ltd
  • Graham Harris, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP
  • Philippa Langton, Senior Claims Executive, Thomas Miller P&I Ltd, UK
  • Trevor Law, Former Vice President, DVB Bank, UK
  • Cyrus Mody, Assistant Director, ICC International Maritime Bureau
  • Capt P K Mukundan, Director, ICC International Maritime Bureau
  • David Richards, Partner, Ince & Co

Course information

Dates to be announced
Venue to be confirmed

Course fee

The cost of the three days is £2,400 per person, fully inclusive of UK Value Added Tax, tuition, refreshments, and lunch each day. Accommodation is NOT included but is available at the venue hotel at a discounted rate to our delegates.

Programme and Booking Form

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