VMAA Secretary

VMAA Directors Virtual Presentation at the CMAC – 2021

The seminar was successfully hosted on July 16, 2021, at the China High-Level Dialogue on Maritime & Commercial Arbitration.

Thank you, Mr. JJ McIntyre and Mr. Peter Swanson for representing VMAA at the CMAC seminar.

CIETAC to set up Arbitration Centre in Vancouver

CIETAC establishes presence in Vancouver

On July 1, 2018 CIETAC (China International Economic Trade & Arbitration Commission) officially registered in Vancouver to set up an Arbitration Centre.

The organization held a signing ceremony co-hosted by the Vancouver Economic Commission, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, Victoria, British Columbia representative Mr. Hon. Bruce Ralston, Minister of State for Trade Mr. Hon. George Chow, Deputy Consul General of Consulate General of the PRC in Vancouver, Mr. Kong Weiwei, Commercial Counselor of Consulate General of the PRC in Vancouver, Yu Shanjun, along with Chairman of the Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association, Dennis Pong.

There were about 160 people in attendance, including representatives from the provincial government, legal experts, heads of large Chinese enterprises and commercial organizations along with industry members who had traveled from overseas.

The following day on July 2, 2018, the CIETAC delegation visited the VMAA at Bernard LLP. They met with Mr. H. Peter Swanson, Bernard LLP partner, Alex Smith, VMAA Arbitrator, Dennis Pong, President of VMAA and other legal practitioners. The groups discussed the prospect of establishing Vancouver as a prominent centre for arbitration in North America — so that it is seen as a major centre for resolving both commercial and maritime dispute in Canada and the US. Mr. Dennis Pong welcomed the establishment of CIETAC North America Arbitration Center in Vancouver and extended congratulations on the organization’s successful landing ceremony.

VMAA holds joint seminar with CMAC and signs Cooperation Agreement

VMAA and CMAC host a seminar and sign a Cooperation Agreement

The VMAA held a joint Seminar on May 14th, with delegates visiting from the Chinese Maritime Arbitration Commission. Over 30 attendees from within the maritime and insurance industries attended this comprehensive seminar:

Dr. Chen Bo presented on Maritime Arbitration in China
(Deputy Secretary-General & VP | China Maritime Arbitration Commission)

Wang Guohua presented on Revision and Improvement of Maritime Conflict Rules in the Maritime Code of China
(Dean | Shanghai Maritime University Law School)

Zhang Xubo presented on General Average in China
(Board Chair | Beijing Ren Xiang Insurance Surveyors)

Cui Qiang presented on Impact of Compulsory Laws on the Allocation of Risks in a Sale of Goods Contract
(Partner | Beijing Commerce & Finance Law Office)

Xu Huilin presented on Marine Insurance & Arbitration in China
(General Manager | Tianan Property Insurance Company)

John McIntyre | Legal Treatment of Foreign Arbitral Awards
(Partner | MW Law Offices)

Peter Swanson | Mechanics of the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards
(Partner | Bernard LLP)


Following the seminar,  CMAC and VMAA held a ceremony for signing the new CMAC-VMAA Cooperation Agreement. Previously, CMAC and VMAA signed a Cooperation Agreement in May 2012, based on the shared concept of establishing fair arbitration procedures and highlighting the importance of arbitration within the global shipping industry. Both organizations have engaged in joint seminars over the past few years, allowing VMAA members and others from within the shipping industry to learn more about arbitration and economic trade in other notable centres outside of Vancouver.

The CMAC-VMAA Cooperation Agreement marks an important cornerstone for both groups, with the goal of facilitating enhanced trade and cooperation between China and Canada within the maritime industry.

Joint ICS VMAA Seminars

Report on 3rd Joint I C S / V M A A Luncheon Presentation 11th October 2017

The 3rd of a set of three joint educational luncheons was held this past Wednesday (Oct 11th) at the Bentall 5 Board room. Organized by the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS), Canada Branch and the Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association (VMAA). The previous two luncheon presentations heard papers related to Ship Arrest and Maritime Liens, Hanjin bankruptcy impact, Safe berth/Safe port Warranties and Tug/Tow Common Law and Contractual Liability issues. This past Wednesdays two speakers, John (JJ) McIntyre, Partner at MW Law Offices and Jason R. Kostyniuk, Partner at Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang, presented, respectively on the “Effect of inconsistent arbitration terms between CP’s & BL’s,” and “Clean vs. Claused Bills of Lading & Letters of Indemnity.” 

Just prior to kicking off, Mr. Karl Wang, Chartering Executive for Pacific Basin Shipping and a Director of the Canada Branch of ICS gave a brief background to the local branch.

With everyone having enjoyed delicious sandwiches and beverages, Mr. McIntyre led the charge and presented on the “Effect of inconsistent arbitration terms between CP’s & BL’s.”

He started by noting, there is a right to commence action in Canada regardless of what is contained in the contract.  It is, however, difficult to enforce and ultimately would need consent (NY Convention). The case of the “Nicholas A” was quoted.  In this case the Gencon printed form provided for London Arbitration and English law to prevail.   The fixture recap however called for Arbitration in Hong Kong. After the sole arbitrator found in favour of arbitration in London, an appeal to the U.K. High Court overturned the arbitrator and found that the agreed terms of the fixture recap prevailed (Hong Kong) over the printed ‘boiler plate’ of the Gencon charter. Questions were fielded and some ‘sparky’ conversations were enjoyed, with much participation from the 30 strong in attendance.

To follow up, Mr. Kostyniuk laid out a well presented power point on “Clean vs. Claused Bills of Lading & Letters of Indemnity.”  He gave a brief history and a recap of the purpose of letters of indemnity (LOI).

Letters of indemnity are frequently given in exchange for ‘clean’ bills of lading when ‘clean’ bills of lading are required but could otherwise not be given. Continuing on, Jason advised that issuing clean bills lading under these circumstances would be considered fraudulent and the LOI would be unenforceable.  An owner agreeing to the above would lose their P & I coverage. In other cases, Letters of indemnity can be issued to an owner in exchange for delivery of cargo at the destination when the original endorsed bill of lading is unavailable. This procedure is not condoned by the P & I Clubs but they do provide assistance by way of providing standard form letters and appropriate wording. These letters require bank guarantees which are unlimited in regards to time and value although in subsequent questions it was agreed that commercial pressures make it almost impossible to conclude a fixture which includes the issue of bank endorsed letters of indemnity when bills of lading are unavailable at the discharge port.


After 15 more minutes of thought provoking questions (and answers) the speakers were warmly thanked and presented with the copies of Quality Ashore (A history of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers). A successful event concluded along with a reminder of the ICS DRY BULK & COMMODITIES CONFERENCE, slated for Vancouver on November 16th.


The International Congress of Maritime Arbitrators (ICMA), held in Copenhagen from September 25th – 29th, 2017 and hosted by the Danish Institute of Arbitration, offers maritime arbitrators and lawyers a unique opportunity to examine and discuss the most important issues currently affecting maritime law and the greater shipping industry. 

Directors JJ McIntyre, Peter Koh and Peter Swanson are in attendance representing the Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association (pictured above). In addition to functioning as a forum for discussion and showcasing compelling papers within the field, ICMA also provides delegates with the chance to connect socially and network with international colleagues.

VMAA Gives BCIT Student Annual Award

VMAA BCIT Award 2017

Each year for more than a decade, the Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association (VMAA) has recognized the hard work and effort of a single student graduating from the Nautical Sciences and Marine Engineering program, at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). It’s a rigorous four year program that takes registrants from ‘students’ and turns them into sea ready ‘cadets.’ BCIT is proud to offer students hands-on experience,  as shipowners such as Fednav, CSL, B.C. Ferries, DesGagnes, Oak Maritime, Algoma Central and at least two cruise lines, happily get involved, offering internships for many cadets aboard their vessels.

VMAA Director Daryl Raibl presents the 2017 VMAA Award to BCIT Graduate, Cadet Ali Hassan

The VMAA offers an annual award to the student that stands out in their studies with particular merit in areas related to maritime law, arbitration and mediation. This year, at the Convocation Ceremony held at the Downtown BCIT Campus, proud parents crowded the room to see their young maritimers accept their certificates and awards.

This year, the VMAA Award was presented to Deck Officer Ali Hassan. Ali joined the Nautical Sciences Diploma program in September of 2013.  During the program he had the opportunity to work aboard ships with BC Ferries in his first sea phase and subsequently with Algoma Central Corporation on the Great Lakes. Prior to coming to BCIT, he attended UBC from 2006 to 2011 studying Engineering Physics.  Hassan has also volunteered for the UBC UNICEF organization where he organized fundraisers, helped in the planning of events and contributed at executive meetings.  He also was involved in the Reading Buddies Program assisting children with their reading and communication skills. Truly a hard-working, genuine young student. In his spare time, he is a fan of hockey, cricket, Formula One, chess and football.

Along with the BCIT Chair of the Board of Governors, the Associate Dean, the instructors, past Chair of the VMAA, Daryl Raibl, presented Cadet Ali Hassan his 2017 VMAA Award.  The Board wishes Ali the best of luck with his future pursuits within the maritime industry.

VMAA’s Arbitration Rules now available in Chinese

The 2016 VMAA Arbitration Rules have been translated into Chinese: 

2016 VMAA Arbitration Rules – Chinese: 规则–中文版

Sign up for the next VMAA Luncheon Series on June 8!

Don’t miss the next VMAA & ICS Luncheon Series on June 8, 2017. Please fill out the registration form to secure your spot by June 5, 2017.

Luncheon Series – May 8, 2017

Stay tuned for our recap of the 1st VMAA & ICS Luncheon Series of 2017!


The Standard Club’s Canada Forum

It was a bright, sunny Thursday afternoon on April 27th, 2017 when a combined group of members from the Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association and Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers Canada Branch  made their way to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver for a marvelous presentation called The Standard Club’s Canada Forum. Every two years, Charles Taylor & Co. Limited, acting as managers of The Standard Club Europe Ltd host this gathering, in one or two major North American centres.

This year they started in Montreal, with speakers from Montreal, London, New York, Vancouver and Seattle polishing their theatrical talents to enhance the presentation. Each speaker highlighted the potential impact that might arise out of a fabricated scenario of a major catastrophe involving a collision between a ferry operating between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and a bulk carrier leaving the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

As the major casualty scenario develops, each of the 10 speakers highlighted insights into allocation of liability, major casualty response, insurance coverage, the role of the P&I club, pollution considerations and loss prevention issues. They also touched on potential local and international governing bodies who may also need to be involved and how specific authorities may have to be appointed and established at any accident or incident, regardless of how large or small.

The Standard Club has been in existence since 1884 and is one of 13 “Clubs” offering insurance and underwriting to ship owners around the world. They boast an impressive clientele of over 10% of global shipping. Every vessel in the water must be insured against potential unforeseen incidents, whether they’re at sea or in port.

A unique part to the event was the panel’s use of electronic polling devices. Each attendee was given a hand held ‘clicker’.  At the end of each individual’s presentation, they would pose a question on the main screen and ask the audience to “choose the correct answer” by selecting the corresponding button on the clicker. From the four or five answers displayed on the screen the crowd was given 10 seconds to make their selection and the results were immediately displayed, showing the correct answer and the percentage of how many got it right. We were told the Vancouver crowd definitely surpassed the results of Montreal!

Immediately following the 3 hour presentation, the magnanimous hosts sponsored a reception allowing for extensive visiting and follow up questions with the presenters. A great opportunity to hear very knowledgeable professionals present an assortment of aspects facing the people and companies operating in the maritime industry.

The full presentation can be viewed here.



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