London maritime arbitration rides out the pandemic: LMAA

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Despite the disruption and restrictions of last year, the London Maritime Arbitrators Association (LMAA) reports a solid set of caseload statistics for 2021. Arbitrators reported 2,777 new appointments under its Terms and Procedures in an estimated 1,657 references.

The numbers are slightly but not significantly lower than 2020’s figures (3,010 and 1,775 respectively), “perhaps reflecting readjustments which occurred in shipping markets after the turmoil of 2020,” says the LMAA. There was an increase in the number of appointments under the Intermediate Claims Procedure (54 up from 43 in 2020), which is designed to deal with claims between US$100,000 and US$400,000.

LMAA arbitrators were certainly busy in 2021 with an estimated 531 awards being published, the highest number since 2016. The overwhelming majority of LMAA arbitrations are conducted on a documents-only basis but the pandemic did not prevent progress with hearings (in-person, virtual and hybrid) after some interruptions in 2020. 77 awards were made after hearings in comparison to 53 in 2020.

LMAA President David Steward (pictured) said: “We are delighted that London remains the venue of choice for the vast majority of maritime arbitrations and that the LMAA’s Terms and Procedures continue to be popular with users worldwide. We keep them under frequent review and the latest revisions have met with wide approval, particularly the guidelines for virtual and hybrid hearings which now form the Sixth Schedule to the 2021 Terms.”