The “copy invoice” that came home
At the first Technical Meeting in the ICC Banking Commission held in Rome in November 2016 the ICC Banking Commission approved ICC Opinion TA.842.
TA.842 is one of those Opinions that are out there for a long time wandering restless from one position to another – before it finally finds it way home. This is clear from the “official” number; i.e. TA.842rev3. This means that the following versions have been out there. This is outlined later; but first a re-cap of the Query:
MANUALLY SIGNED AND DULY DATED BENEFICIARY‟S COMMERCIAL INVOICE ADDRESSED TO APPLICANT, MARKED L/C NUMBER, EVIDENCING DELIVERY AND PAYMENT TERMS – IN 1 ORIGINAL AND 1 COPY
+ ALL DOCUMENTS TO BE MANUALLY SIGNED
Refusal information: "Commercial invoice presented copy is not manually signed as per L/C terms”
Is this a valid discrepancy?
So a short history lesson:
TA.842 (first version circulated 9 February 2016 prior to the Johannesburg meeting)
In this version is position is that all presented documents including copies must be manually signed. It even states that “if it was intended that such condition should not apply to copy documents, then this should have been specifically stated in the credit”. Consequently the discrepancy is valid
The draft opinion initiated a long discussion at the ICC Banking Commission Meeting. No conclusion was taken, and the Draft Opinion was to be circulated to the ICC National Committees together with the comments (for and against) made at the meeting, asking for additional comments.
TA.842rev. Regardless of the above a final version of TA.842 was part of the bundle of Opinions circulated after the Johannesburg meeting (17 May 2016). (See lcviews blog 18 May 2016: Final Opinions from the ICC BC Meeting 2016 April Johannesburg).
This version maintains the position from the Draft Opinion.
However, on 30 May 2016 it was announced that TA.842rev was withdrawn and will be re-submitted later in the year for further discussion at the Rome meeting in November.
TA.842rev2. Prior to the Rome meeting TA.842 is part of the bundle of Draft Opinions to be discussed. This version is reversed 180 degrees. This is explained as follows: “With regard to TA842, numerous comments were received from National Committees (NC’s) prior to the Commission meeting in Johannesburg with a division of opinion as to whether or not the stated discrepancy was valid.”
This version includes the view that “if it was intended that copy documents were to be manually signed, then this should have been specifically stated in the credit, e.g., ‘All documents, including copies, to be manually signed” – and concludes that the discrepancy is not valid.
TA.842rev3. Following the Rome meeting TA.842 is (again) part of the bundle of final Opinions. Here the conclusion remained the same as in TA.842rev2; i.e. that it is not a valid discrepancy. The analysis includes the following wording:
“The concept that copies of documents do not need to be signed is so entrenched in international standard banking practice that, where a manual signature is exceptionally required to be added to a copy of a document, it must be expressly stated in the credit e.g., “All documents, and also copies, are to be manually signed.””
Personally I think the final view is the correct one. During the discussions there have been some arguments clearly supporting this. For example that by requiring a copy of an invoice to be manually signed it is equivalent to require an original! Or what about a photocopy of a bill of lading (including a copy signature); must that document then also be manually signed?
On the other hand it is fully accepted that it is important to make a distinction between when the requirement “all documents to …” when it applies to DATA – compared to this case when it applies to the "signing". This is the distinction that the final version of the ICC Opinion aims to capture.
So – for now the trail stops here J
Take care of each other and the LC.