Firstly, what is pre-dating or back-dating..?? It is when the shipper requests the shipping line to show the Shipped on Board date on the bill of lading as a date before the actual sailing of the vessel (example : the vessel actually sails on the 2nd of March but shipper wants the line to show the shipped on board date on the bill of lading as 28th of February)..
Why would a shipper want his bill of lading to be pre-dated..?? This request is generally made to the shipping line when :
- There is a Letter of Credit involved and the L/C stipulates a date by which the shipment must be effected
- For some reason, the shipper is not able to carry out the shipment within the stipulated time, he stands to lose his order and could be subjected to further penalties etc and default
- When the party (generally the receiver of the cargo) that opened the L/C rejects the shipper request for an extension to the letter of credit due to whatever reason
In this case, since the shipper cannot afford to miss the deadline, he requests the shipping line for the bill of lading be pre-dated.. If this pre-dating is done, then the bill of lading will show the shipped on board date in accordance with the L/C deadline as required by the shipper, although the cargo was actually loaded and the ship sailed AFTER the deadline..
This constitutes fraud and wilful misrepresentation of the facts to the consignee who is under the pretext that the shipment has been effected within the stipulated time frame.. Remember the consignee has a written confirmation (bill of lading) from the shipping line that shows the date of shipment and can verify the facts if required..
Under normal circumstances, none of the shipping lines will pre-date the bill of lading (even if based on a letter of indemnity from the shipper) as they do not want to be part of this fradulent activity.. The shipping lines have their own set of code of conduct and ethics and they will not compromise on the same..
They might give you a Received for Shipment bill of lading but that too only provided that the containers/cargo has been delivered to the possession of the shipping line on or before the date that is required to be shown on the bill of lading..
Furthermore, if any legal action is taken by the defrauded consignee on the shipper and shipping line, their respective insurance underwriters will not entertain any claim, costs or damages arising out of this fradulent activity.. It is generally accepted by the insurance underwriters that above is considered fraud and they will not cover the same..