Some twenty years ago, a simple questionnaire was issued by the North of England P&I Association asking for their practical experiences related to the issue of the Bills of Lading together with the subsequent delivery of the cargoes against them. The answers received were analyzed and revealed numerous specific problems setting the recurring theme, namely the disagreements between the shore and ship's figures, pressure on the ship master to issue clean document, agents signing the bills of lading with no reference to the receipts from the mate or exceeding their authority, and requests for the cargo delivery with no original bill of lading produces.

The present guide starts with some brief introductory information about the bills of lading. In most of the international transactions where the cargoes are to be transported by sea, the seller promises to do two major things - the first thing is to place the goods on board a vessel, and the second thing is to provide all commercial documents that are required by the contract in place - and the central of those documents is commonly the bill of lading. The Master of the vessel describes the apparent order and condition of the cargo received on board. In some cases the Master is pressed to hide the information that would make the bill of lading look less attractive to the buyers...

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The present official P&I Guide has peen specifically compiled and released to provide all interested parties with the discussion of the rules relating to the cover and law, prevention of the claims and sometimes handling of the claims. The original intention of the authors of this document was to serve as a reference paper for the insurance managers, to give them a proper explanation of the cover that is provided by the P&I Club; however, in the course of working on the content the authors have also concentrated on the control and prevention of claims.

The management heads of the Club were convinced that significant progress could be achieved and has been achieved in the reduction of the number of claims through explaining to the ship masters and officers all important lessons that the Club learnt from the investigations of the previous claims. Therefore this document is expected to prove of interest to the seafarers and, equally, to the shore-based staff of the members.

The content of the paper is divided into numerous chapters covering the liabilities of passengers and third parties, life salvage, crew claims, stevedores, pollution rules and tables, wreck removal, towage claims and other important aspects such as discharging appliances, collision rules, repatriation, contractual cover, exceptions and exclusions etc.

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