Force Majeure and COVID-19 : Mr. David Morriss, Partner, Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW)


DRYCON 2020 (Asia Dry Bulk Cargo Summit) is back, this time on a virtual platform! The Shipping Tribune is pleased to announce "Asia Dry Bulk Cargo Summit 2020" is being organised on 15th October 2020.

The Coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented social and economic upheaval across the globe.  It has also had a profound effect on parties' ability to perform commercial contracts, and is likely to do so for some time to come.  David Morriss, a partner at London law firm Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW), will deliver a paper at DRYCON 2020 on the English Courts' approach to force majeure and how carefully drafted force majeure clauses can enable parties to escape from their contracts or avoid liability for their non-performance.  As the paper will explain, reliance on a force majeure clause is seldom straightforward, and the financial consequences for a party if it can, or cannot, do so may be very considerable indeed.

David is a partner of Holman Fenwick Willan LLP (HFW) which is widely recognised as the world's leading law firm for shipping and international trade.  He is head of HFW's India desk and is responsible for the firm's Indian clients. 

David is based in HFW's London office and visits clients in India three or four times each year which has given him a deep understanding of the Indian market.  He regularly speaks at conferences in India. 

David's recent cases include,

  1. A leading case on demurrage time bars.  The client was successful in overturning an adverse arbitration award in the Commercial Court, and the judgment is reported. 
  2. An arbitration under a sale contract with claims and counterclaims in the total sum of US$4.3 million.  The tribunal was chaired by Sir Bernard Eder, and the client was entirely successful.
  3. A complex application for an anti suit injunction in a case involving a cargo of coal.  The client was successful both in the Commercial Court and the Court of Appeal, and the judgments are reported.
  4. A reported judgment on a claim for US$16 million under a suite of loan facility agreements.  The hearing before the Commercial Court in London was of the client's application that the English proceedings be stayed in favour of proceedings in India.  The main issue concerned the effect, under the jurisdiction clause in the loan agreements, of the fact that the bank had commenced a recovery process under the Indian SARFAESI Act.
  5. A London arbitration where the client was successful in showing that a FOB seller concluded a contract of carriage as principal rather than as agent for the FOB buyer, and that the charterparty demurrage regime was incorporated into the bill of lading despite a House of Lords judgment stating that such incorporation was contrary to commercial sense. 
  6. A reported judgment on a client's successful claim for US$5 million demurrage.  The judgment is a leading authority on the construction of force majeure clauses.   

 David is recommended for shipping by the two leading independent legal directories – the Legal 500, and Chambers & Partners.


About Asia Dry Bulk Cargo Summit 2020

Dry Bulk cargoes such as Coal, Iron Ore, Grain, Fertilizers, etc play a very crucial role in a country’s economic development and the shipping industry plays a vital role in the transportation of these cargoes. You MUST be a part of this conference to:

  • Meet key players from the Dry Bulk Cargo Sector
  • Listen to the stalwarts of the industry
  • Strengthen your relationship with existing clients and build new ones
  • Enhance the visibility of your organisation
  • Learn how others are navigating their companies through these challenging times
  • Achieve months of business in JUST ONE DAY

The entire Dry bulk and Shipping chain will convene at this eminent conference, a hub of knowledge and ideas, to make this a memorable experience.

For sponsorship & delegate registration , please contact:

Capt Virendra N. Mishra, Conference Director


Come, join us and benefit from the opportunity to connect, confer and conduct business!

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