Jacksons challenges the Hague Convention

Niche litigation firm Jackson Parton has scored a coup by forcing the Law Lords to rethink a legal point that has been at the centre of international trade and maritime law for half a century.

The case itself, Jindal Iron and Steel Co v Islamic Solidarity Jordan, will decide shipowners’ liabilities for loss or damage to cargo that is on their ships.

There have to be compelling reasons for rehearing cases, including improvement in the law as a whole and new arguments not claimed in the original case.

The dispute is being fought by two shipping specialist firms – 10-partner firm Jackson Parton for Jindal Iron and 11-partner More Fisher Brown for the defendant.

The Lords case is an appeal from a 2003 Court of Appeal judgment, which held that Islamic Solidarity was not liable for damage to Jindal Iron’s steel cargo, which it was carrying during a voyage from Barcelona to Motril in 1998.

This decision was rooted in a 1957 House of Lords interpretation of the 1924 Hague Convention, in which shipowners are liable for damage to cargo during “loading, stowage and discharge”, unless they specifically requested not to be liable for it in underlying “bills of lading” contracts.

Jindal Iron argues that the 1924 Hague Convention makes the shipowner liable irrespective of its contract.

Jackson Parton instructed Simon Rainey QC and Nicholas Craig, both of Quadrant Chambers, and More Fisher Brown instructed Sudhanshu Swaroop and Tim Young QC, who are both at 20 Essex Street.