The event permits postgraduate researchers and practitioners of Maritime Law to share their work in a friendly and supportive environment.
On Friday, 21st April 2023, the London Universities Maritime Law and Policy Research Group (LUMLPG) hosted the 13th iteration of its annual symposium for maritime law scholars from across UK and the globe.
The LUMLPG membership now boasts over 250 members with active involvement from researchers at the University of Southampton, the University of Gothenburg, Northumbria University, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Queen Mary University of London, University of Edinburgh and others.
This year's symposium was configured around four panels chaired by distinguished colleagues offering invaluable expertise on particular research themes. The first panel, chaired by The City Law School’s Professor of Maritime and Commercial Law, Professor Jason Chuah, discussed environmental matters in shipping, ranging from the application of the 'polluter pays principle' to shipping value chains, adoption of IMO decarbonisation clauses in contracts, using “seaworthiness” as a legal tool for tackling climate change, and reforming the law to better protect animal welfare in shipping.
The second panel, chaired by Queen Mary, University of London's Professor Miriam Goldby, dealt with commercial matters in international trade. In addition to discussions on charterparty agreements and marine insurance, a vibrant discussion on electronic bills of lading ensued. Professor Goldby, who undertook a secondment with the Law Commission of England and Wales to work on the Electronic Trade Documents project, was well suited to facilitate suggestions to allow for the legal recognition of trade documents. Both the legal aspects of implementing electronic bills of lading and the technological practicalities of doing so were raised by our discussants.
The symposium's third panel centred on the theme of autonomous shipping and was chaired by Dr Simone Lamont-Black. Whilst the IMO is attempting to integrate new and advancing technologies in its regulatory framework, maritime scholars are investigating the challenges around private liability for collisions and operational failures. There are also issues surrounding maritime security, particularly in relation to cyber threats. The speakers investigated potential legal frameworks and the important components of autonomous vessels which require both regulation and private law initiatives.
The day ended with a panel on maritime services and regulation chaired by Professor Andrea Lista. This panel included the interesting findings of a large inter-disciplinary study on the correlation between fleet management practices during the pandemic and seafarer welfare, compulsory pilotage for cruise ships and proposals for an ASEAN multimodal transport harmonisation - all presented to address fragmentation and uncertainty in Asia and the Pacific for multimodal transport. Once again, electronic bills of lading were also raised but with a view to elucidating the difficulties with legislating on their recognition.
Professor Chuah said:
“In addition to academic discourse on these interesting topics, the conference was also a wonderful social opportunity to reconnect with long-standing members of the LUMLPG and to forge new connections with scholars, especially early career researchers, in maritime law. The City Law School is proud to host this event which provides one of the few UK-based opportunities for postgraduate researchers and practitioners of maritime law to share their work in a friendly and supportive environment. I wish to commend conference organisers, Dr Pia Rebello, and Mustafa Yilmaz, for their hard work in delivering the event.”