Issue 175


1. Surveying paying off

SURVEYORS can save you money. In the latest edition of its ‘Signals’ newsletter, the North of England P&I Club quotes two recent cases where it appointed judicial surveyors in connection with grain shipments involving North African countries. The club says the appointment of the surveyors, at an average cost of about $2,000, seems to have prevented claims. In both cases, it adds, the quantities discharged were considerable and would normally have given rise to significant yet spurious claims.

2. Title to sue

THE Hague-Visby Rules are double dutch to many people, including the courts. But two legal experts in Holland have tried to explain the complexities and internationally varying execution of the rules in a new book, which also addresses a fundamental pitfall for the unwary under Dutch law – “Who, and under what circumstances, has title to sue under a bill of lading?”

Nigel Margetson, a lawyer with AKD Prinsen Van Wijmen, one of the largest maritime law firms in the Netherlands, says the technicalities of the Title to Sue defence under the Hague-Visby Rules, despite a long case history, still frequently trap unwary litigants in Holland and need to be better understood.

He explains, “Under Dutch law, understanding who has title to sue can make all the difference in an otherwise straightforward case. In fact, only the lawful and rightful bill of lading holder is entitled to sue. This is a very narrow definition, often solely implying the receiving agent, and excluding the cargo owner – the party actually feeling the pain in its pocket. Dutch law on title to sue is very strict, and cargo claims frequently collapse because mistakes are made in this respect.”

Although aimed primarily at Dutch lawyers and law students, the book covers areas of fundamental importance to all those with an interest in the carriage of goods by sea. The book’s second lead editor, Marc Hendrikse, an assistant professor specialising in maritime law at the University of Amsterdam, says: “There has been a dearth of Dutch-language maritime law books. The last was written in 1993 and the one before that in 1961.”

Een praktische benadering van de overeenkomst van goederenvervoer over zee – (A practical approach to the contract of the carriage of goods by sea) – by N H Margetson and M L Hendrikse, ISBN no. 90-13-01908-0, is published by Kluwer and is available from bookstores across Holland and from priced € 51,50.

Language: Single dutch.

3. California cruising
IN California, Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law two bills affecting cruiseships. The first prohibits cruiseships from conducting onboard incineration while operating within three miles of the California coast. The second prohibits cruiseships from discharging grey water into the marine waters of the state and requires the operator to immediately notify the state if such a discharge occurs. ‘Grey water’ means drainage from dishwashers, showers, laundries, baths and washbasin drains. (Holland & Knight)

4. Exporters beware

THE Australian customs service has brought in the first stage of a new e-business cargo management system. Simply explained (if such a thing is possible), this means that exporters who used to log electronic or paper export entries under the old system will, with effect from October 6, have to start using the new Integrated Cargo System (ICS). But the switch is not without potential pitfalls.

The user agreement between exporters and customs – which is a prerequisite to ICS registration, which itself is a prerequisite to having export customs documents processed – contains “onerous obligations and practical implications”, according to Phillips Fox, Melbourne.

In its latest Transport & Trade e-Bulletin, Phillips Fox notes that the user agreement is legally binding and applies to all communications sent by a company to customs, even if sent by an unauthorised employee. Customs can change the terms of the agreement at any time, and companies will be liable for any loss suffered by customs caused by their failure to update contact information.

For details of practical steps that exporters can take to deal with the obligations imposed under the user agreement, contact:

5. UK tonnage tax success

LEADING shipping accountant and business consultant Moore Stephens says the results of a major survey into the operation of the UK Tonnage Tax scheme show it to have been an overwhelming success.

All survey respondents who elected to enter tonnage tax felt that it had been advantageous. The majority of respondents who were part of an overseas group were considering transferring more ships to the UK. A majority of respondents who did not make a tonnage tax election would consider doing so in the future, if permitted.

Moore Stephens shipping tax partner Sue Bill says, “The most important reason for entering tonnage tax was, as expected, the low level of tax on shipping operations. The fact that there is no UK flag requirement was also an important factor for respondents in deciding to enter the tonnage tax regime and it is unfortunate that the EU has changed the rules after companies have made the election. The certainty and simplicity of calculating the corporation tax liability was also an important factor. All respondents felt that their tax position would be simpler under tonnage tax than under normal corporation tax rules.

6. People & Places

LEADING mutual insurer ITIC (International Transport Intermediaries Club) has elected Harry Gilbert, a director of Wallem Ltd, as its chairman. He replaces Paul Vogt, who will retire following the club’s AGM in December after serving as chairman since the club was founded in 1992.

Alan Marsh, chief executive of Braemar Seascope Ltd, and Roger Swann, chief executive of British Maritime Technology Ltd, will also be joining the board of ITIC subject to approval by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

Timely warnings

THE writer of a letter to The Times newspaper in London last week explained that his daughter, rather than removing her trousers to iron the waistband, had decided to iron them in situ. The resulting permanent mark, he concluded, supported the need for a suitable warning to be attached to the product. There are, of course, always exceptions to the rule, but one does wonder about the need for some of the following advice:

Not to be used for anything else. (Food processor)

Do not use to pick up gasoline or flammable liquids. Do not use to pick up anything that is currently burning. (Vacuum cleaner)

Remember: Objects in the mirror are actually behind you. (Helmet-mounted cycle mirror)

Keep out of children. (Korean kitchen knife)

This product contains small granules under 3 millimetres. Not suitable for children under the age of 14 years in Europe or 8 years in the USA. (Juggling balls)

Warning: may cause drowsiness. (On a packet of sleeping tablets)

Open packet and eat contents (On a packet of peanuts served on an internal flight in China (written in both English and Chinese)

Contains nuts. (On a packet of peanuts)

Do not eat ornamental flowers (Waitrose mixed bouquet)

Kills all kinds of insects! Warning: This spray is harmful to bees. (On a can of insect spray)

Kills flies, wasps, mosquitoes, midges, and other flying insects. Not tested on animals. (On a can of insect spray)


THE Letters to the Editor page in The Times newspaper has been publishing a series of correspondence from readers about misprints and misunderstandings. One correspondent recalls seeing, many years ago, a concert programme which included the memorable song, ‘Just a Snog at Twilight’. Another recounts how, as a young police constable, he had used one of the new-fangled dictating machines to report that, “Upon my arrival, traffic was being controlled by an RAC man.” The report was returned for signature as, “… the traffic was being controlled by an Irish seaman.”

Your editor’s own favourite misprint came in a programme for a local musical production which included the “Cole Porter classic, ‘I’ve Got You Under My Sink’.

Patronising thoughts

SOMEBODY has found some biscuits in Ireland which are 1,300 years past their sell-by date. If this is what passes for news today, the silly season is outliving the summer holidays.

There is too much fuss made these days about sell-by dates, and people who are old enough to remember the days before sell-by dates are, by virtue of their very existence, living proof of that. Your editor, for example, once ate a pork pie in Weston Super Mare that was at least 2,000 years old and, apart from a little heartburn before retiring, was as right as sixpence in the morning.

But back to the biscuits. They were apparently so stale that they were mistaken at first blush for pottery, although subsequent research showed them to be oatmeal biscuits, meant to be eaten with cheese. One would like to think that they had been protected by the patron saint of biscuits. But the truth is that there is no patron saint of biscuits.

There is a patron saint of cheese-makers. St Efficacious – or St Bartholomew, depending on which authority you turn to – looks after cheese. And there is a patron saint of lawyers and lions. St Mark handles both, and presumably trousers the extra billable hours.

There is a patron saint of almost everything, including in-law problems and cats, responsibility for which falls to the wretchedly unlucky Gertrude of Nivelles. Yet biscuits remain unsainted.

Perhaps the redoubtable James the Apostle could add ginger snaps to his current list of patronisations, which includes arthritis, hat-makers, labourers, rheumatism and Chile. It is doubtful he would notice the extra work, and it would be much better than a sell-by date.

Cat Headline of the Week

Virtu inks cat contract (Tradewinds Today)

Cat of the Week

Cat Stevens

Cats and blondes

A BLONDE woman was having financial troubles, so she decided to kidnap a cat and demand a ransom. She went to a local park, grabbed a cat, took it behind a tree and wrote this note. “I have kidnapped your cat. Leave $10,000 in a plain brown bag behind the big oak tree in the park tomorrow at 7 a.m. Signed, The Blonde”. She pinned the note onto the cat’s collar and told it to go straight home.

The next morning, she returned to the park to find the $10,000 in a brown bag, behind the big oak tree, just as she had instructed. Inside the bag was the following note. “Here is your money. But I just can’t believe that one blonde would do this to another blonde.”

Quote of the Week

Whatever women must do they must do twice as well as men to be thought
half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult. (Charlotte Whitton)

Headline of the Week

Deaths still happening

(‘Signals’, North of England P&I Club)

Best darts one-liners

The following are excerpts from UK television commentary on the game of darts:

“That’s the greatest comeback since Lazarus.”

“When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer. Bristow’s only 27.”

“If we’d had Phil Taylor at Hastings against the Normans, they’d have gone home.”

“He’s as cool as a prize marrow!”

“You couldn’t get more excitement here if Elvis Presley walked in eating a chip sandwich!”

“He’s playing out of his pie crust.”

“He’s been burning the midnight oil at both ends.”

“He’s going like the Loch Ness Monster with a following wind!”

“Keith Deller is like Long John Silver – he’s badly in need of another leg.”

“Eyes like a pterodactyl….with contact lenses”

“He may practise 12 hours a day, but he’s not shy of the burger van!”

“He’s like Jack The Ripper on a Friday night.”

“He’s got one foot in the frying pan and one on thin ice.”

“That lad could throw 180 standing one-legged in a hammock.”

“It’s just like taking a sausage from a boy in a wheelchair.”

“That was like throwing three pickled onions into a thimble!”

“They’ve got Shakespeare on Radio 2 but you can’t beat this for drama.”

“His eyes are bulging like the belly of a hungry chaffinch.”

Best Question-and-Answer Sessions of the Week

Q: In which year did William the Conqueror invade England?

A: 1612

Q: What word beginning with ‘C’ denotes an alternative to burial?

A: Burning

Q: The famous tourist attraction in England’s west country, which was restored in 2001, on the occasion of its tenth anniversary, is the Lost Gardens of WHERE?

A: Babylon

Q: The abbreviation ‘PPE’ stands for ‘Politics, Philosophy, and WHAT?’

A: Law

Q: The renal vein carries blood back to the heart from which organ?

A: The eyes

Q: What is the one location in the world from which it is possible to travel in only a southerly direction?

A: Australia

(The Weakest Link, BBC TV)