Trade & investment

Interpreting the rules on documentary credits

  • 5 July 2002

ICC has just published a collection of opinions on its rules governing letters of credit and other essential instruments used in international trade finance. The opinions provide essential guidance on the rules' interpretation.

More than 300 queries and the responses of the ICC Banking Commission over seven years, fully indexed, organized and cross-referenced, are gathered in ICC Publishing’s hard-backed volume: ICC Banking Commission, Collected Opinions 1995-2001.

All rules require interpretation, especially if the subject matter is as complex as international trade finance. ICC Banking Commission opinions give the official analysis of how the ICC rules work in daily practice. They are often cited in courts of law.

The opinions cover the current edition of ICC’s Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (UCP 500) , Uniform Rules for Collections, and Uniform Rules for Demand Guarantees. They also take in the last opinions issued on UCP 400 before these were superseded.

As a key reference source, the opinions encourage uniformity of UCP practice and help to settle disputes that could otherwise end up in the courts.

Practitioners praised the publication. Fung King-tak, Partner, Koo and Partners, Hong Kong, said of the opinions: “I resort to them more often than my law books when conducting research on L/C matters.”

Neville Sawyer, Guarantees & Credits Unit, Barclays Bank, UK, commented: “It is of particular value to be able to refer to these opinions in the knowledge that they have been approved by the ICC Banking Commission , whose members are representative of banks worldwide.”

If an opinion has been can celled out by a later one, this is indicated in the text. All are clearly dated and grouped and numbered in the sequence of the UCP articles to which they apply. Collected Opinions includes an index containing more than 200 key words (like Air waybill, bill of lading, drafts, expiry date, intended vessel, on board notation, port of loading) linked directly to the relevant opinion.

Collected Opinions may be purchased online from the ICC Business Bookstore, from ICC Publishing and from ICC national committees throughout the world.