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PLUS ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

It's a case of once more around the block as the International Group of P&I Clubs once again attracts the attention of the European Commission. As the clubs have been investigated on two previous occasions and not been found wanting, it may look to some that a third investigation seems over-zealous.

Commission concerns centre on the pooling arrangement operated by the clubs to ensure funding of the larger claims they have to face. The North of England is just one club on record that has sought support from Far Eastern members over the pooling arrangement, which joint managing director Paul Jennings was recently reported in Tradewinds as saying was fundamental to world trade.

As our chairman Phil Parry wrote in Lloyd's List in 1998, the last time this issue came up, regulators should be careful of interfering with the mutual system.

For its part, the International Group is taking the view that the Commission's analysis as set out in its 1999 review remains valid, and stresses it is working closely with DG Competition on the new review.

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