Uniform Bill of Lading Act

The Uniform Bill of Lading Act is a US federal law that changed the Carmack Amendment of 1903 to the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 by making freight carriers un-limitlessly legally responsible for damages to goods transported while in transit as long as the wronged party filed claim within four months of the damaged freight being delivered. It also made it illegal for a carrier to limit the claims period to any shorter than 90 days.

Also called the “1st Cummins Act” or “1st Cummins Amendment,” it was sponsored by Sen. Albert B. Cummins (R) of Iowa.


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The Bill of Lading is an instrument issued by an ocean carrier to a shipper that has three functions, namely it is a receipt for goods shipped (not negotiable), as evidence of the contract of carriage (not the contract), and as a document of title for the goods ( i.e. if you have the Bill of Lading, you own the concerning goods). A bill of lading which is clean, indicates that the goods have been properly loaded on board the of the carrier's ship. A bill of lading which is claused, indicates that something is wrong between the goods loaded and the goods listed on the bill. This must be done at the time of loading.

There are two types of bill of lading, a straight bill which is issued to a named consignee that is not negotiable; and a order bill, which is negotiable. A quasi-negotiable order bill refers to the fact that if a good is obtained by fraud the person does not have the title of the goods, even though he was unaware of this fraud. (Wiki)

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