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Marine Insurance


With one of the longest established and largest marine practices in the world, our team has a specialist understanding of the legal principles relating to marine insurance and a sound commercial understanding of the marketplace.

Our specialists are able to advise on all aspects of marine insurance. Where necessary we are able to mobilise an extensive network of legal contacts and experts and, as required, to manage them as ‘global counsel’ for a comprehensive service.

We have been at the forefront of many market leading, reported cases of recent years:

  • Versloot Dredging BV and another (Appellants) v HDI Gerling Industrie Versicherung AG and others (Respondents) [2016] UKSC 45 (the “DC MERWESTONE”) when we redefined the scope of the fraudulent device doctrine.
  • Kairos Shipping Ltd v Enka & Co LLC and Ors [2014]EWCA Civ 217 (the “ATLANTIK CONFIDENCE”) when we broke tonnage limitation for the first time ever in a common law jurisdiction and successfully proved that the vessel was scuttled.
  • Venetico Marine SA vs International General Insurance Company Limited and Nineteen Others [2013] EWHC 3644 (Comm) (the IRENE EM”) when we updated the law on CTL/ATL and how a CTL is calculated.
  • Shipowners' Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association (Luxembourg) v Containerships Denizcilik Nakliyat VE Ticaret A.S. [2015] EWHC 258 (Comm) on when an insurer can obtain an anti-suit injunction preventing an assured pursuing a claim in another jurisdiction.
  • Cosco Bulk Carrier Co Ltd v Tianjin General Nice Coke and Chemicals Co Ltd (The “Jia Li Hai”) EWHC 2509 when we successfully claimed contribution from cargo interests against an unseaworthiness defence.
  • The Owners of the Vessel Sakizaya Kalon and Another v The Owners of The Vessel Panamax Alexander and Another [2020] EWHC 2604 (Admlty) involving a complex multiship collision in the Suez Canal and ancillary issues regarding the issuance of collision security.
  • Hongfa Shipping Co Ltd v MS Amlin Marine NV [2021] EWHC 999 (Comm) on the construction of a charterer's liability policy and when a particular exclusion was engaged.
  • Aegean Baltic Bank SA v Renzlor Shipping Ltd [2020] EWHC 2736 (Comm) acting for H&M underwriters in a dispute between the assured, mortgagee bank and MII insurers following a CTL of the Vessel.
  • Herculito Maritime Ltd vs Gunvor International BD (the "POLAR") [2021] EWCA Civ 1828, where we successfully established when an Owner could not make a recovery in general average due provisions in the charterparty.

What our clients say about us

‘HFW has a tremendous team supporting (re)insurance, with a strong base in London and offices in other important jurisdictions (including UAE and Brazil). They have the most well regarded solicitors in the London market and are extremely knowledgeable. I love working with them.’
Legal 500, London: Insurance and Reinsurance Litigation, 2022

“They pulled out all the stops for us and provided excellent quality legal and commercial advice throughout”
Chambers, Insurance: Contentious Claims & Reinsurance, UK Guide 2022

“extremely knowledgeable, responsive and commercial. Our claims are very complex and they have the ability to grasp those complex issues and get to the heart of the matter.”
Chambers, Insurance: Contentious Litigation, Global Guide 2022

“The service we get from HFW is always very prompt and on-point. Their advice is clear and understandable. They also give a balanced view on the merits of the case.”
Chambers, Insurance: Contentious Litigation, Global Guide 2022

To gauge a deeper understanding of our approach as a legal services provider to the marine insurance industry, please see below which further detail our marine insurance team’s broad industry and technical experience.

Hull & Machinery

HFW is universally regarded as the world’s leading maritime law firm. We have a pre-eminent reputation in the field. We deal with the full range of legal issues that arise from marine and offshore emergencies such as collisions, groundings, pollution, fire and explosion, salvage, wreck removal and towage as well as maritime security and piracy. The team is available 24/7 to attend casualty incidents worldwide and our global network can be on location within 24 hours practically anywhere in the world.

In addition to our large team of dedicated maritime lawyers, the firm has a large number of master mariners spread across our network of offices with many years of relevant experience in the commercial sector. Many of our master mariners are legally qualified and include several ex-military and ex-yachting personnel. Our lawyers and master mariners are constantly available to attend casualties and manage a crisis - assisting the crew, investigating the incident and helping to protect those involved from the very beginning.

At all times our aim is to protect our clients’ interests by reacting quickly to incidents, assembling the appropriate people or teams to deal with the multitude of issues which can arise, thoroughly investigate the facts and control media interest.

As a result, HFW have been involved in all of the most recent H&M loses of the past years including the “SANCHI”, “MAERSK HONAM”, “KEA TRADER”, “NEW MYKONOS”, “CCNI ARAUCO”, “MAERSK SEOUL”, “BREMEN EXPRESS”, “HANJIN GREEN EARTH”, “MAERSK LONDRINA”, “HOEGH OSAKA”, “SAN FELIPE”, “HANJIN ATHENS”, “COSCO NAGOYA”, “MOL COMFORT”, and “AMSTERDAM BRIDGE”

What our clients say about us:

“HFW is still the go to firm for major casualties given the experience of the partners and mariners, as well as the size of the team globally. They always work hard and provide timely responses, as well as working in a collaborative way, which I like”
Legal 500, London: Shipping 2022

“They are obviously an excellent firm.”
Chambers, Shipping, Global Guide 2022

"HFW are my go to law firm regardless of the dispute/advice required. They have the capability to deal with any kind of claim and always provide pragmatic solutions”
Legal 500, London: Shipping 2022

Download our Hull & Machinery flyer


We have a market leading yacht practice with a dedicated team of yacht lawyers expert in the entire life cycle of yacht law. From new builds to financing to sales, right through to casualty response and insurance coverage. Our microsite shows our dedication to this market and our expertise.

Recent work

We advise on all insurance issues relating to yachts including:

  • Acting for a yacht yard and their liability insurers for a claim under a construction warranty.
  • Acting for subrogated property insurers following the collapse of a yacht on the blocks at a repair yard.
  • Acting for subrogated property insurers following the insolvency of repair yard.
  • Acting in relation to the crash of a helicopter whilst landing on a yacht.
  • Acting for Owners and underwriters following a fire whilst at sea in the Mediterranean.
  • Acting for Owners and underwriters following a series of Caribbean total losses as a result of recent extreme weather.
  • Acting for the Owners and underwriters of a racing yacht following an LOF and successfully negotiating a prompt settlement of the Article 13 liability.
  • Acting for Owners and underwriters in the recovery against a third party following extensive damage to gel coatings during transport.

What our clients say about us

HFW are an excellent yacht and maritime law firm.
Chambers, Yachts & Superyachts – Global-Wide, HNW Guide 2022

they have a very deep bench and an extremely well-qualified yacht law team.”
Chambers, Yachts & Superyachts – Global-Wide, HNW Guide 2022

HFW are well positioned in the super yacht industry to have in-depth market and commercial knowledge
Chambers, Yachts & Superyachts – Global-Wide, HNW Guide 2022

Download our Yachts flyer


HFW indisputably has the leading global logistics offering, with real and dedicated specialists in the majority of our offices. Insurers of logistics companies use HFW because we understand their assureds, the contracts they use and the insurance they need.

Our deep expertise in logistics contracting and disputes means that we are constantly at the forefront of new developments and crises in the industry. We were instructed in relationto the procurement and delivery of Covid-19 vaccines by NGOs and leading logistics companies, we supported buyers and providers of container freight services in chartering projects during the post Covid-19 capacity problems, and we are advising clients ondispute arising out of Covid-19 contracts. We regularly advise on commercial contracts and risk, and insurance, logistics insurance policy wordings and coverage disputes

Recent work

  • Assisting a warehousing company and its insurers on a circa £3 million claim for incorrect customs declarations, advising on liability and limitation.
  • Working with a large EPC in its tender process for the transportation of time sensitive train rolling stock and associated infrastructure.
  • Representing a leading provider of retail logistics services in relation to a series of claims for delivery of goods without production of original bills of lading.
  • Defending claims for wilful misconduct arising from the theft of very high-value consumer electronic goods.
  • Advising a logistics company on how to deal with a customer entering into administration owing over £600,000 in relation to freight and ancillary services.
  • Advising a leading UK retailer on how to dovetail procurement of goods with supply chain contracts.
  • Drafting a suite of carriage documents for an international logistics company; standard terms and conditions, bills of lading terms; FCR terms, Air Waybills terms.

What our clients say about us

They are responsive, experienced, positive and solution-driven specialists in the logistics industry, with a commercial mindset and a breadth of client base.
Chambers, Transport: Logistics, UK-Wide, 2022

The team are excellent - very timely and very practical
Chambers, Transport: Logistics, UK-Wide, 2018

HFW is one of the leading experts in logistics matters. They have various branch offices globally, so any questions that I may have regarding any country I can expect expert advice
Chambers, Shipping: Litigation – Asia-Pacific Region, Asia-Pacific Guide 2018

Download our Logistics flyer

Ports & Terminals

HFW has in-depth knowledge of ports and terminals. We have written or advised on the most commonly used property, liability and package policies. We have also written a number of the commonly used contracts which interact with those insurance policies.

Our global reach, experience and unique insight into the industry means that we are appointed by insurers as co-ordinating counsel in difficult jurisdictions and in complex claims.

Recent work

  • Advising a terminal operator and its liability insurer as to the effect of cargo insurance offered by container line customers in the context of third party claims.
  • Advising brokers on the scope of business interruption cover provided by a policy, and how this compared with cover provided by other market wordings.
  • Acting as co-ordinating counsel in relation to claims on a London market insurer’s book of business in East Europe.
  • Working with a leading broker to produce innovative new ports and terminals package wording.
  • Advising on law, jurisdiction and provision of security following property damage caused by a visiting vessel.
  • Advising a terminal on its liability for an alleged breach of a safe berth.

What our clients say about us

"They know our industry, and that makes working together seamless."
Chambers, Shipping, UK Guide 2022

In my opinion, HFW has one of the – if not the – best set of shipping lawyers for the whole gamut of shipping disputes that arise."
Legal 500, London: Shipping 2022

The firm has a liveliness and responsiveness which is often missing in the larger firms. Their efficiency and capability is backed up by the quality of their work
Legal 500, London: Shipping 2022

Download our Ports & Terminals flyer


Our experience in cargo is rooted in our client base. HFW acts for some of the world’s largest cargo owners, commodity traders, manufacturers and retailers. We advise them on the insurance issues arising from the transportation, distribution and associated logistics of moving goods around the globe.

Our team advises cargo insurers on wordings and products, coverage, regulatory matters, and subrogated claims.

Recent work

  • For a new entrant into the European cargo insurance market, drafting a cargo policy wording and complete suite of supporting documents; advising on FCA compliance, passporting of services, and claims protocols.
  • Advising London Market insurers on a CTL claim in the context of “ransomed” cargo and recovery under the policy.
  • Representing European insurers on multi-jurisdictional fear of loss claims made by assured.
  • Working with London Market insurers to investigate and then advise on high value suspected fraudulent claims.
  • Kairos Shipping Ltd v Enka & Co LLC and Ors [2014] EWCA Civ 217 (the “ATLANTIK CONFIDENCE”) when we broke tonnage limitation for the first time ever in a common law jurisdiction and successfully proved that the vessel was scuttled. 

What our clients say about us

HFW have strong market knowledge and sector-specific experience, which makes them easy to deal with and in a position to provide prompt, practical, commercially focused advice."
Chambers, Commodities – UK-Wide, 2022

They have very strong knowledge of their clients’ businesses and the sectors their clients operate in. They often go above and beyond their duties."
Chambers, Commodities – UK-Wide, 2022

There is a huge range of expertise within the firm to call upon
Chambers, Commodities – UK-Wide, 2022

"One of the best-known law firms in the commodities business.
Chambers, Shipping – UAE Guide 2022

"a long tradition of first-class service in this sector with enormous experience and knowledge
Legal 500, London: Commodities Disputes

Download our Cargo flyer

Complex Environments

We are widely regarded as the leading law firm globally that responds to incidents in complex environments on behalf of special risks, K&R, property, war and liability insurers and their assureds. We have acted for ship‑owners, hull and machinery, kidnap and ransom and war insurers in helping to resolve over 120 Somali and West African hijacking and kidnapping cases in the past few years. This accounts for around 75% of all major commercial vessel hijackings by Somali pirates.

Recent work

Acting to release property, vessels, cargo, personnel and crew seized/detained by hostile and/or politically motivated authorities, including allegations of smuggling, improper licence, customs violations, interference with sovereign rights and resources, weapons and drug offences.

  • Acting and advising in relation to land based kidnappings/extortions in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Nigeria, North Africa, the Philippines, Somalia, South America and elsewhere.
  • Working to recover detained persons, vessels, cash, artworks, antiquities, treasure and other property.
  • Advising in relation to rebel and hostile forces taking action against property, vessels, ports and terminals.
  • Policy coverage advice including “weapons of war”, political motivation, exercise of oppressive and excessive power, and other policy issues.
  • Addressing various governments, law enforcement agencies, and governmental and non-governmental organisations on the industry’s response to incidents in complex environments, including the United Nations, World Bank, IMO and UK PM David Cameron’s “Piracy Task Force”.
  • Advising on vessel “deemed” constructive total loss claims after prolonged detentions and the defences of “ordinary judicial process”, failure to pay fines/penalties and infringement of regulations.

What others say about us

“In another highlight illustrating the breadth of its maritime expertise, the piracy team secured the release of 26 hostages held in Somalia in 2016.”
Legal 500, London: Transport, Shipping, 2018

HFW’s work was expressly commended by the United Nations in securing the release of the 26 hostages from the vessel “NAHAM 3” as part of the Hostage Support Partnership.
United Nations Security Council Resolution [2383 (2017)

Download our Complex Environments flyer

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