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NO shouting matches this year at the Piraeus Marine Club's annual P&I seminar, admirably organised by Evmar Marine Services' Maria Prevezanou.  Instead, a good deal of sobre consensus in light of current news.  Casualty management was already on the agenda, the MV Rena having seen to that.

An opportunity then for pre-renewal debate on general rate increases, full service clubs versus pure P&I players and for the clubs to give short presentations to a room pretty much full of the consumer community.

In the chair was Chartworld Shipping's Lou Kollakis and the seminar concluded with a spirited debate for and against the motion that to provide effect, protection against piracy, private shipboard personnel should be armed. Unsurprisingly, there was an overwhelming vote in favour although there was clearly resigned understanding that at some point there will almost certainly be a fire-fight where a crew member gets killed or the pirates wreak unsavoury revenge on crew or guards who resist them.

Of course, P&I clubs trade in casualties.  Not to suggest that they're a morbid bunch or indeed that they love a good casualty.  Far from it.  Either way, we should be grateful that there exists such a concentration of experience and expertise when it comes to handling the casualties that do still occur.  The vast majority of the world's 7 billion people will never utter the three syllables “Pee and Eye” but it is unarguable that a good many of them (us) will benefit from its existence in one way shape or form at some time or another.

So, while the EU Competition Commission continues to rake through 10 years of P&I club data as it decides whether or not to allow clubs to continue operating the International Group Agreement, let's hope someone points out to them that absent the massive International Group reinsurance contract, absent the concentrated casualty expertise within the clubs and absent the current system, we'd probably see higher premiums, lower standards and weaker responses to casualties.  It isn't perfect, but it's pretty good.

After all, the Swedish Club's CEO Lars Rodin, (fresh from a good few doughnuts in Greek yoghurt the night before – yes, we saw you Lars), pointed out last week at the Marine Club shindig in Piraeus, “It's quite likely that something unlikely will happen.”

…in which case we need to be prepared.  Dib dib dib.

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