UCL Faculty of Laws


Autonomous Shipping - Liability and Contractual Issues

27 October 2021, 2:00 pm–6:00 pm

image of a ship with colourful containers on it.

A half-day conference organised by UCL Autonomous Shipping Project with The Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law, Swansea

Event Information

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UCL Laws Events


UCL Laws
Bentham House, Endsleigh Gardens

About the conference

The autonomous shipping revolution is beginning. Although autonomous merchant vessels are currently experimental, it is likely that they will be entering commercial service in the near future. While many of the familiar rules of shipping law will carry across relatively seamlessly from vessels controlled by crew onboard to those controlled from onshore or even entirely autonomously, not all will. It is inevitable that tensions will arise.

A group of established scholars from world-leading University College London (UCL) and the internationally renowned Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law (IISTL) at Swansea University are collaborating to hold a series of conferences to consider the legal changes which may be needed to accommodate the autonomous shipping revolution.

In the first of these conferences, which will take place on 27 October 2021, a distinguished group of scholars and practitioners will convene to discuss the complex private law liability and contractual issues associated with the use of autonomous ships in the context of the carriage of goods and marine insurance. A further conference will be held later this year to consider the regulatory and public law issues emerging from the same cause.

We will be limiting the numbers invited to each conference to 40 in order to comply with UCL’s COVID-19 restrictions and provide a safe environment for all.

The Speakers and Chairpersons

◊    Sir Richard Aikens, Brick Court Chambers
◊    Prof Simon Baughen, IISTL, Swansea University
◊    Julian Clark, Ince Law Firm
◊    Paul Dean, Partner and Global Head of Shipping, HFW
◊    Peter MacDonald Eggers QC, 7 King’s Bench Walk
◊    Dr Melis Özdel, UCL   
◊    Prof Bariş Soyer, IISTL, Swansea University
◊    Professor Andrew Tettenborn, IISTL, Swansea University
◊    Tom Walters, Holman Fenwick Willan

The programme

14.00 Opening- Dr Melis Ozdel, UCL Centre for Commercial Law, UCL Laws

14.05 Session 1: Autonomous Shipping – Carriage of Goods by Sea
Chair: Tom Walters (HFW)
14:05 Autonomous Vessels and their Seaworthiness
Professor Simon Baughen, Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law (IISTL), Swansea University
14:30 Redefining “Nautical Fault and “Unjustified Deviation” in the New Era of Shipping
Dr Melis Ozdel, UCL Centre for Commercial Law, UCL Laws
14.55 Carriage of Cargoes- Ports and Autonomy
Julian Clark, Global Senior Partner, Ince 
15:20 Q & A
15:40 Break
16:00 Session 2: Autonomous Shipping – Liability and Insurance

 Chair: Professor Simon Baughen, Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law (IISTL), Swansea University
16:00  Liability of the Operator and Limitation of Liability
Professor Baris Soyer, Director of the Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law (IISTL), Swansea University
16:25 – 16:50 Product Liability
Professor Andrew Tettenborn, Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law (IISTL), Swansea University
16:50 – 17:15 Autonomous Shipping and Marine Insurance
Peter McDonald Eggers QC (7 Kings Bench Walk)  
17:15  Q &A
17:30 Keynote Speech by Sir Richard Aikens (Brick Court Chambers)

18.00- Closing remarks
Professor Baris Soyer, Director of the Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law (IISTL), Swansea University

About the speakers

Sir Richard Aikens
Brick Court Chambers

Sir Richard joined what is now Brick Court Chambers in 1974 and practised in commercial law, specialising in shipping, insurance and re-insurance, banking, international trade and arbitration. He was appointed QC in 1986. He conducted cases/arbitrations and advised in foreign jurisdictions, in particular Hong Kong, Singapore, Gibraltar, Bermuda, Australia, the USA, France and Switzerland. Before appointment to the High Court bench in 1999 he was in demand as an arbitrator in shipping and insurance disputes. He was a judge of the Commercial and Admiralty Courts from 1999-2008 (in charge of the Commercial Court in 2005-6) and a judge in the Court of Appeal from 2008-2015. He is one of the authors of Bills of Lading, (2nd edition just published) and has written many articles on legal topics, particularly on conflicts of laws. He lectured regularly (in English and French) and chaired conferences throughout his judicial career.  Whilst at the bar he was a director and chairman of the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund, (the Bar’s professional negligence insurers) which he helped to found in 1985. In 2012-14 he was President of the British Insurance Law Association. He is teaching commercial law at King’s College, University of London and is a Visiting Professor at both King’s College and Queen Mary University of London.

Simon Baughen
Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law, Swansea University
Professor Simon Baughen was appointed as Professor of Shipping Law in the Department of Shipping and Trade Law at Swansea University in September 2013. He had previously been a Reader at the University of Bristol Law School where he had worked since joining academia in 1989. Simon Baughen studied law at Oxford and practised in maritime law from 1979 to 1988. His research interests lie mainly in the field of shipping law in which he has written extensively over the last thirty years. He is the author of ‘Shipping Law’, now in its seventh edition, and took over authorship of ‘Summerskill on Laytime’ in 2013 for its fifth edition; the sixth edition was published in Autumn 2017.

He also researches in the field of the interaction between free trade/investment and environmental protection and human rights. He has produced two books on this topic. ‘International Trade and the Protection of the Environment’ in 2007 and ‘Human Rights and Corporate Wrongs. Closing the Governance Gap?’ in 2015. The latter was cited in the recent judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada in Nevsun v Arraya.

Julian Clarke
Senior Partner, Ince

Julian is an internationally recognised leader in shipping and international trade with over 30 years’ experience in mediation, arbitration and litigation.  Julian has, for over 15 years, been ranked in the world’s leading legal reference guides including Chambers and Partners 2020, where he is described as being “recommended in the market for his strong relationship with P&I Clubs”, The Legal 500 where he is ranked as a member of the Hall of Fame, the US publication Super Lawyers, and Who’s Who Legal who rank him as a “Global Leader”.  On leaving his previous position as the Global Head of Shipping of another leading London Firm, the press commented on his recruitment to Ince as being “a major score”.  He is also internationally recognised as an expert in piracy, e-commerce (including blockchain), cybercrime, security and terrorism issues in the maritime field.  He is the Chair of the Maritime London Innovation and Technical Committee and Cyber Risk subcommittee of the CMI.

Peter McDonald-Eggers QC
Barrister, 7 Kings Bench Walk

Peter has practised as a commercial barrister at 7KBW since 2000. Prior to that, he practised as a commercial litigation solicitor for 10 years at a City law firm, where he was a partner for 4 years. Having practised as both barrister and solicitor has given Peter “the advantage over many of his peers of being able to converse fluently with solicitors and lay clients”. Peter teaches at UCL and has published widely, regarded as having “Strong academic credentials and pronounced creative streak”.

Peter specialises in all aspects of commercial law, with a particular focus on insurance and reinsurance , shipping and transport, energy, commodities and international trade, financial services, professional negligence, and international investment projects. Peter appears before the Commercial Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court and in commercial and international arbitrations. Peter has also appeared before Courts in other jurisdictions. Peter also accepts appointments to act as an arbitrator.

In 2017, Peter MacDonald Eggers QC was appointed by the Lord Chief Justice as a Deputy High Court Judge, assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division. Peter has appeared in a number of the recent leading commercial cases. In 2019 Peter was awarded Insurance Silk of the Year at the Chambers Bar Awards 2019.Peter is recognised as a leading silk in Chambers & Partners, Legal 500 and Who’s Who Legal.

Dr. Melis Özdel
Lecturer in Maritime and Commercial Law, UCL Laws, Director of the UCL Centre for Commercial Law, Founder of the UCL Autonomous Shipping Project

Melis is the specialism convenor for maritime law studies at UCL, and she is the director of UCL Centre for Commercial Law. Melis has published extensively in the areas of international trade law, carriage of goods by sea, international commercial arbitration and conflict of laws and jurisdiction.

She is the editor and co-author of Commercial Maritime Law (2020, Hart Publishing), author of Bills of Lading Incorporating Charterparties (2015, Hart Publishing) and co-author of EU Transport Law (2016, Hart-Nomos-Beck).

Melis is also the founder of the UCL Autonomous Shipping Project, which was launched in a bid to start an open and diverse debate on the future of autonomous shipping from a legal perspective. She is currently researching the legal implications of autonomous shipping and has written a journal article on the topic, which will be published in the Industrial Law Journal.

She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a supporting member of the LMAA (London Maritime Arbitrators’ Association).

Professor Barış Soyer
Professor of Commercial and Maritime Law
Director of the Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law, Swansea University
Professor Soyer directs the Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law at Swansea University, and is a member of the British Maritime Law Association and British Insurance Law Association. He is the author of Warranties in Marine Insurance (2001) (winner of the BILA Book prize in 2002), Marine Insurance Fraud (2014) (winner of the same prize in 2015), and has written numerous articles published in journals including the Cambridge Law Journal, the Law Quarterly Review, Lloyd’s Maritime & Commercial Law Quarterly, the Edinburgh Law Review, and the Journal of Business Law. He has also edited large numbers of collections of essays on commercial, maritime and insurance law. In addition, he sits on the editorial boards of Journal of International Maritime Law, Shipping and Trade Law and the Baltic Maritime Law Quarterly and editorial committee of the Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly (International Maritime and Commercial Law Yearbook). He currently teaches Charter Parties and Carriage of Goods by Sea and Marine Insurance on the LLM Programme and also is the director of Commercial, Maritime and International Trade LLM Programmes.
Professor Andrew Tettenborn
Professor of Commercial Law
Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law, Swansea University
Professor Tettenborn has been attached to the IISTL at Swansea Law School since 2010, teaching international trade, aspects of banking, admiralty and energy law. He has also taught at the universities of Cambridge, Exeter and Geneva, and held visiting positions in Europe, Australia and the USA. His book with Francis Rose on Admiralty Claims came out this year, and his extensively revised new edition of Marsden & Gault’s Collisions at Sea with John Kimbell QC has just gone to press.
By way of background, Professor Tettenborn is also general editor of the leading student textbook on commercial law (Sealy & Hooley’s Text, Cases and Materials) and editor-in-chief of Clerk & Lindsell on Torts. In addition, he has authored numerous articles on commercial law and obligations, and sits on the editorial boards of Lloyd’s Maritime & Commercial Law Quarterly and the Journal of International Maritime Law.
As well as his other activities, he was also involved in the production of the English Restatements of restitution and contract law, and is also a member of the committee set up by Prof. Gerard McMeel QC in 2020 to produce a draft Commercial Code for England.

Tom Walters
Partner, Holman Fenwick Willan

Tom joined HFW in 2002, and qualified in 2004 into the Admiralty Casualty Response team. In addition to a number of high profile salvage and marine litigation cases, Tom has worked on a number of complex technical cases in the offshore oil & gas industry dealing with; construction disputes involving jack up and semi-submersible rigs, decommissioning and disposal of marine assets, insurance claims, towage disputes involving the transportation of various offshore units, contractual disputes involving pipe laying vessels, the salvage of several semi-submersible platforms in the Gulf of Mexico after hurricanes Dennis and Katrina, and the “Deepwater Horizon” incident.



£100 Standard Ticket
£50 Student Ticket

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Cancellation and COVID

This is an in-person event with limited number of tickets. UCL requires all attendees to wear face masks in our buildings, including in the lecture theatre. If you are exempt from wearing a mask please ensure that your bring your printed government exepmption card with you to show at security.


If you are not able to attend the event you can cancel your place and receive a full refund up to 5 working days before the conference.

If you are have Covid symptoms or have received a positive test or been pinged by the Covid app, you must NOT come to the conference. Please supply proof of a positive test or your ping in order to receive a full refund.


If you have any queries about this conference please email the UCL Laws Events team - laws-events@ucl.ac.uk

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