Geoffrey Hudson: a great mentor to professionals worldwide in the marine insurance market

Associations, Insurance and Reinsurance, Marine Insurance, Obituaries — By on May 22, 2015 at 5:25 PM
Geoffrey Hudson

Geoffrey Hudson

Geoffrey Hudson: a great mentor to professionals worldwide in the marine insurance market, and champion of the General Average system,  By James Brewer

Members of the Association of Average Adjusters have paid glowing tribute to the late N. Geoffrey Hudson, a leading authority on marine claims and outspoken defender of the established principle of the General Average approach to casualties. The popular Mr Hudson, who co-authored many classic textbooks on marine insurance, was a strong supporter of the Association, holding offices including that of chairman in 1973.

Mr Hudson died on February 28 2015, two weeks short of his 90th birthday. He was active in writing and speaking in public on marine insurance matters until very recently.

The tributes were led at the annual meeting in London of the Association by David Taylor, who has been involved with the Association for 40 years, holding the chairmanship in 2003-04, and serving as secretary for many years until May 2014.

Mr Taylor, an Honorary Fellow of the Association, recalled that it was on the proposal of Mr Hudson that he was first appointed secretary in 1974.

A doyen of the modern profession, Mr Hudson was closely involved in helping formulate, sometimes amid heated industry-wide debate, ways of adapting the York Antwerp Rules, the guiding principles of the General Average system, to the needs of the industry’s clients.

Champion of General Average principles: Geoffrey Hudson.

Champion of General Average principles: Geoffrey Hudson.

As a barrister, Mr Hudson was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple, and was for many years a senior partner of Ernest Robert Lindley & Sons, a forerunner of the major adjusting firm Richards Hogg Lindley. He was a titular member of the Comité Maritime International (CMI) which acts as custodian of the York Antwerp Rules. Mr Hudson was at various times vice-president of the British Maritime Law Association, chairman of its executive committee and convenor of its General Average committee; and president of the International Association of European Average Adjusters, now known as the Association Mondiale de Dispacheurs.

Mr Taylor in his address recalled that at one time Mr Hudson was spoken of as a potential Liberal MP.

Among his many writings, in the CMI Yearbook 2000 Mr Hudson delivered a vigorous riposte to a section of underwriters who had embarked on what he called an “unrelenting campaign” to emasculate the institution of General Average. The underwriters said that they wanted to “revert to the principle of common safety” by excluding all allowances for GA expenditure once the ship and cargo have been released from the “grip of peril.”

Mr Hudson condemned the move as “sheer sophistry. There never was a Golden Age with such an international General Average system limited to measures taken for the common safety when in ‘grip of peril.’ If the campaigners wish this now to be the criterion, say so by all means, but do not try to occupy the moral high ground by re-writing history.”

Mr Taylor said that Mr Hudson’s text books were staples of the industry, running into fourth and fifth editions. “General Average is sometimes seen as the practice of the dark arts, ” said Mr Taylor.  “Geoffrey would see it more as a Faith, and his contribution to the world of General Average makes him a Defender of the Faith. There are many attacks on the institution of General Average: all of these foundered on the rock that was Geoffrey.”

AAA May 2014 002 (2)

David Taylor

The late Lord Donaldson, a High Court judge prominent in maritime law and one of Mr Hudson’s co-authors, described him as a renowned expert in explaining to others “the mysteries of which he is master.”

To Mr Taylor in his years as secretary of the Association, “he was a mentor and friend.”

Mr Taylor told the Association’s annual meeting: “I am going to suggest there should always be an empty chair at the front of this meeting as a clear reminder of his contribution.”

Mr Hudson’s most recent volume was written in collaboration with another leading London adjuster, Tim Madge, as Marine Insurance Clauses (Maritime and Transport Law Library), published in 2012.

A little earlier he worked with another senior adjuster, Michael Harvey, to produce The York-Antwerp Rules: the Principles and Practice of General Average Adjustment for Lloyd’s Shipping Law Library. The book is described as “an essential read for practitioners in maritime law and marine insurance.” It covered the establishment of General Average starting with Roman Law, and examined revisions of the York rules from 1864 to the failed attempts to gain universal acceptance for 2004 changes, ahead of current discussions that are expected to result in a more sustainable version in 2016.

Other books included Marine Claims Handbook, with DG Milburn; The Institute Clauses with JC Allen; Marine Insurance Clauses(Maritime and Transport Law Library) with Mr Madge; and The York-Antwerp Rules: Being an Examination of the York-Antwerp Rules, 1974 as Amended in 1990 with Lord Donaldson.

Close as he was to his natural family, friends said that Mr Hudson “loved the average adjusting profession as a second family.” His reputation was high in, among other important bodies, the Association of Average Adjusters of the United States and Canada, where the sentiment was that “our industry has lost a shining figure.”

During World War II, Mr Hudson saw service as a gunner in an anti-tank regiment and served principally in India. At the age of 19, he was one of the youngest captains to be commissioned in the conflict.

Mr Hudson leaves a widow, Anne , sons Tim and Matthew,   daughter Jennifer, and three grandsons Henry, Marcus and Rafe.


Leave a Reply

IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

What is 12 + 4 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:


Leave a Trackback