Execution of the Bill of Lading.
In compliance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the Law of RSFSR On Languages of the Nations of RSFSR the official language of the Russian Federation on its entire territory is Russian.
Para 2, Article 22 of the Law of RSFSR On Languages of the Nations of RSFSR stipulates that clerical work in the sphere of services and business is conducted in the official language of the Russian Federation and in other languages specified by contracts between business partners.
In this connection the bill of lading used for supporting internal transportation within the boundaries of Russia and exclusive economic zone of RF must be executed in Russian without fail. Simultaneously the terms and conditions of the bill of lading may be stated in another language, as well. Therefore, it is allowed to make the bill of lading bilingual, e.g. Russian-English.
In order to avoid possible disputes in connection with the translation, the bill of lading should specify the text on what language will prevail in case of any discrepancies between the Russian and English texts of the bill of lading.
At the same time, it is not allowed to execute the bill of lading in such a way that the front side of the page contains the text in Russian and the reverse side - standard terms and conditions/provisos in English. In case of a bilingual bill of lading all the data included therein, as well as the terms and conditions and provisos must be fully stated in both languages. Irrespective of the language(s) of the bill of lading, the possibility to include certain terms and conditions and/or provisos in it is governed by the rules of the legislative act regulating issuance and contents of the bill of lading.
In Russia such act is the Merchant Shipping Code of RF. Subject to para 1, Article 144 of the Russian Merchant Shipping Code the bill of lading must include the following data:
1)      the name of the carrier and its location;
2)      the name of the port of loading as per the contract of cargo shipping and the date of the cargo receipt by the carrier in the port of loading;
3)      the name of the consignor and its location;
4)      the name of the port of discharge as per the contract of cargo shipping;
5)      the name of the consignee, provided it is indicated by the consignor;
6)      the description of the cargo, principal models required for cargo identification, a reference to a dangerous nature or special characteristics of the cargo in respective cases, the number of places or items and the mass of the cargo or its quantity specified otherwise. All the data must be presented the way these have been presented by the consignor;
7)      outward appearance of the cargo and its packing;
8)      the freight in the amount to be paid by the consignee, or another reference to the fact that the freight must be paid for by the consignee;
9)      the time and place of the bill of lading issuance;
10)      the number of the originals of the bill of lading, provided there are more than one;
11)      the signature of the carrier or his authorized representative.
Besides, the Code stipulates that by agreement of the parties the bill of lading may include other data and provisos.
In compliance with Article 414 of the Merchant Shipping Code of RF the law to be applicable to the relations arising from merchant shipping involving foreign individuals or foreign legal entities, or complicated by a foreign element is defined in accordance with international treaties of Russia, the Merchant Shipping Code of RF, other laws and merchant shipping usages.
At the same time, the parties to the contract, by mutual agreement at the time of signing the contract or thereafter, may choose the law to be applicable to their rights and obligations under the contract. Such agreement cannot entail elimination or reduction of the carrier’s liability under the Merchant Shipping Code of RF for the damage inflicted on the passenger’s life or health, loss of or damage to the cargo or luggage, or default in their delivery.
If the carrier is a nonresident, the bill of lading, by virtue of the above rules, may contain an arbitration clause on consideration of disputes by the arbitration in London. In the event the contract contains the applicable law clause and the arbitration clause, these are effective for the relations between the carrier and charterer (consignor) irrespective of whether these are included in the bill of lading or not.
Subject to Article 119 of the Merchant Shipping Code of RF the relations between the carrier and the consignee which is not a party to the cargo shipping contract are defined by the bill of lading. At the same time, the terms and conditions of the charter are binding for the consignee if the bill of lading contains a reference to these terms and conditions. Hence, subject to Russian law, the provisions of the charter on the applicable law and the arbitration clause will be binding for the consignee if the bill of lading contains a proviso on application of the charter terms and conditions to the relations between the carrier and the consignee.