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Classification societies’ liability to third party

In a judgment rendered on 25 June 2014, the Court of Appeal of Genoa ruled on the complex issue of liability in tort of classification societies. The case involved a claim brought against the classification society by the charterers of a ship stated to be in class in the charterparty.  The ship, after completing the loading of the goods, was arrested and detained as part of a Port State Control which had shown serious deficiencies. The charterers were forced to discharge and tranship the goods on another vessel. In the first instance case, the Tribunal of Genoa (the judgment is published in Dir. Mar. 2011) found the classification society liable on the ground that the charterers had relied on the classification of the ship to enter into the charterparty. The Court of Appeal agreed with the first instance judge that classification societies may in principle be liable to third parties who relied on certifications later proved to be erroneous; however the Court reversed the first instance judgment holding that no evidence was available that prior to the conclusion of the charterparty, the charterers had made inquiries about the status of the ship’s class.

Stage at SLM

Since 1st October 2014, Manos Karanikolas, a Greek-qualified Attorney-at-Law, has been undertaking his three-month internship at Studio Legale Mordiglia in their offices in Genoa. Manos obtained his Law Degree from the University of Athens and has completed his vocational training at a Law Firm in Piraeus. He qualified as an Attorney-at-Law in Athens and Piraeus in December 2013 and  in 2014 he completed his LL.M. in Maritime Law at the University of  Southampton (UK), where he wrote his dissertation in International Trade Law with the topic: “The Nullity Exception to the Autonomy Principle in Letter of Credit Transactions”.

Tokyo IBA Conference

On 20th October 2014 at the International Bar Association (IBA) Conference in Tokio, Aldo Mordiglia attended as speaker in the “Hot topics in marine industry” session, organized by the Maritime and Transport Law Comittee, giving a presentation on the following topic: “Recent developments in wreck removal – laws and legislation.

Court order on minimum costs in road carriage by Court of Cagliari 11th September 2014

By an order dated 11th September 2014, the Court of Cagliari granted the shipper’s application for stay of the provisional enforceability of a court payment order obtained by a road carrier in respect of a claim for higher “minimum costs” for carriage under Art. 83bis of Legislative Decree 112/2008 (converted into law No 133/2008).
The order, based on the merits of the claim and the contrast between the “minimum costs” law and EU law, is one of the first decisions to acknowledge and enforce the European Court of Justice judgment rendered on 4th September 2014 (see news below).

Court of Genoa 11th.8.2014 – State aid and unfair competition

The Court of Genoa, following the EU Commission decision, held that the recapitalization of Saremar for an amount equal to the credit owed towards Tirrenia, was not in the sense of a “Market Economy Investor Principle” but in the sense of a State aid, therefore subject to be sanctioned as unfair competition under Art. 2598 no. 3 of the Italian Civil Code.
In the same judgment, always in line with the EU Commission decision, it was decided that the allocation from Sardinia region to Saremar of a certain sum for promotional activities as well as the undertaking from the same Sardinia region of a guarantee in order to release a bank credit to Saremar could not be considered as a State aid.

European Court of Justice Judgment on minimum operating costs in road carriage

In January 2013, the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio requested the European Court of Justice to rule on the compatibility of the Italian legislation regarding “minimum costs” in road transport with EU competition law.
The Court rendered its judgment on 4th September 2014, declaring the illegitimacy of such legislation on two grounds.
Firstly, the composition of the “Osservatorio dell’Autotrasporto” (the organization determining the minimum costs) is more similar to a trade association and therefore does not ensure the compulsory impartiality and protection of the public interest.
Secondly, the compulsoriness of a minimum pay represents a limitation of the competition not justified by road safety protection reasons, not being suitable to serve such purpose.

Sulphur content in marine fuels

By judgment issued on 23rd January 2014 on the request for a preliminary ruling from the Tribunal of Genoa in a dispute related to the maximum sulphur content in marine fuels, the European Court of Justice held that a cruise ship, flying the flag of a State party to the Annex VI of Marpol, falls within the scope of Article 4a(4) of Directive 1999/32 (providing the use of marine fuels with a maximum sulphur content of 1,5%) with regard to the criterion of ‘regular services’, as laid down in Article 2(3g) ,thereof, provided that it operates cruises, with or without intermediate calls, finishing in the port of departure or another port, provided that those cruises are organized at a particular frequency, on specific dates and, in principle, at specified departure and arrival times, with interested persons being able to choose freely between the various cruises offered.

Maersk and MSC give rise to ‘2M’ alliance

After a few weeks from Mofcom’s decision to prohibit the P3 alliance, Maersk Line and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company announced the new 2M alliance, a ten-year Vessel Sharing Agreement (VSA) on the Trans-Atlantic, Trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe trade routes.
The VSA, which is expected to start in early 2015, will involve about 185 vessels operating 21 liner services, with around 2.1 million TEUs total capacity.
In addition to having a smaller market share than P3 (deriving from Cma Cgm’s exclusion from the new deal), 2M would be a simpler cooperation by means of Vessel Sharing, without any separate independent organisation with executive powers to manage the network.