Due to the inherent multi-jurisdictional nature of shipping disputes, the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments can be crucial. Judgments often require enforcement over assets which are located in another jurisdiction. The Lugano Convention made this possible with regard to the enforcement of UK judgments in signatory states and vice versa. However, when the Brexit transition period ended, the United Kingdom ceased being a party to the convention.
The Collision Regulations are the 'rules of the road' for mariners navigating vessels worldwide. However, it has been nearly 50 years since a case involving their interpretation has reached the jurisdiction's highest court. This changed recently when the Supreme Court handed down a judgment which considered the matter. The judgment provides clear and understandable guidance to mariners which will be of use to them when waiting outside the entrance to narrow channels in locations globally.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the shipping industry and led to many disputes. However, owing to the prevalence of arbitration in resolving shipping disputes, and the time taken for cases to progress through the courts, there have been few reported cases detailing the pandemic's impact on the industry. The Admiralty Court recently handed down one of the first judgments dealing with this matter.
The Commercial Court recently provided guidance on the interpretation of consent provisions in a transport and processing agreement where such consent was not to be "unreasonably withheld". The issue of withholding consent arises regularly under long and short-term shipping charterparties. A key takeaway from this judgment is that to establish whether consent may be withheld, the parties' bargain as a whole must be considered and not the consent provision in isolation.
The Supreme Court recently examined the requirement that an arbitrator must disclose related or linked appointments, which is a long-running debate, particularly in specialist fields (eg, maritime disputes), where there has traditionally been a limited pool of arbitrators. This decision is likely to fundamentally change the way in which shipowners, charterers and traders proceed with arbitrators in the future.