Conference Summary from the Secretary-General of the CMI

The Comité Maritime International is to hold its 42nd International Conference in New York from 3rd to 6th May 2016. The conference will be hosted by the Maritime Law Association of the United States and will be held at the Midtown Hilton Hotel.  This will be only the second international conference that the CMI has held on United States soil - the last was the 27th Conference in 1965, presided over by Allan Philip and debating changes to the Convention on Maritime Liens and Mortgages.  Since then there have been two further annual Assemblies in the USA: the 1987 Assembly was combined with a Colloquium in New Orleans, and we met again in New York in 1999 to coincide with the centenary celebrations of the MLAUS.

The main item on the 2016 conference agenda will be the review of the York-Antwerp Rules relating to general average – of which the CMI is custodian - a process with which the CMI has been engaged with the participation of all industry stakeholders for some years.  This initiative, it is hoped, will address the anomalies which arose from the Sydney and Vancouver amendments to the York Antwerp Rules. The purpose of convening a full CMI convention is to put us in a position to be able to adopt amendments to the current text of the York-Antwerp Rules.  This can only be done in a full CMI Assembly, following debate and a plenary.  And it is a prerequisite that there be broad-based industry acceptance of any proposals that are to be put before the Assembly.

The CMI will also be doing its usual business of its own working group and EXCO meetings, most of them before the start of the conference.    

But, in what will be a first for the CMI, running parallel with the general average deliberations will be an exciting joint programme of the respective committees of the MLAUS and the International Working Groups of the CMI. These open meetings will allow the CMI and the MLAUS to combine the knowledge of their members in what we are sure will be a stimulating debate on many current topics.  It is the first time that the CMI has attempted such a close cooperation at committee level with any MLA, and we will surely learn much from each other.  It has been a treat working with the organising committee of the MLAUS, and indeed having our CMI chairs plan their joint sessions with their MLAUS counterparts. 

You can access the full week’s provisional schedule by clicking on “Programme” on this website, but here is a teaser:


Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd May


Pre-conference meetings of CMI IWGs, International Subcommittees and EXCO.
Tuesday evening - Opening ceremony with keynote addresses and Broadway revue.

Wednesday 4th May 


Sessions begin with a very special presentation on the raising and removal of the Costa Concordia given by Capt Nick Sloane who was Salvage Master during this incredible feat, for which he has recently been awarded an Italian knighthood.

Joint committee sessions of MLAUS Committees and CMI International Working Groups follow all day.
Wednesday evening -  a social function at the Rockefeller Centre, including a visit to the Top-of-the-Rock.

Thursday 5th May


Joint committee sessions all day.
Thursday evening -  the annual Nic Healy lecture at New York University.

Friday 6th May


In the morning, the AGM of the MLAUS and in the afternoon, the Plenary and Assembly of the CMI. 
Running parallel in the afternoon will be yCMI and yMLA presentations, and an MLAUS CLE programme.

Friday evening - Combined gala dinner of the MLAUS and the CMI – a glittering affair at the Hilton Ballroom, promising the biggest gathering of maritime lawyers in one room since the Centenary of the MLAUS.
And if that’s not enough, how about a gig by our own band – of maritime lawyer musicians! 


The meetings will cover all aspects of the respective committees’ work, and will include presentations and discussion on special focus areas including:

  • General Average
  • Cybercrime in shipping
  • Offshore industry liabilities and responsibilities
  • Polar Shipping issues    


The committees will also explore some of the newer topics on the workbook of the CMI including

  • What’s in a name? – ship nomenclature
  • Legal implications of the use of unmanned craft at sea
  • Towards a formulation of core principles of the Lex Maritima
  • Ship financing and security issues
  • Maritime law issues of refugee migration at sea
  • Cross-border insolvencies
  • Enforcement of arbitration awards

The planning committee has been hard at work putting together an exciting programme for Accompanying Persons, including a getting-to-know-you boat tour around Manhattan with lunch on board, and visits to numerous iconic New York attractions.  There will be optional post-conference tours, including a boat trip up the Hudson River on the Saturday.  Just head for the Social Programme section of the site.

We have devised an unusual, but we believe workable registration system: Admission to the committee sessions will be open and free to all who register, and teas and coffees will be provided. CMI delegates will pay an inclusive conference fee which covers the full week, including social events. MLAUS members will not pay to attend committee meetings and working sessions, but those who want to attend the conference social events (and of course the combined gala dinner) will be welcome to use a tick-box registration system, and to pay only for those events they choose.  Lunch tickets (lunches being a wonderful networking opportunity) will be transferable.

We ask all who are to attend working sessions to register gratis on the registration section of this website.  This will be essential to enable us to set up venues at the Hilton, where most meetings will be held.

We hope to see you in fabulous New York City in May 2016 - Just click on the Registration button!



John Hare

Secretary General

Comité Maritime International