Exxon Valdez

The handling of P & I claims calls for prompt notification to the Club of claims or potential claims, full co-operation with them and disclosure of all relevant facts by the assured is essential.  In contrast to hull claims where in essence only two parties are concerned – owners and underwriters on opposite sides – P & I claims involve three or more parties with owners and underwriters being on the same side.  Consequently, the processing of P & I claims is characterised by close consultation between the owner and his Club when the merits of each claim are assessed and tactics agreed.  Depending upon individual circumstances a settlement may be negotiated with the claimant either by the shipowner or his manager or by the Club’s claims handling staff.  Alternatively, the claim may be resisted in which event litigation may follow.  Provided the Club agrees to support the member the legal costs will be paid by the Club. Minor routine claims are generally dealt with by the claims handling staff in the Club management office, but the more important cases, and those where principles are at stake, will be referred to the Club Directors at one of their periodic meetings.  Indeed, any claim can be referred to the Directors if a member so wishes.  Thus it is a group of fellow shipowners, not insurance people, who decide on the nature of the mutual cover to be provided by the Club in the final analysis. This is a major area of Club activity and one which calls for special attention.  It must be remembered in the first place that pollution does not only mean the major headline – grabbing incidents like the “Exxon Valdez” or the “Erika” but also the accidental spillage of bunker fuel, the discharge of sewage or the careless disposal of galley refuse.  While all of these activities now rightly fall within the ambit of various national and international environmental protection laws and regulations, it is in the area of oil tankers where most attention is concentrated.