Claim handling does not have the same thing, such as one that takes long time to resolve, or one that needs to be resolved over a short period of time. One cargo damage claim took nearly six years to settle. The case involved a cargo collapse on a ship in Brazil, caused by heavy weather. The amount of the claim was likely to exceed the shipowner’s limits of liability, and we appointed English lawyers to resolve smoothly. At the time of the accident, there was a possibility that the vessel would be arrested, so avoiding this was the first priority. Several claimants filed lawsuits in Brazil, and the shipowner commenced arbitration in London based on the arbitration clause in the B/L. We supported the Member in the Brazilian litigation and the London arbitration. There was a lot of argument over the cause of the accident, but in the end we were able to resolve the case on terms that were reasonable for our Member.
On the other hand, there are cases where a solution must be found in a short period of time. One of our Members needed a quick solution when a shortage claim arose in Vietnam. In the Southeast Asian region, if a claim occurs, the vessel involved will be arrested, so it is necessary to respond very promptly to notification of the incident. We received report of the incident on a Friday evening, worked on the claim over the weekend, and resolved the matter on the Monday morning. We never know when accidents will occur, and we always deal with them on holidays and at night where necessary. It is very worthwhile to work to protect the interests of the Member.
I also work on FD&D claims. FD&D insurance covers, for example, litigation costs incurred for the purpose of asserting or defending any claim, dispute or litigation arising from a charter party, although indemnification of the claim itself is not covered.
FD&D also covers speed claims. Such a claim could arise where a charter party stipulates an average speed of 15 knots during the voyage and a guaranteed fuel consumption, but the actual voyage speed is only 10 knots and the fuel consumption poor. If liability for the failure to comply with these two conditions falls on the shipowner due to the ship’s bottom having been fouled, the charterer may pursue a speed claim, demanding indemnification because the speed promised by the shipowner has not been delivered. The advice of lawyers and other specialists is essential to resolving these disputes, and prolonged conflicts can cause unexpectedly high costs. This can adversely affect both shipowner and charterer. We provide full support subject to our FD&D Rules for resolving disputes such as this by covering the litigation costs. Under Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention, from 1 January 2020, the maximum sulphur content of fuel oil used “on board” will be reduced from 3.5% m/m to 0.5% m/m. In order to avoid conflict and loss, given the uncertainty over the supply of compliant fuel oil, it will be necessary to examine carefully and in advance the terms of the charter party relating to the provision of bunkers. Subject to our Rules, in the unlikely event that a claim concerning fuel oil arises, we shall support our Members under their FD&D cover.
I joined the Japan P&I Club in April 2008. I was aware of P&I insurance and the Japan P&I Club before I joined. I was able to work with the Association because it was familiar to me. In September 2013, I was transferred from Tokyo Principal Office to Kobe Branch, where I am in charge of handling claims. The town of Kobe has historically embraced internationalisation and is the birthplace of the Association. I enrich my day-to-day life in these historical city of Kobe, and follow an international career.
Communication with Members is done by telephone and e-mail, but telephone and e-mail alone is limited to conveying everything. The response to claims is complex and delicate, and in the Member where I have never met before, it may give me the impression a little square. When I meet someone from a Member for the first time, it is sometimes said that the image of myself is completely different and open. Therefore, I visit Members as much as I can, explaining the progress of the incident response and introducing examples. By communicating directly in this way, we can deepen the relationship with our Members, and we will continue to value opportunities for visits.
As part of a training program from the Association, I took a three week short course at the Institute of Maritime Law at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. I met 26 classmates there. They were representatives of European law firms, shipping companies and P&I Clubs, etc. who worked in various parts of the world. We all talked frankly to each other about issues and spent valuable time together. The course was made up of lectures in maritime law, practical workshops on relevant themes, and a case study. The case study involved a collision between two vessels and a role play exercise for the course attendees. Each of us took on roles such as P&I insurer, Hull & Machinery insurer, shipowner, charterer, shipper etc. Through the case study, I learned the importance of taking different views to recognise risks and setting targets to handle accidents, taking a broad perspective and switching my view where appropriate.
Three weeks passed very quickly. After completing the course, I had practical training in claim handling at various law firms in London. I also visited the International Dispute Resolution Centre Ltd (IDRC) and the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). Following the training in London, I visited our correspondents in Genova, Marseille and Casablanca for meetings.
Through this training, I was able to expand my horizons by getting to know much better, not only my work, but the people I work with as well. My experience in training in the United Kingdom has proved extremely useful in dealing with current accidents. Going forward, I will strive to utilise the knowledge and experience gained through the training to benefit our Members.