International Cargo Insurance




John Dunt


Scope and structure of the chapter

2.1 It is necessary to distinguish between jurisdiction, that is to say, the place where any court or arbitration hearing will be held, and the applicable law, being the law governing the contract of insurance whatever the venue of the hearing. A contract of marine cargo insurance may or may not have a jurisdiction clause, identifying the courts of the country in which any dispute is to be resolved, though it is now a mandatory requirement of the London Market Reform Contract (“MRC”) that the jurisdiction for disputes be agreed and identified.2 By current practice, the contract is likely to include a choice of law, such as, for example, the choice of English law and practice in the Institute Cargo Clauses.3 This chapter considers how both jurisdiction and choice of law clauses have been construed, concentrating on the standard forms of clauses used in practice in international marine cargo insurance.4 Questions of validity also arise because European Union5 law and, for example, Australian law, contain provisions designed to protect the assured who may be entitled to sue his insurer (or to be sued) in his own country of domicile, effectively his home ground. Similarly, insurers may not be entitled to impose the choice of a foreign law on an assured. Although there are generally exceptions to these restrictions in the case of insurances of cargo in seagoing ships, the extent of the freedom to choose will be examined as party autonomy may be restricted particularly in relation to cargo storage risks and inland transits.

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