Your sector, our focus

  • Shipping

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  • Commodities and energy

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  • Logistics and transportation

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  • Asset securing and bankruptcy

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  • Insurance

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  • Commercial and corporate

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  • Construction

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  • Emergency Response

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  • Regulatory and advisory

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Shipping

We advise on the full range of maritime cases and projects in England and the US including:

  • Carriage and freight contract disputes (bills of lading, bareboat, time and voyage charterparties, contracts of affreightment, letters of indemnity, bills of exchange)
  • Payment issues (hire, freight and demurrage claims)
  • Cargo damage claims
  • Ship sale and purchase agreements
  • Emergency Response
  • Collisions – vessels and fixed objects
  • General average
  • Security actions (enforcement of liens, vessel arrests, bunker/cargo attachments, guarantees)
  • Performance disputes (vessel nomination, speed and consumption, termination and force majeure)
  • Shipbuilding disputes
  • Electronic shipping, bills of lading and cargo documents
  • Vessel pooling and sharing agreements
  • Personal injury defence, third party claims and tort based claims
  • Open sea, rivers, lakes and Arctic experience

We also provide front-end advice on and draft shipping contracts and related corporate, financing and insurance documents. We have reviewed many of the above contracts to confirm whether they are covered by P&I or other types of insurance.

Commodities and energy

Our legal experience in commodity trading is extensive. We regularly advise on sale and purchase contracts, assist with early negotiation and performance issues to minimise disputes, and handle major claims should they arise.

We understand what motivates traders, that they are looking for opportunities to transform commodities through the supply chain by storing, blending and transporting. Hedging is obviously fundamental to successful trading. Market volatility benefits traders and increases opportunities, with basis risk the greatest concern.

We demonstrate our deep understanding of these dynamics by providing responsive, clear, concise and commercial legal advice. Our firm’s work in this sector extends to advising on:

  • Sale and purchase agreements and major related claims
  • Finance arrangements (letters of credit, payment against documents, bank and performance guarantees, lines of trade credit)
  • Insurance (cargo quality and quantity claims, cargo insurance, letters of indemnity, recovery actions and trade credit insurance)
  • Hedging losses/gains
  • Derivative agreements
  • Electronic trading systems
  • Energy projects – offshore, land based and pipelines
  • Storage agreements and facilities
  • A diverse range of commodities and energy products (LNG, oil, softs, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, minor and rare metals, petroleum products and specialist goods)

Logistics and transportation

Complementing our maritime and international trade practice, we advise and represent participants at each stage of the logistical supply chain. We represent terminal operators, freight forwarders, road and rail carriers, and their insurers, with respect to claims for capital equipment damage, cargo damage and other contractual or tort based losses.

Our firm’s partners have advised major shipping container lines in various cargo damage claims arising under multi-modal carriage contracts. Such claims often involve pursuing other parties involved in the transportation, such as: terminals; truckers; shippers; rail companies; agents; shipowners; charterers; and vessel pool managers. This experience is particularly extensive in the Americas (US, Canada, Central and South America). We are available on an emergency basis to conduct necessary incident investigations, and maintain close contact with surveyors, engineers and other experts to assist, as needed, with such urgent matters.

As an example, our founding partner advised an international cement company as owner of freight train wagons following a catastrophic derailment that collapsed a bridge. We were involved in the early investigation, drafting submissions and liaising with the rail accident investigators to protect the client’s position. After the regulatory investigations, litigation ensued and the quantum claimed was approximately GBP20m. We devised the client’s litigation strategy, the key contractual defences, drafted all witness statements, worked with the technical experts, and managed the case day-to-day. The matter resolved successfully after five years of litigation.

In addition to contentious matters and investigations, we are experienced in drafting, reviewing and advising on all manner of logistics and service contracts for the largest shipping lines in the world right through to the smaller operators. We have also reviewed many such contracts for P&I insurance cover purposes.

Asset securing and bankruptcy

This is an essential area of what we do. Often it is the first aspect assessed by us: Does the client have security for their claim? Will they be able to enforce a judgment or arbitral award against the debtor? Is the counter-party financially sound or at potential risk of insolvency? If so – how, where, when should we make our move?

These are just some of the questions we address early on any international or domestic claim. We are innovative and dynamic in this area. We also know how to advise debtors on protecting themselves with administration and bankruptcy proceedings. Such issues were brought into sharp focus for some businesses as a result of the global financial crisis of 2008.

Those years immediately after the crash kept both of the founding partners very busy in their respective roles, launching these types of security actions on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world. Indeed, their working relationship was forged through asset securing cases.

A selection of the security actions we can undertake in England, the US and elsewhere around the world include:

  • Worldwide asset freezing orders against companies, individuals and third parties
  • Committal orders for failure to comply with court orders
  • Vessel arrests for claims against shipowners
  • Bunker arrests for claims against time charterers
  • Cargo attachments for claims against voyage charterers and cargo interests
  • Trade receivables attachments
  • Arbitral orders of security for principal claims and/or costs and interests
  • Exercising liens over cargo, freight, hire, sub-hire/freight and vessel
  • Real property, cash and other property attachments
  • Third party claim and judgment attachments

We have developed strategies for investigating, identifying and assessing targets for attachment and methods for dealing with the timing and ownership issues that arise.

Whilst our focus is typically on obtaining security at the start of the matter, we are also experienced in enforcing judgments and arbitral awards in local courts around the world. We consider enforcement options at the outset of an arbitration to ensure the ultimate award will comply with the local enforcement requirements.

We handle bankruptcy and insolvency related matters and have been active in these areas in England and the US. Moving quickly, by securing assets for creditors or maintaining the corporate veil of debtors, are particular skill-sets of the firm.

Insurance

Our insurance experience is multi-faceted and diverse. We have acted for primary and excess insurers, London underwriters, specialist carriers, P&I and FDD Clubs, reinsurers and insurance brokers across marine, cargo, trade, energy, professional indemnity, personal injury, construction, directors and officers liability, public liability and financial institutions lines.

Many of the cases in our other Sectors have been for insurer clients or had some element of insurance. This includes indemnity or coverage disputes between insurers and insureds.

Two examples of our work on major insurance cases are:

  • We advised the primary insurer of one of Australia’s largest construction companies in relation to a claim for alleged non-disclosure of material market information on losses sustained by the insured on a construction project. The matter was brought as a class representative action in the Federal Court of Australia, and involved the company and its directors/executives. The claim was later settled publicly for A$110m.
  • We advised an international reinsurance broker involved in large-scale civil litigation brought by the liquidators of HIH in the Supreme Court of NSW. At the time, we had a central role in the large legal team. There were eight defendants, and the claim was in excess of A$500m.

We have provided advice on the International Group of P&I Clubs Pooling Agreement and reviewed various shipping related contracts for P&I cover. The firm also advises on insurance policy wordings, especially tightening language to minimise recurring claims.

Commercial and corporate

Our complex commercial and corporate law experience has been gained on a diverse range of high-profile cases and projects. A selection includes:

  • Corporate partnership disputes
  • Fraud or white collar crime cases
  • Racketeering and organised crime claims
  • Shareholder class actions
  • Bankruptcy related proceedings including court-ordered or voluntary administration
  • Credit default winding up proceedings against delinquent corporate borrowers
  • Hedge fund disputes
  • Trade finance disputes for banks and traders in the letter of credit chain
  • Litigation funding issues
  • Business to business, and business to consumer disputes

Companies and individuals turn to us when their businesses and reputations are on the line – those sophisticated, high-stakes cases, where you need your advisors to do everything possible to achieve a positive outcome, notwithstanding the perceived difficulties involved. Our capability, experience and strategic focus in these major cases are what set us apart.

Construction

Our firm can advise on delay claims, cost overruns, catastrophic failures and defective design cases in construction projects.

We have worked on a range of multi-million dollar construction and technical cases over the years. These include: a vegetable crushing plant construction cost overrun and delay claim; a freight train major derailment causing catastrophic collapse of a bridge; design defects in an ash removal system in a power plant; assessing the cost and time blowout of an iconic sports stadium redevelopment; and fire damage claims following the design of a sugar factory.

In our experience, these construction cases are often won in the detail – whether that is technical, contractual and/or strategic.

Emergency Response

Having worked across in-house, private practice and military roles requiring emergency response, team-work, command posts, and fast-moving ‘fire-fighting’ type action, we have unique capability and experience in responding to major casualties and catastrophes. Immediately responding to, and handling early crisis management for marine casualties is a leading feature of our service offering.

Our emergency response goes beyond the marine sector to other disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, snow storms, explosions, construction collapses, major train and road accidents, war, cyber-attacks, force majeure circumstances, and other crisis situations.

Our 24/7 response team ensures that clients handle immediate crisis management effectively and mitigate the consequences and damage of the catastrophe from human, economic, reputational and legal perspectives. Emergency response obviously prioritises the well-being and safety of any individuals involved in the crisis and seeks to minimize property damage where possible.

It is also important from a legal perspective to work cooperatively with government first responders and interested investigatory entities, whilst ensuring that the client’s legal position is reserved and not prejudiced in those early, difficult moments after an incident.

Striking the right balance requires a good mix of judgment, assertiveness, experience, finesse and calmness under pressure.

Regulatory and advisory

Many high-profile litigated or arbitrated matters start as regulatory investigations.

Depending on the nature of the allegations involved, regulatory interest can be part and parcel of many major commercial disputes. Management of regulatory investigations, even potential ones, should be factored into the overall strategy for achieving the desired outcome and anticipating likely litigation. With regulators, a cooperative yet firm stance can sometimes achieve better results than an adversarial approach. Again, this is highly dependent on the case.

We encourage clients to get out ahead of any such potential regulatory investigations, by identifying risk areas during deal formation and business operations, and seeking early advice on how to ensure full compliance with relevant regulations and laws. A good example is our sanctions advice for shipowner, commodities trader and bank clients. This US and English sanctions advice identifies the risk areas and concerns in trading or shipping certain types of commodities or energy products in particular jurisdictions with designated companies or individuals.

We have assisted clients with managing corporate and regulatory investigations and interfaced with many different types of regulators over the years, including: the US Coast Guard; financial services and securities regulators; the English Serious Fraud Office; Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC); law enforcement officers in many jurisdictions; accident investigation bodies; and other interested government entities.