False date on the bill of lading. The contract of sale between the buyer and seller may impose a condition whereby the goods must be shipped and “onboard, shipped bills of lading” obtained by a certain date.
If the seller or shipper cannot comply with this condition, he may request (or pressure) the master or vessel’s agent to issue an antedated bill of lading. The Hague-Visby Rules state in Art. III, r. 7 that after the goods are loaded the bill of lading to be issued to the shipper shall, if the shipper demands, be a “shipped bill of lading”. The bill of lading, which is a document of title, may be noted at the loading port with the date or dates of shipment, among other information. If the “shipment” or actual “loading” is after the “date of shipment”, this would be a fraudulent misrepresentation. Cases in which the dates were fraudulently inserted, whether by antedating or by alteration, include: Kwei Tek Chao v. British Traders and Shippers, 1954; United City Merchants v. Royal Bank of Canada, 1983; and The Saudi Crown, 1986. Antedating a bill of lading either negligently or fraudulently can cause the carrier to become liable for damages, usually to the buyer of the goods, because of the seller’s possible fraud, although the carrier himself may be innocent.
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