Archive for February, 2012

Wandsworth BTC Memories

Photo of 1952's at Wandsworth

1952 Entry of BTC Engineer Apprentices at Wandsworth - Courtesy Ken Goodison. ◊Ken Goodison, Peter Bamforth, R J (Dick) Shepheard, - Holmes, Brian Elford, - Hoskins, Brian Barnes, Geoffrey Hartwell, Peter Everett, Hamish Cattanach, - Western (or Weston).

I started my life as an Engineer as an apprentice with the British Tanker Company in 1952 at Wandsworth Technical College in South London on a course for the Ordinary National Certificate in Marine Engineering.  The Summer vacations were sent in factories, in my case the first being G & J Weir of Cathcart, Glasgow, manufacturers of possibly the pump most likely to be found working steadily in

S.S. British Realm

M.V. British Seafarer

M.V. British Seafarer

ships around the World.  In my second year I worked on marine diesel engines at the works of John Kincaid in Greenock. Our third year or so was spent at sea.  I served in S.S. British Realm and M.V. British Seafarer, with the Doxford opposed piston engine. Incredibly we thought we were fast with 114 r.p.m.!  When I came to study logic later in life, it occured to me that “Seafarer” was a somewhat self-referential term to use for a ship.

B.T.C. House flag from 1950s, with Golden Persian Lion

The next year was spent in the diesel engine building yard of George Clark (1936) Ltd., in Sunderland.  Being from the South, I soon learned to adopt the Wearside accent as a form of self protection.

Many years later, as an Arbitrator, I had occasion to oversee a test run of a Diesel engine at one of the works where I had been sent as an apprentice.  Everyone was so courteous; as an apprentice I had never been allowed through the door between the works and the office.

It would be wonderful if any one who remembers those early days or recognises anyone in the photograph were to contact me using arbitrator@beresfordhartwell.com.

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There has been some discussion of the introduction of Emergency Procedures in systems of Arbitration Rules.  The danger of introducing ex parte arbitration (ex parte here meaning “without notice”) is self evident as is the futility of seeking measures against third parties.

The anomalous nature of the “emergency” procedure arises in part from the very absence of imperium in arbitration and in part from the delays inherent in institutional arbitration. All an arbitral panel (let’s not call them a “tribunal”, that’s a word which gives a false impression of authority) can do is state what ought to be done.

Even the claimed right to invite the arbitrators to draw unfavourable inferences is questionable; each arbitrator’s obligation is to find the truth from the evidence. Nothing may conflict with that. If a party’s conduct has resulted in additional losses, or in additional cost an appropriate award may be made, but arbitrators apply judgement to the issues; they do not judge persons. Only Judges who wield the Sovereign Power may do that.

Arguably, for an arbitrator, nothing is more important than that “e”, or the lack of it, in the word “judgement”; that is what it’s all about.

Moreover, where time is of the essence, the necessary transparency of the principle of Natural Law, audi alteram partem, is a serious handicap. The ability to make an ex parte application to the Court evades that limitation and is the reason why an attorney would be wrong to suggest anything else.

Arbitration is what it is. It is not a process at Law and, in my submission, any attempt to assimilate the two leads inevitably to uncertainty. Unfortunately, too many of us like the feeling that an illusion of power brings and we forget the dictum of Lord Acton on the subject.

Far simpler to use the Court for Emergency purpose and the Arbitral panel for its proper purpose.  It is the attempt to make the arbitrators into a Court which is at the root of the modern cost and complexity of what was conceived as a simple commercial solution to the problem of disputes,

But this is the opinion of a layman and thus of no consequence!

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