London law firm Lawrence Graham says
tanker owners and charterers can expect more disputes over oil major approvals. Imogen Rumbold, partner, says that since the Erika sinking oil majors have been changing vetting criteria and that approval is now only obtainable on a voyage-by-voyage basis. "In the recent Seaflower case the charterer was able to cancel a charter because the owner did not hold a specific oil major approval. But now that approval has become a dynamic standard, how can owners ever be sure of meeting the conditions?" asks Rumbold. In Lawrence Graham's latest shipping newsletter, Shipping Lawgram, Rumbold goes on to call for owners' bodies such as Intertanko to sit down with oil majors and address and clarify how approvals can be sought and maintained against a background of strict but changing standards. Elsewhere in Shipping Lawgram, Robert Searle, claims director at the West of England P&I Club
, says it may be time for clubs to reconsider the terms on which they use law firms.