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Maritime Services

Maritime Services

Nearly 90% of global trade is carried by sea, and this truly global sector gives rise to a broad range of complex legal issues encompassing commercial, private, public, national and international law.

Operating out of both our London and Singapore offices, our maritime services team is highly experienced in both contentious and non-contentious shipping matters and our respected industry experts can help you navigate the intricate, multi-jurisdictional legal issues in this important and quickly changing market.

We have broad experience advising, negotiating and drafting standard form and bespoke contracts for the construction, conversion, chartering/employment, finance and sale and purchase of vessels and/or fleets, and all ancillary documentation. Representing a range of market participants, including financiers, superyacht owners, charterers, shipyards, governments and brokers, we provide exceptional technical advice alongside commercial and practical guidance to ensure that you achieve your desired outcome.

We work alongside our clients throughout the project to completion and beyond in resolving any disputes that may arise, tailoring our advice as appropriate, and assisting with legal issues as soon as they arise.

Our team is skilled and experienced in conducting high-value, complex, cross-border and sometimes multi-jurisdictional disputes in the sector, both through ad hoc and institutional arbitration in court proceedings and using alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediation.

We maintain a strong network of specialised lawyers in key jurisdictions around the world, allowing us to assist our clients effectively, where they have a dispute.

Key Experience

With extensive experience acting for both owners and yards, we can assist in relation to the range of issues that can arise during the construction process. We have been involved in numerous shipbuilding and ship sale and purchase disputes under the SAJ, Newbuildcon, NSF 1987, 1993 and 2012, and Singaporean Sale Form 2011, and also frequently advise on the drafting of various bespoke forms of contract.  As the author of "Refund Guarantees" (2015), the first published English law textbook on the subject, partner Mark Davis is a leading authority on the instruments integral to shipbuilding projects.

Experience:

  • Acting for a French shipowner in three LMAA arbitrations regarding the sale and purchase of three newbuilding vessels. The case involved allegations of fraud, obtaining injunctive relief to prevent payment out under the refund guarantees, and subsequent enforcement of the arbitration awards made in our client’s favour.
  • Acting for a French buyer of four bulk carriers in successfully setting aside an injunction obtained by an Indian shipyard restraining the buyer from making demands under the refund guarantees following termination.
  • Advising a Singaporean shipyard in a dispute over modifications to a vessel’s specification during construction.
  • Acting for a Norwegian shipowner in a dispute with a European shipyard arising out of an option agreement for the construction of a specialist oil product tanker.
  • Acting for a Danish paint manufacturer and a Chinese shipyard in defending claims brought in London arbitration proceedings by a Greek shipowner arising out of shipbuilding contracts for the construction of six bulk carriers.
  • Acting for a Norwegian shipowner in a dispute with a Chinese shipyard and a bank concerning the owner’s right to cancel two shipbuilding contracts and to make demands under the refund guarantees provided by the bank.

We have acted for owners and charterers in a broad range of disputes in connection with port operations and time, voyage and bareboat charters in both litigation and arbitrations conducted under the rules of the LMAA, ICC, LCIA, SIAC and ICSID.  Partner Mark Davis is the author of the first and second editions of "Bareboat Charters" (2005 and 2010), which was the first English law textbook on the subject.  Combining industry knowledge and expertise, and drawing on our strong global networks, we also assist in bringing and defending claims concerning the carriage of goods around the world.

Experience:

  • Acting for charterers in a dispute with owners relating to a dispute in relation to damage to deck cranes allegedly caused by stevedores’ negligence.
  • Advising owners in respect of a claim for underperformance of speed and consumption.
  • Advising owners in respect of a claim brought by cargo interests for alleged contamination of a cargo of methanol.
  • Acting for owners in defending a claim in respect of alleged shortage of a cargo of UREA fertiliser.
  • Advising owners in respect of the charterers’ claim for off-hire in respect of the owners alleged failure to place the vessel in a position not less favourable to the charterers than when the vessel deviated for planned drydocking.
  • Acting for owners in London arbitration proceedings against the charterers claiming compensation for damage caused to the main engine by off-spec bunkers.
  • Acting for owners or charterers in numerous disputes relating to the loss and damage to various cargos including polypropylene homopolymer, bananas, iron ore, cotton, palm oil, stainless steel, green beans, mung beans, livestock and containers.

Our specialist ship finance experts work across asset classes and jurisdictions, with experience advising on a range of traditional and alternative financing structures, and regularly act for state-owned enterprises, international financial institutions and corporations. 

We also have over 25 years' experience in advising on, restructuring, and taking enforcement action around the world in respect of non-performing shipping loans, including ship arrest and sale by judicial auction. 

Experience

  • Acting for Chinese Lessor-financiers on a $600 million lease financing transaction between four subsidiaries of a leading government-linked Chinese leasing company (as owner) and a global shipping conglomerate (as lessee) in relation to the acquisition of four 24,000 TEU containerships.
  • Acting for Chinese Lessor-financiers on a $360 million lease financing transaction between four subsidiaries of a leading government-linked Chinese leasing company (as owner) and an operational subsidiary of a leading PRC-based transportation company (as charterer), in relation to the financing of four 400,000 DWT bulk ore carriers.
  • Acting for Chinese Lessor-financiers on a EUR280 million sale and leaseback financing transaction between a leading international cruise ship operator and the subsidiary of a leading government-linked Chinese leasing and vessel construction company (as owner), in relation to the acquisition of a passenger cruise ship built in Fincantieri, Italy.
  • Acting for Chinese Lessor-financiers on a EUR500 million sale and leaseback financing transaction between various subsidiaries of a Norwegian-based passenger cruise (as charterers) and various subsidiaries of a leading government-linked Chinese leasing company (as owners), in relation to the acquisition of two passenger cruises ships built in Fincantieri, Italy.
  • Acting for Chinese Lessor-financiers on a $460 million lease financing transaction between two subsidiaries of a leading government-linked Chinese leasing company (as owners) and a Greek shipping company (as charterer), in relation to the financing of two newbuild FSRU vessels (the first to be constructed in China).
  • Acting for a leading Malaysian shipping enterprise on a bespoke non-recourse US$1 billion facility for the financing of a high specification Semi-FPS unit.
  • Acting for a leading Malaysian shipping enterprise on a series of three non-recourse facility agreements from a syndicate of banks aggregating US$450 million in loan value, in relation to a sub-fleet of three LNG carriers.
  • Acting as Borrower’s counsel on the refinancing of a $700 million conventional facility agreement into a Murabahah facility, between a syndicate of leading international banks and a Malaysia-based shipping conglomerate, in connection with the financing of a Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading unit (FPSO).
  • Acting for lenders on a US$300 million loan agreement made by a syndicate of Singapore banks to finance the conversion of a tanker into an FPSO, to be leased to a JV enterprise owned by a Vietnamese government-linked company and a leading Malaysian shipping enterprise.

Combining our maritime expertise with longstanding experience assisting clients in relation to the acquisition, ownership and employment of luxury assets, we provide comprehensive advice regarding the construction, sale and purchase, and chartering of superyachts.  We have substantial experience in (1) advising on newbuild projects, negotiating and drafting sale and purchase contracts, finance and security agreements, management and charter contracts and (2) safeguarding and protecting our client's interests in any dispute that may arise in respect of such projects.

Experience

  • Advising high-net-worth individuals in relation to newbuild projects and second-hand sale and purchase transactions.
  • Acting for owners and financiers in relation to pre-and post-delivery financing, including the taking of security.
  • Advising on the purchase, sale and registration of superyachts.
  • Advising on management agreements, refit and repair contracts, and charter contracts in relation to superyachts.
  • Acting for high-net-worth individuals in relation to disputes concerning the construction and refit of superyachts.
  • Advising in respect of ship arrest and court-ordered sales/judicial auctions.
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