Georgia Adopts Proposal to Modernize Warehouse Law

The state of Georgia has become the latest state to adopt changes to the warehousing provisions in the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). The Georgia state legislature passed legislation adopting the changes, which was signed into law by Governor Sonny Perdue on May 27 and went onto effect on July 1.

The UCC was established in 1952 and is one of a number of uniform acts that have been created to harmonize the law of sales and other commercial transactions in all 50 states. Article 7 of the code pertains to warehouse receipts, bills of lading and other documents of title. In 2003, the International Warehouse Logistics Association began an effort to get the states to adopt a revised Article 7 that allows for many of these documents to be in electronic form.

The new Georgia law also deletes obsolete references to tariffs, classifications and regulations that no longer track modern commercial practices. In addition, it deals with permissible contractual limitations of liability; negotiation and transfer; lien of the carrier or warehousemen on the goods and right to enforce lien in a commercially reasonable manner; altered, lost and stolen instruments; and the effects on holders resulting from insolvency of the warehouse customer.

To date, IWLA and its members have succeeded in persuading 39 states to adopt the revision. The association currently is pressing its efforts in Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington and Michigan.

"Article 7 is the lifeblood of the warehouse industry, and widespread adoption of the revision allows more efficient operation in commerce across state lines," says Joel Anderson, president and CEO of IWLA. "What happened in Georgia is a perfect example of what our commercial warehouse members, working together and with the assistance of the IWLA staff, can accomplish politically for the benefit of the entire industry."

"This was truly a team effort," says William Stankiewicz, vice president and general manager of Shippers Warehouse of Georgia, with facilities in Jonesboro, Ga. "Article 7 helps to solve many of the emerging issues in the new age of electronic rights and title transfer by incorporating consistent provisions for electronic documents of title. It allows a warehousemen or common carrier on one side of the country to know what his expectation will be on the other side of the country."

Robert Doyle, president of Amware Logistics Services Inc., which operates warehouse facilities in the Atlanta area, says, "Getting involved in the political process is critical to our industry. There is no substitute for direct constituent involvement in these types of matters and we must be willing to get involved and represent the supply chain industry as strong and educated advocates and ambassadors."

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