Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

A view from the crow’s nest: Maritime arbitrations, maritime cases and the common law

Lewins, K.ORCID: 0000-0001-5276-2777 (2015) A view from the crow’s nest: Maritime arbitrations, maritime cases and the common law. In: AMTAC Annual Address 2015, 16 September 2015, Federal Court of Australia, Perth.



Chief Justice Allsop, your Honours, ladies and gentlemen. My thanks to AMTAC and the Federal Court for arranging today’s event, and to MLAANZ for including it in their annual conference program. AMTAC is to be congratulated for its initiatives promoting Australia a preferred venue for dispute resolution in maritime matters.

When Peter McQueen first asked me to deliver the AMTAC annual address, I felt honoured by the invitation but a little overawed at the scale of the topic. There are hundreds if not thousands of important maritime law cases, many of them with their roots in maritime arbitration. I imagined surveying reports of cases laid out as far as the eye can see; hence the reference to the ‘crow’s nest’ in the title of this address.

The dilemma at hand is well described in a comment made by David Foxton QC, the biographer of the great maritime judge Lord Justice Scrutton. (1) In describing his task of mapping the contribution of that single eminent judge to the field of commercial and contract law, Foxton said:

It is difficult to do justice to the number and quality of judgments in commercial appeals over this period: any survey soon degenerates into a name checking of well-known cases, whose worth is well known to those already acquainted with them and impossible to communicate to those who are not. (2)

I wish to avoid the trap thus aptly described. I have therefore been selective. After some introductory comments about maritime arbitration, I will then take you to one aspect of the law particularly developed by maritime cases before the English courts and to which arbitration cases made a special contribution: namely the early development of the doctrine of frustration. (As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of significant events throughout the Great War, and given that many of the cases concern the interruptions posed by the Great War, it seems to me that such a reflection is timely.) I will then briefly survey the other maritime cases that have a broader significance in common law. I will conclude by looking ‘over the horizon’.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Conference Website:
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year