How Paper-based BL got Unicredit Bank A.G. into HOT WATER

Bills of Lading have been the cornerstone of international trade for centuries, acting as evidence of the contract of carriage between the carrier and the shipper. The shipping industry relies on the integrity of BLs. However, since several parties are involved in the process (which easily takes weeks), there is a high risk of a paper-based BL getting lost, tampered with, forged, or ending up in the wrong hands. 


And what about the scenario that the goods arrive before the BL? In theory, cargo cannot be discharged without the consignee providing the related BL and transferring ownership. But in practice, this is what sometimes happens, as in the case of Unicredit Bank A.G. v Euronav N.V., where cargo was discharged without presentation of the Bill of Lading. It resulted in lengthy court proceedings before the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal. Notwithstanding Unicredit’s success on the Contract Issue (the obligation to deliver against a bill of lading is a contractual one), Unicredit lost the Appeal on the basis of the Causation Issue (Euronav’s breach of contract was not the effective cause of Unicredit’s loss). For more details, read the original article How watertight is your bill of lading?


Why did the century-old BL system fail Unicredit? 

Firstly, as mentioned above, the paper-based BL procedure takes weeks, making it prone to mishaps. Moving to electronic Bills of Lading solves this problem since an eBL is received within 8 minutes. Therefore, it always gets to the owner before the cargo arrives. This also applies if amendments to the BL are needed.


Secondly, WaveBL is based on patented blockchain technology, ensuring each party’s authenticity, exact date, and time of reception. This eliminates any doubt about ownership and also prevents possible loss, tampering, or fraud.


Whether a similar case as the one described above might happen to you or not, now is the time to join the digital revolution to ensure that your electronic bill of lading always arrives quickly and safely.


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