Consultations between the shipping association BIMCO and the industry have culminated in a new clause which will now appear as standard in agreements and effectively gives electronic Bills of Lading the same status as paper Bills of Lading under the terms of the charter party. Additionally, normal protection and indemnity insurance liabilities are covered to the same extent when using eBLs as their paper equivalent.
In the event that the cargo is lost, damaged, stolen or does not reach its destination in the condition it did when leaving port, this work by the BIMCO committee clarifies that shippers using eBLs are effectively indemnified. In turn, this will go a long way in alleviating one of the biggest concerns about eBLs that many ship owners have.
Paul Mallon, co-founder of Bolero and eBL specialist, contributed to the drafting of the charter party agreements with feedback on the experiences corporates that have already used eBLs have had, making sure they were well represented in the terms of this agreement.
Commenting on the latest developments, BIMCO said that “the technical, legal and financial infrastructure necessary for the widespread adoption of eBLs has developed sufficiently to herald what it believes will be a new era for electronic documentation.”
BIMCO chief officer Legal and Contractual Affairs Grant Hunter said: “Many charterers are pressing for the wider use of electronic bills of lading following a number of successful pilot studies in selected trades in the past few years. We have been pleased to respond to this development by working together with charterers, owners and systems providers to create a tailor-made charter party clause.”