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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 60

Bills of Lading

Bills of Lading.

In September, 1883, this Chamber forwarded a resolution to the London Chamber and other friends, recommending that steps should be taken to procure legislation by which shipowners would be compelled to issue only an equitable form of bill of lading, and by which they would be prevented from contracting themselves out of the ordinary liabilities of common carriers. The Imperial Parliament has not yet been moved to adopt this course, neither do I think they will readily consent, considering that the proposal involves a question of Government interference with the freedom of contract, and as it is a principle of civil law that the goodness or the badness of a bargain is the affair of those who make it, the powerful opposition of the shipowners' interest will have a claim to support. The United States Congress, influenced by the New York Chamber of Commerce, did introduce such a bill, but it was rejected by the Senate.

I was glad to observe that at the date of recent advices from England a committee of the London Chamber was interviewing shipowners with a view of settling the vexed question mutually. It is to be hoped that shipowners will see their way to resume some portion of the liability formerly admitted.