York Antwerp Rules

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CMI Guidelines Relating to General Average


36.01 One of the topics discussed by the CMI IWG prior to the New York Conference was whether or not the York-Antwerp Rules should include a set of definitions. This idea was ultimately rejected for the good reason that it is difficult to draft definitions to cover every eventuality and thus the inclusion of definitions may only stimulate dispute. 36.02 However, it was recognised that it might, in a few limited instances, be useful to include some explanatory notes to assist in understanding and applying certain Rules. This acknowledged the fact that Rules cannot in themselves be all-embracing or they would transform into a voluminous set of regulations which may well be difficult to understand and impracticable to apply. 36.03 During the course of the work of the IWG, various other topics were raised for consideration for inclusion as Rules. For example, the IUMI Representative had floated the idea of a rule detailing the duties and obligations of the average adjuster. This proposal did not find favour but showed that there was some misunderstanding of the average adjusters’ role in relation to general average. 36.04 Out of these two areas was born the concept of a set of guidelines to assist in the understanding of certain aspects of general average and some of the Rules in particular. 36.05 Where a casualty involves a number of cargo interests, it is frequently the task of the average adjuster to explain the concept of general average and the practical application of it and its procedures to those who have little, if any, experience of general average. This can involve much time on the part of the average adjuster and thus increases the cost of adjustment. 36.06 Although many adjusters have produced explanatory documents or notes on their website to explain general average and its procedures, it is regrettable that these are frequently viewed as being self-serving and therefore not authoritative. For this reason, the adjusters on the IWG were in favour of “official” documentation which could be provided to cargo interests, and thus hopefully staunch the flow of questions which often diverted them from the important task of advising those involved in the common maritime adventure and obtaining general average security. 36.07 The IWG considered it most important that although any guidelines should have the stamp of CMI authority, they should not be considered as part of the York-Antwerp Rules and neither should they be binding on any of the parties. It was also

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considered that the Guidelines should contain a mechanism for regular revision and expansion in scope. 36.08 A set of Guidelines was drafted and presented for discussion at the CMI Conference in New York. Despite the most strenuous opposition of the French delegation, the Guidelines were adopted, with 41 votes in favour and only the French delegation abstaining.1 36.09 Average adjusters will consider the CMI Guidelines to be a most useful tool in explaining general average and its procedures to those, such as cargo receivers, who are not well versed in such matters. It is anticipated that this comparatively small measure will significantly reduce the time spent by adjusters in providing such explanations.


(A) Introduction

36.10 The objective of the Guidelines is to provide those interested in general average with general background information, guidance as to recognised best practice and an outline of procedures. The Guidelines make it clear that they do not form part of the York-Antwerp Rules, nor are they binding or intended to override or alter the provisions of the Rules, contracts of carriage or the law of any governing jurisdictions. 36.11 It is envisaged that the Guidelines will be a living document which will be revised and enhanced from time to time. To this end the CMI has established a Standing Committee to recommend changes to the Assembly of the CMI for approval.

(B) Basic principles

36.12 This section includes an explanation of the concept and development of general average and the York-Antwerp Rules. It also provides examples of general average situations and the basic principles of the adjustment of general average together with an example adjustment.

(C) General average procedures

36.13 This section explains why general average and salvage security is required and the form it usually takes. It also sets out the basic documentation required to calculate the contributory value of the cargo and any general average allowances to which the owners of the cargo may be entitled.

(D) Role of the average adjuster regarding general average

36.14 The effect of the adjustment is dealt with here as well as the best practice of average adjusters. As this book is primarily concerned with the principles and practice of general average adjustment it is appropriate to set out and expressly endorse this practice here:

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Average adjusters work under different regulatory and professional regimes; however, the following elements of best practice appear to be universal and are endorsed by the leading professional associations.
  • 2.1 Irrespective of the identity of the instructing party, the average adjuster is expected to act in an impartial and independent manner in order to act fairly to all parties involved in a common maritime adventure.
  • 2.2 In all cases the average adjuster should:
    • (a) Give particulars in a prominent position in the adjustment of the clause or clauses contained in the charter party and/or bills of lading that relate to the adjustment of general average or, if no such clause or clauses exist, the law and practice obtaining at the place where the adventure ends. Where conflicting provisions exist, the adjuster should explain in appropriate detail the reason for the basis of adjustment chosen.
    • (b) Set out the facts that give rise to the general average.
    • (c) Where the York-Antwerp Rules apply, identify the lettered and/or numbered Rules that are relied upon in making the allowances in the adjustment.
    • (d) Explain in appropriate detail the choice of currency in which the adjustment is based.
    • (e) Make appropriate enquiries as to whether any recovery relating to the casualty is being undertaken, and set out the results of those enquiries in the adjustment.
  • 2.3 On request, and where practicable, the adjuster should make available copies of reports and invoices relied upon in the preparation of the adjustment.

(E) Role of the general average surveyor

36.15 Because the reliance of information or advice obtained from surveyors representing only one of the interests involved in a general average situation, usually the hull underwriters’ surveyor of the P&I Club surveyor, is viewed with suspicion, it is quite customary, particularly in relation to a substantial casualty, to appoint an independent surveyor to represent the general average interests. Usually his role is to assess any damage to a ship or cargo as a result of a general average sacrifice.

(F) York-Antwerp Rules 2016

36.16 Under this section notes are included to provide some explanation concerning specific aspects of certain rules. The Guidelines approved in New York include such notes in relation to Rule VI concerning Salvage, and Rule XXII concerning Treatment of cash deposits which are dealt with earlier in this book.

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