Sharpening our focus on maritime business

The London Shipping Law Centre will be placing even greater emphasis on its role in marine business, following its move to the City of London and the assumption of a broader title to reflect its business and commercial activities.

Sponsored by Reynolds Technological Inquiries, an international maritime accident investigation business, and housed in the same offices at International House, 1, St. Katharine’s Way, the Centre is now known as: London Shipping Law Centre: Maritime Business Forum.

The Centre has built up a reputation for addressing the legal, regulatory, commercial and political issues affecting merchant shipping. It has contributed to multidisciplinary education in support of quality shipping, largely through educational events and debates.

Chairman Dr Aleka Mandaraka Sheppard reminded over 100 guests of the centre’s purpose at a celebratory reception in November: “Right at the outset, we referred to the need for co-ordinated action in the exchange of maritime information and knowledge by bringing various industry sectors together for structured and informal discussion. To a large extent, we have achieved that.”

The range of organisations and initiatives that have emerged in London and the rest of the UK since then to discuss maritime issues and promote London business amounts to “a recognition that organisations need to work together and collaborate.” Accordingly, the Centre will make a determined effort to work with such organisations right across the maritime sector. It aims to provide a London base for other maritime institutions committed to the advancement of maritime education and research.

Over the years, events programmes have provided a forum for multidisciplinary education with organisations and individuals learning from each other. “We blend the specialist knowledge of judges, lawyers, commercial operators, academics, regulators, insurers and ship professionals. By doing so, we promote the talents which exist across our industry… The Centre has led the way in raising awareness within the maritime industry about the importance of risk management in ship safety and shipping operations”.

The flagship Cadwallader debates have focussed on international issues such as terrorism, criminalisation, international conventions and regional legislation, harmonisation of conflicting laws, liability issues and corporate social responsibility. The ‘ISM on trial’ sessions have raised the awareness of lawyers and other professionals in safety issues and the proper implementation of safety systems. Monthly and special events have, inter alia, covered the pitfalls of conventions and European regulations, class and flag issues, shipping and energy, piracy, insurance issues and brokers’ duties, the credit crunch and its effect on contracts. Our recent special two-day event ‘the Baltic Accident’ held in Athens demonstrated how to identify the causes by an accident investigation; a mock mediation was used to mediate the disputes between the various parties.

The 2010 programme includes seminars on offshore contracts, international trade and cargo insurance issues, how the financial crisis has affected maritime contracts and commerce, shipbuilding contracts, troublesome clauses in charter parties, further legal issues arising from piracy. Further special events will be announced in due course.

Dr. Sheppard feels the move to the City has brought the Centre closer to those using its services. The Centre has always been more than a “lawyer’s club” with members from across the maritime business spectrum. A membership drive to enlist more brokers, insurers, bankers and ship owners is planned. “We are keen to promote young professionals from all sectors of the industry and through them their firms and services”.

The Centre’s steering committee is now known as the Council, with more members elected to represent the Centre’s widening and younger membership. Sir Anthony Colman is the Council’s new Chairman in succession to Archie Bishop. The Executive Board comprises new directors Les Chapman, Roger Holt, Jonathan Lux and Struan Robertson.