Marine Conferences - Focus issues 2012.

Marine Conferences - Focus issues 2012.

Costa Concordia

( “Costa Concordia ” )

Autumn will see two major International Marine conferences take place. In September the International Union of Marine Insurance ( IUMI ) will meet in San Diego and in October Beijing will play host to the Plenary Session of the Comite Maritime International. ( CMI).Both organisations have member associations in Ireland in the “Irish Institute of Marine Underwriters” and the “Irish Maritime Law Association” respectively.
(Eamonn Magee has been an Executive Committee member of both associations over many years and as a consultant to O’Callaghan Kelly continues to take an active interest in the agendas of the international parent organisations).

On Friday 13th of January of this year the cruise vessel “Costa Concordia” ran aground off the island of Isola de Giglio, north west of Rome in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Virtually on the shore and lying completely over on her starboard side it took over six hours to evacuate over 4000 passengers and crew. Over 30 people lost their lives in the tragedy. The accident happened in calm sea conditions. This single maritime accident is likely to feature prominently in IUMI’s annual conference considerations in San Diego in September. The technical committees will doubtless look at the myriad of issues that arise from the Insurance perspective. Among relevant considerations and lessons to be learnt in a case of this nature would be first and foremost passenger safety and compliance with industry and IMO (International Maritime Organisation ) regulations particularly in the area of passenger safety drilling and evacuation procedures. P&I ( Protection and Indemnity ) underwriters will be examining liability exposures not only to passengers but to salvage expenses and environmental clean up etc.( Comprehensive salvage arrangements are underway in an attempt to refloat and remove the vessel already considered to be a constructive total loss). The application of relevant International Conventions in these areas such as the Athens and Salvage Conventions will doubtless be looked at. As the facts of the incident are finally clarified, both Hull and Liability insurers may well look at warranty issues in policy wordings going forward. IUMI has yet to indicate it’s detailed programme for San Diego.

Amongst the topics at the CMI conference deliberations this year is the ancient principle and long established practice of “General Average” (GA). The CMI are the custodian of the York Antwerp Rules which govern the adjustment and practice of GA. The Rules were last revised in 2004 where some important revisions were made particularly in relation to how the rules govern Salvage and some Port of Refuge expenses. The revised rules have not yet gained sufficient industry traction to replace earlier versions of the rules in Bills of Lading and it is perhaps timely that CMI take further soundings from Cargo and Hull interests in the “who should pay for what debate ” where General Average is declared and unforeseen expenses are necessarily incurred for the common safety of both ship and Cargo in instances of otherwise potential peril.( to crudely paraphrase Rule A of the York Antwerp Rules)

APL Panama

(Pictured here is the grounding of the vessel APL Panama – groundings classically give rise to General average considerations where lightening, salvage and refloating expenses are among those necessarily incurred in the interests of both Cargo and Hull – such expenses being contributed to in proportion to the relative values protected from peril as a result of the expenses incurred).

The Judicial Sale of Ships is an issue that arises in the context of the arrest of vessels ( on foot of an “action in rem ” taken by parties with a claim against a vessel or “maritime lien”).A failure on the part of Owners and or their Insurers to provide adequate security against such claims will inevitably lead, once a claim is established in ex parte proceedings, to a judicial order for the sale of the vessel in satisfaction of the claim or lien. CMI is currently working towards the finalising of an Instrument on the “Recognition of Foreign Judicial Sales of Ships” an important consideration in the harmonising of approach in this area of international maritime law.

Another focus for the CMI in Beijing this year will be the progress made thus far with attracting support for the “Rotterdam Rules”. The Comite was involved in the original drafting of what is known today as the “UN Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of goods wholly or partly by sea” otherwise known as the “Rotterdam Rules” .The convention when it comes into force ( one year after it’s ratification by the 20th UN state ) will replace the existing regimes ( Hague, Hague – Visby and Hamburg Rules inter alia ) with a single set of rules governing the international transport of goods involving a carriage by sea. The Convention will apply to the whole of the carriage door to door with the aim of harmonising existing regional regimes as they currently apply to both the land and sea legs of the carriage.

The Way Forward :


An update on these conferences and their deliberations on international maritime law and marine insurance will follow in an autumn update.

Eamonn Magee LLB.BL.
Marine Insurance Consultant.

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