Law firm, Thomas Cooper & Stibbard, hosted its fourth trade finance seminar in February at the Salters Hall in London. The theme for this year’s event was ‘UCP 600 – The Highlights”.


John Turnbull of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and co-chairman of the ICC Consulting Group for the revision of the UCP, spoke on the main changes in UCP, including the replacement of “reasonable time “with definite time limits, the introduction of the concept of “honour “and the clarification that a single notice must be given by the issuing bank when it refuses to honour or negotiate a letter of credit.


Turnbull was followed by Andrew Duncan of ED&F Man Sugar, who, in a humorous speech, highlighted the reasons why trading companies could be both cheerful and fearful about the changes introduced by UCP 600.


In the latter category, he was sceptical about the provision that the data in the documents must not be in conflict with the data in other documents presented to the bank. This, he felt, could produce a mixed bag of results, especially in relation to the analysis of product specification.


Charles Williams, a partner of Thomas Cooper & Stibbard, gave the final speech from the lawyer’s view. He praised UCP 600 for its quality of drafting and the use of plain English. He felt, however, that the omission of provisions concerning the choice of law and jurisdiction represented a missed opportunity.


The event was chaired by Grant Eldred, partner at Thomas Cooper & Stibbard, and was attended by 150 delegates, including representatives from 33 banks and a significant number of traders. The evening ended with a reception.