West announces new specialist claims teams and key promotions

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The West of England P&I Club (West) has announced the creation of two new specialist claims teams and a number of key promotions in its London office, in response to evolving trends in shipping’s claims landscape.

To enhance and strengthen the West’s service, and to build on the existing expertise within its claims department for crew, passengers, and third-party personal injury and death claims, West has established a People Claims Team. This new team will also provide a platform for knowledge transfer and training across all of the Club’s regional offices.

Suzanne Byrne, Group Head of Claims at West, commented: “In an era of transition, crewmembers play an increasingly pivotal role in the shipping industry, and seafarer health and wellbeing is a priority for the Club, ensuring a healthy and safe workforce for our Members. Our People Claims Team has been created to offer a dedicated hub of expertise and support for our Members in this evolving field.”

West has also established a Charterers Comprehensive Cover (CCC) Claims Team to provide a focused service for handling the claims generated by this class of business. Charterers cover is an increasingly important and expanding area for the Club, with continued growth in this sector as highlighted in West’s recent renewals circular.

Byrne added: “Charterers operate in an increasingly litigious environment where the liability exposure has become ever-more burdensome. West’s Comprehensive Cover has been enhanced to meet the demands of those operators entered with the Club and our new CCC Claims Team will ensure we continue to offer a dedicated and targeted service across all our regional offices.”

The creation of these new claims teams includes a number of role changes at West. Chris Edwards has been promoted to Head of Claims (People Team) and is joined by Helen Chittenden, Kay Matthews, and Saskia Claydon-Richards. Chris is a West veteran, having joined the Club in 1988, and brings extensive experience of crew personal injury and death as well as stowaway claims. His expertise is supplemented by Helen, who is a qualified solicitor and has experience in occupational disease and cruise passenger claims, as well as Kay’s expertise on Maritime Labour Convention matters.

Kalliopi Dalakleidi has been promoted to Head of Claims (CCC Team). Kalliopi brings a wealth of experience and knowledge, having worked as a senior claims manager at another International Group (IG) Club prior to joining West. She also has 14 years of experience dealing exclusively with charterers’ claims. Kalliopi is joined by Cameron Shepherd, along with Keeley Edmondson and Alex Crossley. All four are qualified English lawyers having worked in private practice, in-house or for other IG Clubs.

West has also promoted Gary Beale to the role of Deputy Head of Claims (Defence) working with Nicola Cox, the Club’s Head of Defence Claims, in overseeing this class of business. “Having worked for a leading maritime law firm in London for six years and having handled complex Defence claims, Gary has in-depth knowledge and will contribute greatly to the management of Defence claims across all West’s offices,” Byrne concluded.

The news of the West’s new claims teams and appointments in London follows its investment and strengthening of its claims services in Piraeus, Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York. The Club’s recent regional service centre appointments ensure local support, insights, and timely responses to Members operating in different time zones and in key markets around the world.

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