The development of the bill of lading : its future in the maritime industry
This Thesis will consider the development of the traditional bill of lading from its origins, which appear to be much older than previously considered, up to the present day. The development of the bill of lading will be examined in order to answer basic questions: what is a traditional bill of lading, and what functions does it perform. In Part I of the Thesis the development of the three main functions of the traditional bill will be considered, namely receipt, contract, document of title. It will conclude with observations on the nature of the traditional bill of lading and how it differs from the early form of the bill of lading. Part II of the Thesis will then consider the development and nature of related shipping documents (charterparty bills, received for shipment bills, non-transferable bills), how far these documents perform the functions of the traditional bill of lading, and whether they can be truly described as bills of lading. Part II will then go on to consider the development and nature of electronic bills of lading and assess how well such bills perform the functions of the traditional bill of lading. The Thesis will conclude that although most of the functions of the traditional bill are in effect performed by electronic bills, electronic bills are in fact a new type of bill of lading and not merely a traditional bill in an electronic format. Conclusions will then be drawn as to what effect the development of new types of bill of lading will have on the future of the traditional bill of lading in the maritime industry.