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HFW Helps BIMCO Draft Industry’s First Standard Contract For Autonomous Shipping

12 November 2020

Global, sector-focused law firm HFW is helping shipping association BIMCO draft the industry’s first standard contract for the operation of autonomous vessels.

The new standard contract will be based on the SHIPMAN 2009 agreement for use with autonomous ships, and is expected to be published in 2021.

HFW is the only law firm on BIMCO’s drafting committee. Its team is led by Gudmund Bernitz and Henry Clack.

Gudmund Bernitz, Partner, HFW:

“BIMCO and the drafting committee are facing an interesting challenge with creating this standard contract, in that there are currently no autonomous ships actually in operation. In fact, fully-autonomous shipping is likely still several years away. Many of the provisions are therefore having to be based on assumptions and expectations, and will continue to be refined and adapted over time as automation projects start to go live across the industry, to ensure that the standard contract continues to meet the needs of this emerging technology.”

HFW has helped BIMCO draft several standard contract and clauses, including its first cyber security clause, the industry’s first standard offshore decommissioning contact, and two clauses relating to the International Maritime Organization’s 2020 sulphur emission rules.

Paul Dean, Global Head of Shipping, HFW:

“We are proud to continue our close relationship with BIMCO. Our global shipping team have been advising operators, insurers and governments on autonomy at sea for almost a decade, and we are pleased to put that expertise to good use in assisting BIMCO with this pioneering standard contract.”

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