ICS to Seek for Balance in York Antwerp Rules

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) plans to push for an improvement on the present system of the York Antwerp Rules of General Average in the proposed revision during the Comité Maritime International (CMI) Conference, being held in New York this week.

Furthermore, the ICS said that it intends to secure that the revision “does not touch on fundamental principles” of the rules.

“We want to avoid a repeat of the situation when the rules on General Average were last revised twelve years ago by CMI but without the support of ICS, with the result that most contracts of carriage still incorporate the 1994 version because the 2004 revision is considered unsatisfactory by shipowners,” ICS Legal Director, Kiran Khosla, said.

ICS said that the previous revision of the rules was not acceptable because it did not reflect an equitable balance of interests of all the parties concerned.

“It is fair to say that the 2004 version has failed to gain widespread acceptance or use throughout the maritime industry,” Khosla said.

After working on the CMI project for nearly four years, the project is now in the concluding stages. ICS notes there has so far been little appetite for a comprehensive overhaul of the present, well-functioning system based on the 1994 rules.

“Instead work has been focused on making practical improvements, for example on financial issues (commission, interest, currency of adjustment),” ICS said.

The review also touches on some areas that have been controversial in the past, including the rules concerning salvage. Changes have been proposed to address the concern of commercial cargo interests that use of the rules can be costly and, in some cases where there has been a salvage award, unnecessary.

“The proposed ‘YAR 2016’ must continue to ensure an equitable balance between the interests of all parties in order to achieve consensus and the ultimate use of the revised rules in commercial contracts of carriage,” Khosla said.

The York Antwerp Rules set out rules for the distribution of losses and expenses, for example in incidents when cargo is jettisoned in order to save the ship and the remaining cargo. The system helps to avoid delay in the transport of cargo to its final destination and ensures that the costs of doing so are evenly distributed.

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