BIFA issues warning on switch B/L

British International Freight Association (BIFA) said that this “usually legitimate” practice is used to conceal the identity of the supplier and the end-user from each other, issuers should be very aware of the potential liabilities.
Switching B/L is a practice where a request is made to the issuer or carrier – or the carrier’s agent – to issue a 2nd set of B/L in substitution for the original documents issued at the time of shipment. This can often occur at a port other than the load port and subsequent to initial loading.

It is of the utmost importance that all the originals of the 1st B/L are collected and cancelled before the replacement set is produced and issued. If this action is not taken, there is a risk of claims from 2 consignees, each holding a technically valid B/L.

Amid an apparent increase in disputes, WCA said it discouraged members against using and said it would not arbitrate in cases of disputes between members.