The impact of EDI on bills of lading: a global perspective on the dynamics involved
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This paper aims to give some idea of the dynamics involved in implementing electronic bills of lading. The bill of lading is one of the compendium of documents used in carriage of goods by sea. The writer did therefore not attempt to isolate the bill of lading, although the emphasis is clearly placed on substituting the traditional (tangible) bill of lading with EDI. To understand the complexity of adapting existing documentation to EDI, it is essential to place the bill of lading into an EDI context. The electronic transfer of documents is nothing new. It is the statutory requirements and legal rights and obligations associated with the transfer that is currently stretching the boundaries of the law. Most of the legislation dealing with carriage and shipping documentation was drafted in an age where EDI was clearly not envisaged. Consequently, uncertainty exists regarding the legal recognition of electronic documentation.