Inga Frøysa Reflects Back On Her Long Legal Career at Torvald Klaveness

Nordisk has such a long-standing relationship with Klaveness that we have been unable to pinpoint exactly when the company first became a member during our 135-year history, but most likely in 1946 when Torvald Klaveness was established.  We spoke recently with Inga Frøysa, Chief Legal and Compliance Officer with Klaveness until her semi-retirement in October 2022, to reflect on her extensive career at the company, which started out in 1987.

Nordisk: How did you get into Shipping?  Was Klaveness your first job in 1987?
Inga:  I grew up on a farm, so there were no lawyers in the family or an expectation that I would pursue a legal or shipping career.  I embarked on the study of law without any idea of what I would eventually do with the degree.   At the University of Oslo, I specialised in International Law.  I liked the idea of work internationally because when I grew up, traveling abroad was beyond the reach of the ordinary Norwegian.  To have a job where one could travel was therefore attractive to me.

Fresh out of law school, I did what many young lawyers do and sought a first job within the public sector and worked three years in the legal department of the Norwegian Maritime Directorate. This made me curious about the commercial end of shipping and I took exams in Maritime and Insurance Law. I left the Maritime Directorate at the end of 1984, when I had my first child. Thereafter I worked for two years as a deputy judge. When my term as a judge ended, I started to look for a more long-term position.  Klaveness offered me a job and so I began my career there in 1987.

I remember at one of my interviews for the Klaveness position, I was asked whether I had a sense of humour.  I asked in turn whether that was a qualification for the job, and was told that yes, in many circumstances, humour may be helpful! During my career I have found this to be true, and I remember one time back in 1994 when the winter Olympics were held at Lillehammer. Klaveness then managed a fleet of vessel for a foreign owner in financial difficulties. At one stage six of these vessels were arrested at different ports around the world.  Sitting at internal meeting discussing the arrests, whilst others were watching the winter Olympics on television one of my colleagues said “look, in a few years we will all laugh about this” – and eventually we did!  When things are difficult it helps a lot to be able to have a laugh.

Nordisk:  What do you see as having been the main changes in the business side of shipping during your career?
Inga: The changes in the way we work.  You probably don’t remember any of this, but when I started out, we communicated through fixed telephones, telexes and “snail mail”.  Klaveness had one or two telex addresses at the time and the telexes would arrive on my desk in big chunks, which meant I had to read through a whole ream of paper to see whether it included anything relevant for the legal department.

At the time, most fixtures were concluded by telephone and telex, and the broker would send the recap in a telex.  Telexes were charged based on the number of letters, so the fewer the letters, the lower the cost.  The need for brevity to keep costs to a minimum drove the development of the fixture abbreviations we still use today.  Once we received the recap, we then negotiated the longer form charterparty terms and eventually, charter party originals were exchanged and signed by snail mail.  You can imagine that concluding a charter party took a long time!

The way we work today means things are much more immediate, and business is done far more quickly. But there are also more players in the market now, which I think results in fewer longer-term relationships and fewer long-term contracts. Business relationships, however, were and remain, and probably always will be, very important.

Nordisk: Do you have a standout moment from your time at Klaveness?
Inga:  As an in-house lawyer my work has been so varied that it is difficult to pinpoint one particular memory. In terms of litigation, however, I will always remember The Gregos[1] case, which I was involved in right from the beginning in 1988 when it was a live issue.  I was fortunate to follow the case from arbitration in London through to the House of Lords (1995), including a period spent at the then law firm of Sinclair Roche and Temperley in London where I worked on the litigation side.  I was quite fortunate to have the opportunity to follow an important case all the way through the English legal system.

Participating in projects is an important part of an in-house lawyer’s work. At one stage in my career, I spent a lot of time travelling to the Middle East, participating in negotiations with customers from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran where Klaveness established a transloading business.  The project meant setting up new contracts for the transhipment of iron ore cargoes with specially converted vessels.  Cargoes were initially loaded in capesize vessels and then partly lightered into smaller transhipment vessels, so that both the capesize and the transhipment vessels could meet the draft limitations to go into the Middle Eastern ports and discharge.  The transloading business was eventually sold at a good profit, so it was a success.

Nordisk:  What do you think will be the main challenge in the next decade for the shipping industry?
Inga:  I do think decarbonisation is a big challenge.  If the world continues as it does today, I think ultimately decarbonisation will happen, but we may see a divide between parts of the world that want to see change and parts of the world that do not want to or cannot afford to change.  That divide is in itself a challenge.  Shipping is global, so how will such a divide affect the way we work?  Given the need to address climate change, we can only hope that in the end all stake holders in the maritime industry will participate.  Perhaps not according to the timelines that we see today, but Klaveness thinks this needs to happen and is working towards that goal. I think most Norwegian shipping companies are.

There are also contractual difficulties with decarbonisation.  I have been involved with BIMCO’s documentary work for many years and addressing the new environmental legislation in the contractual context has been very challenging.   The way the IMO legislation on decarbonisation operates goes against the traditional thinking behind shipping contracts and presents big challenges not only on the technical side but also on the contractual side.  What BIMCO is trying to achieve, as we have seen from the CII clause[2] , is a scheme where owners and charterers are co-operating closely.  Such a co-operation between traditional counterparties with different rights and obligations is not an easy goal to reach as the dividing line between owners and charterers must be blurred to establish a joint effort to reduce carbon emissions.

Compliance is also a big challenge, not only for shipping but for all businesses.  Compliance is not just a buzzword. Klaveness has spent a lot of corporate resources on developing sanctions compliance, personal data protection, anti-corruption and other compliance policies and guidelines, and Klaveness was one of the founding members of the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN).  I personally have spent a lot of time on compliance over the last 10 years, establishing Klaveness’ compliance programme, company policies and training in key areas.

Nordisk:  What would you say to your younger self starting out in working life?
Inga:  When I reflect over my career, I would not change the main direction. As an in-house lawyer in shipping, I have travelled more than enough, but business travel is not the same as holiday travel. This is perhaps something I did not realise when I was young. The international nature and diversity of my work is, however, something that I have relished, and it has given me a lot of good memories.

When I started out there were mostly men in the industry, and as a female shipping lawyer I felt rather alone.  At Nordisk also, there was only one female lawyer for many years, Susan Clark.  But I do not think being a woman has held me back; I have always been given opportunities and treated well, including during my many business travels abroad.  I trusted that I was doing a good job and would be rewarded on that basis. So, I would still advise myself to embark on a shipping career, even though shipping was and still is a predominantly male industry.

[1] Torvald Klaveness v Arni Maritime [1992] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 40, [1993] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 335 (C.A.) and [1995] 1 Lloyd’s Rep.1 (H.L).  The Gregos remains a leading authority on the legitimacy of last voyage orders and the timing thereof.

[2] The CII Operations Clause for Time Charterparties 2022