My task is to encourage you to plan ahead to come to New York in May 2016 to the next CMI Conference. That is an easy task. I never fail to enjoy visits to New York. Some of my earliest memories are as a child under five visiting New York in transit across the Atlantic by sea and air en route between London and Caracas, Venezuela, where my father worked for Shell. I visited New York again in between school and university in 1969. The Vietnam war was going on, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, everyone was exhorted to wear flowers in their hair, Marvin Gaye could hear it "through the grapevine", Creedence Clearwater Revival were top of the charts and it was an interesting time to be a teenager!

Not long before my teenage visit in 1969 the CMI held its 27th Conference in New York in September 1965*.  It will therefore be more than 50 years since we last met in that great city. The President of the United States Maritime Law Association at that time was Nicholas Healy and we are hoping to honour his memory by holding the annual Healy lecture at New York University in the midst of the Conference.

The United States MLA, our host, is one of the oldest (and largest) of the MLAs and has always played a significant role in the work of the CMI. There is no doubt that we will be given a warm welcome in that vibrant city.

The principal work which we will be doing at the Conference will, it is hoped, be the finalisation of the Review of the Rules of General Average. In addition we are hoping to combine many of the US MLA Committees with CMI's International Working Groups to provide a series of interesting and inspiring working sessions.

A booking has already been made to hold the Conference at the HiltonHotel, mid town.

I hope you will be able to attend the Conference in New York in 2016, and experience that extraordinary city.

Stuart Hetherington 2.jpg


Stuart Hetherington


Comité Martime International


*Fun Fact


Dear CMI Delegates, Members of the MLA-US and Other Potential Participants and Guests,

The Maritime Law Association of the United States (“MLA-US”) is both honored and excited to be hosting the 42nd Conference of Comite Maritime International (“CMI”) in New York from May 3-6, 2016. As President of the MLA-US, I could not be more thrilled at the opportunity to welcome you to this historic conference.

As many of our own members know, one of the central purposes for the formation of the MLA-US over 115 years ago was to serve as a constituent member of the CMI. To many it was and still is our raison d’être. It has been over 50 years since the CMI last held its Conference in New York in 1965 and it is time to come back. Although much has changed, New York remains one of the worldwide centers of maritime commerce, marine financing and insurance and maritime law. The Conference program that is being formed is designed to address current issues involving each of these sectors and more.

The 2016 CMI Conference presents a unique opportunity for New Yorkers, U.S. based maritime professionals and our worldwide colleagues to come together and make a difference in maritime law and commerce. As the CMI Conference will be held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the MLA-US, a first of its kind CMI/MLA-US joint committee sessions will provide unique insight and benefits to the attendees and the social program will expose the delegates and their spouses/guests to the special character of New York.

On a personal note the 2016 CMI Conference affords me the opportunity to return to the city that I cherish beyond all others and where I spent my career in private practice. As the Frank Sinatra song goes “It’s up to you, New York, New York”. We won’t let you down. Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of the 2016 CMI Conference!!


Yours Sincerely,

Robert G. Clyne


The Maritime Law Association Of the United States

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 Albert Lilar 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:


Tuesday 3rd May


Pre-conference meetings of CMI IWGs, International Subcommittees and EXCO.
Tuesday evening - Opening ceremony
with welcome speeches and a keynote address by the Secretary-General of the IMO – followed by a Broadway revue.

Wednesday 4th May 


Keynote address by RAdm Steven Poulin, JAG and Chief Counsel for the US Coastguard.

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, including a full day Polar Shipping and Arctic Development Symposium.
Thursday evening -  a special Nick 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


*Fun Fact





Stuart Hetherington

CMI - President

Colin, Biggers & Paisley – Australia



John Hare

CMI - Secretary-General

South Africa



Vincent Foley - Conference Chair

Holland & Knight - United States



Planning Committee Members

Robert Clyne

Deborah Nolan

Francis X. Nolan

John Kimball

Patrick Bonner

Christopher O. Davis

Kevin O’Malley

Edward Floyd

Alan von Praag

Bob Connor

Jonathan Spencer

Phillip Buhler

Boriana Farrar

Charles Schmidt

K. Blythe Daly

John Woods

Hal Watson

Bob Parrish

Liz Burrell

Greg O’Neill