I always enjoy attending the International Salvage Union (ISU) Maritime Press Lunch in December each year.
It is always interesting to catch up on trends, challenges and difficulties of this vital industry. This year, the lunch was proceeded by an excellent seminar with presentations by ISU President John Witte, Mark Hoddinot, General Manager and Rob Wallis Legal Adviser.
The Executive Committee and members of the ISU have restated their commitment to using and promoting the Lloyd's Open Form salvage (LOF) contract. This comes at a time when news of the LOF is at historic low levels. Lloyd's Open Form has been in use for more than 100 years in various editions (the current version is LOF 2011). The contract contains simple, pro forma clauses enabling it to be quickly agreed in a casualty situation.
Speaking at the ISU AGM, President John Witte said "LOF has stood the test of time simply because it is the best contract to use in many emergency responses. But the number of LOFs being agreed has come down in recent years and it is a concern. LOF has great benefits. It is simple, easy to understand and requires no negotiation of fees when resources are better spent on trying to save life and property and in protecting the marine environment from the consequences of a casualty. "The great majority of LOF cases are settled amicably, which we think is a clear demonstration of its fairness, and the salvor is only paid if the job is a success – in short the salvor carries the financial risk of the job."
"We would like the shipping community and the marine insurers to be in no doubt that LOF has the full support of ISU. We know there is much commercial pressure in the salvage industry, but other solutions are not always appropriate or safe." ISU has been working with Lloyd's to improve understanding of the benefits of the contact (LOF) and will re-double its efforts, particularly with marine property underwriters and owners.