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The Law of Shipbuilding Contracts (Fifth Edition) by Simon Curtis, Ian Gaunt and William Cecil. Published by informa Law from Routledge (Taylor and Francis) (2020). Pages 444. Hardback. £495.00. eBook £445.00 ISBN: 978-1-1383-7016-6.
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
These words from William Whiting’s 1860 hymn “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” reflect the timeless maritime struggle against the dangers of the sea. The universality of the narrative portrayed is embodied in the ubiquity of the hymn, adapted versions have been adopted by the Royal Marines as well as several Commonwealth countries’ navies, and the United States Navy and Coast Guard.
This notion of course is not new, the hymn was inspired by Psalm 107: 23–26 and one which is common to classical literature. Indeed, Homer’s epic Odyssey could not have occurred without the perilous winds which blew Odysseus astray on the high seas.
To face these hazardous conditions high quality ship building is essential. This can only be achieved through commercial and efficient contracting. To that end, The Law of Shipbuilding Contracts provides the leading practical guide to explaining the basic principles and law underlying standard contracts used in the shipbuilding industry.
While shipbuilding practices have evolved greatly since ancient times so too has international dependence on shipping. This has created new challenges for the realm of shipbuilding. Since the publication of the last edition in 2012, some of the key difficulties faced by the shipping industry have arisen not from the sea but instead from changes in the global economy. As the authors acknowledge, since 2009 freight rates have remained stagnant, leading to a fall in global demand for new vessels.
Even where demand exists, heightening environmental protections must now be met. This is in response to the increasing pressure to reduce marine-derived SOx and NOx “greenhouse gas” emissions. The book considers the current state of environmental protections, but reference is also made to the likely environmental considerations that will continue to shape the shipbuilding landscape.
The awareness of the key commercial issues facing the shipbuilding industry is reflective of the strength of the book’s authorship. Ian Curtis, as the book’s original sole author for the first four editions, has unquestionable credentials. Curtis showed foresight in the field by adopting a clause by clause analysis of the SAJ Form in the 1990 edition of the book. He has been cited in each edition of The World’s Leading Shipping and Maritime Lawyers since 1998. In this edition he is joined by two new co-authors William Cecil,
Pt 4] Book Review
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