Out with the Old: Changes to the Bill of Lading

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Last week saw a change to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) bill of lading, as a supplement was released by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) which changes the terms and conditions of the Uniform Straight Bill of Lading.  According to a missive released by the Airforwarders Association, there are some rather substantial changes to the long standing and widely used bill. Two trade organizations that represent shippers in such matters, the Transportation Logistics Council (TLC) and the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC) filed a petition for Suspension and investigation of the new changes; They were ultimately shot down by the Surface Transportation Board (STB).

What Does this Mean for You?

The Uniform Straight Bill of Lading is something of a staple when it comes to land based shipping. If you are handling truck shipments, here are some of the more important changes that you need to know.

  • The Motor carrier responsible for cargo loss or damage is the one listed on the bill of of lading, rather than the one currently in possession of the bill during the time of loss.
  • According to the new terms and conditions, Carriers will no longer be responsible for loss, damage, or delays caused by Riots, Strikes, and any causes related to the five common exceptions. The burden of proof will now fall from the carrier to the shipper in these matters.
  • Prior to the changes, all claims were to be filed within nine months after delivery of the cargo, or in the event of failure to deliver, a reasonable amount of time after the delivery was supposed to have taken place. Under the new conditions, claims will have to be filed with nine months from the date of the bill of lading.
  • Previously, the limitation of liability could be applied if the cargo value was established by the shipper or was agreed upon, in writing, as the released value. Under the new language, a carrier can limit liability simply by publishing the limitation in its tariff.

It’s important to note, however, that these are only some of the changes being effected by the NMFTA’s new supplement. With the new bill of lading already in effect, make sure you understand the changes entirely to avoid possible future complications.

 

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