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Law firm HFW is helping shipping association BIMCO draft the industry’s first standard contract for the operation of autonomous
vessels. The new standard contract will be based on the SHIPMAN 2009 agreement for use with autonomous ships and is expected
to be published in 2021. Gudmund Bernitz, partner at HFW, said: “BIMCO and the drafting committee are facing an interesting
challenge with creating this standard contract, in that there are currently no autonomous ships actually in operation. In
fact, fully autonomous shipping is likely still several years away. Many of the provisions are therefore having to be based
on assumptions and expectations. They will continue to be refined and adapted through time as automation projects start to
go live across the industry, to ensure that the standard contract continues to meet the needs of this emerging technology.”
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