Legal Disputes & Litigation

Legal Disputes & Litigation

Expert Witnesses play a fundamental role within the UK’s judicial system by providing opinion evidence to assist courts in reaching decisions. They may be called to give evidence in a wide variety of legal forums such as the civil courts or at arbitration hearings. TMC provide this service to the Legal & Insurance markets in London and around the world.

Expert Witness work

Many of the incidents and claims which TMC deal with end up in a legal dispute of one kind or another; whether it be a collision, a pollution incident or machinery failure. Our Expert Witness consultants have all had training by a recognised professional body in order to prepare themselves for dealing with such events.

Expert Witnesses may be asked to write a report or statement and be called to give evidence in a wide variety of legal forums. Shipping & Insurance cases are usually heard in civil courts such as the Royal Courts of Justice, or at an arbitration hearing in London and around the world.

Unfortunately with the increasing criminalisation of seafarers, our Expert Witnesses increasingly can be called upon to give evidence in criminal cases, formal inquiries and professional conduct hearings. Typical cases can involve any type of marine claim, whether it is a collision, contact with a fixed object, machinery failure, speed & performance claim, fire, salvage, sinking, cargo damage, etc. The discipline required may be a marine engineer, a master mariner or a naval architect, and on some occasions all three.

Our Experts have given evidence in the UK, USA, Iceland, Singapore, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, South Africa and Spain, to name just some of the jurisdictions.

Examples of the type of cases where TMC Expert Witnesses have given evidence on are as follows:

  1. New-Building

    TMC’s team has a great deal of new-build experience such as Classification society surveyors, New-build project managers and Owner’s shipyard representatives. The contractual requirements around new-builds is complex and requires specialist knowledge and many years of experience working in shipyards. On occasions a series of vessels in dispute may have value in excess of $1 Billion. TMC has been involved in many new-build cases and has the following expertise:

    • Provided expert opinion in court and arbitration on technical issues in dispute
    • Acted for both owners and builders
    • Employs experienced ex-classification society surveyors, owners representatives, hull & machinery superintendents
    • Experience in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and European yards
    • Attended many different types of vessel from bulk carriers & tankers, to ro-ros, OSV’s, gas ships and cruise ships
    • Advised on contract and specification content
    • Attended factory tests for new equipment
  2. Unsafe Ports

    Our team of master mariners are very experienced at dealing with unsafe port cases. These cases generally arise as a result of an incident in port where a vessel suffers damage. Under most charter-parties, Charterers warrant the safety of a port to which they have sent a vessel. Owners’ obligations in such cases, is to provide a seaworthy ship & crew, who must navigate in a reasonable and seaman-like manner.

    In the event of an incident, our experts often attend on-site to collect evidence and give clients a clear assessment of the causes(s) of the incident. Such advice can prove very beneficial in settling such matters early, however our team can assist throughout the legal process up to and including giving oral evidence in court or arbitration if required.

  3. Speed & Performance

    Under a time-charter a ship-owner warrants the performance of his vessel in terms of speed and fuel consumption, usually in “good weather” only. Charterers monitor the speed & consumption of the vessel and may well bring a claim against the owners if either the speed or the fuel consumption does not meet the warranted figures set out.

    TMC has been carrying out speed and performance analysis for over 30 years. Generally the analysis is carried out against stated requirements in the charter-party. Using techniques and formula accepted over many years, we can analyse the performed speed and consumption, taking into account the many variables of weather, route, coastal currents, hull fouling, engine efficiency etc. The analysis is clearly laid out and conclusions drawn in terms of under or over-performance and the financial implications of this. If disputes cannot be settled beforehand our Experts will attend court or arbitration in order to support their written reports.