The Athens Convention: uniformity rules – and quite right

Athens Convention time-bars are not the most riveting topic, but can be important. P&I clubs have little compunction in pouncing on inexperienced personal injury solicitors who miss the two-year time-bar and assume their clients have what is otherwise the normal three years to sue. But what happens when the claimant has the benefit of something that would delay the starting of the clock, such as a later date of knowledge, incapacity or even fraudulent concealment? Subject always to the absolute three-year Athens longstop, can they take advantage of this? Upholding the Inner House, the Supreme Court in a brief decision has now said they can, thus setting to rest doubts stemming from Higham v Stena Sealink Ltd [1996] 1 WLR 110.

The issue turns on the wording of Art.16(2), under which periods of “interruption” or “suspension” of a time-bar are governed by the law of the forum. These terms are normally used in connection with Continental systems’ long-standing habit of switching limitation periods on and off after they have started, rather like a malfunctioning Belisha beacon, on account of all sorts of matters such as ongoing negotiations. We don’t do that, being happy on occasion to delay the starting of the clock, but insisting that once it has started it ticks on to the bitter end. Can “interruption” or “suspension” cover this situation, that is a limitation clock that never starts, as against one that starts and then temporarily stops? The answer is Yes; the only exception is s.33, allowing the limitation period to be disregarded entirely if just and equitable, which clearly neither interrupts nor suspends anything.. And rightly so: Athens needs uniform interpretation, and a reading that took account of Continental modifications of the limitation period but not UK ones would be not only nit-picking but highly non-uniform. It would represent a kind of UK exceptionalism we can well do without.

Warner v Scapa Flow Charters (Scotland) [2018] UKSC 52 was, as readers no doubt noticed as a result of the reference to the Inner House, technically a Scots decision turning on the Scots law of prescription. But it is plainly just as relevant to our own Limitation Act 1980. Happy reading.

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14th IISTL Colloquium on New Technologies and Shipping/Trade Law

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The Institute’s 14th Annual Colloquium will be held on 10-11 September 2018. The subject of this year’s event is new technologies and their present and future effect on shipping and trade law.

14th IISTL Colloquium

To register for this event, please visit our Eventbrite page.

Continue reading “14th IISTL Colloquium on New Technologies and Shipping/Trade Law”

IISTL’s Engagement with Insurance Industry on IUU Fishing

The Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law (IISTL), a research centre within the College of Law and Criminology, continues to expand its operations. On 26 June, it collaborated with marine advocacy group Oceana to organise an afternoon seminar in London on the insurance and regulatory aspects of irregular fishing (known in the trade as fishing that is illegal, unreported and uncontrolled (IUU)). The main purpose of the event was to disseminate as widely as possible the results of a study carried out by three members of the Institute (Barış Soyer, George Leloudas and Dora Nikaki) in collaboration with researchers from University of British Columbia (Canada). In summary, the study found that it had been disconcertingly easy for vessels involved in IUU fishing to get liability insurance in the market. The study recommended an urgent review of underwriting processes and consideration of regulatory changes to put insurers under a legal duty to deny cover to vessels known to be connected with IIU activities.

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Professor Soyer delivering the findings of the project to the delegates

The event, which attracted an impressive 60 delegates, provided an excellent opportunity for those throughout the sector to engage in the debate. Presentations from Lasse Gustavsson (Senior Vice President of Oceana Europe) , Kjetil Saeter (Norwegian Business Daily), David Vajnai (Vice President Marsh Global Marine Practice),  Baris Soyer and Gerorge Leloudas (IISLT) and Dana Miller (a marine scientist with Oceana Europe) were followed by a lively debate led by insurers, brokers and policy-makers. The afternoon ended with a reception generously sponsored by the Waterloo Foundation, which was also the funder of the project. An academic article, which is co-written by Professor B. Soyer, Associate Professor G. Leoudas and Dr D. Miller, detailing main findings of the project is to appear in Transnational Environmental Law later this year.

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Mr David Vajnai (Marsh Global Marine Perspective) debating the matter from the perspective of the insurance brokers
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Dr Leloudas talking about the regulatory aspects of the issue

13TH ANNUAL COLLOQUIUM OF THE IISTL — MARITIME LIABILITIES IN A GLOBAL AND REGIONAL CONTEXT

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13th ANNUAL COLLOQUIUM OF THE IISTL

MARITIME LIABILITIES IN A GLOBAL AND REGIONAL CONTEXT

  4-5 SEPTEMBER 2017

The annual gathering, organised by the Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law (IISTL), has now established itself as a regular fixture in the calendar of maritime lawyers. This year’s event will be devoted to Maritime Liabilities in A Regional and Global Context: The EU and Beyond.

 Topics covered will include:

  • Liabilities for ship recycling
  • Wreck removal – Nairobi and beyond
  • National and international oil pollution regimes – an uneasy coexistence
  • Pollution from oil rigs and offshore installations: legal issues arising
  • The boundaries of shipping liability law: what is a ship and why does it matter?
  • Ship arrest – yesterday’s conventions and today’s problems
  • Cyber risks and liabilities for marine sector
  • Smart containers
  • Passenger Liabilities- Life after BREXIT
  • Limitation of liability – new problems
  • Cross-border insolvency and maritime arbitration
  • Direct action against insurers and P & I Clubs
  • Jurisdiction and Choice of law after BREXIT

Speakers and Chairpersons

  • Professor Lia Athanassiou, School of Law, Athens University, Greece
  • Professor Simon Baughen, IISTL, Swansea University, UK
  • Professor Olivier Cachard, University of Lorraine, France
  • Andrew Chamberlain, Partner and Mariner, Holman Fenwick Willan LLP, London, UK
  • Simon Cooper, Partner, Ince & Co LLP, London, UK
  • Professor Marc Huybrechts, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Dr Henning Jessen, World Maritime University, Sweden
  • Mr Måns Jacobsson, Former Director of International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds, Sweden
  • Dr Tabetha Kurtz-Shefford, IISTL, Swansea University, UK
  • Associate Professor George Leloudas, IISTL, Swansea University,UK
  • Mr Justice Males, Presiding Judge of the North East Circuit, High Court of England and Wales
  • Peter Macdonald-Eggers QC, 7 King’s Bench Walk, London, UK
  • Associate Professor Theodora Nikaki, IISTL, Swansea University, UK
  • Dr Frank Stevens, Erasmus University, The Netherlands
  • Professor Barış Soyer, Director, IISTL, Swansea University,UK
  • Dr. Jur. Bülent Sözer, Yeditepe University, Turkey
  • Professor Andrew Tettenborn, IISTL, Swansea University, UK
  • Emeritus Professor Rhidian D. Thomas, IISTL, Swansea University, UK

 

Registration, Fees & Accommodation

To register (and book university accommodation) please click the link here: Eventbrite  

  • Fee, inc. materials, dinner & accommodation for 2 nights (3-4 Sept): £440
  • Fee, inc. materials and dinner: £350
  • Fee (for Research Students) inc. materials, dinner & accommodation for 2 nights (3-4 Sept): £265
  • Fee (for Research Students) inc. materials & dinner: £175

 Should you not like to take advantage of our on-campus accommodation, please feel free to make your own arrangements. There are several good hotels in town, notably the Dragon Hotel, tel: 01792 657100, and the Marriott Hotel, tel: 01792 642020. Please note, however, that the organisers cannot take responsibility for booking accommodation off campus.

The closing date for registration is 28 August 2017

Questions & Further Information

Should you have any further queries, please direct your email to: Ms Stella Kounakou 806114@swansea.ac.uk

We looking forward to seeing you at Swansea. 

Professor B. Soyer

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IUU Fishing – Regulatory & Insurance Aspects

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IUU fishing is a global problem that threatens ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries. Various public law measures have been taken by the international community and the European Union to combat IUU fishing, but while these efforts, combined with those of various NGOs, have yielded positive results, it is believed that the insurance market could play a more active role in the fight against IUU fishing.

The primary object of this Symposium is to raise awareness of IUU fishing among stakeholders within the London insurance market. To facilitate discussion and inspire engagement from attendees, case studies within the context of the legal and insurance perspective will be presented by experts in the field. 

Speakers and Chairpersons include:

  • Lasse Gustavsson (Senior Vice President and Executive Director, Ocean Europe, Madrid)
  • Associate Professor George Leloudas (IISTL, Swansea University, Swansea)
  • Dana Miller (Marine Scientist, Oceana Europe, Dublin)
  • Kjetil Saeter (Investigative Journalist, Oslo)
  • Professor Barış Soyer (IISTL, Swansea University, Swansea)
  • David Vajnai (Vice President, Marsh Global Marine Practice, London)

Registration and other details:

The Seminar will be held at the Hallam Conference Centre (44 Hallam Street, London, W1W 6JJ) starting at 13:30.

A reception will be held directly after the event from 17:00 – 18:00. 

Register HERE 

Participation is free but please note that places are limited.

English law and jurisdiction post-Brexit

Evidence has recently been given to the EU justice sub-committee of the House of Lords that Brexit may scare off foreign businessmen from choosing English law and jurisdiction in favour of the Netherlands, Germany or Singapore. Sir Oliver Heald, Justice Minister, has pooh-poohed the idea. We suspect that, even discounting political hype, Sir Oliver may well be correct. Provided that arrangements are made for mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments between the UK and EU – something in all parties’ interests, even if the preservation of the whole of Brussels I is not – it is difficult to see how Brexit will change anything.

Academics, the IISTL and others

One ooff-hire-coverf our objects at the IISTL in Swansea University is to bridge the gap between professors and practitioners. To our way of thinking, intellectual rigour is entirely consistent with practical utility. A nice example of this recently from Steamship Mutual, in the shape of an excellent guide to off-hire by John Weale, well-known either side of the tracks, both as Fednav executive at the sharp end of risk management and as a highly informative writer on charterparty law. Introduced by Sir Bernard Rix, whose imprimatur does not come easily, this comes highly recommended for anyone dealing with this, probably the most common source of charter disputes.

Weale, J. “Off-Hire: A Study” (Steamship Mutual; 2017)

Request a copy.

2017

 

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Happy New Year to all our followers on the first working day of 2017. We will continue to look closely at what matters in maritime and commercial law. Once the minor matter of Brexit is out of the way, there are at least three rather important Supreme Court decisions in the pipeline — on safe ports, combined dangers, and (vitally) the effect of joint names insurance on liability (The Ocean Victory [2015] EWCA Civ 16); on “per claim” limits in insurance (AIG v Woodman [2016] EWCA Civ 367); and on the right to recover more by way of commercial damages than the losses that appear on any balance sheet (the combined appeals in The New Flamenco [2015] EWCA 1299 and Swynson v Lowick Rose [2015] EWCA Civ 629). And much more. As ever, watch this space.