Loadstar on 31st October repeated a warning from online freight forwarder iContainers and forwarder network WCA for forwarders to stay clear of switch bills of lading (SB/L) following increased fraudulent activity. SB/L are a second set of bills of lading issued by the carrier (or by the carrier’s agent) in substitution for the bills of lading issued at the time of shipment. The WCA is quoted as saying that it has been advised by a reputable maritime law firm to stay away from SB/L as they could contain an element of fraud and, as it has seen a number of members experience issues arising from SB/L. They can be used legitimately, often for commercially sensitive reasons, such as when the agent does not want to reveal the consignor’s details to a rival. Whilst a genuine mistake made on the original bill needs to be corrected, iContainers advise that, even then, it is always advisable to amend the originals and pay the amendment fee, than issue a switch bill of lading.
A useful note from International Transport Intermediaries Club Ltd in 2004 provides a useful background note on what SB/L are and when they might be used.