News 15 Jun, 2023

Office Profile Hong Kong - Waypoints Issue 04

Richard Macnamara
Richard Macnamara
CEO (Hong Kong)

West has had an office in Hong Kong for more than 40 years and was one of the first P&I clubs to establish a branch in the territory.

The history of our Hong Kong office began in 1979, when China was just beginning to re-open after a prolonged period of isolation from trade. West had a firm belief that China would re-emerge and develop into one of Asia’s largest shipping centres and to service the insurance demands from this growing market, it was decided that the Club should have a presence in Hong Kong. 

Peter Spendlove, who would go on to become the Managing Director of the Club’s management company for many years, was dispatched and West’s Hong Kong office opened on 30th March 1982, with three employees. Since then, twelve other IG Clubs have established offices in Hong Kong, but West’s remains the largest with 35 employees. At that time only one other Club had a base in Hong Kong. Only about 25 Chinese vessels traded internationally and therefore required P&I insurance but at the start none of these were entered with us so our opening book of Asian business consisted of four Vietnamese vessels which had joined on 20th February 1976 after North and South Vietnam had reunified in 1975! 

Peter’s original secondment contract contained a £150 ‘tropical clothing’ allowance to reflect the rather different working conditions in Asia.


Peter Spendlove and Ventris Lam - Year 1983

From those small roots our Hong Kong office has gone from strength to strength; our entered tonnage from Vietnam has grown from four to more than 300 vessels and our mainland China book to over 1,200 vessels, making West the largest IG Club in both countries.

In 1996, West was the first Club to commence underwriting from Hong Kong, which enabled us to greatly improve the local service delivery to Members in the region. A Loss Prevention department was added in 1998 to further improve support to our Asian Members as the shipping industry in the region continued to grow. Owned and chartered tonnage written from Hong Kong now exceeds 50m gross tonnes, which represents nearly 50% of the Club’s total entered tonnage. 

Covid related rules and measures have very much influenced our last three years here. However, restrictions have recently eased and travel has become possible again. 


Group Photo: The Hong Kong Office with friends and family - December 2022

The controlled growth both in our conventional P&I book and in the increasing range of additional product offerings is anticipated to continue and perhaps accelerate when face to face meetings resume. 

As this is the Year of the Rabbit, all of us in the HK office offer our very best wishes for health, good fortune and happiness to our many friends, Members and associates in Asia and beyond- “Gong Xi Fa Cai!”.

Waypoints Issue 04

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