A comparative study of the paper and electronic bill of lading under South African law.
Ngcobo, Sanelisiwe Princess.
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A bill of lading is a document which is acknowledged as a cornerstone in any sea contract of carriage. It is the most significant document facilitating transportation in international sale contracts. The court recognise it as a document of dignity and integrity demanding judicial protection. The paper bill of lading is used world-wide to document and effect international trade. Due to its characteristics of being utilized as a receipts, as evidence of contract and as document of title, traders have scrutinised the capabilities of an electronic bill of lading to replicate these functions. The purpose of this study is to compare the extent to which an electronic bill of lading might be recognised as legally valid under South African law. In so doing, firstly, the functions of the paper and electronic bill of lading will be considered. Relevant legislative and case law issues will also considered where appropriate. Secondly, private registries which have been approved by International groups of P & I clubs governing will be discussed. Finally, the issue of whether an electronic bill is sufficiently competent to replicate the major functions of a paper bill, with specific reference to the document of title function will be discussed.