Call for mediation forum in hull claims

Burkhard Fischer, vice-chairman of the Association of Average Adjusters and a partner with Albatross Adjusters of Limassol, has called for a mediation forum to help settle some of the basic disparities in marine hull claims practice.

Speaking at a meeting organized by the Association of Average Adjusters and the International Underwriting Association, Mr Fischer noted that there were fundamental differences between English and German hull and machinery clauses.

“It would be immensely beneficial for shipowners, underwriters and adjusters if there were a forum with the authority to provide mutually acceptable solutions to controversial issues”, he said.

Fischer highlighted distinctive points of Germany’s widely-used DTV-Hull Clauses. They provided all-risks cover with named exclusions; wide third party liability cover, including some items traditionally covered by P&I. But the wording of some clauses remains ambiguous, partly because of a lack of relevant case law.

Fischer said that literal interpretations of clauses were perhaps convenient to a non-expert, or to a court of law, but there should be more to it. “As adjusters, we take into consideration the historical development of a clause including its previous market practice, the various commentaries and, not forgetting, we will always apply common sense.”