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Shipping law is one of the oldest and most developed branches of commercial law. It is where contract and tort law find their roots.

Charterparties are one example of the specialist legal documents used daily in shipping. They are the key contracts between shipowners and the charterers of their vessels. They come in many forms – time, voyage, bareboat, and contracts of affreightment. They are usually long and detailed, and full of specialist jargon and phrases.

The vast majority of charterparties provide for disputes to be decided by English law, in London, in front of a judge or a panel of specialist arbitrators. So if you face a dispute you will need English lawyers who know the ropes in London.
"There is very considerable expertise." Chambers and Partners 
Sometimes, there may not be a signed contract and rights and liabilities will depend on a shipbroker’s recap of the deal or an exchange of emails. But however it is set out, and whether you are a shipowner or a charterer, you will need advice from a lawyer who understands how these contracts have been developed, what the terms mean and how they operate in practice. We are recognised by the shipping industry as experts in advising on all aspects of charterparties. We can help you on what the charterparty means, and what to do when things go wrong. Everything from a failure to pay freight or hire, to termination rights, disputes about delay, unsafe ports, fuel issues and so on. In short, everything you need to be able to pursue your claims or defend claims made against you.

Disputes under charterparties need immediate legal attention. If they are not dealt with quickly and efficiently, there could be serious implications for you. Our aim is to help you to minimise any disruption and keep your ships trading. Many issues can be resolved by negotiation – but only once the problem has been identified and analysed properly. Resolving disputes quickly means that your commercial relationships are maintained. We can help you with this - behind the scenes or upfront. And if the dispute escalates and is fought out to a judgment or arbitration award, our experience and expertise in dispute resolution set us apart.

But we don’t just help when things go wrong. We can help when you put the contract together. We can also advise you on the drafting of charterparty terms. Our expertise in contentious matters gives us an invaluable perspective. We can anticipate the problems that will arise later and take steps to help you to avoid them by drafting the right clauses.

All round, our specialist industry knowledge ensures that we can provide you with the quickest, most cost-effective solution to a problem.

For more information and to discuss your requirements contact Paul Herring or Michael Volikas.

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