Chairman's Welcome 2022

14 May 2022

It is a great honour and privilege to have been elected your Chairman for 2022-2023.

I am not and never have been an Average Adjuster. But throughout my time at the Bar and on the Bench I have been concerned with the very same maritime casualties as those with which Average Adjusters are and have always been concerned - groundings, engine breakdowns, collisions, cargo shifts, salvage operations, port closures and delays of all sorts. I have seen – and I must say admired- many adjustments. Although, as Ernest Lindley remarked in 1904 the use of Average Adjusters is designed to avoid “the expensive machinery of the law”, lawyers and adjusters have much in common. Amongst the duties of an adjuster noted by Ernest Lindley were the duties to “to act fairly to both parties to the contract of insurance or the contract of carriage, to set down all material facts and to withhold nothing of importance”. Those are also the duties of a judge. So we have much in common. And many is the time that I have found that I could do no better than to quote the detailed chronology of the casualty as set out in the adjustment.

I have noted from the list of past chairmen of your Association that from time to time you are prepared to countenance a judge as your chairman. The list of former Commercial Court and Admiralty Court judges that you have honoured in this way includes many well known names from Gorrel Barnes in 1902 to Stephen Tomlinson in 2010. I can only say that it is the greatest honour, and an even greater surprise, to be included amongst them.

Events of international significance which impact shipping are reflected in the work of average adjusters. This year will be no different. The war in Ukraine is affecting shipping in the Black Sea and the lock down in Shanghai following Covid 19 is disrupting the flow of goods across the world. In addition, despite the sophisticated technology available on board ship, shipping casualties continue to occur. In 1869, the year when your association was formed, the Suez Canal opened. And last year, over 150 years later, there was a well-known casualty in the Canal. I have no doubt that Average Adjusters will continue to adjust the financial consequences of these events as fairly and as efficiently as they always have done to the great benefit of the shipping industry.

On rare occasions the law may intervene to resolve disputes as to the consequences of an adjustment. When I have had to resolve such disputes I feel as if I am an amateur trespassing upon the territory of the professional. Perhaps I am, but you treat trespassers very well. When you invite me to your annual dinner not only are you very welcoming but you tread lightly when discussing the correctness or otherwise of my decisions.

I wish the Association another successful year and I very much hope that I can in some small way contribute to it.

Sir Nigel Teare
Chairman 2022/23