The German WW2 mine discovered - then lost again - by the Royal Navy yesterday nine nautical miles off the Essex coast, and said to be the biggest since one washed up on the Suffolk coast all the way back in 1946, could mean having to ban all British insured shipping from entering the waters of the Essex coast including the Thames estuary says Maritime insurance expert Sir Peter Sail.
"Maritime insurance policies" he points out, "do not cover what would fall under the heading of Acts of War, and though of course Germany is no longer at war with the UK nevertheless maritime insurance policies always stipulate that any damage caused to vessels by German WW2 mines and the like when deemed for insurance purposes to be an Act of War does thereby invalidate the cover."
"Of course current regulations do still allow for a vessel to take to the waters without Act of War cover provided they have the usual insurance, though I'd strongly advise any Captain of a vessel intending to do so to firstly ensure that all passengers and crew have been made fully aware they will be travelling at own risk, and to further ensure they have obtained documentation to prove it should they later find themselves required to present such evidence to a court of law."
Ports Minister Duncan Glay attended an emergency meeting with the Prime Minister late last night to explain the legal situation to him. The main legal problem appears to be that while normal maritime policies do cover German WW2 mine damage to vessels when those mines have not specifically been deemed present, nevertheless as soon as one is known to be in the waters it then immediately cancels the 'Act of God' clause and instead makes it to fall under 'Acts of War'.
Following all night discussions with legal advisers Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to the waiting press outside number 10 at first light this morning.
"Legally we're pretty confident passengers will still be insured as long as the ships don't venture too close to the Essex coastline where this particular mine was lost," he said assuring ferry travelers intending to begin holidays over the coming weeks that current insurance policies held by the ferry companies using ports such as Dover in Kent would be sufficient to give them cover should an incident with a German mine occur to their ferry causing them loss of life or limb."
The Prime Minister went on to say how it was regrettable that the Prince had dropped the huge WW2 mine when trying to fly it away with his helicopter to a safe location where it could then have been exploded by experts, but he also said he wanted to make it absolutely clear that nobody was blaming the Prince for the blunder."