|LETTERS OF CREDIT - LC - INCOTERMS - INTERNATIONAL TRADE||
Letter of Credit
What is a Letter of Credit?
A Letter of Credit is a payment term generally used for international sales transactions. It is basically a mechanism, which allows importers/buyers to offer secure terms of payment to exporters/sellers in which a bank (or more than one bank) gets involved. The technical term for Letter of credit is 'Documentary Credit'. At the very outset one must understand is that Letters of credit deal in documents, not goods. The idea in an international trade transaction is to shift the risk from the actual buyer to a bank. Thus a LC (as it is commonly referred to) is a payment undertaking given by a bank to the seller and is issued on behalf of the applicant i.e. the buyer. The Buyer is the Applicant and the Seller is the Beneficiary. The Bank that issues the LC is referred to as the Issuing Bank which is generally in the country of the Buyer. The Bank that Advises the LC to the Seller is called the Advising Bank which is generally in the country of the Seller.
The specified bank makes the payment upon the successful presentation of the required documents by the seller within the specified time frame. Note that the Bank scrutinizes the 'documents' and not the 'goods' for making payment. Thus the process works both in favor of both the buyer and the seller. The Seller gets assured that if documents are presented on time and in the way that they have been requested on the LC the payment will be made and Buyer on the other hand is assured that the bank will thoroughly examine these presented documents and ensure that they meet the terms and conditions stipulated in the LC.
Typically the documents requested in a Letter of Credit are the following:
Essential Principles Governing Law Within the United States, Article 5 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) governs L/Cs. Article 5 is founded on two principles: (1) the L/C,s independence from the underlying business transaction, and (2) strict compliance with documentary requirements.
1) Strict Compliance
How strict compliance? Some courts insist upon literal compliance, so that a misspelled name or typographical error voids the exporter's/beneficiary's/seller's demand for payment. Other courts require payment upon substantial compliance with documentary requirements. The bank may insist upon strict compliance with the requirements of the L/C. In the absence of conformity with the L/C, the Seller cannot force payment and the bank pays at its own risk. Sellers should be careful and remember that the bank may insist upon strict compliance with all documentary requirements in the LC. If the documents do not conform, the bank should give the seller prompt, detailed notice, specifying all discrepancies and shortfalls.
2) The Independence Doctrine
3 Most Common Reasons why Letters of Credit Fail
1) Time Lines:
A good source
to give you an idea of the timelines would be your freight forwarding
agent. As a seller check with your freight forwarding agent to see if
you would be in a position to comply.
within the Letter of Credit:
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