A contract for the carriage of goods by sea is called a contract of affreightment. The law relating to carriage by the sea is guided by recommendations of the International Conference on 'Maritime Law' held in Brussels in 1922. It tries to secure uniformity of laws relating to the rights and liabilities of the sea carriers. In Nepal maritime law 2027 has been enacted. In India, the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 is applied.

The contract between the ship owner and the goods owner for the purpose of carrying goods from one port to another port is known as a contract of affreightment.

Charter Party Contract

 A written agreement for hiring a ship or certain portion thereof for the purpose of carrying goods through sea routes is called charter. The charter party must be made in a written from which contains the terms between the agreed parties. The charter may hire the ship to carry his own goods or to use the ship as a general ship for carrying the gods of other under bill of lading.

The carter party can be classified into two classes.


  • Voyage charter party: Where the charter party hires the ship to transport from one particular place to another particular place is called voyage charter party.
  • Time charter party: Where the charter party hires the ship to transport from one particular time to another particular time it is called time charter party. During this period of time charter he may take the ship any where he decides. Where a contract of affreightment exists for a certain period of time that is called a time charter. In this type of affreightment the shipper may use the ship all over the time contracted.

The Bill of Lading

 The ship owner or carrier issues a receipt of goods in which some necessary terms are contained that is called bill of lading. It will have three copies. Each of them is for the ship owner, goods owner and the goods receiver. A bill of lading is kind of receipt which is treated as a contract between consigner and carrier. A bill of lading is issued when the goods are delivered for carriage to a general ship. It is a documents signed by the ship owner or his agent on his behalf, or by the charter party, which states that certain goods have been board for shipped on a particular place to a particular place. A bill of lading, as a document of title to the goods, can be transferred to another person by endorsement. If the goods are deliverable merely on proof of bill of lading can be delivered to another party by the endorsement of the consignee.

Feature of Bill of Lading

  • Bill of lading is a receipt of the goods shipped or loaded in the ship.
  • Bill of lading is itself a contract document of the carriage of goods.
  • It deals with the rights and liabilities of the agreed party.

In a bill of lading the matters relating to name, fare, date of receipt of goods, condition of goods, qualities of goods, lading port and the time to deliver the goods are mentioned.