Over the past two years, the London Shipping Law Centre has enjoyed a hugely increased following for its presentations, debates and workshops on the legal, technical and commercial aspects of maritime business – by going online.
Some 29 events have attracted 500 to 1000 registrations each time, with attendances around three times as high as the pre-Pandemic level.
United Kingdom participants have topped the list, bolstered by 34 other countries, particularly Greece, Norway, Singapore, Hong Kong, Turkey, India, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. They have been kept up to date about developments and issues arising from Covid-19 related claims, charterparty disputes, contracts and insolvency, oil and sulphur pollution, container casualties, arbitration and international disputes resolution, electronic bills of lading, cyber crime and piracy, unmanned ships and their insurance, remote ship inspection, decarbonisation and green shipping, and virtual and semi-virtual hearings.
Lawyers, both UK and overseas-based, have been the most prominent attendees. Arbitrators, insurers and P&I clubs, shipowners, commodity traders, governments, academics and students have been well represented, both in the audiences and as speakers.
The Young Maritime Professionals Group, operating under the aegis of the LSLC, has flourished since lockdown, staging virtual sessions for younger professionals, linking with Brazilian and Italian maritime organisations.
Dr. Aleka Sheppard, the London Shipping Law Centre’s Chairman, explained that the last time industry professionals had gathered for a seminar was in February 2020. “With all physical events prohibited until further notice, we decided that the only way to continue the LSLC’s high quality service to its members and maritime practitioners worldwide was to run webinars—and other events—online.” Three months later, the Global Webinar Series was launched, heading a busy programme up to the present.
“We have no doubts that webinars are here to stay. They have been consistently successful in terms of bringing together expertise and audiences on a greater international scale.
“However, we are very keen to get back on track with the seminars on which the LSLC offering had been based for over 25 years before the Pandemic. Face-to-face contact and networking after presentations have been sadly missed and both formats are very much part of our future. Whether online, set-piece or a combination of both will be decided event by event.”
The Centre’s Educational and Events sub-committee’s 2022 schedule will cover limitation of liability, freight issues, ship recycling, decarbonisation of shipping, insurance and war risks, BIMCO’s Shipsale22, the revision of BIMCO’s contagious diseases clauses, and dispute resolution in offshore projects.
Ever since it started, the webinar service has been offered free, given the circumstances arising from lockdown. “We considered it our duty to continue our charitable contribution to maritime knowledge,” added Dr. Sheppard. “Yet we have to be realistic about the costs involved. The Centre now needs to steady the ship financially.” Accordingly, the Centre has written to members and prospective members with revised membership categories and subscriptions.
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