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“Rafaela S” JI MacWilliam & Co inc -v- Mediterranean Shipping Co SA

17th Jan 2005

[2005] 2 A.C. 423

Appeal to the House of Lords concerning whether a “straight” bill of lading was a “bill of lading or similar document or title” under the Hague-Visby Rules.

Alistair Schaff Q.C. and Alex MacDonald successfully represented the cargo claimants in in what is now the leading case on the status of ‘straight’ bills of lading made out to a named consignee without the addition of the words ‘to order.’ Overturning the first instance judge (who, in turn, had upheld the decision of the arbitrators), the Court of Appeal held in [2004] QB 702 that ‘straight’ bills of lading are nonetheless ‘bills of lading’ for the purposes of the Hague-Visby Rules. The House of Lords upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision.