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Swiss maritime expert set for Tetley lecture April 6

March 31, 2016


An international treaty updating and harmonizing rules for shipping goods around the world might make perfect sense. But the Rotterdam Rules adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 still are awaiting approval by enough countries to go into effect.

Internationally recognized attorney Alexander von Ziegler (LLM ’84) helped write the revisions as part of the Swiss delegation, and he argues that a modernized liability system covering the transport of goods door-to-door will bring clarity and predictability to the law.

He’ll share his expertise April 6 at Tulane Law School’s William Tetley Memorial Maritime Law Lecture. Von Ziegler’s presentation, “Carriage of Goods by Sea and the Underlying Sales Contract,” is set for 5:30 p.m. in the Wendell H. Gauthier Appellate Moot Court Room 110, with a reception to follow. The event is open to the public.

Von Ziegler is a professor of International Trade Law at the University of Zurich and a partner at Schellenberg Wittmer, a 140-lawyer business law firm with offices in Zurich and Geneva. He heads the firm’s trade and transport group and insurance practice group and also works in the dispute resolution group. He specialized in all aspects of trade and transportation, including maritime and aviation law. He also advises national and international insurers in high-profile insurance coverage disputes and on regulatory issues.

Von Ziegler has served as secretary general of the International Union of Marine Insurance (1992-1997) and secretary general to the Comité Maritime International (1996-2003). He has written on a variety of topics, including the Rotterdam Rules, which he argues are a better solution than regional or national regulations because maritime transport is “inherently international and global.” Three of the needed 20 nations have ratified the convention. The United States signed the document but hasn’t yet ratified it.

Since 2000, the Tulane Maritime Law Center’s annual public lecture has been named in honor of the late William Tetley, a longtime professor at Montreal’s McGill University who also taught a mini-course at Tulane in 1984-98 and remained an avid friend of the law school. In 2011, he endowed the lecture series that bears his name. 

Tetley’s career included 36 years teaching at McGill, 18 years practicing commercial and maritime law, eight years as a member of the Quebec National Assembly and six years as a cabinet minister. He was named an honorary member of the Maritime Law Association of the United States and honorary life vice president of the Comité Maritime International. He died in 2014 at age 87.


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