C.W.H. Goldie

The Committee on Classification Societies has not met since the last Annual General Meeting of the BMLA; by that time the CMI Joint Working Group on Classification Societies ("JWG") had completed almost all the drafting of the proposed Principles of Conduct for Classification Societies and Model Contractual Clauses, and the only important matter of substance which remained to be dealt with was limitation of liability. Members of the BMLA will have seen, in the CMI documentation they received, the report of the JWG to the Centenary Conference of the CMI in Antwerp in June 1997, and those members who were present at that Conference had the opportunity to hear Mr A.W. Skou of DNV put the case for low limits and Dr Bernd Kroger of the German Shipowners Association argue in favour of higher limits. No decision was reached on that point in Antwerp, and so although at its meeting on 14th June 1997 the CMI Assembly approved and adopted the Principles of Conduct for Classifications Societies, it was agreed that the Model Contractual Clauses should be considered again by the JWG to see whether any agreement could be reached on limitation. The JWG met again in December 1997. Some re-drafting was agreed, in the form of a new wording for Clause 7 of Part II, dealing with the liability of a Classification Society for the acts or omissions of its agents, and in Clause 8, dealing with the scope of liability. However, most of the discussion was concentrated on the question of limitation, and unfortunately it proved impossible to achieve agreement between the representatives of IACS and of ICS. They will continue to try to find an acceptable compromise solution, but if they fail the Model Clauses will be presented to the CMI Assembly in May 1998 with no figure for limitation; Clause 9 of Part II of the Model Clauses will read "The limit of liability of [Classification Society] in respect of a single claim arising out of the performance of a service pursuant to these Rules shall not exceed [X million] United States Dollars". Whatever the outcome of the discussions between IACS and the ICS, there is nothing more that the BMLA need do at this stage.