Breaking barriers and uniting ideas to take shipping forward.
In the majestic setting of the iconic Savoy Hotel in London’s West End, The London Shipping Law Centre on Wed Nov 27th, 2019, celebrated a 25 year voyage around the world of shipping. The Lancaster Ballroom of The Savoy was overflowing with 300 top leaders of legal and maritime professionals, including QC’s, Barristers, arbitrators, solicitors, shipbrokers, mariners, shipowners, insurance representatives, and technical experts – all with one common purpose – to celebrate a Forum which for 25 years has provided an unrivalled platform for informing, explaining and debating across an outstanding spectrum of maritime, legal and commercial subjects.
Between 1994 and Sept 2019, the LSLC has held over 300 events, up to a dozen a year, often in partnership with other maritime bodies; These events have entailed workshops, debates and special venues, the predominant medium of which has been the seminar and the interactive exchange of views ; “There have been breakthroughs in original thinking. The risk management series led the way in assessing and calculating aspects of ship safety. The profound recommendations of the Donaldson Report on Safer Ships and Cleaner Seas were at the core of our risk management seminars and mock trials relating to the ISM Code”.
Dr Aleka Sheppard opened the celebration, by recounting how it all began… following 14 years of her shipping practice in the City of London, she found herself teaching and directing the Shipping Law Courses at the Law Faculty at UCL. She was inspired to create something that would break barriers and unite ideas. “I realised that what this great city was lacking was a synergy between the various maritime professionals” said Dr Sheppard. “I needed a magic wand to bring the industry sectors, the legal profession and academia together”. It was this vision of synergy for the exchange of knowledge, the forging of bonds, and the promotion of the maritime and legal strengths of London, that gave birth to The London Shipping Law Centre.
The late Lord Mustill was the first to support it, so were leading maritime lawyers and industry figures who formed the first Steering Committee. In 1997, the LSLC was inaugurated at the House of Lords and the rest, said Dr Sheppard, “is history.”
Dr Sheppard thanked all of the Centre’s supporters and volunteers and stressed that the Centre has served to organize and measure the best of their creative energies and skills. “ It is not just about the learning which is unrivalled, it is also about the cohesion and promotion of our community. We nurtured the Centre together and we have supported all those who would not have an opportunity to show what they can do, including our youth.” To encapsulate the force behind the beginnings and achievements of the LSLC, Dr Sheppard eloquently quoted John F. Kennedy’s words, “We choose to go to the moon, not because that will be easy but because it will be hard – because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills – because that challenge is one we are unwilling to postpone and one which we intend to win.”
The Right Honorable the Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, one of the UK’s most distinguished jurists, shared his reflections with the guests about the great achievements of the LSLC over the past 25 years, the greatest being what the Centre has contributed to the youth of our maritime community; “The experience and knowledge, the encouragement given to our youth is an enormous achievement.”
Lord Thomas expressed the enormous debt of gratitude legal and shipping industry sectors owe to Dr Aleka Sheppard and Gerard Matthews and named what in his view were the keys to Dr Sheppard’s success : “Understanding the business of shipping, capitalization on the ideas of all sectors, recognising the importance of jurisdictions, the importance of continued education, making the law coherent and bringing international learning together”. Lord Thomas stressed the significance of the concept of good faith and how Dr Sheppard’ s vision united the shipping world and academia in the true meaning of “good faith”. The legacy set by Dr Sheppard and the LSLC is one of strong ethical standards and leadership, and he emphasised that “The Centre is a centre of leadership”; armed with these values, “Our future will be one worth fighting for” said Lord Thomas.
Mattheos Los, who has been heavily involved in shipping issues throughout the Forum’s lifetime, also spoke about Dr Aleka Sheppard’s contribution to the maritime community via the LSLC and recounted the endless benefits that the Centre has endowed to the industry over the last 25 years. Mr George Tsavliris, who does not need any introductions, closed the inspiring reflections of the evening by quoting Darwin and stressing “the ability to adapt” as a key mindset we all need to have to address our future. Mr Tsavliris thanked Dr Sheppard, Gerard Matthews, and all involved in the committees of the LSLC, for their contribution for which the shipping and education sectors have all benefited.
The Centre donated 10% of its sponsorship funds to the RNLI to support its invaluable work in saving lives at sea. Mr Tsavliris was the first to top this up and invited the audience to contribute by filling the RNLI boot worn by the lifeboat servicemen and provided by RNLI to the venue as a symbolic representation of heroism. Indeed, this was of great success!