A Sea Change Sweeps over Congress: A Look Back and a Look Ahead

by Joan M. Bondareff and Stephen C. Peranich

The 2014 mid-term elections brought a tidal wave to Washington, bringing in a sweep of the Congress for Republicans. The major impact will be in the Senate where Republicans have taken over the Committee Chairs from their Democratic counterparts. The House of Representatives remains in Republican control, with Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) remaining as Speaker and with a stronger hand for his party. ( Read more)

Shipping & International Trade Law (Second Edition 2015)

Blank Rome New York Partner John Kimball and Associate Emma Jones published an overview of U.S. maritime law in Shipping & International Trade Law (Second Edition 2015). Their article provides a detailed explanation of contracts of carriage with an emphasis on jurisdiction and proper law, arbitration clauses, parties to the bill of lading contract, liability regimes, and lien rights. Mr. Kimball and Ms. Jones also answer common questions with respect to collisions, salvages conventions, general average claims, and limitation regimes in addition to addressing pollution and the environment, security, and arrest. ( Read more)

Congress Passes Coast Guard Bill in Waning Hours of 113th Congress

by Matthew J. Thomas

After considerable suspense and last-minute concessions on cargo preference and small vessel discharges, Congress passed Coast Guard authorization legislation for FY2015 on December 10, 2014. Like Coast Guard bills in previous years, the measure also serves as a vehicle for various legal and policy updates for maritime policies and programs government-wide. The new law, the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014, carries the name of the North Carolina congressman retiring this month after three decades in the House, often in the forefront of maritime issues. ( Read more)

Old Dogs, New Tricks: Bunker Fuel Industry Facing Growing Cyber Threat

by Steven L. Caponi and Kate B. Belmont

The maritime community is sitting on the precipice of disaster. While regarded as one of the oldest and most well respected industries on the planet, the maritime community as a whole has failed to protect itself against the growing threat of cybercriminals. Methods of daily business transactions have failed to evolve, and the reliance on outdated technology with little to no cybersecurity protection has left many sections of the maritime community vulnerable to cyber attacks. ( Read more)

Sulfur Emissions Limit Reduced and U.S. Ramps Up Enforcement

by Gregory F. Linsin, Jeanne M. Grasso, and Dana S. Merkel

For vessels trading to ports in any of the four Emissions Control Areas ("ECAs") (North American, U.S. Caribbean Sea, Baltic Sea, and North Sea), compliance with the sulfur emissions limits just became ten times more difficult—and the regulators are monitoring compliance more closely than ever before. There are, though, concrete measures that vessel owners and operators can implement now to reduce their risk of becoming an enforcement statistic. ( Read more)

Risk Management Tool for Maritime Companies

Blank Rome Maritime has developed a flexible, fixed-fee Compliance Audit Program to help maritime companies mitigate the escalating risks in the maritime regulatory environment. The program provides concrete, practical guidance tailored to your operations to strengthen your regulatory compliance systems and minimize the risk of your company becoming an enforcement statistic. To learn how the Compliance Audit Program can help your company, please visit www.blankrome.com/complianceauditprogram.

Demystifying the Repeal of the Jones Act and Jones Act Waivers

by Jonathan K. Waldron and Jeanne M. Grasso

There always seems to be constant chatter about whether the Jones Act will be repealed and whether it is possible to obtain a waiver until it is repealed some day. In reality, despite some recent publicity concerning Arizona Senator John McCain's recent statements that the Jones Act will be repealed sooner or later, don't count on it. Senator McCain introduced a bill in 2010 to repeal the Jones Act, but it never went anywhere. Indeed, even Senator McCain himself admitted that the Jones Act lobby was as powerful as any he had come up against in his political career. (Read more)

Brett Esber Named Top Ten Shipping Lawyer by Lloyd's List

Blank Rome Partner Brett Esber was named one of the top ten lawyers for shipping law in Lloyd's List "One Hundred" (Edition Five), which promotes the most influential people in the shipping industry, from the top one hundred influential industry leaders to the top ten port operators, insurance personalities, regulators, classification societies, brokers, and finance executives. ( Read more)

The Story of the Jones Act and the U.S.' Caribbean Territories

by Stefanos N. Roulakis

The story of why the Jones Act does not apply to the U.S. Virgin Islands is not well known, but it has had and will have implications for the U.S. In particular, the Virgin Islands trade is often compared in policy discussions about the Jones Act to the Puerto Rico trade. The Virgin Islands also present a unique set of circumstances, as they are the only jurisdiction that is part of the United States and the U.S. customs zone, thus allowing the shipment of crude oil to the Virgin Islands without violating the crude export ban, and are exempt from the Jones Act. (Read more)

ECDIS: Are Your Watch Standers Ready for the Challenges?

by Alan M. Weigel

The Volvo Ocean Race is a nine-month, around-the-world sailboat race covering 39,000 thousand miles in nine separate legs across four oceans. The 65-foot, high-tech sloops that compete in the race are crewed by some of the most highly trained and experienced professional ocean yachtsmen in the world. Nevertheless, on November 29, 2014, one of those yachts, TEAM VESTAS WIND, grounded on a charted coral reef, part of the St. Brandon archipelago, 268 miles off the coast of Mauritius. ( Read more)

2014 Revision to the Himalaya Clause for Bills of Lading and other Contracts of Carriage

by Lauren B. Wilgus

A Himalaya clause is a clause used in bills of lading and other contracts of carriage to confer a benefit to entities that are not a party to that contract. The purpose of the clause is to protect those acting on behalf of the carrier from direct action by extending the same rights, defenses, exemptions, and protections from liability enjoyed by the contractual carrier to the carrier's servants, agents, and subcontractors. (Read more)

NY Court of Appeals Upholds Separate Entity Rule at the Expense of Judgment Debtors

by Rebecca L. Avrutin

On October 23, 2014, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the "separate entity" rule, which provides that "even when a bank garnishee with a New York branch is subject to personal jurisdiction, its other branches are to be treated as separate entities for certain purposes, particularly with respect to CPLR article 62 prejudgment attachments and article 52 postjudgment restraining notices and turnover orders." (Read more)

To read the full text of the articles in the January 2015 edition of Mainbrace, please download the PDF.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.