J.P. McKeehan


The Commissioners on Uniform State Laws have had twenty- five annual conferences. The principal fruit of their labors is represented by the Negotiable Instruments Act, enacted in forty-seven jurisdictions; the Warehouse Receipts Act, enacted in thirty-one jurisdictions; the Sales Act, enacted in fourteen jurisdictions, the Bills of Lading Act enacted in thirteen jurisdictions, and the Stock Transfer Act, enacted in nine jurisdictions. They have also drafted acts relating to divorce, family desertion, probate of wills, marriage evasion, workmen’s compensation and partnership but these have not yet been enacted in more than a few states. All of the commercial acts are law in Pennsylvania. The Negotiable Instruments Act may be found in the Acts of 1901, p. 194; the Warehouse Receipts Act in the Acts of 1909, p. 19; the Bills of Lading Act in the Acts of 1911, p. 838; the Stock Transfer Act in the Acts of 1911, p. 126; and the Sales Act in the Acts of 1915, p. 543.

The primary purpose of these acts is to secure uniformity in the laws of the different states, but a secondary purpose in the adoption of the Warehouse Receipts Act, the Bills of Lading Act and the Stock Transfer Act was to increase the negotiability of these instruments and reduce to the minimum the risks run by a purchaser, that they might be used with greater facility to secure credit from bankers. These three acts and the Sales Act all contain many provisions relating to the same questions, but unfortunately and without apparent reason the answers given by the different acts are frequently different. Section 78 of the Sales Act provides that it shall not be construed to repeal any of the provisions of the Warehouse Receipts Act or the Bills of Lading Act. It has been found that this situation is productive of confusion in the minds of students of these acts and to avoid this it is necessary that the points of difference in the provisions relating to the same subject matter be made as conspicuous as possible. It is a pity that no publication is available in which the corresponding sections of the commercial acts are placed in juxtaposition, as this would greatly facilitate comparison.

It is the aim of this article to point out these differences in the acts and to explain the risks that a purchaser of documents of title still runs. Incidentally the entire Bills of Lading Act, Warehouse Receipts Act and Stock Transfer Act will be reviewed and those provisions of the Sales Act relating to documents of title. The Negotiable Instruments Act is not included in this discussion.



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