Beijing Section (November 17-22, 2019)
Visit of CMAC  (China Maritime Arbitrators Commission) and Joint Seminar with CMAC

VMAA directors, Dennis Pong, JJ McIntyre, Catherine Liang and Peter Koh visited CMAC in the afternoon of November 19, 2019.  Mr. Gu Chao (Secretary General), Dr. Chen Bo (Vice Secretary General) and representatives of the relevant department of CMAC warmly received VMAA delegates.

The two institutions  discussed the past co-operation which including organized joint seminars in Beijing,  Shanghai in 2016, joint seminars in Vancouver in 2018 and the planned seminars in Beijing and Ningbo in 2019. Mr. Gu introduced the new Sub-commission at Zhoushan as mainland government was going to develop that area as a special tax free region.

The two institutions also discussed the promotion of the using of CMAC Rules and VMAA Rules. Whilst VMAA appreciates that CMAC has to promote the use CMAC arbitration in China, the two institutions have an understanding that should the parties to the contract are not entirely agree to use CMAC Arbitration, VMAA Arbitration should be promoted as an alternate option as Vancouver is a neutral place that similarly using the common law system as most of other western countries. Also, due to the arbitrator’s exchange programs, the parties to the contract has the options to pick the best of the option to nominate the best arbitrators of both institutions.

The Beijing joint seminar was hosted in the afternoon of Thursday, November 21, 2019 at the brand new Conference Center of CMAC. The seminar was well attended by over 60 participants ranging from maritime lawyers, arbitrators, business enterprises and scholars from universities.


The seminar is about the merit of both VMAA and CMAC arbitration and VMAA speakers were emphasizing on the advantage of using VMAA Arbitration with disputes between Canada and China as well as China and US trade disputes.

Moot Arbitration in Beijing

Four VMAA directors,  Dennis Pong, JJ McIntyre, Catherine Liang and Peter Koh attended the Moot Arbitration organised by CIETAC as judge in Beijing on the week of November 18-22, 2019.

The Moot Arbitration was attended by Law Students from 64 universities in China. There were 135 hearings within the week including the initial round of knock out, semi-final and final competition. The Champion is the Peking University team and the runner-up is East China University of Political Science and Law.CIETAC will sponsor the champion and runner-up to participate in the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Vienna and Hong Kong in 2020.

There were over 150 judges participating and many of them are Chinese lawyers/arbitrators, foreign arbitrators/lawyers, University Professors. VMAA had been honored to be one of the supporting institutions of the event and four of the above mentioned arbitrators had been invited to be as judges for the moot arbitration court. JJ McIntyre represents VMAA as judge upto to semi-final.

Visit of China Chamber of International Commerce(CCOIC)

All VMAA delegates including both Peter Koh and Peter Swanson visited CCOIC and were received by Dr. Yu Jianlong (Secretary General), Mr. Yu Min (director General), Ms. Yang Hong (Deputy Director General) of CCOIC.

Dr. Yu Jianlong addressed a presentation about CCOIC and the development of CCOIC with IOC (International Chamber of Commerce). Whilst CCOIC is more a trade organization and they have well over 5,000 memberships in China. In many circumstances, their member will involve in trade disputes and arbitration is one of the avenues to go. VMAA delegates advised that VMAA is not limited to marine arbitration and it can handle commercial arbitration as well.

Visit of China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC)

VMAA directors, Dennis Pong, JJ McIntyre, Peter Swanson and Catherine Liang visited CIETAC and was greeted by Mr. Wang Chengjie (Secretary General), Ms. Lu Fei (Deputy Director of Commission Affair Division), Ms. Liu Yan (Case Manager) of CIETAC.

Mr. Wang greeted VMAA delegates with the introduction of the business development of CIETAC and the China Arbitration Week in early November. He mentioned he was busy with the CIETAC Cup and thanks to VMAA arbitrators for attending the CIETAC Cup earlier of the week. Mr. Dennis Pong (Chairman of VMAA) thanked him for inviting VMAA as the supporting institution of the Moot Arbitration and introduced the latest development of VMAA. Both parties discussed the proposal of reciprocal arrangement of swapping arbitrators.

Visit of China Merchant Group (CMG)

VMAA delegates visited the CMG with attendance of  Dennis Pong, JJ McIntyre, Peter Swanson and Catherine Liang, and were received by Mr. Yang Yuntao (Deputy General Manager of CMG), Mr. Fu Xiaoqiang (Deputy General Manager of Sinotrans Limited), Ms. Liu Yingna (Senior Manager China Merchant Group Risk Management Center) of CMG.  

With a 15-minute video presentation about the CMG and the introduction by Mr. Yang, VMAA delegates got a brief idea of CMG’s business scope after they took over the Sinotrans. CMG is a diversified group of marine and energy enterprises. They have many situations that can lead them to use arbitration as a form of dispute resolutions. Both parties agreed that VMAA could be as an alternate seat of arbitration other than the use the Chinese avenue.

Ningbo Section

Ningbo section is attended by Dennis Pong, JJ McIntyre, Peter Swanson and Catherine Liang. Mr. Li Guanding (Vice Mayor of Ningbo Municipal People’s Government), Mr. Lu Pengqi (Vice Chairman of China Council for The Promotion of International Trade, Beijing Headquarter), Mr. Xu Guang Xian (Chairman, China Council for The Promotion of International Trade, Ningbo Committee), Ms. Huang Ping (Vice Chairman, China Council for The Promotion of International Trade, Ningbo Committee) welcomed VMAA delegates in Ningbo. VMAA and CMAC co-hosted the seminar in Ningbo which was supported by CCPIT Ningbo Committee.

The content of the seminar is about the merit of both VMAA and CMAC arbitration and VMAA speakers  emphasized on the advantage of using VMAA Arbitration with disputes between Canada and China as well as China and US trade disputes. The seminar was attended by over 100 participants from the local legal community, professors and scholars and people from trading companies.

Shanghai Section

Dennis Pong, Peter Swanson and Catherine Liang went to Shanghai and paid a brief visit to CMAC Shanghai Sub-Commission. Ms. Xu Fei (Deputy Secretary General of CMAC Shanghai) warmly welcomed VMAA delegates and show them to the office of China Shipowners Mutual Assurance Association (CPI). Mr. Song Chunfeng (Managing Director), Gong Xiqian (Deputy Managing Director), Mr. Peter Zhou (Claims Director), Mr. Nicholas Jiang (Senior Claims Assistant) and Mr. Chen Guoyun (Administrative Assistance) of CPI welcomed VMAA directors and Ms. Xu Fei of CMAC Shanghai. 

With the productive communication of both parties, CPI introduced their situation after the merger of COSCO and China Shipping in 2018, Peter Swanson provided CPI with a brief introduction on VMAA and other directors introduced the benefits of taking Vancouver as a alternative seat of arbitration for international maritime and commercial disputes .

VMAA Seminar Updates

The VMAA routinely hosts seminars of interest to the maritime community, both in the context of dispute resolution and more generally on maritime legal and commercial matters.

The VMAA hosted two lunch-time seminars recently in 2019.

Jarrett Beatty of Parrish & Heimbecker’s Vancouver office gave a presentation titled: “The Impact and Application of Force Majeure and other contract clauses to International Trade: A Canadian Perspective.”

Mr. Beatty is Parrish & Heimbecker’s Export Trade Manager located in their Vancouver office.  Parrish & Heimbecker is a Canadian, family owned agribusiness, with roots in the agriculture industry dating back more than 100 years, with operations spanning across Canada in grain trading, handling and merchandising, as well as crop inputs, flour milling and feed mills.  Mr. Beatty, as such, has a great deal of experience dealing with commercial issues that arise from time to time in the global agribusiness, including those problems or issues that fit within the provisions of standard force majeure contract language.

Mr. Beatty spoke about the typical language used in force majeure clauses, but noted that they are either typically negotiated, or found in standard form contracts, and the language can vary quite dramatically in scope – and hence operation.  He noted the general purpose of a force majeure contract clause is to suspend performance obligations under the contract during events caused by external issues (i.e. not caused by either of the contracting parties own actions or conduct) that prevent fulfillment of contract obligations.  He noted the importance of force majeure contract language and how such clauses are generally interpreted narrowly by courts.  He emphasized that a contracting party wanting to ensure that 3rd party disruptions have a limited impact on on-going contractual relations need to pay careful attention to the contract wording used.

Mr. Beatty’s speech was very instructive and well received.

Later in the year, Peter Swanson a senior lawyer with Bernard LLP spoke about a significant court decision (R. v. MV Marathassa, 2019 BCPC 13) involving the due diligence defence available to shipowners in the context of regulatory proceedings for pollution.  Mr. Swanson’s speech was titled: “The MARATHASSA: Trial and Tribulations of a Diligent Shipowner.”

Mr. Swanson, who was lead counsel defending the M/V MARATHASSA, discussed the factual background leading up to the discharge of a small quantity of oil from the vessel into English Bay, Vancouver, B.C. in early April 2015.  He noted the vessel, built in Japan, was on its maiden voyage and that the spill was, as determined by the judge, caused by two shipyard errors that were not readily discoverable by those involved in the final inspection of the ship (the shipyard and class) or the crew during the maiden voyage.  He noted the unusual circumstances that resulted in oil escaping from the ship and how those facts were presented to the court in support of a due diligence defence.   He mentioned other important factors taken into account in support of the due diligence defence, including the various systems the shipowner had in place to minimize the risk of pollution, the careful selection and training of crew, and the extra systems installed on the vessel to minimize the risk of pollution events.  Ultimately, he described the key findings made by the judge that supported her conclusions that the shipowner was duly diligence and therefore acquitted of all charges.

Those in attendance enjoyed Mr. Swanson’s speech and some lively questions and debate followed.

Ninth International Conference on Maritime Law

From 28th to 31st of  October, 2018, Ms. Catherine Hua Liang, member of the Board of Directors and arbitrator with the Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association (VMAA) was invited to speak at The Ninth International Conference on Maritime Law (The Ninth ICML) in Shanghai. The Ninth ICML was hosted by the China Maritime Law Association (CMLA) and co-hosted by the Supreme Peoples Court of the Peoples Republic of China, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited, China Merchants Group, the Peoples Insurance Company (Group) of China Limited, the All China Lawyers Association and organized by the Shanghai Maritime University.

The theme of the conference was Development, Reform and Innovation of the Concept, System and Regime of Maritime Law in the New Era. During the Conference, Ms. Liang delivered an excellent speech on the topic of  “The Enforcement of International Arbitral Awards in Canada”, sharing with the attendees, Canada’s legal structure and court practices on arbitration. She shared the session with Ian Gaunt, President of the London Maritime Arbitrators Association and other distinguished scholars and law practitioners from UK, H.K. and Mainland China on the  topic of “Innovation of Maritime Disputes Resolution Mechanisms”. There were more than 300 guests, including experts and professors on Maritime Law and in-house counsels from different enterprises.

During the conference, Ms. Liang met with Mr. Chao Gu, the General Secretary of CMAC, Ms. Bo Chen, Vice General Secretary of CMAC and exchanged views on issues related to cooperation and development of the two institutions. She also visited CIETAC Shanghai Sub-commission and discussed some case admistrative issues with Ms. Yani Jiao, General Secretary of CIETAC Shanghai Sub-commission.

CIETAC sets up Arbitration Centre in Vancouver

CIETAC help a signing ceremony on July 1, 2018 to commemorate their plans to establish an Arbitration Centre of their own in Vancouver. On July 2, 2018 they met with the VMAA to discuss a successful partnership going forward in the hopes of establishing Vancouver as a prominent arbitration centre within North America and around the world. Read more here.

VMAA holds a Joint Seminar with CMAC and signs Cooperation Agreement 

The VMAA organized a comprehensive maritime seminar on May 14th, 2018 with speakers from CMAC and Vancouver presenting on a range of topical matters from within the shipping industry. Read more here about the VMAA’s newly signed Cooperation Agreement with the Chinese Maritime Arbitration Arbitration Commission.

Last Joint ICS-VMAA Seminar of the year held on October 11th, 2017  

For a full report about the event, visit our News section here

Past VMAA President and ICS Director Daryl Raibl awards seminar speakers JJ McIntyre (VMAA Director and Partner at MW Law Offices) and Jason Kostyniuk (VMAA Member and Partner at Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang) with a token of appreciation for their presentations at the last Joint Luncheon of the year.

Sign up for the next VMAA-ICS Joint Luncheon Seminar on October 11th, 2017

Please fill out this registration form and return to

October Registration Form – Luncheon Series 

VMAA Directors attend ICMA in Denmark

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. 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.

JJ McIntyre, Peter Koh and Peter Swanson participate in the ICMA XX in Copenhagen


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). This year, the VMAA Award was presented to Deck Officer Ali Hassan. For more information about this year’s recipient, please visit our News section here.

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



Fill out and return this registration form to secure your seat!

Kindly RSVP to and CC 



The VMAA and the ICS Canada Branch teamed up to put on a joint Luncheon Seminar on May 8th, featuring John Bromley (Norton Rose Fulbright) and Gary Wharton (Bernard LLP). Stay turned for a recap in our News section.



VMAA and ICS Members were given the opportunity to participate in this coveted industry event on April 27th, sponsored by The Standard Club — read more here in our News section.


The VMAA recently updated its Arbitration and Mediation Rules to make them more responsive to the needs in the 21st century of the transportation community which trades in the carriage of goods to or from Canada and the businesses serving that community.

Click here to download the new rules.

“Advocating education and standards which foster reasoned and cost effective arbitrations, mediations and others forms of dispute resolution that will result in impartial and efficient solutions for parties involved in maritime disputes”


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