Company Office Announcements and Updates

Michael Cooper Obituary - 25 February 2021

Michael Cooper was a member of the Company from 1983 and the following obituary appeared in the Daily Telegraph:

Michael Cooper, who has died aged 83, was a submariner and, for nearly 25 years, a partner at Ince’s, the leading maritime law firm, handing both “wet” cases, involving collision, salvage, and ship and cargo loss, and “dry” cases of disputes under shipping and marine insurance contracts.
One of his famous cases involved the Singapore-registered Neptune Sapphire, a 25,000 deadweight-ton containership built in Finland. She had set off on her maiden voyage for the Far East with a cargo of cars, containers and paper, and had rounded the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean where she entered the Agulhas Current, notorious for rogue waves which can reach a height of a 100 ft. There, in fierce weather on August 1 1973, she was struck by a monster wave about 95 nautical miles south-east of Port St Johns.
Water deluged Neptune Sapphire’s bridge, and as the surging sea drained from the windows, her master and his officers were astonished to see the bow of a ship bearing the same name passing close down their starboard side in the opposite direction. They were even more astonished to realise that it was the first 200 ft of the bow of their own ship, broken off by the wave.
Cooper led the investigation for owners and underwriters, and handled claims from the salvage tugs which had salved the ship but not the bow. The bow section sank, but the rest of the vessel was later rebuilt.
In 1976 Cooper took on the defence for the Indonesian government of claims by 32 international ship-owners whose contracts had been cancelled by the government on the grounds that they been procured by the fraud of General Ibnu Sutowo, known as the “notorious corruptor”, who was head of Pertamina, the national oil company.
The claims, totalling $11 billion in today’s money, were the largest handled by Ince in its 100-year history. It was a mammoth exercise, involving defending claims in court and arbitration in various jurisdictions over a period of five years, claims which were ultimately brought to a successful conclusion, largely due to Cooper’s astute handling.

The Neptune Sapphire, which broke up after being hit by a huge wave in the Indian Ocean CREDIT:

Michael Tyndale Cooper was born on April 30 1937, a descendant of the scholar William Tyndale, who was martyred for his 16th-century translation of the Bible into English. Born into a naval family and educated at Marlborough, at his father’s insistence young Cooper entered Britannia Royal Naval College, where like his father, he won the Queen’s Telescope.
It was in the Navy and in submarines that Cooper learnt the skills which would equip him for his later career as a maritime lawyer: navigation, dedication to the task in hand, fluency in Spanish and, not least, the ability to win the trust of his colleagues.
Cooper “upped periscope” in 1968 and joined Ince & Co, where he contributed greatly to the firm’s reputation as “a happy ship”. A popular man, he made many friends in the international maritime and legal community, becoming a partner at Ince in 1973 and managing partner in 1992. Cooper helped to modernise Ince without losing its family feel, and as he marched purposefully down the firm’s corridors he left in his wake a palpable trail of energy, passion and fun.
In his private life Cooper was a modest man who never sought recognition of his many accomplishments. His mild eccentricity hid the kindness and care that he gave to family, friends and strangers alike.
Like his ancestor, Cooper was a devoted churchman, and he was a liveryman of both the Worshipful Companies of Shipwrights and of Weavers. Into his eighties he remained active as a mentor in the Weavers’ scheme of support for underprivileged London primary schoolchildren.
In 1974 Michael Cooper married Carys Barkley, who survives him with two daughters.
Michael Cooper, born April 30 1937, died December 21 2020

The Weavers' Company Crest

Copyright © 2022 The Weavers' Company. All Rights Reserved.