Maritime Lawyer, Risk Manager, Past President, Past Board Member, Trainer, Litigator, Consultant, Investigator, Executive & Life Coach, Blogger, Photographer, Sportsman, Adventurer, Author…………….. phew, this is all one person that we are talking about – Andrew Pike..
In our latest edition of Executive Insights, Shipping and Freight Resource caught up with Andrew Pike for his insights into the Maritime industry specifically in South Africa and also about his new book “Against All Odds” The epic story of the OCEANOS rescue..
SFR: Maritime Law is not for everyone and in some respects does not seem to be that common either.. Can you say a bit about your main motivation in going into this particular area of law..??
Andrew Pike: When I was a young associate at the law firm with which I was doing articles in Johannesburg I was doing a bit of marine insurance law.
The head of our insurance department said they wanted someone in the firm to specialise in maritime law, but this would require a stint with one of the major law firms in London.
I needed no second bidding: I knew very little about maritime law, thought I might like it but this was an opportunity to live and work in London. If I’m perfectly honest, I just fell into maritime law, but the moment I started working in the cut and thrust atmosphere of London maritime lawyers, I knew I had found my happy place.
The work intrigued me, it was so much a part of everything that happens in the world and it called on me to raise my game if I wanted to play in this space.
When I returned to SA four years later, it got even better. Suddenly I had a chance to clamber around on huge ships, start getting an understanding of how they worked, life on board and all of the complications of a major incident.
As lawyers, we are required to be part of the decision making process when tough choices need to be made, because a decision in a particular way can often influence the outcome of litigation later.
Maritime law, especially the casualty-related practice, is very hands-on, exciting, investigative and fascinating. So I’ve stuck at it for the past 30 plus years.
SFR: How often do you deal with ship arrests and what are some of the main reasons that ships are arrested..??
Andrew Pike: Years ago I used to be involved in at least one ship arrest per week. In recent years, with the downturn in the world’s economy, safer ships and other possibilities for litigators in the world, I see very few arrests.
I guess that between us partners at my firm, Bowmans, we either arrest a ship or dispute a ship arrest a couple of times a month. We have around 30 different types of maritime claims in South Africa – for instance, mortgages, crew wages, cargo claims, damage caused by a ship, salvage, ship’s agents’ claims, charter party claims for hire and demurrage and so on.
We are able to arrest a ship for all of them. The reason that ships are arrested is usually because people who have claims against ships want security for their claims: many ships are owned by one ship companies, typically incorporated in places like Liberia, Panama and Cyprus.
A claimant wants to know that if he litigates or arbitrates over a maritime claim for a couple of years he will be paid at the end of it. If a ship is lawfully arrested, it can only be released if the owner establishes security for the underlying claim by giving a bank guarantee or insurer’s undertaking to the claimant.
This substitutes the arrested ship, which is then free to sail.
SFR: What is your view about Flag States and is there a need for South Africa to push for more SA flagged vessels..??
Andrew Pike: Flag States have different reputations, depending on the levels of regulation, safety standards and so on. Some are definitely more respected than others, but I shan’t name either for fear of defaming or offending any particular country.
However, I would be very much in favour of increasing the size of the South African fleet for several reasons which include:
- More crewing opportunities i.e. employment for local mariners
- The development of shoreside business such as crewing agencies, ship management companies, ship-broking, ship repairs, ship building and so on. Own-flagged ships can make a huge difference to a region’s economy
- The need to export more bulk cargoes on a CIF basis. At the moment most bulk cargoes are shipped from SA on FOB terms, meaning that the foreign buyer nominates the ship and freight is paid to a foreign ship owner.
- If we had more South African flagged ships and could persuade exporters to sell of CIF terms, SA ships could be used and freight paid could remain on-shore.
- Another possibility would be to require particular types of cargo e.g. State-owned cargo and SA mined cargo to be carried on SA ships. This would prevent outflows of monies to foreign ship owners
SFR: How does the future look for budding lawyers, litigators, arbitrators in the maritime space..?? What would your 3 main guidance points for them..??
Andrew Pike: A tough question as it is an employer’s market right now. Volumes of work in the maritime legal space have dropped significantly over the past 10 – 15 years.
Where we used to start 450 – 500 maritime cases in the Durban High Court each year, we’re lucky to get to 150 nowadays. This means most firms have too much capacity and aren’t hiring in the way that they used to, if at all.
Having said that, there is an initiative afoot currently being driven by the Maritime Law Association to promote maritime arbitration in South Africa.
There are several reasons for this, but slow turnaround times in the courts and expensive litigation which runs for years are two of the drivers.
If we could create a set of maritime arbitration rules for SA similar to the LMAA terms, and SA arbitration clauses could be included in the STC’s of all service providers in the SA maritime industry, as well as into bills of lading for export cargoes (especially if we can increase our fleet size), charter parties involving SA charterers and so on, the maritime legal business could experience a revival.
In terms of guidance points, I would say
- Find out all about the industry – if you go looking for a job in maritime because you have some romantic notion of it, but don’t understand it or have a real passion for it, the job will go to the person who has done his or her homework
- Get some sort of specialist qualification or skills in the sector which will set you apart from others looking for the same job – a maritime LL.M, a qualification with the ICS, a technical shipping diploma of some sort, some work experience with a shipping entity, preferably a shipping line or P&I Club and so on will make you stand out from the crowd
- Be willing to work hard, long hours. Ships wait for no one, and if you’re not committed to do what it takes when things need to happen immediately, shipping isn’t the place for you
SFR: Writing your book about the Oceanos Rescue must have been quite an engaging and involved process, what was your motivation for this book..??
Andrew Pike: There are several reasons which include:
- I worked on the legal team and knew a lot about the technical aspects of the sinking, but never properly engaged with the human side – the trauma, the heroism of the rescue, the extraordinary behaviour of the crew, the incredible job done by our Defence Force, the miracles at play and so on.
- I wanted to know more and always had this nagging thought that a book which involved everyone was needed. The more I learned the more I knew that this was a story too good not to be told, and I wanted to be the one to tell it properly
- It is now 28 years since the OCEANOS sank. A whole generation of people don’t know about it. Probably most people under the age of 40 have little to no knowledge of the incident. I didn’t want to let the story die of old age
- Most of the civilian entertainers, cruise staff and so on were never formally acknowledged for their bravery and initiative. Whether they ever will remains to be seen, but I wanted the world to know just what they did
- Finally, as a secondary purpose, I wanted to use the book as a way to gently educate people unfamiliar with shipping what an enthralling, complicated and wonderful industry it really is and something about how ships and maritime support services work. I have woven some of that into the story
The book “Against All Odds – The Epic story of the Oceanos Rescue” was published on the 13th of August 2019 and a series of book launches have been announced around the the country.. The book launch will be held in
- Cape Town on the 28th of August 2019 @ Bowmans, 22 Bree Street, Cape Town and
- Johannesburg on the 29th of August 2019 @ Bowmans, 11 Alice Lane, Sandton
where Andrew will be presenting a visual account of the rescue.. Copies of the book will also be on sale and it is not to be missed..
The book maybe ordered here
Print Version :
Executive Insights is a series by Shipping and Freight Resource that provides ongoing insights, enriching the knowledge of the readers with what is happening in the business of shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade and providing thoughtful analysis..
Executive Insights is also a chance for Joe Public to pick the brains of industry veterans, leaders and enablers..
Readers should also have a look at A day in the life of a Maritime Lawyer which features Andrew Pike..