Bloomsbury Professional catch up with barrister and author David Walsh.
What first garnered your interest in maritime law?
When I started studying the law of contract at university it quickly struck me that most of the important decisions emanated from shipping cases. That was what started my interest. Thereafter I was fortunate enough to be involved in shipping and marine insurance disputes right from the start of my pupillage and into the early years of my practice, which developed my interest.
Is there a marine insurance case that stands out for you?
Yes, one of the first cases on which I was instructed as a junior barrister, with Guy Blackwood QC, one of the other editors, was The WD Fairway litigation. It is one of the most important insurance cases in recent years and it was fascinating to be involved with as a junior. We were dealing with a broad range of legal issues ranging from subrogation to provisions of the Insolvency Act; we had Nigerian, Thai and Dutch expert evidence to marshal; there were great Silks in action; there were commercial negotiations running in parallel to the litigation; and the case shaped the law.
What do you think will be the next big development in maritime law?
Well on the insurance side, we are waiting to see what impact the Insurance Act of 2015 will have on claims handling and on disputes. I think the Law Commission’s hope was that it would reduce litigation but I suspect that it will probably just generate new things to argue about.
What advice would you give somebody starting a career in maritime law?
Learn as much as you can about the industry. The more you can understand about the way that underwriters, brokers, owners, charterers and traders run their businesses, the better you will be able to advise them on their legal disputes.
David Walsh co-authors Chalmer’s Marine Insurance Act 1906, 11th edition.