What to do when the original bill of lading is lost..??

image for oh onOriginal bill of lading is lost………..

A chilling sentence that creates panic in the hearts of many of the people involved in any international trade transaction involving an Original Bill of Lading..

Shipping documents do get lost in transit to consignee or the bank or elsewhere..

So is it the end of the world for the shipper or consignee if this document which is one of the most important document in international trade and shipping is lost..??

What should be done when the OBL is lost..??

If a negotiable bill of lading is lost, stolen, or destroyed, a few measures can be taken

  1. Image for lost billPlace an advertisement in the local press about the “loss” or “nullification” of the original bill
  2. A court order may be secured, which advises the carrier (shipping line) to deliver the goods to the holder of the title of the goods, based on a surety bond given by the entity claiming the goods, for an amount approved by the court..
  3. The carrier also should receive a Letter of Indemnity indemnifying the carrier or any person injured by delivery, against liability under the outstanding original bill.. The court also may order payment of reasonable costs and attorney’s fees to the carrier..
  4. Certain lines accept a Letter of Indemnity if it is signed by a bank who would then take joint liability to return the original bills of lading (if found)..

However, a few precautions also needs to be taken such as :

  1. An advertisement about the loss is never a complete defense as regards liability for wrongful delivery.
  2. It is merely an evidence that the loss occurred and that the original title holder had the intention of cancelling the original bill of lading issued..
  3. Carrier should understand who holds the title to the cargo and issue a duplicate set only to that entity as there have been cases where the entity that doesn’t hold the title to the goods has advertised about the loss and has convinced the carrier to issue second set of originals whereas the first set is still in the hands of its legal owner and was not actually lost..

A Letter of Indemnity issued in lieu of loss of Original Bill of lading generally has wording as below.. Please note that this is a “generic” format and most lines have their own requirement..

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To the Owners and/or Charterers and/or operators and/or carrier and/or Agents and Masters of M.V.

In consideration of your issuing at my/our request a duplicate set of Bills of Lading for the goods mentioned below, viz.:

Goods: …………………………………………

No. of pkgs.: …………………………………………

Description: …………………………………………

Marks: …………………………………………

Bill of lading or other contract of carriage: …………………..

due to the fact that the original set has been lost I/we hereby agree and undertake to indemnify you and each of you from all consequences of so doing, and I/we undertake to hold you and each of you harmless and indemnified against any claims, liability, losses, costs, charges, fine damages and expenses (including any kind of legal expense) arisingfrom in consequence of or in any way connected to anybody claiming delivery of the goods as owner or assignee or as the holder of any Bill of Lading originally issued for these goods.

1. In this connection I/we especially undertake to hold you and each of you harmless and indemnified against any loss on account of differences in rate of exchange or depreciation of currency and/or depreciation of value and/or loss caused by currency restrictions or exchange restrictions issued by any authority.Furthermore, I/we undertake to produce and deliver to you or each of you not only the duplicate set of Bills of Lading, but also all Bills of Lading which were originally issued if these should later on be found.

2. In the event of any proceedings being commenced against you or any of your servants or agents in connection with the delivery of the goods as aforesaid to provide you or them from time to time with sufficient funds to defend the same.

3. If the vessel or any other vessel or property belonging to you should be arrested or detained or if the arrest or detention thereof goods as aforesaid to provide you or them from time to time with sufficient funds to defend the same.

ISSUANCE OF DUPLICATE BILL OF LADING IN CASE ORIGINAL LOST

4. As soon as all original Bills of Lading for the above goods shall have arrived and/or come into our possession, to produce and deliver the same to you whereupon our liability hereunder shall cease.

5. The liability of each and every person under this indemnity shall be joint and several and shall not be conditional upon your proceeding first against any person, whether or not such person is party to or liable under this indemnity.

6. This indemnity shall be construed in accordance with English law and each and every person liable under this indemnity shall at you request submit to the jurisdiction of the High Court of Justice of England. (This clause may be amended to show another jurisdiction where appropriate).

7. Where this indemnity has been joined in and countersigned by a bank, the issuer and the bank shall be jointly and severally liable hereunder.

Signature …………….

We hereby join in the foregoing undertaking:

Signature of the bank …………………”

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If you have any points or experiences to share about what you did when your original bill of lading was lost, please do share..


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30 comments on “What to do when the original bill of lading is lost..??”

  1. Pingback: How many original bills of lading must I surrender to get release of cargo..?? - Shipping and Freight Resource

  2. Pingback: Responsibility for loss of original bill of lading

  3. By adit Reply

    hello mr manaadiar,
    Our original Bl is lost by fedex courier to rusia. maersk is asking for 200-300% Bg. Value of goods is around 50000 usd. We are not in position to give any BG as bank will treat as full deposit which will incur a cost of 15% per annum accounting to 2 times invoice vlaue loss in interest only in period asked by them for 6 years. What should we do in this case. could we get your number to disucss my number is 00919948151116 pls call me and help me out. my goods are already in demmurage in russia for last 15 days

  4. By Jah Rule Reply

    My BOL got lost by USPS. I will need a court order to clear my goods. Can someone on here help my with the words that must appear on the court order?

  5. By Andy Robins Reply

    If a freight forwarder sends the original Carreir B/L’s by DHL, UPS etc and that courier company loses those B/L’s. Is their any legal argument to make the forwarder to come up with the Bank Guarantee and LOI as we know the courier company will only accept the B/L’s as pieces of paper and not their real worth.

  6. By Varinder Sharma Reply

    My situation is like this :
    Payment made to shipper thru bank.
    Bank gave us OBL.
    We lost OBL in post to CHA.
    We have NON NEGOTIABLE COPY of BL.
    We have payment proof by BANK.
    We have Original Commercial Invoice/Packing List.
    We are direct importers.
    How can we get released the goods ?

    98153-36000

  7. By Lesetja Reply

    Please assist. I have a situation where, the OBL is lost, the bank has issued a bank guarantee, the shipping line is declining to release the BOL even with the bank guarantee. The shipping line refuses to issue a new BOL, as they want an LOI, but the bank refuses to sign the LOI due to the clause of the validity of the LOI. Please advise what I can do in this case.

  8. By Mimie Reply

    Hello….
    I have an issue currently.
    We are the charterer. The bank has lost our Original BL. Kindly advise what should we say and do to the bank.

    • By Hariesh Manaadiar

      Hello Mimie.. Is there an L/C involved..?? If so which bank lost the bill of lading..?? Issuing bank or Applicant bank.. Did they lose all the bills..?? If the bank has lost it, they should provide the bank guarantee to the shipping line, based on which the shipping line can release your cargo.. Are you the consignee on the bill of lading..??

  9. By Saima Reply

    Hi
    We have a situation where the goods are sailing and the shipper is demanding Extra money to the commercial invoice and is not willing to send us original B/L..

    Though we have paid the complete amount according to commercial invoice and We have bank receipts for the same.

    What can be done in this case as he’s not willing to send us the original B/L.

    THANKS

    • By A S Sukumar

      Not sure what is your payment term to the seller. If under LC or DP guess such issues will not arise. If you are buying under advance payment, then this is the risk you have taken.

    • By Samantha Barker

      If you are paying under advance payment, I would insist that the BOL is either Express Release or Telex Release. It is so important to build up a good relationship with your supplier. Even when our imports are 50% proforma we still try to encourage the supplier to send the BOL Express Release. Most are happy to do this because we have built up that trust. This way originals are not required to clear the goods and you can be sent an electronic copy. In the event an original has gone astray we have requested the supplier to re issue as either Express Release or Telex Release and we will cover the small cost to do this. We have not had a problem with a supplier refusing this.

  10. By Bala Reply

    pls clarify ,
    Seller submitted B/L to overseas bank;
    Buyer may not receive B/L in time & Buyer release payment based on Bank confirmation,
    without receipt of B/L original are still in transit (Courier) , shall Buyer may release cargo through Express / Telex release .

  11. By Joycetan Reply

    Hi,
    we have a situation whereby the carrier cannot find the original bill of lading after freight forwarder have endorsed it. carrier asked freight forwarder to made a police report and then insist of a bank guarantee in order to release cargo. the fact for the matter the freight forwarder don’t even have the non negotiable bill of lading in hand. how can we resolve this issue? please advice.

  12. By shan Reply

    I do needs some urgently

    my shipping agent has given me a bill of lading with 5 pieces ofmy consignment but on arrival the Clearing agent has shown us a BOL which was sent to them by my shipping agent as 8 pieces and they would give us the delivery order because it does not match the Original Bill of Lading.What do we do now?Whose fault is it.?

    Thanks

    shan

    • By Shipping and Freight Resource - Hariesh Manaadiar

      Firstly you must ask your Shipping Agent which is the correct bill.. Did they give you the Original bill of lading..?? Are both bill of lading numbers the same and has the same container numbers and marks and numbers on it..?? In short are both bills similar except for the number of packages..??

    • By shan

      to be honest

      both the shipping bills were diffrent right from HBL number and number of packages.But the shipping agent clearing agent has clearly adviced us they will not clear it unless they are the same as what they received.clearly its the fault of my shipping agent who has not given me the original invoice after loading it through another forwarder and ithat forwarder has sent it to the clearing agent who has got the correct HBL and my shipping agent cocked up by happily sending me the one which was not updated and that caused the nightmare.

      WHO DO i BLAME AND CAN i GET COMPENSATION?whom do I write with all this evidence I have with me?Is theer an Ombudsman i can take my cae to?Could you pleas help.I really appreciate your website.

      thanks

  13. By Ahsan Yar Khan Reply

    Hi,
    Salam,

    M working as commercial person in freight forwarding company,
    today our customer lost 3 / OBL set by him rider whom collect that B/L from carrier.
    kindly hardly advise. what the procedure to collect duplicate for releasing cargo?

    B. Regards ………… Ahsan Yar Khan

  14. By Michal Z Reply

    in case the B/L set has been lost, the carrier requests the bank guarantee of 200% goods value. But liabality ends only when the lost documents are found (?!). does it mean the shipper needs to pay the bank guarantee for example for 1000 years? or does the guarantee has any time period? if something is reported to be lost or destroyed it cant be reexisted..there has to be a way out of it, no? if not, sooner or later the cost of guarantee has to reach over the real goods value. Please comment

  15. By Abhi Vash Reply

    what is the amount to be mentioned on the joint indemnity/surety bond ? can the shipping line demand 150% of the Invoice amount on the indemnity ? How is the shipping line aware of the invoice amount ? how can they what is the price of the goods in the shipment?

    • By Manaadiar

      Hi Abhi, in such cases, the line will ask for the copy of the commercial invoice in order to ascertain the amount of indemnity and the value of the cargo will play a big part in them deciding the amount of indemnity..

  16. By Alice Reply

    I am a little bit confused here.
    1. Who should provide a security bound to the carrier, (i.e. the bank or the shipper or the last person who hold the OBL?)
    2. Who should take the action to the court? Carrier only or any one who has interests in the shipment? (i.e bank, shipper, consignee)
    3. Where to file the case in front of court? (POD or POL or the place where may face third party claim for wrongful delivery?)
    4. I though when the OB/L is lost, the shipper or the carrier can just simply obtain some kind of invalidating judgment from the court to render the missing bill of lading null and avoid, then reissue a new one.

    I would be very appreciate if you could help me out here. Those questions has hunted for a while.

  17. By RAJESH BHATIA Reply

    PLEASE BE GUIDED THAT WE ARE A NVOCC OPERATOR AND ARE HOLDING A MASTER BILL OF LADING DUE TO NON PAYMENT OF FREIGHT BY THE SHIPPER , WE HAD ISSUED A FREIGHT PREPAID WITH A CLAUSE I.E SUBJECT TO REALIZATION,SHIPPER NOT PAYING THE FREIGHT AND ALSO THE PREVIOUS SHIPMENTS FREIGHT ,MOREOVER THEY ARE CLAIMING IN THE INDIAN COURTS THAT WE HAVE MANIPULATED THE MASTER BL BY PUTTING OUR NAME, DETAILS OF THE CASE ARE ON FMC WEB-SITE DCKT 1880 , WE SEEK YOUR GUIDANCE HOW TO RECOVER OUR DUES AND CONVINCE THE COURT OF ACT OF MISLEADING & CHEATING BY THE SHIPPER

  18. By Iain Houston Reply

    we have a situation where customer has lost original bills of lading and the bank will not countersign a letter of indemnity…what is the legar rights or who has legal erights?

    • By manaadiar

      Hi Iain, pls can you elaborate on your question.. Do you mean that the bank is not prepared to issue a guarantee on your behalf..?? It is possible depending on the bank and the amount of risk that they want to take on behalf of the customer.. Did you try the steps mentioned in the above article vis-a-vis court order etc..?? The actual owner of the cargo whether the seller or the buyer hold the legal rights to the cargo always..

  19. By paul Reply

    Perhaps this is another topic then but I have an original (MSC) b/l in front of me with the following preprinted text:…
    If this is a negotiable (To Order / of) Bill of Lading, one original Bill of Lading, duly endores must be surrendered by the Merchant to the Carrier (…) in exchange for goods or a delivery order. If this is a non-negotiable (straight) billl of lading …
    which seems to imply that the “To Order Of” addition is pretty relevnt to making the b/l a negotiable document; in both cases the b/l will be an original, but the workings is different I have come to understand. I suppose the resolutionas you described is adequate for any lost original b/l, be a negotiable or not so that differentiation does not necessarily have to be made I think

  20. By paul Reply

    Hi,
    many b/l’s are not made out ‘to order’ and thereby become a non-negotiable document; in what way does that change the procedure in case of loss?

    • By manaadiar

      Hi Paul, whether the bill is made out TO ORDER or not doesn’t influence whether the document is negotiable or non-negotiable.. Only an original bill of lading is recognised as a negotiable document whoever the consignee is..

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