Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

LAWS6174 The Law on Bills of Lading

Module Overview

Bills of lading and analogous shipping documents play important roles in the carriage of goods by sea. In this module you will study the functions of a bill of lading, cargo claims under the Hague-Visby Rules and rights of suit at both common law and statute. This involves the application of general principles of English commercial law, principally being an application of the law of contract, tort and bailment, to the specific field of the carriage of goods by sea. Legislation (and principles of its interpretation) will be examined, including in particular the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971 (bringing into force in the UK the Hague-Visby Rules) and the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The main principles which govern the English law of bills of lading and the extent to which English law is influenced by internationally accepted principles, and vice versa.
  • Existing areas of debate and development about what the bills of lading law are and how they should be govern e.g. in the context of electronic bills of lading.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse relevant legal materials, including statutes, case law and standard bill of lading clauses.
  • Identify and explain the main internationally-accepted principles underpinning the law relating to bills of lading.
  • Apply the legal principles, with appropriate legal authorities, in the solution of complex problems.
  • Appraise and criticise existing debates in U.K. and international bills of lading law, using appropriate legal research skills.
  • Locate and analyse relevant legal and other primary and secondary source materials including model bills of lading.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Distinguish relevant from irrelevant materials.
  • Identify and analyse key issues.
  • Think critically, develop coherent arguments in writing.
  • Display clarity and objectivity in written discussion demonstrating an awareness of issue of academic integrity.


The following is an indicative list of the content of the module: • the functions of bills of lading in carriage of goods by sea (a) as a receipt of goods, (b) as evidence of contract, and (c) as a document of title; • the Hague-Visby Rules under the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971, in particular: (a) its rules on obligations and liabilities, (b) cargo claims under the Hague-Visby Rules • the rights of suit at common law and Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This module is taught through lectures (8x2hours) and seminars (3x2hours). Lectures will introduce the principles and structure of the subject. You are expected to provide the main input to the seminars where the principles introduced in the lectures are applied to hypothetical scenarios. The most important part of learning is your own independent study. This will, however, be closely guided, and firmly tied into the lectures, seminars and assessment. In the seminars you will have the opportunity to present arguments orally to a group of peers and defend your position under challenge.

Blended Learning22
Independent Study128
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Sir Bernard Eder; David Foxton; Steven Berry; Christopher Smith; Professor Howard Bennett (2019). Scrutton on Charterparties and Bills of Lading. 

John Wilson (2010). Carriage of Goods by Sea. 

Richard Aikens, Michael Bools, Richard Lord (2016). Bills of Lading. 

Sir Guenter Treitel; Professor Francis M B Reynolds (2017). Carver on Bills of Lading. 



Formative Assessment


MethodPercentage contribution
Open Book Exam  (48 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Open Book Exam  (48 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Open Book Exam  (48 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase them as appropriate. The main textbook was written for the student market and is not particularly expensive (under £50). All recommended sources, apart from the main book, are available to students free of charge, either on the Internet, or on Blackboard, or on the legal databases.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings