Maritime Services

Maritime Services

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

Our maritime services team is highly experienced in both contentious and non-contentious shipping matters and can help you navigate the intricate, multi-jurisdictional legal issues in this important and quickly changing sector.

We have broad experience of advising, negotiating and drafting contracts for the construction, conversion, chartering/employment, finance and sale and purchase of vessels and/or fleets, and all ancillary documentation.

We work alongside our clients throughout the project to completion and beyond in resolving any disputes that may arise.

We also have broad experience of advising and representing clients on the application of European Maritime Competition Laws to joint ventures, pooling agreements, liner and other scheduled services, ports and ancillary services.

Our team is skilled and experienced in conducting high-value, complex and sometimes multi-jurisdictional disputes in the sector, both through arbitration and court proceedings.

We maintain a strong network of specialised lawyers in a number of key jurisdictions, which allows us effectively to assist our clients in any cross-border elements to their dispute.


We have been involved in numerous ship building and ship sale and purchase disputes under the SAJ, Newbuildcon, NSF 1987, 1993 and 2012, and Singaporean Sale Form 2011, as well as drafting various bespoke forms of contract.


  • 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 arbitrations conducted under the rules of the LMAA, ICC, LCIA, SIAC and ICSID.


  • 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.
  • Advising the Government of Belgium in an investor-state arbitration (ICSID) against DP World, one of the world’s biggest port operators, in a dispute over the expropriation of a concession to operate port terminals in the Port of Antwerp. The arbitration is brought under the Bilateral Investment Treaty between Belgium and the United Arab Emirates and is seated in London.

The firm has over 25 years' experience in advising on, restructuring, and taking enforcement action in respect of non-performing shipping loans, including ship arrest and sale by judicial auction.

  • Advising liner operations on the application of the Consortia Block Exemption.
  • Advising a national shipowners' association on the application of EU maritime law generally and in relation to ports in particular.
  • Advising a variety of specialised providers of scheduled non-liner services.
  • Representing a major classification society in relation to a European Commission investigation.
  • Advising a major ports group and port users on a wide variety of issues.
  • Acting for a start-up ferry operator seeking interim measures from the European Commission.

Rob Murray is Treasurer–elect of the European Maritime Law Organisation. Whilst a Reporting Panel Member of the UK Competition Commission, Rob was a member of the Panel which dealt with the Svitzer/Adsteam tug services merger.


Mark Davis is the author of the first and second editions of Bareboat Charters (2005 and 2010) and Refund Guarantees (2015), published as part of the Lloyd's Shipping Law Library.

These publications were the first English law textbooks dedicated to these subjects.

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