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About Michael

Mike is a Partner within the HFW Shipping Team and Complex Environment Group. He handles both marine casualties and contractual disputes, acting predominantly for Owners and their H&M / P&I insurers, and also salvors. The skills developed in the field marine casualty response have proved readily transferable to broader complex environment issues both on and offshore. He is also able to appreciate the client’s perspective and commercial concerns having spent time on secondment at a major European shipowner.

In the context of marine casualty response, he has developed a specialism advising on jurisdiction, limitation and wreck removal. He has also advised on liability and causation, both in tort and under the underlying contracts of carriage. Notable casualties in which Mike has been heavily involved include, “SANCHI” c/w “CF CRYSTAL” “SMART”, “GOLDEN RAY” and a recent pollution incident in South America. On the contractual side he has advised on the NYPE, SHELLTIME, ASBATANKVOY and SUPPLYTIME forms, negotiated transhipment agreements, and successfully obtained both antisuit injunctions and mandatory injunctions to enforce obligations under an LOI.

In relation to his complex environment work, Mike has advised clients in respect of (a) kidnap cases in mainland Africa and the Middle East (b) a suspected terrorist kidnap in the Philippines (c) demands made by the Taliban and (d) the status of maritime boundaries. He was involved in a number of Somali and Gulf of Guinea crew kidnaps, providing advice on the Terrorism Act 2000 as well as assisting with practical, logistic and bespoke contractual arrangements necessary for the safe release of the crew. He was part of the Hostage Support Partnership team recognised by the UN Security Council (Resolution 2383 (2017), where HFW worked pro bono to assist in securing the release of the final crews held in Somalia. He also advised the owners of two vessels attacked at Fujairah anchorage in 2019 and is working on a number of cases arising from the Ukrainian conflict. In addition, he has assisted vessels detained around the world; in respect of extortion and evacuations in Central America; oil majors in respect of their potential exposure relating to cargo stolen by Libyan rebels; and a fine art seizure.

Recognition: Legal 500 (2021) – Shipping: Next Generation Partner; Legal 500 (2019 & 2020) – Shipping: Rising Star “All of the partners and associates at HFW are excellent; however, over the last year, Michael Ritter has been the one to stand out the most and provided most support and exemplary service. Michael always provides timely responses and is always available out of hours which is quite unique in my view. He has a friendly manner and very approachable. I think there are very few other lawyers who can beat Michael’s work ethic and capabilities.”