Role of average adjuster and steps to be taken immediately after a casualty happens

The average adjuster performs a unique role in the adjustment / settlement of general average contribution among the parties involved in a maritime adventure. It is a highly skilled professional person or agency to deal with the issue of general average.

The ship owner has no option but to seek the services of a modern average adjuster in order to settle the claim of GA contribution within the framework of lettered & numbered Rules of York-Antwerp Rule 1994. The agency of average adjuster strictly follows their own code of conduct based on high standards of professionalism, which aims at settlement of general average claim of all parties as per legal & internationally accepted rules & principles.

Perils at Sea

Perils at Sea

Steps to be taken after a casualty

Upon receipt of information from master or other sources that the vessel has fallen in a casualty and a situation has arisen for extraordinary sacrifice or expenditure to be incurred to safeguard the property (ship or cargo) involved in a common maritime adventure, it is the duty of the ship owner to declare general average. Once general average is declared, a series of steps / actions become necessary on the part of ship owner and other related persons / agency / organization to handle the issue of general average as per internationally accepted rules and principles.

Persons / Institutions to be notified

When a casualty occurs which may give rise to general average sacrifices being made or expenses incurred, it is the responsibility of the shipowner to see that the proper steps are taken to bring the voyage to a satisfactory conclusion.

The first step must be to notify the various parties who may be affected by the casualty, or whose assistance will be required.

  • The first and foremost duty of ship owner is to  appoint a professionally sound Average adjuster immediately after casualty.  Then it is the responsibility of average adjuster to prepare detail work plan to assess the loss & damage encountered by ship & cargo interest through consultation & coordination with all parties involved.
  • The vessel’s Hull and Machinery Insurers must be advised promptly, to enable them to appoint their own surveyor. When time is short, the shipowner may give direct instructions to a Lloyd’s agent or the local office of the Salvage Association.
  • The Protection and Indemnity Association (P&I club) need to be notified immediately after casualty where there is a chance of damage of cargo on board due to accident & a liability may be incurred in this respect or risk of pollution may arise.
  • If the vessel requires extensive repairs to proceed to the destination port, it may be necessary to appoint Classification surveyor in order to ensure that vessel repairs are properly done to maintain Class & take advice on matters of seaworthiness.
  • It may be necessary to appoint a surveyor in order to protect owner’s general interest in the event of general average damage to ship or cargo.
  • When the vessel has received the services of a salvage tug or has been in collision with another vessel, it may be advisable to consult an admiralty solicitor.
  • It is the urgent duty of the shipowner to notify owner’s agent at the port of discharge about the occurrence of casualty so that the disport agent can inform the cargo receivers that there will be delay in delivery. At the same time the disport agent should be advised to initiate ground work / plan for collection of general average security.
  • If the vessel is under voyage or time charter, the charterer will have to be informed of the casualty.

Master to submit Reports to shipowner about the casualty

Full details of the casualty particularly details of cargo on board,  should be sent to the  head office of the shipowner as soon as possible by the Master  to help owner to assess the situation & send necessary instructions for the ship to follow.

Initial action plan need to be prepared by shipowner

The immediate task of shipowner is to prepare a initial plan to decide what are the basic information to be required and which agency or person to be knocked for providing those information. The shipowner has to do this job in close consultation & cooperation with appointed average adjuster so that a clear picture of general average situation can be assessed in the perspective of total costs of losses involved in the casualty.

 In-house instructions to be given by shipowner

If it is decided by shipowner / average adjuster to go for security collection from the parties involved in the maritime adventure, following specific instructions are need to be given to the agents.

  • Clear cut instructions and notification, including the wordings of notices need to be sent to the agents so that they can issue same to the consignees in time. Guidelines to be issued to the agents regarding reporting procedures and, most importantly, how/when cargo is to be released on receipt of required securities from cargo interests & other concerned parties.
  • Co-ordination of records between different ports of shipment of cargo is essential to ensure security as well as cover interest consigned to different ports. Clear recording and reporting is required to prevent cargo being unnecessarily delayed and security is taken care off properly.
  • Follow up actions are necessary to ensure completion of all related documentation regarding general average sacrifice & extraordinary expenditures, particularly in cases involving numerous bills of lading.
  • A container ship operator has to draw up a contingency plans to meet the huge task of general average with a view to enable their own personnel and agents to obtain adequate security as per requirement, keeping disruption of normal commercial activity at minimum level .


Related Post:

  1. General Average – an overview
  2. Define Maritime Law & highlight the area/subjects dealt by the law
  3. Events of sea peril that give rise to general average & application of York-Antwerp Rule
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