These two documents differ from each other in several ways. The important points of distinction are as under:
1. A bill of lading is a document of title to the goods; a charter party is not such a document.
2. A bill of lading is an acknowledgement of the receipt of goods on board the ship. A charter party is a document by which the charterer enters into a contract with the ship-owner for the hire of the whole or part of the ship.
3. A charter party may amount to demise, i.e., a lease of the ship. A bill of lading conveys no such implication.
4. A bill of lading possesses some of the characteristics of negotiable instrument, as for example, it can be transferred by endorsement and delivery. But a charter party does not possess any of these characteristics.
5. A charter party contains all the terms and conditions agree upon between the ship-owner and the charterer. A bill of lading may or may not contain all these terms. Ad between the ship-owner and the charterer, the charter party is the governing document; the bill of lading merely operating as an acknowledgement of the receipt of goods.
6. The stamp to be affixed in the case of a charter party is higher than that of a bill of lading.