Protection & Indemnity

Protection & Indemnity can best be thought of as insurance against third party risks and is almost invariably covered through a mutual association or ‘Club’ as they are usually called. Such clubs, as their name implies are not profit making companies or individuals as in the case of other insurances, but are associations run by groups of shipowners for their mutual benefit. The operation of their day-to-day business is entrusted to firms of professional managers. The risks covered with the P & I Clubs include such things as claims for damage to other people’s property (e.g. hitting a quay wall) injury to individuals (e.g. a crew member or a stevedore falling into a hold) and cargo claims (e.g. claims made by consignees for damage done to (or loss of) their cargo whilst in transit). Even the best run ship may eventually be involved in damage to cargo. There are also certain commodities that are notorious in that shipowners may be held responsible for damage when the damage occurred either before loading or following discharge – steel products being the better known example, and where it is essential to conduct “pre-loading” and “after-discharge” surveys to verify the condition of every item carried so as to avoid potential claims at a later date. Most voyage charterparties incorporate by means of a Clause Paramount either the international ‘Hague Rules’ or the later, updated version – the ‘Hague-Visby Rules’, which set out the responsibilities of carrier and owner of goods at sea. In fact the whole subject of cargo damage is very important to be understood by those trading in ships and commodities and it would help to understand it better if we took the opportunity in this lesson of briefly plotting the progress of the law relating to cargo carriage during the past century, before examining the Rules in greater detail. Since much international sea-trading is conducted under the terms of English Law, we then will examine the ‘Hague Rules’ and the ‘Hague-Visby Rules’ under the English equivalents – the ‘Carriage of Goods by Sea Acts, 1924 and 1971’.