Welcome to the July edition of Legalseas.
Brexit and shipping
The UK’s recent vote to leave the European Union has triggered a great deal of discussion and raises a number of questions for the shipping industry.
The referendum result in itself does not have a legal effect. In order to start the formal legal process for exit, the UK government will need to notify the European Council of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU. The service of formal notice will trigger the process and timetable for exit set forth in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. UK politicians have indicated that it may be some time before a notification is given. From the date of any Article 50 notice, the EU and UK would have two years (or a longer period if agreed) to negotiate the terms of a withdrawal before any withdrawal takes place.
The impact of any Brexit on the shipping industry remains largely a matter of speculation and given the lack of clarity on how an exit scenario could unfold in the coming months and years, it is, in our view, too early to pre-empt the potential impact on shipping. Norton Rose Fulbright is monitoring the situation closely as it evolves and has set up a dedicated Brexit site with a blog and a specific section on the possible consequences for the Transport sector, including the shipping industry.
On the Waterfront – restructuring international shipping companies
The process of restructuring international shipping companies is the focus of our first article; London partners Charlotte Winter and Mark Craggs, and US partner Kristian Gluck explore the various options available to insolvent shipowners seeking temporary protection from the threat of arrest.
OW Bunker – Fact and Fiction
The collapse of OW Bunker & Trading A/S and its associated companies led to a global string of litigation and prolonged uncertainty over the payment of bunker debt receivables. London partner, Roger Heward, sheds light on the recent decision of the UK Supreme Court in Res Cogitans and what this means for OW’s customers.
Rotterdam Rules – ratification status in the US and the potential impact on third parties
In our next article, Houston senior counsel, Chris Hart and senior associate, Utsav Mathur, discuss the most recent international convention on maritime transport, the Rotterdam Rules. With a focus on the US, the authors comment on the additional protections and liabilities arising from the convention and the effectiveness of adopting it voluntarily through a choice of law clause.
Landmark admiralty judgement - STX Mumbai
Returning to the theme of insolvency, Singapore senior associate, Laura Hamilton and associate, Claire Morgan, consider the use of financial difficulty as a grounds for invoking anticipatory breach in light of the recent decision in The STX Mumbai.
New Container Weight Rules – how should carriers and shippers prepare?
We complete this edition with commentary on the amendments to the Safety of Life At Sea Convention’s (SOLAS) Guidelines on the declaration of container cargo weight. Athens partner, John Liberopoulos and associate Konstantinos Kofopoulos, along with Durban senior associate Peter Lamb, highlight the practical implications of the guidelines on ship operators. To supplement this, we have produced a short infographic on the obligatory amendments which can be accessed here.