Every day sees countless interactions, transactions and actions within the shipping, marine transport and trade sectors.

From the drafting of contracts to the loading and discharging of cargoes, each action carries risk.

It is for that reason that Shearwater Law offers a comprehensive range of services, spanning dispute resolution, regulatory advice, contract drafting and commercial assistance.

Furthermore, our services are provided by sector-specialists who have a well-developed understanding of the nuances and complexities of their respective areas of expertise.


Shearwater Law’s charterparty team is experienced in dealing with all aspects of charterparty disputes, contracts of affreightment or other use of vessel contracts.

From standard industry charterparty forms to complex and bespoke variations covering freight, laytime and demurrage, speed and performance claims, hire and vessel withdrawals, Shearwater Law has brought about successful resolutions for multiple clients.

Cargo and bills of lading

Typically involving multiple parties, disputes involving cargo and bills of lading can quickly escalate.

Shearwater Law has dealt with cargo and bills of lading disputes at all stages of the transport process, providing advice on a variety of issues such as cargo shortage, damage or contamination claims, maritime and contractual liens and lost bills of lading as well as letters of indemnity and mis-delivery claims.

Accident and injury

The nature of the sea makes it intrinsically dangerous and whilst the safety of seafarers and passengers is paramount to operators, and the IMO works tirelessly to improve the safety of those at sea (SOLAS), accidents and injuries do still occur.

Alongside that, with cranes, containers and heavy vehicles, accidents and serious injuries can happen in even the best run ports and terminals, exposing the operators to significant risk.

At Shearwater Law we are experienced in helping our clients protect their position, mount a defence and, ultimately, secure the best outcome.

Admiralty: casualty

In the maritime world, incidents can occur at anytime, anywhere. In a casualty situation, Shearwater Law can help.

The Shearwater Law team advises on the legal aspects of groundings, collisions, fires and explosions, container collapses, pollution, environmental liability, pilotage and transhipment (STS) casualties.

Shearwater Law’s experts are adept at liaising with authorities and response teams and working across international jurisdictions and borders.

Admiralty: salvage and wreck

A range of legal issues can arise in the aftermath of a casualty, arising out of coastal states’ domestic laws and international conventions, which adds to the challenge of successfully resolving claims by balancing the legal with practical and commercial aspects.

These are challenges Shearwater Law is adept at meeting.

Our team can advise on a wide range of legal issues, including; obtaining security, collision liability, limitation funds, Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) investigations, personal injury and fatality claims and more.

Furthermore, our team is able to provide English law assistance on an international basis.


Sanctions are a key consideration for those involved in shipping and marine transport and trading and have a severe impact on those companies and individuals that breach them, inadvertently or not.

Shearwater Law has a dedicated sanctions team which is regularly called upon by those involved in shipments of all kinds to help them navigate sanctions of all types.

Shipping and commercial contracts

Shearwater Law’s team has extensive experience and can support clients with a range of shipping and commercial contract issues.

From drafting bespoke clauses to advising on proforma charterparty terms, our team is focused on minimising risk and achieving certainty in our client’s commercial and marine contracts.

Insurance coverage

From time-to-time questions of coverage arise under P&I and other marine policies.

At Shearwater Law we have experience of advising both insurers and assureds on the operation of their policies in particular circumstances.


The shipping and transport sectors operate in a fast changing and extensive regulatory environment with stakeholders having to navigate international and local regulations.

Shearwater Law can help.

Not only does our team have a detailed understanding of the specific regulations impacting the shipping industry, but they take a pragmatic and commercially-sensible approach to ensure the regulatory compliance and commercial aspects of any issue are met.

Sale, purchase and newbuilds

From the wording of shipbuilding contracts to supporting arbitration over the conformity of the new build with specifications, Shearwater Law has considerable experience with newbuilds and second hand ship sale and purchases.

We have experience advising on a range of sale types, including sale and leaseback transactions, newbuilding re-sales and scrap sales.

Commodities - sale and purchase disputes and contractual issues

With such large volumes of commodities being transported at sea, it’s inevitable that claims arise. From payment terms, quality issues to loss and delay, there are a multitude of reasons for claims arising.

Shearwater Law is experienced in managing such claims, and has represented clients at international arbitration institutions such as the Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA), and the Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats Associations (FOSFA).

Our team specialises in commercialy attuned advice and dispute resolution, meaning you will benefit from in-depth, tailored expertise.

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