Fichte & Co: “Be aware of jurisdiction clauses”

 

Dubai: Jasamin Fichte’s workload tends to mirror the stresses and strains of the shipping industry. The leading Dubai maritime lawyer lists the type of cases that are keeping her up late at night these days. Deals for offshore support vessels, expanding ports, charter party disputes and ship arrests are top of the list, and are making the eponymous firm, Fichte & Co, so busy, the time has come for a second office, eight years since the founding of the company. An Abu Dhabi office is set to open soon.
 
On key advice to shipowners this year, Fichte is very clear. “Be pragmatic and aware; take major care in reviewing the contracts, seeking, where necessary, professional advice in order to avoid unpleasant surprises ahead,” she says. “In particular, be aware of jurisdiction clauses, perusing them carefully and considering the possible implications of the acceptance, including the foreseeable costs of the envisaged proceeding.”
 
With particular reference to the foreign jurisdiction or arbitration clauses contained in the reverse side of a bill of lading, Fichte points out that UAE courts shall not uphold them unless they are expressly accepted by the parties – for instance, the clause is contained in a separate charter party which is duly executed. “Should this not be the case, the UAE courts shall apply the jurisdiction as resulting from the Civil Procedure Code,” Fichte explains referring to a federal law that came into practice in 1992.
 
THE UAE legal system basically follows the civil law system, thus the primary source of law is a statutory code and judgments issued by the Courts have no strict binding effect.
 
As far as it concerns the status of international treaties, the UAE is party to 25 IMO conventions – including SOLAS, COLREG, CLC and the Salvage Convention of 1989.
 
Today’s Maritime CEO interviewee founded Fichte & Co in 2005 in Dubai. She studied law in Hamburg and maritime law in Southampton.
 
Prior to founding Fichte & Co, she worked at the leading Lloyd's of London insurance brokerage firm as legal counsel for the Middle East.
 
Besides her legal work, Fichte is very active in business networking and one of the founders and organisers of the UAE Ship Industry Round Table. She also established the UAE Branch of WISTA (Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association) in 2010 and chairs the same as its first president.  [15/04/13]

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