The maritime disputes may vary from Charter Party issues, cargo interests, accidents, insurance claims, personal injury claims and the list goes on. All these issues are not only multiple and complex but frequently also are multi-party. Traditionally ship owners are well versed with the phrase “Forum Shopping”, which means that, whenever a third party claim or a dispute arises, the first few years will be spent in choosing the jurisdiction most favourable to the their defence or claim i.e. “Forum Conveniens”. Having finally decided the Forum (Court and or jurisdiction), the saga of issues, claims and conflicts begins.
In order to appreciate the nature and root cause of a dispute, it is only the terms of the contracts or Charter Party but also the contextual knowledge of the sea and technology is crucial. The judgments, if received from commercial courts on issues like engine damage due to engine oil contamination as result of supply of high Sulphur content bunkers by the Charterer may be the starting point. But the claims to machinery damage, repairs and cargo delays or collision and pollution accidents as a consequence of engine damage, will be another extreme to be justified within the same cause. In many maritime nations, special courts called Admiralty Courts have been established, so that the judges with experience and knowledge in such matters will decide the cases before them. But what about the jurisdictions where there are no Admiralty Courts and all cases are decided within the common courts?
Besides the technical competency, the issue of timings and the pending case load in each court will also have impact on the decision or outcome of a case. In present era of high efficiency and lean management & operations teams, ship owners and Charterers can hardly afford to incur their valuable time and human resources in managing such lengthy and protracted battles through courts. The jurisprudence of International Commercial Arbitration, offers the ideal solution for resolving maritime disputes through experienced maritime professionals acting as arbitrators.
The key advantages of maritime arbitrations, in addition to usual benefits arbitration as compared to litigation through courts are:
1. Maritime Professionals Forum: The arbitrators can be (if appointed and or so desired by the Parties) from within the industry and with relevant professional certifications, qualifications and experience. There will be no loss of time in explaining the contextual background or technical principles involving the issue before them.
2. Single Forum (Under One Roof Concept): All issues and disputes can be brought before the same tribunal irrespective of multiplicity and complexity of interrelations of the parties.
3. Consolidation of Cases: Depending on the applicable arbitration law at the seat of arbitration i.e. lex arbitri parties can choose to consolidate separate arbitration or court proceedings involving common factual grounds or legal issues but resulting from separate contractual or legal relationships, into a single arbitration. This enables the parties from dangers of facing inconsistent outcomes if separate proceedings were to be held.
4. Interim Orders and Injunctions: The parties can also apply for security for costs, injunctions and orders for payments, seizing bank accounts etcetera, even during the progress of the arbitration proceedings. They don’t have to take separate applications in courts.
5. Enforceability of the Arbitral Awards and Orders: Unlike court judgments, arbitral awards are enforceable across 158 countries in the world (Signatories to the 1958 New York Convention). The enforcement process can also be initiated simultaneously in multiple jurisdictions until the award is satisfied. The interim orders are also enforceable in certain jurisdictions even if the seat of arbitration proceeding is in a third country.
In short, maritime arbitration is the only speedy solution for resolving complex and multiple disputes within budgeted cost and time.
The readers interested in gaining detailed view of the maritime arbitration or assistance in managing maritime claims are advised to write in confidence to: firstname.lastname@example.org All enquires are dealt with strict confidentiality and as per the privacy & non-disclosure policies of Tiberias MC.