Bills of Lading and Warehouse Receipts may be drawn to order or to bearer in which event they have a quality of negotiability, but they are not instruments governed by the Negotiable Instruments Law.
By the common law bills of lading and warehouse receipts are assignable. Statutes in most jurisdictions have given them (when drawn to order or to bearer) a negotiable quality. But they are not negotiable in the same sense that bills, notes and checks are negotiable. They cannot be, inasmuch as they are in the nature of receipts by bailees for specific goods, while negotiable instruments are general obligations to pay money. The law of negotiable paper does not cover bills of lading or warehouse receipts notwithstanding they may be negotiable for they are in their nature different forms of obligations, and are and must be governed by a law peculiar to themselves. The Uniform Bills of Lading Act, and the Uniform Warehouse Receipt Act have been drafted by the Commissioners on Uniformity of Legislation to govern these documents, under which such instruments are negotiable if drawn "to order" or "to bearer" and non-negotiable if drawn "straight" to consignee. But neither under these acts nor any other law are "documents of title" to be assimilated with the "negotiable paper."