Our marine solicitors have a wealth of experience and are equipped with in-depth legal expertise, to provide you with pragmatic advice tailored for you.
Freight is moved around the world in a variety of ships, which come in many shapes and sizes. We have a wealth of experience in dealing with disputes in the tanker and dry bulk markets, as well as powerships and other special purpose vessels. We work closely with the workboat market which underpins the access of ships to ports around the world.
Anchored at the heart of all shipping arrangements lies a contract, which often contains standard and bespoke clauses. We appreciate that complicated construction issues can often arise, under charterparties and sale contracts. Whether you require assistance before, during or after the performance of a charterparty or sale contract, our marine lawyers are able to assist.
We understand that your reputation is important and that time is often of the essence when disputes arise. Commerce and the law do not always work at the same speed but, we aim to deal with any issues expeditiously and in a proportionate manner, with your best interests as our priority.
How can our Marine solicitors help?
File Reviews: We know that sometimes all you need is a guiding hand. We offer file reviews in order to help steer you in the right direction and make the best decisions for you and/or your clients.
Charterparty disputes: These often start with a disagreement over the construction of the contract terms or breaches of a contract. We are here to guide you through those issues.
Arbitration: Sometimes it is just not possible to reach agreement over a dispute. Our marine lawyers offer a fully comprehensive arbitration service for English Law claims which are subject to LMAA or GAFTA Rules. We also handle Hong Kong – HKIAC and Singapore -SIAC arbitrations, which are subject to English Law.
Sale Contracts: Whether it be issues over the quality of freight, the validity of a notice of readiness, a force majeure event or issues surrounding a wash out, our marine law solicitors have a wealth of experience to support you through these challenges.
Contracts of Affreightment: Can often raise challenging issues, which are particular to these types of contracts. Whether it be issues with cargo or freight, we will have your commercial interests at the heart of our advice.
Workboats: In respect of Workboats, we can advise on the terms and conditions of charter agreements and in relation to disputes arising under such agreements. We have considerable experience in negotiating and dealing with claims that arise from the use of the BIMCO Supplytime form for offshore support vessels, as well as the Towhire and Towcon forms.
Here are just some examples of the typical types of disputes our marine law solicitors handle:
Laytime and Demurrage Claims: We can provide advice in all areas concerning the delay in loading and discharging of cargo. From failures to provide cargo, to incorrect NORs’, the impact of mechanical faults on-shore or on-board, and problems discharging.
Non-payment of hire/freights and liens: A perennial problem, which requires a practical knowledge on the tools available to ensure payment is made, against the background of charterparty clauses and Bills of Lading.
Off-hire claims: Disputes often arise in relation to when and whether a vessel is on-hire or off-hire during a charterparty fixture. When a vessel is off-hire, hire is interrupted; meaning hire is not payable by the charterer. Therefore, distinguishing when a vessel is off-hire is important and ultimately the terms of the charterparty will govern this. We can provide advice as to whether a vessel is, or should be considered off-hire based on the terms of the charterparty and the effects of this, on hire payments.
Cancellation and termination claims: Charterparties often have a clause setting out circumstances in which a charterparty can be cancelled or terminated, without repercussions. Sometimes, however, these clauses are silent, or you may seek to rely on a repudiatory breach of the charterparty by the other party, which is not included in the cancellation clause. We know that making the wrong decision can have financially devastating effects; getting it right is what we pride ourselves on.
Hull fouling and damage claims: As vessels pass through cold and tropical waters and spend time at anchorage or whilst bunkering, hull fouling can occur. Disputes as to who is responsible for cleaning the hull, or who should pay for the cleaning, are often not clear from the charterparty terms. Fouled hulls can lead to other issues too, for example, speed and performance issues. Our marine lawyers can help you untangle the charterparty terms to identify to what extent, and who is responsible for what.
Bunker claim: Whether contamination has occurred, or a dispute as to who is responsible for bunkering (or delays incurred by bunkering) arises, we are on hand to provide you with advice. We have experience in back-to-back contracts and indemnity claims when it comes to bunkering too.
Cargo claims: Disputes in relation to them come in all shapes and sizes. We can provide you with pragmatic advice in relation to all cargo disputes, whether they arise from issues with the Bill of Lading, liens over cargo, or involve cargo being damaged, lost, abandoned, mis-declared, contaminated or otherwise.
Salvage and general average: When there is an emergency where voluntary sacrifice of a part of a ship or its cargo is needed, we can provide you with the legal expertise to ensure you get the best possible outcome.
Unsafe Ports: These can be complex cases when a party alleges the systems in a port are so poor it makes a port or berth unsafe. Our marine law specialists have a wealth of experience in dealing with these disputes, which can often involve an indemnity issue. We know that not all fixtures are smooth sailing and disputes can arise. The terms of a charterparty will govern the way disputes must be handled, if they cannot be resolved.
Arbitration: Arbitration clauses are found in charterparties and dictate where and how parties want their disagreements to be resolved. We can provide advice on all aspects of arbitration, from the arbitration procedure itself, to appointing an arbitrator, initiating or responding to arbitration proceedings, drafting submissions, disclosure, evidence, the best course of action, settlement arrangements, collecting and enforcing a Final Arbitration Award.
Small claims: We have a wealth of experience in handling small claims – using the LMAA Small Claims Procedure. We offer a fixed fee service for handling Small Claims Procedure cases. We can advise you on all aspects of bringing or defending arbitration proceedings using the LMAA Small Claims Procedure.
Enforcement and arrest in the UK: Whether you have a Final Arbitration Award or a Court Order, our marine solicitors can advise you on how to enforce your Award/Order to achieve the best recovery. This includes how and when to arrest assets, such as ships, bunkers and cargoes. Further, we can provide effective advice on how to recover sums owed by a party faced with insolvency. We are part of the ShipArrest.com group enabling us to access shipping lawyers in ports around the world.
Worldwide, freezing injunctions and interim steps to secure claims across the globe: Shipping by its nature is international and commonly as are the contracting parties to a charterparty – with assets all over the globe. Not only are we familiar with enforcing Arbitration Awards and Court Orders on a global scale, but we can advise you on what measures to take when attempting to secure a counter-party’s assets, on an interim basis, whilst you secure an Award/Order capable of enforcement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Making any adjustments to the standard BIMCO forms, can potentially lead to problems. Supplementary clauses increase the risk of ambiguity on what has been agreed between both parties. Skill and care is required to ensure that any supplementary clauses do not undermine the division of risk set out in the printed clauses. An intention to agree the use of supplementary clauses should not be taken up readily, without full regard to their impact.