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World leading shipping lawyers

Our shipping lawyers provide a comprehensive service to the global maritime business community. We have over 200 lawyers and 13 Master Mariners worldwide, specialising in maritime law, reflecting our long involvement in this field. Our maritime lawyers have a sound understanding of how the market works across dry shipping, admiralty and crisis management, and transactional work. We represent the full spectrum of those involved in the industry, including shipowners and charterers, P&I Clubs, banks, international agencies, shipyards, marine insurance underwriters, governments and brokers.

What we do in Shipping

We represent the full spectrum of those involved in the industry, including shipowners and charterers, P&I Clubs, banks, international agencies, shipyards, marine insurance underwriters, governments and brokers.

Dry shipping

The firm has one of the largest practices in this area and is considered a global leader in dry shipping and transport work. The matters we handle include charterparties, bills of lading, other carriage contracts, shipbuilding and construction contracts, employment and personal injury, insurance and risk management, trading (physical and financial freight). Our marine insurance lawyers are recognised as industry leaders in this field.

Admiralty and Crisis Management

Extensive global crisis management experience and have been retained to act on many of the highest profile shipping casualties in recent years. This includes work on collisions, salvage, wreck removal, total loss, piracy and terrorism, oil pollution and other environmental damage.

We have been instructed on behalf of shipowners and/or their insurers in over 100 piracy hijackings since July 2008, advising on the full range of legal issues that arise from these incidents. Our Partners Andrew Chamberlain and Richard Neylon are recognised as industry leaders in dealing with piracy matters.

Ship and Offshore Finance

We have a leading ship finance practice, acting for ship finance banks, a wide range of owners, operators and other investors across all areas of the shipping and offshore sectors. Our work includes advising on all forms of finance including syndicated, club and bilateral debt financings as well as leasing, export credit financings, seller's credits, derivatives and other credit enhancement products, bond issues and other forms of capital raising.

With the continued pressure brought to bear by the global financial crisis, we have recently been working with a number of the world's leading ship finance banks and owners on matters in relation to, in particular, loan agreements, loan restructuring and work-outs, loan (including ship mortgage) enforcement and insolvency issues.

Transactions and Regulation

We provide the full range of transactional services required by clients in the shipping and offshore sectors such as:

  • Capital raising (debt and equity)
  • Sales, mergers and acquisitions of shipping companies
  • Shipping funds (both offshore and onshore)
  • Private equity transactions in the shipping sector
  • Reorganisations and restructurings
  • Advising on corporate governance issues
  • Advising on second-hand sale and purchase of vessels
  • Shipbuilding contracts
  • Ship recycling
  • Ship registration
  • Charterparties
  • Pooling and management agreements
  • All forms of joint venture agreements and strategic partnerships, including between shipping companies.

In addition, we provide extensive advice on the regulations governing the maritime sector, including (but not limited to) MARPOL, SOLAS, MLC, and Hague-Visby Rules. Recently, we have been very active in advising on international trade regulations and sanctions, particularly those adopted at UN, EU, UK, UAE, French and Australian levels, and we regularly co-ordinate advice from other jurisdictions, such as the United States, South Korea, Bermuda, Singapore and Switzerland.

We also provide specialty transactional and regulatory advice, including:

  • The requirements and applications for authorisation by local companies and branches of overseas companies, and passporting in the EEA, both on an establishment and services basis.
  • Whether derivatives transactions, guarantee and indemnification arrangements constitute insurance contracts and their regulatory treatment.
  • Establishing parallel and subsidiary mutuals, where required by local licensing rules or for operational reasons and forming fixed premium subsidiaries and Lloyd's syndicates managed under turnkey arrangements.
  • Restructuring, including insolvency, solvent schemes of arrangement and insurance business (portfolio or Part VII) transfers.
  • Competition law, including the review of the EU exemption for the International Group Agreement and the EU Commission's sector enquiry into business insurance.
  • Appointed representative, multiple principal and terms of business agreements (TOBAs), underwriting agency, third party administration and outsourcing arrangements.
  • Letters of credit, trusts and other forms of security.

Personal Injury

We have a strong Personal Injury practice that has expanded significantly over the past five years. The practice developed as a result of our renowned expertise in shipping and the injuries suffered by crew, passengers and stevedores. Whilst this still remains at the core of our practice, we have also built up a strong reputation in dealing with accidents across many of our other core sectors.

The team has handled an unparalleled variety of instructions from high-profile clients across the marine sector, including underwriters and their insureds, ship owners and their agents, cruise and ferry operators, shore-based logistics providers, and oil and gas companies.

Our team's in-depth knowledge in their field ensures they are able to deal with all aspects of an accident. Our particular expertise includes:

  • Accidents at sea
  • The impact of piracy/hijackings on crews
  • Injuries sustained in the energy industry
  • Injuries sustained when transporting or travelling
  • Claims arising out of port work
  • Occupational disease
  • Accident investigation
  • Assessment of liability
  • Assessment of quantum

At all times our aim is to protect our clients' interests by reacting quickly to accidents and assembling a team promptly to handle the variety of issues which can arise.

Our experience in Shipping

Our experience extends across the full spectrum of maritime law, covering dry shipping, admiralty and crisis management and ship finance.

We provide below some examples of our recent work:

  • Acting for the salvors of the BP production drilling quarters platform vessel which nearly capsized in the Gulf of Mexico.  This is the most valuable property ever subject to the Lloyd's Open Form Contract (the standard form of salvage contract) being approximately US$1.2 billion.
  • Acting for Bonny Gas Transport on an innovative $680m refinancing of their entire fleet of 13 LNG vessels (the largest-ever refinancing of LNG ships). The debt was provided by a syndicate of banks led by Standard Chartered Bank. Unusually for a debt transaction of this nature, in our role as legal counsel to the borrower, we were instrumental in structuring the transaction as well as responsible for drafting the loan and security documents for the banks' counsel to review.
  • Acting for a large European shipping company on the establishment of a US$450 million joint venture with a listed Dubai entity.
  • Acting for a Bermudian holding company in a capital raising exercise to fund a $50m investment in a subsidiary which will write residue value insurance on ships.
  • Acting for owners and underwriters in relation to an explosion occurring in 2004 whilst a gas carrier was alongside a gas terminal in South America, which resulted in the total destruction of the terminal and vessel, and resulting liability, pollution and loss of life claims.
  • Advising on a joint venture between a Greek-managed tanker company listed on the NYSE and a South American state-owned oil company.
  • Acting for a US financial guarantor in relation to its US$253 million triple-A rated financial guarantee of an asset-backed securitisation sponsored by a French containership operator for the purpose of acquiring 12 newbuild container vessels. This was the first ever shipping securitisation to acquire vessels inspired from the single tenant aircraft securisation methodology.
  • Advising Sunderland Marine Mutual Insurance Company on its proposed merger with the North of England P&I Association. The merger would create one of the world's largest marine insurance providers.
  • Acting for the owner in relation to a rig collapse involving the fatality of a crane operator.
  • We advised on a case for one of the largest global ship/rig owners in a catastrophic incident involving a helicopter crash on one of its rigs in the Middle East, which claimed the lives of seven helicopter crew and passengers.
  • We are frequently instructed to provide advice following injuries sustained on board passenger ferries by both crew and passengers.

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HFW are a member firm of the Admiralty Solicitors Group.

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