On Wednesday 15 November a group of Rotterdam legal experts joined the Rotterdam Maritime Services Community (RMSC) business lunch in London, where we invited the legal cluster of London at the Dutch embassy. During the well visited lunch the different legal options in Rotterdam were presented as an attractive alternative for London to an international audience.
After a warm welcome by Mr Karel van Oosterom, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the United Kingdom, who hosted the lunch, Mr Erik Witjens, the chairman of RMSC kicked off by presenting the Rotterdam based maritime business services cluster with the port of Rotterdam as their backyard with 30,000 seagoing vessels and 100,000 inland barges in the vicinity.
Maritime legal options in Rotterdam
Next, Mr James M. Turner KC, English barrister delivered a key note leading to the conclusion that maritime legal options in Rotterdam compare rather well with the excellent facilities in London. With this, James gave the attendees some food for thought. The available maritime law expertise, the language skills of lawyers, arbitrators and Courts, the hands-on practice and affordable costs level provide for legal options in Rotterdam.
This was followed by a key note by Mrs Christine Sikkel, a maritime judge, in which she outlined the strategic view of the Maritime Chamber of the Court of Rotterdam as focused on a concentration of maritime cases in Rotterdam and maintaining an international network of maritime and transport judges and working knowledge. The field of maritime and transport law is fascinating and requires specialist knowledge.
In order to ensure that the Dutch justice system can maintain its expertise in this field, it has been agreed that all shipping cases will be concentrated in Rotterdam. Since 2017 in nearly all shipping cases the Rotterdam court has exclusive jurisdiction, within the boundaries of EU rules of course. Proceedings in English are an option and summaries of rulings are published in English.
One stop shop to resolve disputes
RMSC also invited UNUM chairman Mr Marcel Verhagen to speak about the possibilities for arbitration. Marcel closed the business lunch with a presentation of the history and advantages of UNUM arbitration as a ‘one stop shop’ to resolve disputes (even by default judgement when one of the parties fails to take action) in a practicable, affordable and experienced way. As an example, he mentioned that under the Dutch system time and money will be saved due to the fact that Dutch procedural law does not require full disclosure of documents.
After the speeches, the participants enjoyed a walking lunch, with networking opportunities; seeing old friends for the first time since covid-19 and meet new acquaintances. The first connections were made directly, when one of the participants could connect a start-up from Rotterdam to a British counterpart.
This is what the Rotterdam Maritime Services Community does best; connecting people and sharing knowledge in the international environment. With a strong cooperation between the different entities, in this case with the embassy, UNUM, Rotterdam Maritime Capital and the NBSO Manchester, we made this happen, this November afternoon in London.