• Current through October 23, 2012

(1) Unless the bill of lading otherwise provides, the carrier may deliver the goods to a person or destination other than that stated in the bill or may otherwise dispose of the goods on instructions from:

(a) The holder of a negotiable bill; or

(b) The consignor on a non-negotiable bill notwithstanding contrary instructions from the consignee; or

(c) The consignee on a non-negotiable bill in the absence of contrary instructions from the consignor, if the goods have arrived at the billed destination or if the consignee is in possession of the bill; or

(d) The consignee on a non-negotiable bill if he is entitled as against the consignor to dispose of them.

(2) Unless such instructions are noted on a negotiable bill of lading, a person to whom the bill is duly negotiated can hold the bailee according to the original terms.

(Dec. 30, 1963, 77 Stat. 724, Pub. L. 88-243, § 1.)




1. The old Acts contained no reference to diversion, a very common commercial practice which defeats delivery to the consignee originally named in a bill of lading. The carrier was protected under the heading of "justified delivery" if the substituted consignee who received delivery was "a person lawfully entitled to possession of the goods." Cf. subsection (1)(d). This in turn depended on whether the person ordering the diversion was the owner of the goods or empowered to dispose of them, which again might depend upon whether under sales law title had passed from the consignor-seller to the consignee-buyer. The carrier is plainly not in a position to decide such questions when directed by the person with whom it has contracted for transportation to change the destination of the goods in transit. Carriers may as a business matter be willing to accept instructions from consignees in which case, as under the old uniform acts, the carrier will be liable for misdelivery if the consignee was not the owner or otherwise empowered to dispose of the goods. The section imposes no duty on carriers to undertake diversion; it is of course subject to the provisions of filed tariffs. Section 7-103.

2. It should be noted that the section provides only an immunity for carriers against liability for "misdelivery." It does not, for example, defeat the title to the goods which the consignee-buyer may have acquired from the consignor-seller upon delivery of the goods to the carrier under a non-negotiable bill of lading. Thus if the carrier, upon instructions from the consignor, returns the goods to him, the consignee may recover the goods from the consignor or his insolvent estate. However, under certain circumstances, the consignee's title may be defeated by diversion of the goods in transit to a different consignee.

Cross References

Point 2: Sections 7-403 and 7-504(3).

Definitional Cross References

"Bailee". Section 7-102.

"Bill of lading". Section 1-201.

"Consignee". Section 7-102.

"Consignor". Section 7-102.

"Delivery". Section 1-201.

"Goods". Section 7-102.

"Holder". Section 1-201.

"Notice". Section 1-201.

"Person". Section 1-201.

"Purchaser". Section 1-201.

"Term". Section 1-201.

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 28:7-303.

1973 Ed., § 28:7-303.