In Japan there are very strong connections between the ship owner Members of the Japan P&I Club and cargo owners. Shipowners often feel that they must not put undue pressure on cargo owners by making a claim against them, even in a reasonable way; so we must plan solutions considering the Member’s such intention when they are involved in any accident.
For instance, if a port facility that the cargo owner uses is damaged and the facility has to be closed for repair work, the cargo owner will have an extra loss which will be claimed from the Member. When such a case actually happens, we may ask the cargo owner to change the cargo shipment schedule in order to mitigate their loss so that the Member would be satisfied with the result.
When you hear of a P&I incident, the possibility of oil pollution may be the first thing which comes into your mind. In reality, P&I deals with many other things as well. These days the media pays attention not only to oil pollution but to environmental damage in general. If environmental damage occurs which would affect local industry, the media reports it and the situation may become more difficult for the Member to respond to the accident.
When I handled a wreck removal claim, a salvage company suggested a few removal methods and I chose the most practical one and explained everything to the local people. However, some locals were against the removal work, arguing that the work itself might cause environmental damage. Then the media went along with them and started to criticize the action the Member chose to take. We explained that we could not leave the shipwreck as it was and that the method chosen to remove it would cause the least negative impact on the environment. However, it took considerable time and work to persuade people and get their consent.
I learned how difficult the process could be to respond to an incident and get consent from local people and re-establish the original state of environment, while protecting the interests of the Member in a case involving environmental damage.
The most important thing in claims handling is to protect the Member’s interest. When the liabilities of the parties are not clear, we try our best to collect as much information as possible to answer the Member’s questions. When it is evident that the Member has a liability, we try our best to minimize the loss amount the Member has to bear.
When some bridge footing was damaged, the bridge owner suggested the footing should be almost rebuilt again rather than partially repaired. However, I repeatedly explained that minimal repair work would recover the footing. Eventually I managed to reduce the repair cost by tens of million yen.
When a tanker accident occurred and spilled oil went into a reef, I succeeded in shortening the period for cleaning the oil from about two months to about one month, with a new oil dispersant. Technology is fast improving. I continuously learn new technology to use the knowledge for accident response.
I would like to handle each claim according to circumstances using my experience and new knowledge acquired. We believe that our daily support through claims handling leads to increased trust by the Member in the Association and that this contributes to the stability of the Association.
It is my great pleasure not only to utilise my experience and knowledge in handling claims, but, through seminars and workshops for Members, to share our experience related to maritime incidents with Members and help them prevent possible accidents. I would like to continue to handle each claim carefully and support our Members and to strengthen the relationship between the Members and us.