THE shipping community will face major problems if it ignores the International Chambers of Commerce's (ICC) new UCP 500 rules for streamlining transport documents that will become effective on January 1 next year, says a consultant. Mr T.O. Lee, who runs his own firm T.O. Lee Consultants, said the rules, which will standardise documentation in the transportation industry, also will cover areas untouched by the existing UCP 400 rules. ''The 11 articles for transport documents (under UCP 500) will have great implications and make it more complicated for carriers and their agents if the bill of lading document is not standardised,'' he said. The articles cover marine-ocean bills of lading, non-negotiable seaway bills, charter party bills of lading, multi-modal transport documents, air transport documents, road, rail or inland waterway transport documents, carrier and port receipts, transportdocuments issued by freight forwarders, ''on deck'', ''shipper's load and count'' and ''name of consignor'', clean transport documents and freight prepaid-payable transport documents. Current bill of lading documents are not customer friendly'' as they are not uniform and can easily give rise to disputes, Mr Lee said. According to the ICC, 33 per cent of disputes involved transportation documents and 70 per cent of the disputes concern bills of lading. Most disputes arise because people in the shipping industry do not care about bills of lading, he said. ''If they continue with this attitude (of not caring), it will be a nightmare for the industry (when the UCP 500 rules are implemented),'' Mr Lee warned. He said there are probably 2,000 types of bills of lading, characterised by different formats, company logos, trade names and different versions of ''on board notations''. When the UCP 500 rules come into effect, a bill of lading will not be valid unless it shows the full name of the shipping line, as given under the company's certification of incorporation. He explained that the bill of lading, which is a ''title document'', is often made complicated by the use of trade names like P&O and ScanDutch, which are unacceptable legally as they are not the full name of the shipping line. ''The UCP 500 is really to narrow the grey areas which have given rise to many disputes,'' he said. Bills of lading now in existence are known as liner bill of lading, ocean bill of lading, marine bill of lading, port-to-port bill of lading, short-form bill of lading, combined transport bill of lading and inter-modal and multi-market transport bill of lading. Mr Lee said the situation becomes more complicated when the industry speaks of bill of lading for combined transport shipment or port-to-port shipment. He explained that although most bills of lading are drafted by a company's operational staff and checked by lawyers, it did not necessarily mean that the document would be adequate or free of errors. He said for example, there are still bills of lading using the old form of C&F (cost and freight) as opposed to present term of CFR which is the acceptable term.