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A new set of York-Antwerp Rules was approved at the Comité Maritime International (CMI) Conference in Vancouver on 4th June 2004.

The new Rules strive to reduce the number of general average (GA) declarations and restrict the scope of GA allowances. The intentions behind the changes were to reduce the cost of general average claims and to speed up the production of general average adjustments. The new Rules may be applied in the adjustment of GA claims and incorporated into contracts of carriage and insurance policies from 1st January 2005.

The main changes introduced by the new Rules are:
– Salvage charges will not be re-adjusted in GA (Rule VI) but will lie where they fall unless one party pays another’s proportion.
– Commission on GA disbursements is abolished (Rule XX (a)).
– Wages of master, officers and crew at the port of refuge will not be allowed in GA (Rule XI (b)).
– Savings to hull insurers achieved by effecting temporary repairs to accidental damage at a port of refuge will be accounted for first, before any allowance in GA is considered (Rule XIV).
– GA claims will be time-barred if suit is not brought within six years after the termination of the common maritime adventure or one year after publication of the GA adjustment, whichever is the sooner (Rule XXIII).
– Interest on expenditure, sacrifices and allowances added until three months after the date of the adjustment will no longer be at a fixed rate of 7 per cent. Instead, the rate will be fixed each year by the Assembly of the CMI in accordance with guidelines (Rule XXI).
– Finally, interchangeable terms have been standardised and paragraphs have been numbered or re-numbered consistently.

The changes to GA did not receive universal support. Shipowners in particular felt that as GA had been reformed only ten years previously with the York-Antwerp Rules 1994, it was too early to effect a further change to the Rules. Nevertheless, the 2004 version of the York-Antwerp Rules represents a compromise between those who wanted radical changes to GA (mostly cargo insurers) and the traditionalists who wanted to maintain the status quo (mostly shipowners). No doubt the debate will continue in the coming years.

The full text of the 2004 York Antwerp Rules can be found at www.comitemaritime.org/cmidocs/yar.html.

Any comments to this article can be e-mailed to the Gard News Editor.

Gard News is published quarterly by Gard AS, Arendal, Norway.