7th Cad

The Seventh Cadwallader Memorial Lecture
6th October 2004

‘Criminalisation in Shipping: Human Pawns in Legal and Political Games’

There is widespread condemnation by the shipping industry of the criminalisation of seafarers (survivors of an accident at sea), which frequently leaves them traumatised. “They become the human pawns of legal games played by lawyers and authorities” as Michael Grey aptly put it in his article in Lloyd’s List of 5th April 2004.

This ‘Cad’ Lecture aims to open up a frank debate between all sectors of the shipping industry about the practical effect of criminalisation in shipping. The debate will focus on making sense of ‘nonsensical’ laws, which endanger the basic freedoms of individuals involved in an accident becoming a piece of “knee-jerk legislation”, and will include the justification or not of punitive damages being enforced against shipping companies.

The threat to the industry from such laws directed against seafarers, company executives and Classification Societies is enormous and will engender a gradual decline in both manpower and investment.

Let us hope that wisdom will prevail on both legislators and investigators of marine accidents. Your contribution to this debate will be valuable. In the light of the immense importance of the issue involved and as a tribute to the memory of ‘Cad’, a Donation Form is attached and you are invited to make voluntary contributions to the charity of ‘The Mission to Seafarers’, whether or not you wish to attend the event.

Should you wish to attend the ‘Cad’ Lecture please complete the attached Registration Form and post it to the Centre’s office with your cheque for £50.00. I trust that you will support this charity as well as this event.

Dr. Aleka Mandaraka-Sheppard
Founding Director, LSLC

The members and the Steering Committee of the LSLC are grateful for the
generosity and support of the sponsors of this event as they appear in the following categories.


A call for “a halt to unwarranted detention of seafarers” was made by the IMO Secretary General, Admiral Efthimios Mitropoulos, at this event. He urged governments to end treating seafarers as scapegoats and emphasised that both the IMO and the ILO regarded their detention as a violation of human rights. Giving the keynote address at the 7th Cadwallader memorial lecture of the London Shipping Law Centre held at Lloyds of London, Captain’s room, on 6th October, which attracted a gathering of around 400 shipping luminaries, Mr Mitropoulos warned that criminal sanctions against seafarers for negligent conduct would be a significant departure from international law and would have very serious repercussions on recruiting quality officers and on the morale of seafarers to co-operate openly after a casualty.

Both Dr Wiswall, vice-President of the CMI, and Mr. MacDonald, Secretary General of the International Federation of Shipmasters’ Association, speaking at the same event, equated seafarers’ detentions with political hostage taking. Stephen Martin of Steamship Insurance Management Services called for the need of due process, consistency and proportionality by governments and court authorities in punishing individuals after a marine casualty. He stressed that those punished for misconduct must possess the necessary “mens rea” (intent or recklessness). Otherwise, arbitrary and disproportionate punishments become an impediment to effective investigation into casualties, a deterrent to transparency, disruptive of trade and are contrary to natural and legal justice.

The Chairman of the event, Lord Steyn, who is a vociferous advocate on human rights, concluded that governments must be persuaded that the legal demand is for proportional treatment of seafarers.

The event, which was generously sponsored by the shipping industry, served a significant purpose by making a plea for justice to seafarers. Founding director of the Centre, Dr. Aleka Sheppard, said at the opening of the event, that she sincerely hoped that what was discussed would reach the attention of legislators and state governments so as to act as a beacon for their thoughts and actions. She closed the event by delivering a donation, which the Centre raised for the charity of the Mission to Seafarers, to Mr. Michael Everard, the vice-President of the charity, in tribute to the memory of Professor Cadwallader.

Another highlight of this lecture was the announcement of the winners of the essay prize competition set by the LSLC and sponsored for the last three years by Charles Taylor Consulting (CTC). The winners, who receive shares in CTC, were this year: Michael Wagener, a South African lawyer, who won the first prize for an excellent essay on “The use or abuse of the corporate veil in shipping: is legislation needed to unveil it and, if so, for what reasons?” The second prize was won by Edward Temple Waite, claims manager at Tindall Riley, who wrote on “Limitation of liability: is it needed any more and, if so, for what reasons?”

The event marked also the 10th anniversary of the London Shipping Law Centre and Dr. Sheppard said that the Centre, with the enthusiastic support showed by the industry over the last decade, will continue to be “strong in will to strive, to seek, to find and not yield, for the interests of the shipping industry and students of maritime law”.

Click here for full transcript of this event