Wrongful Arrest of Ships: A Time For Change

Sir Bernard Eder | Contrasting Views

I would first like to extend my thanks to the Tulane Maritime Law Center and its Director, Martin Davies, for extending this invitation to speak this evening. It really is a great pleasure to be here. This Center is known throughout the world for its learning and scholarship with regard to matters maritime and, in particular, the study of maritime law. So it is not only a pleasure but also a great privilege and honour to be here this evening.

In addition, this is, of course, the annual Lecture, named in honour of Professor William Tetley. Now, I have known Bill Tetley for many years. Much longer than he has known me. When I qualified as a young barrister in 1975– almost forty years ago–and started to practise shipping law, one of the very first books I bought was Tetley’s Marine Cargo Claims. It was then in its first edition. I could not have survived without it. Ever since, it has stood on my bookshelf–now in the Royal Courts of Justice. I do not say that I have always agreed with all his views, but there can be no doubt that Bill Tetley was then and remains the leading shipping lawyer in the world. I owe him a debt of thanks.

It is also a great pleasure to be here because the topic this evening is one which has been of great interest to me for a very long time. And I should note in passing that it seems that it is also a topic which is of some interest to Professor Tetley. But I should confess that I have been campaigning to try to change the law with regard to wrongful arrest of ships for many years. I gave a paper on this topic in 1996 for the London Shipping Law Centre and delivered a lecture on the same topic in 2004 at the International Congress of Maritime Arbitrators (ICMA). I even produced a pamphlet which I distributed in London. All to no effect. In broad terms, the law has remained unchanged. So I make no apologies for returning once again to this topic: the right of a shipowner to claim compensation for loss caused by the detention of the owner’s ship while under arrest.