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Lester Aldridge’s Ports, Harbours and Marinas team are an experienced team of practically-minded lawyers who provide expert advice and innovative solutions to the ports and harbours sector, marina operators, and their insurers. Our lawyers have in-depth knowledge and great passion for the sector and understand the business and operational needs of their clients. Clients report that they find our lawyers down-to-earth, offering a friendly and pragmatic approach.

With offices in London, Southampton and Bournemouth, clients benefit from the firm having a presence in the heart of the insurance market in the City of London as well as being rooted on the South Coast of England, in close proximity to a number of commercial ports and yachting centres.

Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of the regulatory landscape relating to port and harbour authorities and are regularly called upon to advise on commercial and operational matters, enforcement of harbour byelaws and general directions and the acquisition of ports, harbours and marinas. We are proud to offer our clients within the sector a full service as our team is well equipped to provide harbour authorities, marina operators and their insurers with the full spectrum of legal support they may require for their businesses and operations,

How can our solicitors help?

Our team advises on the following:

Ports & Marina's service offering

We are members and supporters of a number of trade bodies and associations, including the British Ports Association, the UK Harbour Masters’ Association, the London Maritime Arbitrators Association, the British Marine, the British International Freight Association and the Workboat Association. We also regularly provide seminars and workshops on a variety of topics to clients and professional bodies worldwide.

Our marine, real estate and commercial lawyers recognise the regulatory, operational and commercial challenges faced by ports and harbours and pride themselves on providing clear, timely and practical advice.

Admiralty claims

Our lawyers have extensive experience of marine casualties, salvage and wreck removal and salvage remuneration, how and when to obtain security for a claim, arresting vessels to obtain security, collision claims and advice on establishing a limitation fund and are therefore well placed to assist in emergency situations.


We support ports and harbours with all aspects of their commercial dealings, from drafting and negotiating bespoke commercial contracts, general terms of business or mooring terms and conditions to commercial dispute resolution and litigation and the build, finance, sale or purchase of vessels. We take a proactive approach to debt recovery and enforcement on behalf of our clients and will act quickly to recover or secure debts, particularly where there is a vessel involved, with a view to minimising the legal fees and costs to a harbour authority of dealing with abandoned vessels.

Corporate & Commercial

Our specialist corporate lawyers deal with the full range of company matters and help our clients within the ports and harbours sector to navigate the challenges and opportunities of business life, from setting up a company, developing a constitution and preparing shareholders agreements, advising on finance agreements and other commercial arrangements to advising on matters such as governance, regulation and due diligence. With our knowledge and experience within the sector, our lawyers are well-placed to advise the increasing number of harbour authorities being granted wider / unlimited borrowing powers and wide powers to trade, engage in joint ventures and carry on business.

Criminal & Regulatory Investigations

We are well placed to advise ports and harbour authorities on how best to protect their organisation, employees and users in the event of a criminal investigation or serious incident. We have been involved in a number of landmark decisions in the field of regulation and business crime and can help with enforcement notices and incidents involving health and safety and environmental crime, inquests and directors’ disqualification and prosecutions. We are keen to take a proactive approach to protect our clients’ businesses and operations and provide internal training to help our clients operate within their regulatory framework and deal with how best to respond to a serious incident in order to protect port/harbour operations, the business and employees.


Our employment law specialists can assist with all aspects of managing a workforce, from providing contract and document checks to guiding our clients through disciplinary processes. Our services include preparation of standard documents such as employment contracts, handbooks, policies and procedures; advising on internal procedures such as grievances, disciplinaries, dismissals and redundancies; advising on TUPE related acquisitions, recruiting from overseas and handling employment tribunal claims. We also offer our clients HR and employment law training and update services.

Real Estate, Construction and Planning

Our specialist real estate, planning and construction lawyers have particular expertise in relation to real estate matters connected to marinas, ports and harbours, including marine licencing and planning and related public law issues. We have extensive experience of complex portside infrastructure and waterside development project management and are regularly instructed to provide advice relating to the acquisition of ports, harbours and marinas and the underlying real estate and regulatory matters. We offer a broad range of services for developers, contractors, consultants and lending institutions, combining commercial judgment and experience with an in-depth knowledge of the law. We provide advice and support on all legal aspects at the various stages of a project, from procurement to dispute avoidance. We also advise on landlord and tenant matters involving ports, harbours and marinas, including the grant and renewal of tenancies, review of leases and the drafting of licences and consents required in relation to leases and properties.

Regulation & Enforcement

In common with our clients, we are keen to promote good harbour regulation and management and assist our clients to achieve this through the enforcement and drafting of harbour byelaws and general and special directions and, where necessary through harbour revision orders. Our lawyers have a good track record of successfully prosecuting merchant shipping offences and offences of breach of byelaws and general directions on behalf of both the MCA and harbour authorities.

The lawyers within our Ports, Harbours and Marinas team are trusted advisers to a number of ports, harbours and marinas and their insurers and provide guidance and support tailored to the individual needs and operations of each client.

Recent projects have included:

  • Advising a marina operator in relation to a major hotel development within one of its marinas
  • The development of a power station within a port
  • Assisting a port to obtain a harbour revision order permitting the reclaim of substantial areas of the seabed
  • Working with a Harbour Authority in relation to a complex agreement with Homes England and a private developer regarding a project involving the construction of a new marina and breakwaters


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