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MARINE insurance disputes commonly require examination of technical and expert issues, which can prompt situations of ‘paralysis by over-analysis’. However, the English courts have traditionally followed a commonsense approach to unravelling factually complex coverage claims.
LIKE all good sagas, there is a twist at the end, but upon reflection, one wonders if the final denouement was ever really in doubt? And so, as the ink is drying on the judgment of the House of Lords decision in the Achilleas*, its impact for shipping interests and for English contract law is being digested, writes Mike Burns.Until the Lords’ ruling last week, successive decisions up to the Court of Appeal had shattered the pre-Achilleas acceptance in the shipping industry that in late redelivery situations, the measure of damages a shipowner could claim was limited to an increase in the market rate during the overrun period. Lost profits were not recoverable.For the Court of Appeal, the answer was deceptively simple. There was no rule specific to shipping and redelivery disputes. Under long-established breach of contract decisions in Hadley v Baxendale (1854) and The Heron II(1967), a claimant, shipowner or not, was entitled to recover losses foreseeable to result from a breach.