India to get a chance to vet future convention drafts prior to being deliberated in IMO
India will soon have a say in the Comite Maritime International (CMI), the world body which has been instrumental for initiating several conventions that have been adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). So far many regulations and conventions originating in CMI would get adopted and ratified in IMO without India having represented its stand on the issues. This is because India did not have any national body of maritime lawyers and representation on CMI is granted only to the country’s national maritime law associations. Thus, India continued to be at the receiving end of most conventions so far without being allowed to put forth its views or objections even when important issues came up for discussion and regulations framed.
Now around 40 leading maritime lawyers in India have come together under the leadership of S. Venkiteswaran, Sr. Advocate of Bombay High Court and formed the Indian Maritime Law Association which has been registered under the Societies Act and also the Bombay Public Trust Act.. The association offers various types of membership including Individual membership, Junior Lawyer membership, corporate membership, honorary membership and others. According to sources, this national body will now be in a position to join the CMI.
A spokesperson involved in the formation of the association stated that there have been several conventions that have come into being which have a direct bearing on Indian maritime sector but the country was never consulted or sought its views. The formation of new regulations and legislation would take shape in CMI which in turn serves as the driver to push these up to IMO. Some of these are the Limitation of Ship owners Liability, the Salvage convention, the Arrest convention, the York Antwerp Rules which provides a method of adjusting general average claims, etc.
“Till today we did not have a set of experts in maritime law who were in a position to advise the government,” he said. “For example if India desired revision of the Hague Rules, the government would consult only the Indian Shipowners’ body, whilst, the Indian maritime lawyers, insurance companies, cargo owners / trader, etc., never got consulted even though they had more say in the matter. India will henceforth have a voice during the formation of international legislations and India’s point of view will be taken into consideration.”
CMI is a non-governmental, non-profit organization which was established in Antwerp in 1897. Its objective is to contribute by all appropriate means and activities to the unification of maritime law in all aspects. It administration is still conducted in Antwerp. The CMI is the oldest international organization in the maritime field. Although its foundation followed that of the International Law Association (ILA) by several years, and the CMI was perhaps in one sense a descendant of the ILA, the Comité was the first international organization concerned exclusively with maritime law and related commercial practices.