The Shipping Law Review – Tenth Edition
Now in its tenth edition, the Shipping Law Review, published by Law Business Research Limited, is a cross-jurisdictional guide to shipping law in 32 key jurisdictions. HFW edits the Shipping Law Review, and this year has written the chapters on Australia, China, England & Wales, France, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, the UAE and the US. The firm has also co-written the chapter on the shipping law of Greece. The Brazil chapter has been provided by our colleagues at CAR.
HFW lawyers have also contributed their expertise in eleven chapters on developments affecting the global shipping industry, specifically environmental regulation, sanctions, competition and regulatory law, offshore, logistics, ports and terminals, shipbuilding, marine insurance, piracy and complex environments, decommissioning, and ship finance.
Please download HFW's chapters of the Shipping Law Review below for free. To download the entire 10th edition of The Shipping Law Review, please click here.
- Competition and Regulatory Law
- Decommissioning in the United Kingdom
- International Trade Sanctions
- Marine Insurance
- Ocean Logistics
- Piracy and Complex Environments
- Ports and Terminals
- Shipping and the Environment
- Ship Finance
Gavin Vallely, Simon Shaddick, Tom Morrison and Carlita Bloecker
The shipping industry is vital to Australia’s economy, with approximately 80 per cent of Australia’s imports and exports being carried by sea. In terms of its ocean freight requirements, Australia has the ‘fifth-largest shipping task in the world – a task that is forecast to double over the next 15 years’. Notwithstanding the global economic downturn as a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic, some areas of the mining resources sector have maintained strong export levels, and China reopening to trade will inject confidence into the mining and agricultural export sectors. In recent years, Australia has had ‘the world’s fastest-growing cruise industry’, with passenger numbers increasing by an average of almost 20 per cent per year since 2008.
Brazil is the largest country in Latin America. It has a population of approximately 211 million people and a total land mass larger than America, excluding Alaska. It has in excess of 8000km of coastline and 20,000km of navigable river. Brazil has the 12th largest GDP in the world. In 2022, Brazil had 0.663 per cent of the world’s merchant fleet value, by flag of registration, with a total fleet of approximately 5.5 million deadweight tonnage (DWT) and 0.655 per cent DWT under Brazilian ownership. Approximately 50 per cent of this tonnage is oil tankers, 12 per cent bulk carriers, 2 per cent general cargo vessels, 14 per cent container ships and 22 per cent are ‘other types’.
Nick Poynder and Jean Cao
China plays an increasingly pivotal role in the global shipping industry. It is home to seven of the world’s 10 busiest ports by cargo tonnage, with Shanghai consistently topping the list. In 2020, China was the third-largest shipowner in terms of cargo-carrying capacity (228 million dead-weight tonnage (DWT)). In 2019, China had the largest share of global shipbuilding gross tonnage (GT) (23.074 million gross tons) and of the construction of dry bulk carriers, general cargo ships, container ships and offshore vessels. China’s expertise in this sector continues to develop.
Andrew Chamberlain and Holly Colaço
The shipping industry has been an important contributor to the United Kingdom’s island-nation economy for centuries. In 2022, the United Kingdom was ranked 10th in ownership of world fleet. In economic terms, shipping accounts for 95 per cent of UK exports and imports. The wider maritime sector contributes approximately £10 billion and 240,000 jobs to the UK economy every year. According to the most recent statistics available, total port freight traffic through the United Kingdom’s major ports in 2022 was 448.6 million tonnes, which represents an increase of 3 per cent compared with the previous year. In 2022, the UK Ship Register was ranked within the top 20 flag states in the Paris MOU’s White List league table.
The French flag was designated by the International Chamber of Shipping as one of the best flags in 2021 in terms of the quality of its fleet and of its environmental, security and social regulations. In July 2021, the merchant fleet under the French flag comprised 424 vessels of more than 100 gross tonnage (GT), of which 191 vessels were dedicated to transport and 233 were service vessels. This is the 27th largest world fleet by flag. The average age of the French transport fleet was 8.3 years as at 1 July 2021 (the global average is 15.5 years).
Paris Karamitsios, Dimitri Vassos and Steffi Gougoulaki
For at least the past four decades, Greece has been at the top of the global list of shipowning countries. Greek interests control approximately 21 per cent of the world’s total merchant fleet. Greece (by way of Greek controlled tonnage and units) reportedly owns 31.78 per cent of oil tankers, 25.01 per cent of bulk carriers, 22.35 per cent of liquefied natural gas carriers, 13.85 per cent of liquefied petroleum gas carriers, 15.60 per cent of chemical and product tankers and 9.33 per cent of the world fleet of container ships. At the beginning of 2023, Greek shipowners controlled 21 per cent of global deadweight tonnage (DWT), as the Greek-owned merchant fleet measured a total deadweight tonnage of more than 349 million and a gross tonnage (GT) of more than 204 million, representing 59.08per cent of the EU-controlled fleet One-third of the Greek-owned fleet, or more than 1,300 vessels, fly an EU Member State flag. New building orders by Greek interests in 2023 reportedly amount to 173 ships (from 104 ships the previous year). The average age of the Greek-owned fleet is reportedly 9.99 years, being lower than the world fleet average age, which is reportedly 10.28 years.
Nicola Hui and Derek Tam
Hong Kong is currently the ninth-busiest container port in the world, handling over 16.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers in 2022. As at January 2023, there were more than 2,300 vessels on the Hong Kong Shipping Register, with a gross tonnage of over 126 million, making Hong Kong the fourth-largest register after Panama, Liberia and the Marshall Islands. In addition, Hong Kong remains a major centre for ship management, finance, insurance, logistics, terminal operations, maritime arbitration and legal services.
Toby Stephens and Christopher Ong
With more than 130,000 vessels calling at the port of Singapore annually, Singapore is an extremely important global business centre, acting as a maritime gateway to Asia. According to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), it is ‘one of the largest and most important bunkering ports in the world’. As well as the business that Singapore receives from the traffic passing through its ports, it is also home to more than 140 of the world’s top international shipping groups and has more than 4,400 vessels registered with the Singapore Registry of Ships. The most recent figures for Singapore’s seaborne cargo put the volume at 577.732 million tonnes for 2022, with container throughput at a notable 37.289.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units.
Switzerland does not immediately come to mind when considering shipping law. Nonetheless, it has been in contact with the shipping industry for many years. Swiss companies and individuals financed many voyages to the New World and a Swiss insurance company was one of the co-insurers of the Titanic. Nowadays, there is a Swiss ship registry based in Basle and there are about 50 ships on the oceans under the Swiss flag. The registry came into being when the Swiss government acquired vessels during World War II to secure the supply of essential resources. In the aftermath of the war, the Swiss government wanted to ensure that a Swiss-flagged fleet would be available for that purpose in the event of emergencies and took measures to encourage the existence of a private merchant fleet.
Yaman Al Hawamdeh and Tariq Idais
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a vibrant region that continues to thrive, despite the global downturn and covid-19 pandemic. The UAE holds approximately 6 per cent of the world’s proven oil reserves, of which roughly 98 per cent are located in Abu Dhabi. In addition, the UAE ranks as the seventh-largest holder of natural gas reserves in the world. Moreover, ‘the UAE seeks to develop unconventional oil and gas production. In 2020, the UAE announced the discovery of over 80 trillion cubic feet of gas resources at Jebel Ali. The country is seeking to become self-sufficient in gas supply by 2030, but currently imports natural gas from Qatar through the Dolphin pipeline. In 2021, Mubadala Investment Company, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), and ADQ announced the Hydrogen Alliance to pursue producing blue and green hydrogen for export’.
Thomas Nork, James Brown, Chris Hart and Alex Mendez
The United States has a diverse maritime landscape comprising the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans; the Gulf of Mexico; the Great Lakes; and thousands of canals, rivers and bays that make up its inland waterways. These extensive bodies of water have made the US water transportation industry a major player in international commerce.
Anthony Woolich and Daniel Martin
Parties’ freedom to contract may be restricted by a number of factors, the most significant of which for the maritime sector are likely to be regulatory controls relating to competition law, anti-bribery legislation and international trade sanctions. The first two categories of restrictions are considered below and the third is considered in the ‘International Trade Sanctions’ chapter.
Tom Walters and Johanna Ohlman
The UK oil and gas industry continues to make a substantial contribution to the country’s energy security and economy. However, the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) is a mature oil-producing basin and has been heavily affected by the sustained period of low oil and gas prices since 2014. Following the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, Brent crude oil prices dropped in April 2020 to their lowest level since 2002 (US crude oil prices went negative for the first time since records began in 1983). As a result, decommissioning of UKCS infrastructure has been put firmly on the agenda for many operators seeking to reduce their balance sheet liabilities.
At the turn of the century, the area of international trade sanctions was niche and of limited interest to the great majority of commercial organisations. Fast-forward to today and they have become a board-level issue for almost every company engaged in international commerce because of the number of countries targeted by sanctions, the breadth of the restrictions and the consequences if they are breached. In particular, the importance of international trade sanctions as an area of law has greatly increased following the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. There have been a number of high-profile enforcement actions in the recent past, with fines running into millions and billions of US dollars.
Jonathan Bruce, Alex Kemp and Jenny Salmon
Marine insurance was one of the first insurances contemplated by merchants when international trade began. As a hub for international trade across the globe since the 1600s, England has a long and distinguished history as a centre for insurance excellence. During that time, various new classes of insurance have arisen, but marine insurance, from an English law perspective, still maintains its pre-eminence and historical importance in giving us many of the principles that guide insurance law today.
At its simplest, logistics is about getting the right goods to the right place at the right time and managing the information and documentation flow to facilitate this task. Whether a company is a supermarket moving goods in containers, a contractor building a new facility and moving materials and equipment to the project site, an energy company moving oil in bulk, or a trading house moving coal, some logistics will be involved in one form or another. In this chapter we focus on the carriage of goods by sea, but other modes of transportation (inland waterways, air, road, rail), multimodal transport, warehousing and storage, and value-added services (such as consolidation, co-packing and supply-chain management) that are ancillary to these activities are all encompassed by the term ‘logistics’.
Paul Dean, Allie Loweth and Nicholas Kazaz
The development of the offshore oil industry in the 20th century gave rise to the need for specialised contracts for the hire of vessels in this technical (often highly technical) sector of shipping. Beginning with SUPPLYTIME in the mid 1970s, there are now numerous very specific charter parties for use within the industry. These include HEAVYCON 2007, a voyage charter party for the heavy-lift trade that contains a ‘knock-for-knock’ regime for semi-submersible vessels carrying cargo, such as jack-up rigs on deck, WINDTIME, a time charter party for high-speed personnel craft used in the offshore wind sector, and BARGEHIRE, a time charter party for the hire of non-self-propelled barges. BIMCO continues to update and introduce new forms for use by the offshore industry, including revisions in 2021 of TOWCON, TOWHIRE and BARGEHIRE, and the introduction of ASVTIME, a time charter party for accommodation support vessels.
Michael Ritter, William MacLachlan and Richard Neylon
Piracy is defined in Article 101 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS) as ‘any illegal act of violence or detention . . . committed for private ends by the crew . . . of a private ship . . . directed . . . against another ship . . . or against persons or property on board such ship’ on the high seas or in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state. This leaves open the issue as to whether incidents such as the hijack of the Fairchem Bogey from off the Salalah breakwater or of tankers from West African anchorages are piracy incidents under the UNCLOS. As a matter of English law, according to The ‘Andreas Lemos’, there is ‘no reason to limit piracy to acts outside territorial waters’. It therefore appears apt that ‘piracy’ is used as an overarching label covering Somali or Gulf of Aden attacks and West African and South East Asian incidents, albeit that they are different in nature and that the legal definition of piracy may depend on the insurance policy or contract in question.
The United Kingdom was once a manufacturing powerhouse, exporting goods across the globe. The advent of containerisation in the middle of the past century led to a significant change in the UK economy, and the United Kingdom has become a net importer of manufactured products, bringing in US$773.6 billion of physical goods annually. Being an island nation, terminals are a vital cog in the United Kingdom’s economy – 95 per cent of UK imports and exports arrive and depart by sea. In 2020, UK ports handled 438.9 million tonnes of cargo, of which approximately 63 per cent was inbound traffic, a significant proportion of which would have been manufactured goods destined for the shelves of UK retail outlets.
Vanessa Tattersall and Simon Blows
Shipbuilding is a cyclical business. Its patterns of boom and bust have been illustrated vividly in the past 15 years. In the heady days before the 2008 financial crash, the upward march of newbuild prices looked unstoppable as shipyards struggled to meet the seemingly insatiable appetite of shipowners for new tonnage, fuelled by the boom in world trade and soaring commodity prices. Many new shipyards sprang up too, particularly in China. The crash of 2008 and its aftermath produced a sobering market adjustment as the freight market collapsed, leading to high-profile insolvencies, and inevitably reduced demand for new tonnage. Since then, the market has remained a period of shipyard overcapacity characterised by defaults, deferrals and renegotiations. Shipyard consolidation became a major issue, especially in Korea, even among the big yards.
Thomas Dickson and Johanna Ohlman
The environmental impact of modern shipping has long been acknowledged to be a negative externality of the industry. However, it is only in relatively recent times that efforts – both state-driven and voluntary – have been focused on actively mitigating or reducing these negative effects. Regulations, primarily emanating from the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO), have been introduced to address aspects such as oil pollution risk, waste disposal and emissions. The rise of environmental regulation has highlighted the need for operators to maximise efficiency to maintain competitiveness. Although compliance is an administrative and financial burden, it is clear that regulations are a necessary step towards the long-term sustainability of the industry and for the wellbeing of the planet.
The financing of ships is as ancient as international trade itself, but the way that financing is carried out has continuously evolved over history and continues to change today – maybe at a faster pace than ever. The types of financing products available have become increasingly diverse and the financiers offering them include banks, leasing houses and private equity funds, as well as bond and equity markets. However, when providing financing against the security of a ship, it remains as important as ever to understand the nature of the secured asset and the legal landscape in which she operates.