ARIAS (UK)

2009 AGM Report

Accounts

I hope you will find the Accounts for last year relatively straightforward – as you can see, our finances are looking good, with an excess of income over expenditure amounting to £2,799. You will note last year’s Workshop/AGM and the Tutorial produced a surplus which, together with members’ subscriptions, boosted our capital account after costs and expenditure to almost £17,000. This is after provision for what is effectively a pre-payment of next year’s subscriptions for those members who took advantage of the discounted 2 years rate.

Membership Report

I am pleased to report that the Membership of our Panel is also in good shape. Over the last year, there was a healthy but not excessive turnover of Members. As at today’s date, the Society’s Panel Membership stands at 104. This represents a net reduction of 8 over last year there having been 6 new members appointed (one of whom I am pleased to say is with us today) and 14 lapses or resignations.

Most market disciplines are represented within our membership including by far the biggest category of underwriting (both marine and non-marine), as well as law, broking, claims and accountancy.

These currently stand as follows:

Underwriting 62
Law 18
Broking 12
Claims 8
Accountancy 4

Whilst the majority are of course domiciled in the UK, it is good to see a continuing overseas representation – this has now reached 26, exactly a quarter of the total. Our current membership currently comes from:

UK 78
USA 15
Germany 4
Switzerland 3

and one each from Bermuda, France, Norway and Sweden. I’m pleased to see that both our Bermudan and Norwegian members are with us today.

Of the overall Panel Membership, 87 currently feature on the Society’s website. During this year, we installed a facility on the website to allow members to pay their subscriptions using PayPal or Google Checkout. This is especially aimed at our overseas members some of whom have had difficulty in transferring money to us through conventional banking channels.

Phillippa Rowe completed work in the last year on compiling details of our Mediation Scheme and these are now accessible on the website.

From figures provided by our website administrators, I am pleased to report that the website is being well used. During last month, for example, some 521 so-called “distinct hosts” were served, implying roughly that number of visits to the site.

During this year we are intending to overhaul and review the content of the website – our website administrators will be working with us to up-grade it and to improve its functionality. This will include displaying Panel Members’ photographs with their website entries for those who would like them included. We are also considering, subject of course to cost, a facility to allow Panel Members to access the number of times their entries are being viewed. As always, we welcome suggestions as to any particular enhancements members would like to see to the website.

As you may recall, the 3rd Edition of our Directory of Panel Members was published at the end of 2007 some 68 of our then Panel Members having elected to have their entries included. As well as carrying individual Panel Members’ details, it also contained a full set of the ARIAS Rules. We have no current plans to reissue this document. Despite its success as a handy reference book and as a valuable marketing tool, its biggest drawback of course is that, once published, it cannot be up-dated. This is in contrast to the website which is being continuously up-dated with new members and changes to existing Members’ details.

It is clear that the publication of our Directories and especially the availability of Panel Members’ details on our website have enabled parties looking to appoint arbitrators to make their own selections rather than seeking guidance from the Society. As a result, enquiries over the last year have largely been of a general nature or from parties seeking to make default appointments or from non-ARIAS members.

The Society having been appointed Scheme Adjudicator for the Willis Faber Underwriting Management Pools, has recently had its first adjudicator referral from the Pools’ scheme managers, Pro Insurance Solutions. It is expected that a number of these will be submitted to the Society over the next year or so.

On the 10th and 11th of October last year we held one of our Tutorials. These courses are essentially aimed at our more recently appointed Panel Members, it being the Society’s policy that members who are inexperienced in arbitral proceedings should not undertake such work until they have attended one. They are, however, of course also available to any of our more established members who simply wish to refresh their knowledge. Some 18 delegates attended last year’s Tutorial, 10 of whom had been appointed during the preceding year. It is pleasing to note that 5 travelled from the US and one from Switzerland. The consensus was that the course was highly successful and we are once more indebted to Lovells for making their Atlantic House facilities available for the course. There are no plans to have a Tutorial this year but, subject to demand, there is every prospect of one being held in the Autumn of 2010.

T.G. Fairs
Hon. Secretary and Panel Member, ARIAS (UK)

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