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Title: The concerns of the shipping industry regarding the application of electronic bills of lading in practice amid technological change
Author: Jafari, Farhang
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 5946
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2015
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In the sea trade, the traditional paper-based bill of lading has played an important role across the globe for centuries, but with the advent of advanced commercial modes of transportation and communication, the central position of this document is under threat. The importance of the bill of lading still prevails as does the need of the functions that this document served in the past, although in a changed format. In the recent past, the world has witnessed a lot of debate about replacing this traditional paper-based document with an electronic equivalent that exhibits all of its functions and characteristics, both commercial and legal. More specifically, unlike many rival travel documents, such as the Sea Waybill, a bill of lading has two prominent features, that is to say, its negotiability and its acceptability as a document of title in certain legal jurisdictions that are required to be retained in an electronic bill of lading so as to also retain the prominence of this document in the future landscape. This thesis is, however, more concerned about the legal aspects of adopting the electronic bill of lading as a traditional paper-based legal document as well as an effective legal document in the present age. However, the scope of this debate remains primarily focused on the USA and UK jurisdictions. In the course of this thesis, it is observed that, in the past, the bill of lading has been subject to a variety of international regimes, such as The Hague Rules and The Hague-Visby Rules, and presently efforts are being made to arrive at a universal agreement under the umbrella of The Rotterdam Rules, but such an agreement is yet to arrive among the comity of nations. On the other hand, efforts made by the business community to introduce an electronic bill of lading are much louder and more evident. The private efforts, such as the SeaDocs System, CMI Rules, and the BOLERO Project, etc., were, however, received by the fellow business community with both applause as well as suspicion. At the same time, there are a number of concerns voiced by the international business community on the legislative adoptability in national and international jurisdictions and the courts’ approach in adjudicating cases involving electronic transactions and these are making the task of adoption of electronic bill of lading in the sea-based transactions a difficult task. Therefore, in the absence of any formal legal backing from national and international legislations, these attempts could not achieve the desired results. In this thesis, the present situation of the acceptability of electronic transactions in general, and of the electronic bill of lading specifically, has also been discussed with reference to certain national jurisdictions, such as Australia, India, South Korea and China, in order to present comparative perspectives on the preparedness of these nations. On the regional level, the efforts made by the European Union have also been discussed to promote electronic transactions within its jurisdiction. All the discussion, however, leads to the situation where the level of acceptability of electronic bill of lading in the near future is found to be dependent upon the official efforts from the national governments and putting these efforts towards arriving at an agreement on Rotterdam Rules as early as possible. The other area of importance revealed in this thesis is the need for change in juristic approach by the courts while interpreting and adjudicating upon cases involving electronic transactions. On the whole, this thesis has provided a cohesive and systematic review, synthesis and analysis of the history of the bill of lading, its importance as a document of title, and attempts to incorporate its important functions within the fast-paced electronic shipping commerce of today. In such a way it has provided a valuable contribution to the literature by providing a comprehensive resource for jurists, policy-makers and the business community alike, as they work towards adapting the bill of lading so that it might be successfully applied in electronic form.
Supervisor: Davidson, Fraser ; McArdle, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: International trade law ; International Commercial law ; Maritime law ; Carriage of Goods by Sea ; Law ; Bill of lading ; Electronic bill of lading ; Rotterdam Rules ; Electronic signature ; E-commerce ; Bills of lading ; Inventory control Data processing