International Trade: Paper's Last Stand?

Marina Comninos, General Counsel, Electronic Shipping Solutions Limited, UK

Over 80% of world trade by volume is transported by sea, making maritime transport the backbone of global international trade . The key document associated with international trade is the Bill of Lading (B/L) and yet it remains largely paper based, steeped in history and tradition, making it vastly inefficient both in terms of time and cost. This paper examines why bills of lading are so vital in the international trade arena and questions why the psyche of the shipping community means they value a handwritten squiggle at the bottom of a piece of paper over an electronic signature which provides data authenticity. Why is international trade the last bastion of paper, when every other global industry has embraced eCommerce?

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United Kingdom Maritime Data Protection August 2012 Vol. 5, No. 20, Summer 2012

Marina Comninos

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Marina Comninos started her legal career as a trainee solicitor with Clifford Chance in 1998. She qualified into the Maritime and International Trade Group in March 2000. Her areas of expertise include dispute resolution (including charterparty, bills of lading and building contract disputes), commodities and international trade, and pollution regulation. In June 2005, Marina left Clifford Chance LLP to join Enterprises Shipping and Trading SA, managers of a fleet of over 70 vessels, as in-house legal counsel. Marina joined Electronic Shipping Solutions as its General Counsel in June 2006.

Electronic Shipping Solutions Limited

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Electronic Shipping Solutions Limited delivers industry-led electronic shipping and trade document / data solutions which improve physical and financial operations, compliance and traceability.

United Kingdom Maritime Data Protection August 2012 Vol. 5, No. 20, Summer 2012