The mariners role in collecting evidence

The mariners role in collecting evidence
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In this insightful discussion, Stuart Edmonston, Loss Prevention Director at UK P&I Club, engages with Toby Stephens, a member of HFW's Global Crisis Management team specialising in risk and crisis management/emergency response in the marine and energy sectors, on a crucial topic: the significance of mariners in collecting evidence. Understanding the pivotal role played by mariners in recording accurate and comprehensive information is essential for maritime safety and the success of any potential claims.

Importance of Evidence Collection

Collecting accurate evidence is paramount for mariners for several compelling reasons:

  1. Aiding Memory Recall: Accurate information gathered in real-time can be invaluable in jogging the memory later on.
  2. Reducing the Need for Witness Testimonies: Thoroughly recorded information lessens the likelihood of mariners being called as witnesses, as the evidence stands on its own.
  3. Crucial for Claim Success: The quality and contemporaneousness of witness statements play a pivotal role in the success of any claim.

Effectual Methods for Mariners

The most effective methods for mariners to collect evidence include:

  1. Simple Note-Taking: A foundational yet potent method, ensuring immediate details are captured accurately.
  2. Accurate Record-Keeping: This includes logbook entries and timely notes, forming a solid foundation for subsequent investigations.
  3. Photography: Visual evidence supplements written records, providing a clearer picture of events.
  4. Statements in Due Course: Timely, structured statements further bolster the evidence base.

What to Avoid when Keeping Records

Mariners should refrain from revisiting or altering any evidence they've recorded. Alterations can potentially taint otherwise strong evidence, leading to its discredit during legal proceedings.

Key Logging Practices for Mariners

After ensuring crew safety, mariners should:

  • Thoroughly Fill in Log Books: Completeness and accuracy are paramount.
  • Make Detailed Contemporaneous Notes: Recording events promptly with as much detail as possible.
  • Take Immediate Photographs: Visual documentation immediately after an incident is invaluable.
  • Incorporate Timings and Involved Crew Members: Detailed accounts including timings and personnel involved are crucial.
  • Record Actions Taken: Especially pertinent during critical situations like firefighting or salvage operations.

Involving All Crew Members

Every crew member, regardless of rank, should be encouraged to make accurate notes from their perspective. Their observations, immediate post-incident experiences, and details are invaluable for a comprehensive record.

The Human Element: Empathy in Evidence Collection

When gathering evidence, especially following a traumatic event, empathy and understanding are vital. Investigators, particularly those with a maritime background, play a critical role in this process.

The role of mariners in collecting evidence is a topic that deserves attention, though incidents at sea thankfully remain infrequent. Understanding the immediate steps to take after an incident can significantly impact maritime safety and subsequent claims.

Additionally, in foreign ports, discerning the identity and affiliation of surveyors or lawyers seeking evidence is crucial for ensuring accuracy and relevance in the evidence provided. By recognizing the human element in evidence collection and appreciating the significance of meticulous record-keeping, mariners contribute immensely to maritime safety and claims success.

Staff Author

Thomas Miller Group