Canada: A Fireside Chat With P. Jeremy Bolger

P. Jeremy Bolger is Senior Counsel in BLG's Montréal office and one of the leading Canadian practitioners in maritime law. He represents clients in significant commercial and litigation matters, and has watched the industry evolve since his start in law in 1979. Yves Faguy, an independent journalist, sat down with Jeremy to discuss how the practice of maritime law has changed, where the industry is headed, and the skills that practitioners in the field will need to succeed in the years ahead.

YF: What attracted you at first to a maritime law practice?

PJB: After law school in Ottawa, I came to Montréal, took the bar courses and went to work at McMaster Meighen. I worked in financial services for the patriarch of the firm at the time, Ross McMaster. But occasionally, I was asked to assist in the maritime department which I thoroughly enjoyed. For one, it got me out of the office. It seemed that there were all kinds of investigations being conducted – onboard investigations, ship fires, loss of life, collisions. There was a fair amount of travel involved, which I always enjoyed. Also, I found it significantly more interesting than financial work. Fortunately I had had exposure to and knew the shipping industry. Among other jobs which I held, I had also worked for a ship repair company, J. & R. Weir Ltd., in the summer time during my university studies. My father was a sea captain who came to this country at the end of the Second World War from Ireland. I had grown up with the lingo so to speak. As children, we didn't refer to a wall as a wall but rather it was a bulkhead. The ceiling was the deckhead. When my father was driving the car we'd say, "Watch the guy who's off to starboard there!" – that type of thing. So I could go aboard a ship and although I was inexperienced, somehow there was greater acceptance of me because I appeared to know what I was talking about.

YF: What were some of the early cases that stood out for you?

PJB: There were some extremely interesting cases. I never finished Christmas dinner one year because Sean Harrington – now a judge at the Federal Court – rang me with an urgent matter. We both jumped on a private jet and flew to Matane because of a very tragic incident. Halco Inc. was the name of the ship owning company. One of its vessels, the Hudson Transport, was on fire – and several lives were tragically lost. Sean and I also worked on the Mekhanik Tarasov casualty. This Soviet ship sank the day after the Ocean Ranger incident. The incident occurred off the coast of Newfoundland. A huge North Atlantic storm, the kind you only get every 100 years or so, had taken place. We were able to prove that in court when the case ultimately went to trial. Similarly, when the Ocean Ranger (a drill rig platform) sank, there was also significant loss of life. It too resulted from the same storm that led to the loss of the Mekhanik Tarasov. There were other vessels in the area that were available to rescue crew from the ship but given the state of affairs and politics with the Soviets in those days, the crew refused help. They insisted upon being assisted only by another Soviet vessel.

YF: How has the practice changed over the years?

PJB: When I was a neophyte, young practitioners starting in this business cut their teeth on cargo claim work. In 1979, it was still relatively early days for the container trade. A lot of ships traded internationally moving break bulk cargo. They were discharging cargo with nets and slings and that often resulted in extensive damage. Today, we open a file for a single claim but back then we would open up a file for a whole voyage and there might be anywhere between 40 or 50 claims on each voyage. Technology has changed all that. For example, anti-collision radar was rare when I first started and the number of collisions was high - one or more a month. Today, that number has been reduced significantly and collisions average perhaps two or three a year.

YF: What does your practice look like today? What types of cases are you currently involved in?

PJB: My work continues to grow – and you know, it continues to interest me – gives me something to look forward to all the time. I work on a wide variety of both corporate commercial matters and dispute resolution/litigation ones. To give you an idea of the breadth of these, I have, for example, a ship financing transaction that is expected to close early in 2018. I'm also working on a multi-ship purchase, and long-term charter transaction for a Singapore-based client. On the litigation side, together with one of my partners, Robin Squires, I'm representing the Mediterranean Shipping Company with respect to a claim related to damages arising from a train derailment in 2015. Other examples of the work I'm currently involved in include: defending the owners of a vessel with respect to a collision with a tug that occurred in January 2017; a substantial claim concerning the arrest of cargo in relation to an international sales dispute; and I am also working again with Robin Squires in defending a claim asserted by the Elgin Maritime Museum for alleged breach of contract in connection with the transport by sea of a submarine from Halifax to Port Burrell, where it has been installed as a museum. So, as you can see, the claims are increasingly complex, but thankfully do not involve huge losses of life anymore.

YF: How do you see maritime trade evolving in the years to come?

PJB: I sometimes predict tongue-in-cheek that the day will come when there will only be one shipping company, one insurer and one bank! I expect that there will be more consolidation in the market place going forward. Today there are probably fewer than ten shipping lines left of the 50 or so that were trading to, from and within Canada when I started practicing law. Autonomous shipping has had, and will continue to have a huge impact. When I started, there were anywhere between 35 to 45 crew members on a ship. Today, it is typical to have 12 or fewer. It's really quite fascinating.

YF: Is there a downside to that?

PJB: It certainly has its advantages but an immense problem and risk has presented itself, and that is cybersecurity. I often wonder what might happen should any of the electronics and the aids to navigation fail. Will today's seafarers be able to pull a sextant out of its box and take a sight of the sun to ascertain where they are located on the face of the earth? Many of today's crew members are used to just pushing a button to fix a position. They depend on GPS that can specify their location – with accuracy to within three metres. There are bound to be failures at some point. I ask myself "how will they be prepared to deal with these?"

YF: How is this all going to impact practice of law?

PJB: I expect that there will be fewer lawyers strictly practicing maritime law. Commercial lawyers may end up doing the shipping work on the solicitor side. The pure shipping or admiralty lawyers will be few and far between. But they'll have that specialized expertise that nobody else will have. From a client's perspective, it will become a race of the swiftest. The company which gets to the lawyer with the best experience and knowledge first, will be the one to prevail. An expert in the maritime practice will have true specialized knowledge and that's going to make all the difference in the world – whether that's in the conduct of negotiations, settlement of claims, or going to trial.

YF: What advice would you have for a young lawyer starting out in maritime law today?

PJB: In the long term, they're going to make a pretty good living because there will be so few people doing this work But, at first, there are going to be some lean years. They will make some terrific relationships with people all around the world and they'll get to see a lot of it as well. What's really important though is that in order to ensure success, in order to become a really good lawyer, they must learn the business. They've got to ask to be exposed to the daily operational end of the business; ask to go on a ship; ask to go into an engine room; ask to go down to a container terminal. Read up on advocacy. Learn the law of England because it's the predominant law internationally for the shipping industry. Ask clients to work onsite in their offices for one day a week or for the next three or four weeks. In a nutsell: observe and learn what's developing in the industry, learn the terminology, understand the business and become extremely proficient in the field.

YF: The maritime industry is obviously a global one. What is your take on the current climate – this pushback we're seeing against globalization?

PJB: I don't think the pushback is going to last. Globalization is the future, there's no stopping it. Many young people today speak two, three, and even four languages. Even my own daughters speak English, French and Spanish. Globalization may slow occasionally, but it'll ramp up again. It's about communications, cultural exchanges. Transportation is part of it. I mean if you want to look really far into the future, at some point, 50, 60, 100 years from now, who knows how different it will be? There may not be a future for shipping because it may all be done by reasonably priced suborbital transport. Maybe Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk are not so far off the mark. You'll probably see great huge flying machines of some kind crossing the Atlantic in three hours and bringing 20,000 tonnes of cargo with them. That's the promise of technology. Fascinating stuff!

About BLG

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions