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Marine law

  • Overview

    Our marine law team has gained recognition by direct involvement in high profile national and international marine matters. The team comprises marine law solicitors and industry consultants and advises commercial operators and their insurers on contentious and non-contentious matters. The team has strength in depth and breadth. Sector-focused expertise, geographical reach from offices throughout the UK and an international network of experts and business partners enable us to respond to our marine clients' particular needs quickly and efficiently.

    Our understanding of the marine industry goes beyond interpretation of legal conventions, rules and regulations and extends to practical and operational expertise emanating from years of working in partnership with marine industry leaders.

    Risk management, risk avoidance and brand protection are at the heart of our offering. Our specialist team offers practical, commercial and strategic solutions to the issues which affect your marine business.

    All members of the team are available on a 24/7 basis via our designated emergency response contact number +44 (0)345 070 1412.

    Our team of specialists advises ship operator and insurer clients (P&I, Hull and Machinery) on a range of liability issues in the areas of carriage of goods, time and voyage charterparties, cargo sale and supply contracts, and port and terminals liability, dealing in both defence and recovery matters. Our involvement ranges from routine laytime and demurrage disputes to financial disputes under charterparties and more complex matters involving cargo condition and specification. We deal with that which touches the water.

    We have a wealth of experience in disputes involving loading/discharging operations, cargo shortage, contamination and loss, collisions, groundings. We act in all relevant forums including LMAA, LCIA, ICC, in the English courts and in mediation.

    Our Glasgow office specialises in personal injury and fatal accident claims, industrial disease work, as well as regulatory matters, acting for owners, shipyards, marine insurers and operators involved in Scotland's offshore sector

    Key corporate clients include:

    • BAE Systems
    • Bibby Line Group
    • CEPSA
    • CMA-CGM
    • Peel Ports
    • DHL
    • Next

    Key insurer clients include:

    • AIG
    • Allianz
    • Beazley
    • Groupama
    • International Group P&I Clubs
    • Zurich

    Dispute resolution

    Court proceedings, arbitration, mediation and ADR (including specialist industry procedures such as the International Cotton Association dispute resolution scheme).

    Emergency casualty and incident response - core services

    24/7 helpline – +44 (0)345 070 1412. Co-ordination and management of response operations including pollution prevention and control and bunker cargo removal. Strategic management to minimise impact to environment, assets and reputation.

    Emergency commercial response

    Our 24/7 on call availability applies just as much to your commercial matters as it does to your operational matters. Our team is on hand to protect your commercial position with advice on time critical contract negotiations, document review, asset protection, injunctions and freezing orders and security.

    Personal injury

    Our specialist marine personal injury team commonly deals with fatal accident, injury and related loss claims, including Coroner's Court inquests. Our team also handles complex crew and stevedore injury claims. As part of Weightmans' value added services to clients, we also provide bespoke on-site training on the latest Health & Safety legislation. Our market leading dedicated disease unit focuses on all occupational conditions, including short and long tail liability claims in both an EL and PL context.

    Ports & terminals

    Our clients include some of the UK's largest port and terminal operators, port authorities and marinas. We provide advice on contentious and non-contentious issues. We have specialist knowledge in this sector and are key legal advisors for one of the UK's largest ever port redevelopment programmes. We deal with all issues arising out of the interaction between ship, port and cargo interests - that which touches the water. From claims arising out of collisions, unsafe ports, pollution and environmental incidents, bailment and goods in transit to fatal accidents, HSE and MCA intervention, slippers and trippers, our detailed understanding of operational and legal issues affecting the marine industry as a whole enables us to give port clients genuinely commercial advice.

    Commercial & transactional

    We advise on agreements and transactions which are particular to the marine sector including ship sale and purchase, bareboat, time and voyage charterparties, bespoke contracts of carriage, carrier's terms and conditions, berth and port user agreements, container leasing agreements and marine commercial contracts. We also provide more general, costs effective solutions to simple debt recovery issues.

    Added value services

    Guidance on strategic challenges and industry developments is a fundamental part of our role as legal advisers. Insight means knowing what's keeping you awake at night today, and what will be doing so in six months time. The test for us, and where you get real value, is our translating these into opportunities for future development.

    Helping your people become more effective is the best way of giving you better value. It's a given most law firms will offer you a training package - in this respect, we are no different - but here the similarities end. It isn't about rolling out an off the shelf package; it's about harnessing our intelligence. Giving you access to our knowledge - increasing the capability of your teams, strengthening your business and minimising risk is our goal. Where we make a real difference is by spotting training opportunities through our ongoing relationship.

    In challenging economic times, where budgets are under scrutiny and boards are under pressure to reduce legal spend, the biggest difference we can make to our clients is by saving them money by doing the best job possible and advising you of when and how our services are best applied.

    By identifying avoidable litigation we can create a win-win situation for all parties. Our "costs clock" is not always running. Even a major potential dispute can be solved or at least progressed with a (free) 5 minute phone call.


    We are able to offer our clients London marine expertise without London rates.

    We recognise the importance and certainty of proportionality to the case and the amount at stake.

    We can work to alternative fee structures including fixed, capped and contingency fees by way of sharing in the risk and reward of your venture. For example, fixed fee arrangements could be more amendable for casualty/accident investigation attendance.

    For other types of work or more complex cases, we are happy to agree fixed fees either in agreed stages or for the entire case. We can also agree staged payments up to certain stages (for example, up to close of pleadings, disclosure, and witness evidence). For recovery claims, we are happy to work to damages based agreements.

    News & insights
    Misdelivery of cargo and the Hague Rules time bar

    The English High Court has recently had to decide whether claims against the carrier for misdelivery are subject to the one-year time bar in Article…

    Demurrage, Detention and Delays by Agreement

    High Court rules that the unplanned laytime of a vessel did not fall within the terms of the contract of sale

    Weightmans secures security for costs order while applications remain fact-sensitive

    Weightmans has successfully secured an order for security for costs against a claimant who had divested himself of assets in an attempt to make it…

    Burden of proof for cargo claims under Hague Rules

    The Commercial Court has held that the Package Limitation Provisions in Article IV Rule 5 of the Hague Rules do not apply to bulk cargo.

    Phil James
    Phil James Partner

    Hague Rules Package Limitation does not apply to bulk cargoes

    The Commercial Court has recently given judgment in a cargo damage claim, holding that the Package Limitation Provisions in Article IV Rule 5 of the…

    Phil James
    Phil James Partner

    Atlantik Confidence – Breaking the 1976 Limitation for Maritime

    In a landmark judgment, Cargo Interests have defended an application made by the owners of a bulk carrier to constitute a limitation fund.

    Phil James
    Phil James Partner

    Consequences of charterer's failure to pay hire under time charter

    The Court of Appeal has upheld a decision of the Commercial Court that punctual payment of hire by the charterer was not a condition of the charters.

    Phil James
    Phil James Partner

    Contracting out of right to limit liability

    The right of ship owners to limit their liability for maritime claims is established in the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims…

    Phil James
    Phil James Partner

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