The Supreme Court recently ruled in a case concerning the defence of lack of jurisdiction due to state immunity claimed by Rina SpA in the matter concerning the sinking of the Al-Salam Boccaccio 98. The decision contains precise guidance as to immunity from jurisdiction with regard to the classification and certification of ships, thereby making it improbable that any such defence will be successfully pleaded in the future by a classification society before an Italian court.
The Supreme Court recently issued a significant decision on the apportionment of a salvage reward among a shipowner and cargo interests. The decision has confirmed the principle already expressed in previous Supreme Court judgments that the shipowner is liable towards the salvor for an entire salvage reward, subject to recourse action by said shipowner against the cargo interests. However, the Supreme Court's conclusions are debatable, as is its interpretation of Article 497 of the Code of Navigation.
The Court of Genoa recently referred a jurisdictional immunity claim to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on whether it should decline to hear the case on the basis of said immunity exception or whether it must apply the EU Brussels Regulation. The case concerned a compensation claim by survivors and relatives of the deceased of a ferry accident.
A recent Tribunal of Genoa case concerning a yacht lost during carriage examined whether the Italian courts have jurisdiction to appoint court surveyors and order survey operations to take place in Italy where the merits of a dispute are not subject to Italian jurisdiction. According to the tribunal, the fact that the merits of the dispute in question were to be decided in London did not deprive the Italian courts' jurisdiction to order inspection and survey operations on goods located in Italy.
The Supreme Court recently issued a significant decision regarding the joint liability of a carrier, shipper and owner of goods following the carrier's violation of road safety rules under Italian law. The decision is notable, as it gives a clear interpretation of Legislative Decree 286/2005's rules that the fault is the subjective element required to establish the liability of a party in the transport chain where there is a violation of the road safety rules.
In an important decision, the Supreme Court recently established the validity of a forum selection clause contained in a multimodal bill of lading. The judgment is notable as it overturns the main trend in Italian case law on this subject. Before the issuance of the Supreme Court judgment, many lower courts had denied the validity of jurisdiction clauses contained in multimodal bills of lading.
The Tribunal of Genoa recently issued two decisions dealing with the legal nature of sea waybills. In both decisions the tribunal considered the extent to which the content of a sea waybill is relevant when identifying the parties to the contract of carriage and, consequently, when deciding on the defence of title to be sued.
The OW Bunker group collapse continues to affect the wider shipowning community, with a number of physical bunker suppliers not receiving payment. A recent Tribunal of Venice decision addressed whether a physical bunker supplier was entitled to arrest the vessel to which it supplied fuel where it had received no payment from the insolvent contractual bunker supplier.
The Tribunal of Genoa recently issued an interesting judgment addressing the applicability of fair competition principles to certain contractual provisions generally used by most major line carriers. The dispute regarded a claim filed by a group of freight forwarders which held that certain surcharges – particularly the 'LO-LO' charge – should be declared null and void.
The interpretation of Article 3(4) of the Brussels Convention 1952 has given rise to much debate in the convention's contracting states. In Italy, a number of arrests have been granted in respect of claims against a demise charterer or a time charterer, even where the maritime claim is not secured by a maritime lien on the vessel. A decision of the Court of Genoa on this issue seems certain to provoke further debate.