Fowler White Insurance Practice Group Chair, J. Michael Pennekamp Presented "Son of a Son of a Charter, its Law and the Limitation Act" at the Fort Lauderdale Mariners Club Insurance Seminar held October 23-24, 2023 at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort Convention Center.
About the topic: Vessel chartering is as old as the ancient Phoenician sailing fleets and the concept has evolved to include rules and regulations ensuring the enterprise is conducted safely for all persons involved and that liability is directed to the responsible parties when something does go wrong. Today, in recreational boating, chartering has taken on a new face with vessel owners and charterers operating in violation of the laws intended to protect the boating public. Is there any harm in this illegal business? Not until someone gets hurt or worse. During the past several years we have seen numerous severe injuries, fatalities and economic damages directly associated with “illegal charters”. There are Federal laws, but enforcement is the problem. The local Police, Sheriff, and State agencies cannot, and do not, enforce the Federal law on this subject but they report to the United States Coast Guard Task Force who do enforce the statutes enacted in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 46.
Complimentary to the above, there are new exemptions and changes in the law that effect certain vessels in regard to their ability to file under the Limitation of Liability Act first passed in 1851. This change stems from recent catastrophes on the water such as the Table Rock Lake duck boat foundering incident and the dive boat Conception fire in California. Now 172 years later, what are the implications of the 2022 Small Passenger Vessel Liability Fairness Act to vessel owners, insurers and the process of litigation when there is a significant claim or claims against a vessel this is no longer eligible for limitation?
About the Fort Lauderdale Mariners Club
The Fort Lauderdale Mariners Club is a non-profit, non-political organization devoted to the promotion of friendly associations among their members. They encourage high standards of business practice throughout the community and provide a forum to improve the marine industry in South Florida.
The focal point of the Club's activities is the marine seminar they hold prior to the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in October of each year. The first marine seminar, held in 1989, was attended by more than 150 people. Today, the seminar draws more than 500 participants from all walks of the marine community. The interesting slate of speakers, coupled with the opportunity for attendees to interact with each other in a vibrant setting, has made the marine seminar a truly international event.