I have always interpreted this statement and idea to mean we report what we see on the boat without significant influence from a party interested in the outcome of the report. It is an idea that assists in making decisions on what and how to report findings. It is an ethical philosophy more than a legal theory. It makes sense in as much as our primary obligation is to inspect and report, most of the time.

I apply the theory when an owner asks if the insurance survey can have fewer recommendations. I remind the owner that the independence of the surveyor is the only reason there is a benefit to the survey, without independence, the report is worthless and so is the trade. I apply the theory when a buyer asks if he can have two reports, one to negotiate the deal with and one to send to the bank and insurance companies, the answer is clearly no.

I don’t necessarily agree with the theory that every request is answered with just the theory of “working for the vessel”; there are many gray areas in ethics. If I am working for a buyer, I am trying to do all I can to advise her or him of the issues that are relevant to the purchase, in this case I let the boat speak and I try to listen and translate for my client. My allegiance and my work are for the buyer.

When I am working for an insurance carrier, assisting with a claim, I am working for them and my allegiance is to them.

In neither instance is there room to insert any untruth and very little room for any “spin”. The facts are the facts and information that supports my opinion and information that is presented or found that contradicts my opinion is included in the report, so the buyer or the carrier can weigh the information. Perhaps this can be considered working for the boat…

This does differ from consultation/litigation support work. In those jobs it is not my duty to “work for the boat”, but to work for the litigant and present the facts, findings and opinions that support their case. Expert opinion reports contain very little facts that support the opposing opinion. In this type work “spin” is important and to me it is opposed to the philosophy of working for the boat.

Kells Christian
Christian & Company
Marine Surveyors Inc.