Britannia has a team of qualified lawyers who offer the Members of P&I a full advisory service on all FD&D issues. The service covers a wide range of matters including, amongst others, advice on the construction of charter party clauses, interpretation of demurrage provisions, analysis of unsafe berth and damage to hull disputes.
The defence team will pursue recoveries of freight, hire or demurrage wherever and whenever appropriate, and where disputes cannot be amicably resolved, they will take matters to arbitration or litigation. FD&D disputes can involve any jurisdiction in the world and the Club is well equipped, through its international network of correspondents and correspondent lawyers, to deal with claims arising anywhere at a moment’s notice. If outside legal advice is required, attorneys, solicitors or counsel will be instructed and their cost carefully monitored by the Club. The Club will, however, strive to do as much work in-house as is possible to keep the overall legal expenditure to a minimum while maintaining the highest standards of professional advice. The defence team is available to help and guide Members at any stage of a contractual negotiation or to find answers when none are readily apparent and Members are encouraged to consult the FD&D team on any defence issue of concern.
DEDUCTIBLE & LIMITS
Under current arrangements, the Association covers the first USD 5,000 of all external expenses incurred in any matter; thereafter the Member contributes one third of all additional legal expenses. In fact, many disputes are resolved within the USD 5,000 threshold and require no contribution from the Member. The maximum recovery in respect of any one claim is limited to USD 10M, with a sub-limit of USD 2M for disputes relating to new buildings, conversions and sale and purchase.
Britannia’s FD&D cover provides protection, at a low cost, against runaway legal expenses as well as enabling Members to obtain the best advice on the handling of a wide variety of maritime disputes arising in any part of the world. As disputes of a defence nature almost invariably affect a ship’s earnings and cash flow, many Members regard FD&D as an important adjunct to their day-to-day business operation.
Excellent claims handling is key to ensuring that all Britannia Members receive the maximum benefit from mutual insurance. This is true whether for Owners or Charterers, and also in both P&I and FD&D cases. Successful claims handling permits us to resolve problems effectively and to minimise financial impact for both Members and the Club. Maintaining this close contact on claims provides us with great awareness of individual Members’ operations as well as a broad knowledge of issues experienced across the Club’s membership.
BRITANNIA’S CLAIMS TEAM
Britannia’s claims handlers are organised into separate claims teams relating to the Members’ common geographical locations. Claims handlers develop close working relationships with individual Members, establishing in depth knowledge of their trades, operations and claims history. In this way, we are better able to respond appropriately to an individual Member’s needs.
Claims handlers work in an open environment to share the benefit of their knowledge. Claims teams mix individuals’ experience to balance expertise: qualified lawyers from many different jurisdictions, years of seagoing experience, and sound commercial backgrounds in relevant markets.
The claims teams based in London control the handling of all claims, assisted by our own people based in key locations around the globe. This ensures that all Members’ claims are dealt with in a consistent manner. To promote a mutual approach, we regularly assess the development of larger claims and matters of general importance.
CONTROL & RESPONSIBILITY
Wherever possible, the Club’s claims handlers handle the resolution of claims ‘in-house’. There are a significant number of legally qualified claims handlers working together with ex-seafarers in the claims teams, giving Britannia the ability to handle claims themselves, without using external lawyers or experts.
When appropriate for claims handlers to appoint external lawyers and experts, these lawyers will work under the close guidance of the Club. Not only does our preference for handling claims ‘in-house’ minimise costs to the Club and its Members, it also means that the Club’s claim handlers are able to keep close control over the outcome of the claims, at the same time as maintaining close working relationships with the Members.
SPECIALISED PERSONAL INJURY & FD&D CLAIMS HANDLING
Because of the specialised nature of personal injury and Freight Demurrage & Defence (FD&D) claims, the Club has dedicated claims staff to handle these matters.
Our personal injury team deal with all personal injury or other crew related claims. Because personal injury claims are often only one element in a more complicated P&I claim, the personal injury claims team maintains a close relationship with the Member’s regular claims team.
A qualified lawyer who is experienced in FD&D matters always handles FD&D claims. They will generally be part of the Member’s regular P&I claims team and will also be an FD&D specialist. FD&D claims handlers also assist Members in reviewing contracts and providing legal guidance separately from handling cases.
Britannia’s global network of local correspondents is a vital link in the successful handling of claims, particularly at the earliest stages after an incident. Correspondents are available twenty-four hours a day to provide expert local advice, and to appoint surveyors and lawyers as appropriate. Members and their vessels and crew have direct access to the Club’s correspondents in all major ports. In emergencies, the Club correspondents can take necessary action without contacting the Managers.
The Club’s correspondents are experts in P&I matters and, in appropriate areas, may also be qualified lawyers. They maintain contact with specialist surveyors, experts and relevant authorities in their area. The correspondents often play a key role in the prompt issue of a Club letter of guarantee in the event of an actual or threatened ship arrest.
Throughout the life of a claim, the Club’s correspondents may continue to provide local knowledge and communications, including conducting local investigations and negotiations when instructed by the Club’s claims handlers.
Britannia constantly reviews the performance of its correspondents to ensure that Members always receive the best possible service.