A statement of applicable law? Section 22 of the Marine Insurance Act 1906

AuthorSerhan Handani
SSLR A statement of applicable law? Vol 1(2)
A statement of applicable law?
Serhan Handani
his essay will consider s 22 of the Marine Insurance Act 1906 and,
taking into account the decision in HIH Casualty & General Insurance
v New Hampshire1 and the Law Commissions’ recent reports2, will
consider whether the section still provides a statement of applicable law. In
order to fully consider this issue, the status of the slip and how it relates to the
insurance policy as a whole will also be briefly examined.
Purpose and origins of s 22
The 1906 Act is the main UK statute regulating insurance policies. As the
name suggests it applies particularly to policies of a marine nature but is also a
key act for many other insurance policies. What makes this Act important, not
just to English contracts but around the world, stems from the wide use of
English law internationally in marine insurance matters. It is usual to see
marine insurance contracts, between two international parties, stipulate that
their agreement will use English law and arbitration. Despite this importance
in global trade the Act itself has attracted more and more criticism and is
currently under review by the Law Commissions to see how it can be improved
to match the modern world of insurance. The majority of these criticisms stem
from the age of the Act. The Act was passed into law over 100 years ago and
many sections are not applicable in modern society3. However, an extensive
discussion of all the flaws of the Act is not appropriate here and for the
purposes of this discussion we will focus on the issues arising from s 22.
Section 22 of the 1906 Act reads as follows:
Subject to the provisions of any statute, a contract of marine insurance
is inadmissible in evidence unless it is embodied in a marine policy in
accordance with this Act. The policy may be executed and issued either
at the time when the contract is concluded, or afterwards.4
2 See The Law Commission, The Requirement for a Formal Marine Policy: Should Section 22 Be
Repealed?, October 2010, Issue Paper 9
3 For an interesting look at one of the biggest contradictions in the modern law when compared with the
Act please see s 5 Marine Insurance Act, which deems gambling contracts unenforceable and compare
with the relatively new Gambling Act 2006.

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