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  • The Maritime Law Association of South Africa was established in February 1974 as a result of concern among maritime lawyers and the shipping industry that legislation in South Africa regulating maritime affairs did not appear to be keeping pace with developments elsewhere in the world.

MLASA CONFERENCE / AGM 2018, FRANSCHHOEK – FULL REPORT


MLASA ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND  AGM 2018  

(31 AUGUST – 2 SEPTEMBER ) – LE FRANSCHHOEK HOTEL AND SPA, CAPE TOWN

Introduction

Yet another top notch MLASA conference was hosted by the Cape Chapter of the Maritime Law Association of South Africa, this time at Le Franschhoek Hotel and Spa, Cape Town from the 31st of August to the 2nd of September 2018.

This year’s conference title was: “Navigating the grey areas and the high seas: Shipping in a world increasingly disrupted by innovation and technology and impacted by white collar crime.”

Friday evening 31 August 2018

After a warm welcome to delegates on Friday evening by the President of the MLASA, Edmund Greiner, delegates were astounded by the thoroughly professional presentation of Professor Haroon Borat (of the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town) on his study of “State Capture” in South Africa. This presentation set out how “state capture” had rooted itself in South African institutions in a relatively short space of time following a set modus operandi.

The dinner and drinks that followed at the Le Verge Restaurant were much welcomed and enjoyed by delegates.

Saturday 1 September 2018

The first day of spring was kicked off after a hearty breakfast with a welcome by Gavin Fitzmaurice, the vice president of the South African Maritime Law Association (and the incoming President for the year ahead). In particular he welcomed the Maritime LLM Students from the University of Cape Town who attended the conference for the day and whose attendance was generously sponsored by major maritime law firm Hill Dickinson from its memorial fund in honour of the late Ed Hicks.

The level of speakers at this year’s conference was probably the highest that it has ever been and delegates were honoured in session one with a key note address given by the Honourable Mr. Justice Richard Goldstone headed: “Is there an international rule of law?” Just the introduction of Mr. Justice Goldstone and his professional life story was inspirational enough but what followed was a real and engaging presentation of the importance of the rule of law both locally and internationally.

Session 2 was headed by Harmen Hoek from the Dutch law firm Hoek ten Katen whose presentation, although headed “Automated Ships, was in reality a most interesting journey through the Dutch sources of law including references to Voet and Grotius, often regarded as the doyens of Roman Dutch Law.

Next up was Michelle Linderman and Cari Stinebower both partners at Crowell and Moring LLP at respective London and Washington offices. Their presentation on bribery and corruption, money laundering, and sanctions, and the impact on shipping was an eye opener as to the extent that the USA and UK legislation may be applicable to international transactions regardless of where they are concluded.

“I will be back” could be the heading of the next session as it was conducted by none other than our “old” SA stalwart, Angus Stewart SC, now living and practising law as a barrister in Australia. Angus’s presentation on the giving of concurrent expert evidence in litigation matters was food for thought for the South African lawyers present. In particular as to whether this would be an expedient and practical option in certain technical matters. “Experts in the hot tub” was an apt title to this presentation.

After a lunch adjournment at the La Pavilion restaurant the next session was headed by Mr. Julian Clark, Partner and Global Head of Shipping at Hill Dickinson London office. Julian is a regular attendee at MLASA conferences and the older members may recall that he even sang at one of the gala dinners a number of years ago in the Drakensberg – a definite idols contender. Again another top quality presentation on “Cybercrime in Shipping” illustrating just how dangerous hackers can be to the industry if the correct systems are not in place or implemented.

Captain John David, a Master Mariner at Marine Professionals provided some light entertainment with his impressive collection of photographs from various casualties which he had investigated over the years. A visual treat to those who enjoy the cut and thrust of casualty incidents.

A very important session followed headed up by the man at the helm of SAMSA, its CEO Sobantu Tilayi. This presentation was an important update as to various issues which SAMSA was running with in the Maritime space. The MLASA is privileged to have such a strong working relationship with Mr. Tilayi who is passionate about SAMSA, the industry and maritime interests at large.

Whoever didn’t believe that a picture painted a thousand words would have changed their view after the presentation of Ken Ellam, the General Manager and Master Mariner at Solis Marine Consultants based in Singapore. His presentation on the use of electronic navigation data and incident investigation indicated just how useful electronic navigation date can be if placed in the right hands. An extremely accurate digital reconstruction of an incident followed.

Gala Dinner

After some free time and pre-dinner drinks the delegates all dressed up in their Gatsby styled clothing to attend the grand gala dinner at the Sauvage restaurant. The bright, bubbly and ever charming Ariella Kuper was the MC for the evening. By far the most important and emotional part of the conference weekend was the speech given by Siphosakhe Phakathi who was a recipient of the Steven Wallace Maritime Trust scholarship and having completed her maritime masters is currently doing her articles at Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys. A talented young lady with her feet on the ground and a great future ahead of her was an inspiration to the delegates and an indication of the power of the youth in South Africa today when given the opportunity.

Gratitude was then shown by the MLASA by the presentation of an ambassadorial award to the Ed Hicks Hill Dickinson Fund (represented by Julian Clark) who had sponsored the day attendees to the conference – LLM students at UCT.

The business side of the Gala Dinner was navigated by auctioneer extraordinaire, Ariella Kuper, who ran an auction of generously donated items to raise funds for the Steven Wallace Maritime Trust – which sponsors the maritime law studies of previously disadvantaged persons throughout South Africa. The auction was a great success with an amount of R42 000.000 being raised for the Trust.

Another highlight of the gala dinner was the thought provoking presentation by Captain Nick Sloane where he analysed in immense detail prospects of moving an enormous iceberg from the Antarctic to off the coast of Cape Town in order to provide a solution to the water shortages we are suffering in the Western Cape. It looks like this would be achievable with Captain Nick Sloane at the wheel.

Other than that the evening was as usual a tremendous platform for networking, having a few drinks and letting one’s hair down.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

AGM

This morning was dedicated to the AGM of the association and included a workshop on the associated ship provisions of the Admiralty Jurisdiction Regulation Act.

The AGM also provided a platform for a robust discussion on the future role and relevance of the MLASA and how it could improve in reaching its constitutional mandate.

Prior to the close of the AGM the election of the Exco members was confirmed and can proudly be announced as follows:

Gavin Fitzmaurice – President

Lerato Maboea –       Vice President

Sharmila Naidoo – Secretary

Tamryn Simpson – Treasurer

Edmund Greiner

Peter Edwards

Lisa Mills

Graham Bradfield

Peter Lamb

Pictures from the MLASA 2018 conference weekend will shortly be posted on the home page of our website together with copies of the papers presented.

A thoroughly productive year is anticipated and the MLASA Exco, its sub-committees and Chapters are eager to get going to continue the work of this important pillar in the South African Maritime sector.