The recent ITIC Claims Review highlighted some of the claims that the Club has seen arising out of the use of e-mail. The Claims Review reported that to date ITIC has seen little overall increase in claims as a result of the use of e-mail systems. It was, however, difficult to place this in context as there was no way of knowing the extent to which e-mail had become a major, if not the dominant, system with which Members communicate. The Claims Review therefore included a survey to ascertain if and how the Club’s Members use e-mail as a method of communication. The following is a brief analysis of the results of the survey.

The vast majority of Members have access to this form of communication and e-mail is used to some degree by 94% of the Members who responded to the survey. One Member strongly believed that if a customer could not afford to spend 15p on a fax or telex, then they did not want to do business with them! Despite this one-off response, it seems that e-mail, with its radically reduced communication costs, has become an established method of communication. It is not, however, used exclusively or without some limitations.

A number of press reports have raised questions about the reliability of e-mail. Members were therefore asked whether they limited the use of e-mail to certain types of message. The response was that only 30% restrict their use of e-mail. The comments received indicate that many of those Members avoid sending time-sensitive messages by e-mail. Others stated that while such messages were sent by e-mail, they were also followed up by fax, telex or telephone. The Club had also been contacted by Members whose customers had given them instructions regarding what they would accept by e-mail. This practice does not, however, appear to be widespread as less than 20% of Members reported that they have restrictions imposed on them by their customers. Of those that do, the principal did not want fixture negotiations, recaps and voyage instructions sent by e-mail. Comments suggest that oil majors are responsible for most restrictions. Other limitations included no attachments, no weekend messages and no confidential messages.

30% of the Members reported that they had suffered problems with email. These ranged from messages not being received to messages being received, but garbled. The responses suggested that there is currently a general lack of confidence in the use of e-mail. It is clear that e-mail still has not become the dominant form of communication. We are sure that the use of these systems will continue to increase, but clearly reliability remains a concern. The Claims Review offered a bottle of champagne to the first name drawn from a hat of those responding to the survey. We are delighted to report that the winner was Peter Aarosin of Danbrit Shipping Ltd, Goole.

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