Liberal

In the mid 1970s the trend changed. In Miliangos v George Frank (Textiles) Ltd. (1976) it was established that the courts should have the power to give judgement in a foreign currency making conversion into sterling no longer relevant or necessary. (The facts of the Miliangos case involved a debt in a foreign currency, but was not a maritime case). Since 1979 therefore, there have been three equally arguable alternatives for solving the vexed question of how damages should be awarded. First, the old idea of the sterling basis solution, whereby damages would be awarded in sterling only and if the claim was in a foreign currency it would be converted as at the time of loss. Secondly, the awarding of damages in the currency of the expenditure or loss, meaning the currency in which the innocent party directly or immediately incurred the loss. Thirdly (a choice most likely to be put forward by the plaintiff claimant), the notion that damages should be awarded in the currency of the plaintiff. That is to say, the country in which he actually effectively felt his loss and which would probably, though not necessarily, be normal operating or ‘home based’ currency. Both judges and arbitrators have become more liberal in their approach to currency and this latter method at the moment seems the most favoured method of awarding damages. This, of course, seems to accord as far as possible with the basic aim of damages, that the innocent party should be benefited by the restitutio in integrum basis, i.e. that he should be put back into the position he was in before the tort occurred. Section 8 of the Maritime Conventions Act 1911 provided that legal proceedings in a collision suit should be commenced within two years from the cause of action. The court has discretion to extend the period in circumstances which justify it. This is unlikely to be done if the delay had occurred solely through the claimant’s own lack of knowledge of his legal rights.