I should start this Introduction by apologising for the fact that the 1997 Report is even later to hit the news stands than was the 1996 Report. There are all sorts of reasons for this some good and some bad but at least it enables me to include a number of reports which have come into existence in recent weeks.

It is with great sadness that I record the death of Nick Colton who was a member of the Executive Committee for many years and also served on a number of Standing Committees. On behalf of the Association I have written to Methuens and his family.

The Arbitration and ADR Committee has not been active this year but its next task will be to review the workings of the 1995 Arbitration Act. This Act has been on the Statutory Book long enough for problems to have been identified and the Committee will be looking for input from members of the Association.

The Carriage of Goods Committee has held a number of meetings and a report from Stuart Beare is included. Since that report was prepared it has been agreed to hold a final meeting of the CMI International Sub Committee with a view to voting through and finalising a report on issues of liability. Stuart has retired as Chairman and Antony Diamond takes over as Chairman. Stuart has been appointed Chairman of an International Working Group of the CMI which will be working on a joint project with UNCITRAL under the general title of Issues of Transport Law. The aim of this project is to examine all aspects of the transportation of goods (not exclusively by sea) which are not already covered by a code or convention. The long-term aim would be to develop a comprehensive convention for the 21st century which would tackle, amongst other things, the problems created by EDI and other modern trading methods. Stuart, with his long experience in the carriage of goods field is ideally suited to chair this IWG.

The Classification Societies Committee has not been active for the simple reason that the CMI project to produce Principles of Conduct and Model Contractual Clauses for Classification Societies has become bogged down with arguments between IACS and ICS regarding the limits of liability to which Classification Societies might be exposed. There remains a strong probability that this problem will be resolved and that the documents will eventually be published in agreed form.

The European Committee under the Chairmanship of Andrew Higgs is in the process of considering a report sponsored by the Swedish Government which examines the possibility of making cargo owners responsible for maritime accidents where they have been less than wise in their choice of carrier. The European Committee, with some assistance from the Carriage of Goods Committee, is in the process of preparing a report which will emphasise the practical problems of introducing such a scheme.

The General Average Committee had one meeting during the course of the year and I refer you to the report.

The Liens, Mortgages and Arrest Committee met on several occasions to review the draft Arrest Convention and to help in preparing the CMI Position Paper which will be submitted to the Diplomatic Conference which will review the draft Convention in Geneva in March 1999. A copy of the Committee’s Submissions appears as part of this report.

The Limitation Committee has met on several occasions to review the 1996 Protocol to the LLMC 1976. This report includes my summary of the Merchant Shipping (Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims) (Amendments Order 1998). This Statutory Instrument is designed to give effect to the 1996 Protocol and, as the note suggests, may create a few problems. This Committee has held a number of meetings jointly with the Personal Injury/Passenger Committee to review the 1996 Protocol with particular reference to the proposed changes of the limitation law in relation to passenger claims. The Secretaries of these two committees, Roland Jackson and Tom Birch Reynardson have worked hard in this respect and I express my gratitude for that.

The Marine Insurance Committee has not been particularly active during the year though it has recently received copy of a paper which I delivered at a Marine Insurance Symposium in Oslo. The text of that paper is also published in the Report.

The Offshore Mobile Craft Committee has been involved from time to time with the work of the CMI on this draft Convention. The Chairman of the International Sub Committee of the CMI (Richard Shaw) reported to the IMO Legal Committee in April this year and a full written report will be prepared in readiness for the Legal Committee meeting in October this year. Work on a draft Convention continues.

The Personal Injury/Passenger Committee apart from working with the Limitation Committee as outlined above has also devoted time to supplying answers to a detailed Questionnaire circulated by the CMI on possible amendments to the Athens Convention on the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea. A copy of that Questionnaire with the answers supplied is included in the Report and makes interesting reading.

The Pollution/HNS/Dangerous Goods Committee, having worked hard in the run up to the Diplomatic Conference in 1996, has had a year off. The Committee is likely to have its hands full when we start to see the draft legislation which will need to be put into place if the HNS Convention is ratified and comes into force internationally.

The Salvage Committee has been involved in the review of the working of Article 14 of the Salvage Convention 1989 and in examining the consequences of the House of Lords decision in the "Nagasaki Spirit". A report from Rob Wallis, who is a member of the CMI International Working Group on this subject is included in this Report.

It remains for me to thank all members of the Executive Committee and the Standing Committees for their efforts during the course of 1997.

Patrick Griggs