Hot topics for international maritime arbitration in 2023

Cargo ship seen from above

We asked George Lambrou FCIArb for his views on what international maritime arbitration holds in 2023. George is the Course Director for CIArb's Virtual Diploma in International Maritime Arbitration which starts on 5 April 2023.

The efficient running of the maritime industry is crucial to the safe running of global trade.  The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that 90% of globally traded goods are carried by sea.  

Arbitration is the number one choice for the resolution of maritime disputes around the world.  And over the past few years, there has been an increase in international maritime arbitrations as a result of a protracted period of unforeseen challenges throughout the sector. These include COVID-19, international geopolitics, and the economic crisis.    

How is maritime arbitration growing?

Globalization, climate change, the imperative to move toward net zero, and shifting economic landscapes are all factors in the increase of maritime disputes. The twin priorities of energy independence and energy security, set against the background of the climate crisis, are driving the formation of new supply chains and construction projects. The level of transition required, at speed, in energy infrastructures from a political, economic, and environmental standpoint is adding further stress to supply chains and their stakeholders. The growth in maritime disputes is a trend that is therefore anticipated to continue, especially given the nature of the world’s closely woven supply chains. 

In tandem with these international developments, the number of arbitral systems has grown.  There is wider use of technology and online platforms in arbitral procedures. There is also an increased range of mechanisms and instruments in international arbitral processes. This in turn has raised the complexity of disputes. Today, it is crucial to have the right know-how to navigate disputes in this industry.  

Here are some of the top challenges that the maritime industry will face in 2023:


COVID-19 disrupted supplies and created shifts in consumer demand. High-value claims over prolonged detentions of vessels by authorities in zero-Covid policy countries and the consequent termination of charter parties effectively changed the trading map. The various unanticipated effects of the outbreak and governments’ restrictive measures also had a dramatic effect on the ability of vessels and their crew to operate.

In 2023 the shipping industry will continue to feel the effect of the global pandemic. Potentially manifesting as: an overwhelmed shipping supply chain; equipment shortages; and pent-up demand increasing shipping rates. By early 2021, global trade was breaking all previous records.  Without supply restrictions (abrupt plant and port closures, labour shortages, and shipping delays, besides standard constraints) global trade in products might have expanded even further.  


The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has had a dramatic effect on ships trading, not just in the Black Sea but around the world. Some commercial vessels have been detained and caught in war operations. Others have been subjected to attempts of wrongful expropriation. The war seriously affected grain exports, leading to spiralling food prices and famine scenarios worldwide.  A UN agreement has now allowed for food exports from key Ukrainian ports via the Black Sea amid the ongoing war.


The US, EU, and the UK have imposed sanctions following the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine.  Unprecedented sanctions have led to significant disruption and uncertainty in maritime trade.

The export and carriage of basic commodities, such as coal and fertilizers, from Russia to the EU and other ports worldwide have been excluded with certain exceptions. The result is the sudden termination of existing fixtures and high-value disputes.

The latest crisis in connection with sanctions relates to the transport of Russian oil. In December 2022, about 30 tankers laden with oil from Kazakhstan got stuck in a queue, seeking to leave the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. This caused a series of complex disputes over delays. Turkey’s insistence on certain insurance documents to allow the oil tankers to pass through its waters further complicated the problem. Had insurers provided these insurance documents, they would have been in breach of the sanctions imposed against Russia. These sanctions aim to prevent the export of Russian oil unless sold at an enforced low price or cap.

Why is maritime arbitration a useful tool?

Arbitration clauses are standard in most maritime contracts. Maritime arbitration is particularly suited to resolve international disputes, which usually involve multiple jurisdictions. Flexible arbitral procedures and enhanced enforcement prospects, via the New York Convention, make arbitration an attractive option compared to court proceedings.

Ensure you have the knowledge and skills you need with Ciarb’s Virtual Diploma in International Maritime Arbitration. The scale, diverse range and complexity of maritime arbitrations coupled with an increase in arbitral systems means that it is essential to have the right knowledge and skills to navigate this field. This Virtual Diploma provides the in-depth training you need.   The Diploma takes place from 5 April - 28 June 2023 and costs £5,100. The price does not include the final assessment fees.

Why Choose Ciarb’s Virtual Diploma in International Maritime Arbitration?

Candidates who complete Ciarb’s 2023 Virtual Diploma in International Maritime Arbitration starting on 5 April will be able to handle the wide spectrum of issues and disputes that affect businesses in the maritime industry. The Diploma will be led by some of the world’s leading maritime arbitrators including, Course Director George Lambrou FCIArb.

George is a leading international dispute resolution specialist. He is a solicitor advocate of England and Wales and is a faculty member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Ciarb) and the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS). 

An expert in international maritime arbitration, George is regularly engaged in international maritime arbitrations as counsel, co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator, and chairman.  He has wide experience with the ICC, LCIA, LMAA, SCC, ISTAC, and ICSID rules and sits in London, Athens, Geneva, Istanbul, Stockholm, and Washington DC. He is a Supporting Member of the LMAA and is currently on the panel of the Emirates Maritime Arbitration Center (EMAC) and the Shanghai International Arbitration Center (SIAC). George was a partner of one of London’s leading shipping law firms for many years.

“This was an excellent course, extremely well delivered by a highly experienced and very knowledgeable faculty. It met all my expectations. I like that it was virtual and well spaced out. Added to that I met some lovely people and the opportunity to network with them and the faculty members, in particular, is unquestionably valued added.”

Olufunke Agbor, Partner, Dentons ACAS-Law, Lagos Nigeria 

Of all the courses available why is Ciarb’s the best

Ciarb’s Virtual Diploma in International Maritime Arbitration has been developed to meet the needs of lawyers and non-lawyers. The Diploma provides practical in-depth guidance on how maritime arbitration is practiced today and how best to improve your skills on a practical level.  Furthermore, the tutors are experienced and leading practitioners in the field.

The Diploma aims to give candidates a thorough understanding of the procedural elements of international maritime arbitration, as practised in the most frequently used maritime centres.  This is done using legislation based on the English Arbitration Act 1996 and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law, together with the London Maritime Arbitrators’ Association (LMAA) Terms, the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, as well as other maritime arbitration rules.

In addition, the Diploma is designed to provide candidates with the knowledge required to analyse submissions, arrive at a conclusion, and write a final, reasoned, and enforceable arbitration award in compliance with the Arbitration Act 1996 and maritime arbitration rules. It is critical that all maritime arbitrators, no matter what their background, produce awards that are drafted to meet the standard requirements for enforceability around the world. That also requires arbitrators to be aware of the necessary procedures and legal requirements when drafting an award and conducting proceedings and, at the same time, to do so in a cost-efficient manner. 

A demanding but highly rewarding course, expertly conducted, with sessions presented by practitioners highly experienced in their field. Lots of valuable knowledge gained also from interaction with other participating students, of various backgrounds - who shared experience from different sectors of the maritime industry.

Captain Dariusz Gozdzik

Independent Maritime Consultant, Leicester Maritime

Is it right for me?

Maritime arbitrators come from diverse and specialist backgrounds and are equally as likely to be a lawyer as not. Parties also often prefer to choose a specialist maritime arbitrator to resolve disputes and will have the option to appoint arbitrators with experience in the industry and an understanding of the particularities of shipping. It is, therefore, valuable for anyone wishing to understand this topic generally, for example as a party, party representative, or witness.  

For anyone who is considering a career as a maritime arbitrator, the Diploma provides an opportunity to achieve Fellowship of Ciarb which is, in and of itself, a helpful indication to institutions and parties of a deep knowledge of arbitration practice and procedure.

Ciarb members are eligible for a 10% discount for bookings made and confirmed by 28 February 2023. To apply for your 10% discount, please email the Ciarb team before booking the course at

Please note that we are unable to refund the 10% discount to bookings that have already been made.