Court clarifies the law on application of York-Antwerp Rules

An English High Court decision on the incorporation of the York-Antwerp Rules could impact General Average claims, writes NorthStandard’s David Richards – Deputy Global Head of P&I Claims and Head of Legal & Expertise.

Richards noted that there had been a long-held view that most iterations of the York Antwerp Rules were not amendments or modifications of previous versions of the Rules. In The Star Antares, the bill of lading said that General Average was to be adjusted as per York Antwerp Rules 1994 “or any subsequent modification thereof”.

Cargo interests argued that this incorporated the 2016 version of the Rules into the contract of carriage. The High Court agreed on the basis that the 2016 Rules could properly be described as a “modification” of the 1994 version.

“This decision could have a significant impact on some General Average (GA) claims”, wrote Richards, adding that “whilst most of the differences between the different versions of the Rules concern technical aspects of adjustment practice, one critical development was the introduction in 2004 of time bars to the ability to collect GA”.

Rule XXIII of the York-Antwerp Rules 2016 provides that an action to collect GA must be commenced within one year of the issue of the GA Adjustment or six years from the termination of the common adventure.