It takes two...

A conference for P&I Club correspondents was held in Bristol in September 2001. Among the many subjects discussed over the two days, the following was thought to be an interesting range of views between service providers and service users, some of which probably apply to many business relationships.

 Comments by the Clubs

  • Correspondents should confirm the name of the surveyor or lawyer and advise why the correspondent is appointing that particular one. This is necessary so that the Club can tell the owner.
  • Clubs need preliminary reports with comments.
  • Please make it easier to find the answer in a letter/report.
  • Tell us what the ‘bottom line’ is.
  • Give us advance warning of large fees in eg stowaway cases.
  • Suggest and discuss strategy.
  • Give us advance warning of any guarantee requirements.
  • Tell us if you have a conflict and whether you are acting in any other capacity, eg Lloyd’s Agent, TT Club, network partner, etc. Generally this will be OK as long as you tell us about it.
  • Check with the Club if you receive instructions from the ship’s agent.
  • Surveyors must render separate invoices and you must not subsume their bill within yours (the correspondent’s bill).
  • Correspondents should always send on the original survey report even if they are providing a commentary and translation. The cheapest is not always the best but Members are very cost conscious.
  • Receiving commissions from surveyors is grounds for sacking. Surveyors should always be independent.
  • Report claims trends when identified.
  • Be proactive.
  • Have local knowledge and advice available as emails so that this can be sent out as background to any new case.
  • Do not assume the Club claims handler has handled a claim from your region before.
  • Claims handlers in the Club have to deal with about 400 files from about 40 different countries and their knowledge may not be as great as the correspondents suppose.
  • Use file references.
  • Maintain contact with the Port Authority, Coast Guard, Emergency Services, Government Maritime/Transport Departments and Agencies, so that you can assist a Club quickly and effectively in the event of a large/serious casualty.

Comments from correspondents

  • We hate voicemail. There should be an opportunity to transfer the call to an executive who is handling the absent person’s desk.
  • We hate it when the case handler from the Club is away and doesn’t tell us.
  • Why are the Clubs’ staff suspicious? Often they don’t give us all the documents.
  • We need clear written instructions. We need to be told who we are representing and what we are supposed to be doing for them.
  • We need the Case handler to make it clear in the instructions, if the cost of the survey/ intervention is for Club or Member’s account.
  • Tell us what is happening.
  • Read what we write.
  • Accept our recommendations.
  • Correspondents need to be seen to be trusted locally ie. don’t cut the Correspondent out by going direct to a local lawyer.
  • Once the ship sails communications from the Club decline dramatically. Tell us how things went.
  • More training for Club staff on local laws and culture. Visits from junior Club staff?
  • Can Clubs help us collect/pay fees payable by third parties or the Member?
  • Can Clubs guarantee third party fees? If Correspondents are to look to the Member for their fees please tell the Correspondent loud and clear as soon as possible.
  • Queries about correspondents’ fees should be made immediately on receipt of the fee note not 30/40 days later.
  • Points about Club cover should be made as quickly as possible – preferably with a phone call as soon as the case is notified.
  • Where there is competition from ship agents, the clubs should support the correspondents.
  • Increasing complications of multi modal transport. Clubs should have a better understanding of this.
  • Use file references.
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