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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.

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France > Shipping > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Shipping

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Shipping clients in France using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Clyde & Co LLP’s practice is largely centred on insurance and industrial risk matters, but the team also assists with commercial contracts and maritime incidents. Managing partner Gildas Rostain is a key name for litigation and Rozenn Lopin has expertise in enforcement mandates and risk management. The group has a strong international footprint, and handles a number of instruction relating to francophone African countries.

HFW’s team has expertise in wet and dry shipping, handling collisions, salvages and general groundings, as well as matters related to bills of lading, charter parties, cargo claims, wreck removals and matters pertaining to passenger carriage. The key contacts are practice head Guillaume Brajeux, Stanislas Lequette, Stéphanie Schweitzer and Timothy Clemens-Jones. Recent work includes representing RTE as owners of electric cables connecting France and England in bringing a claim following damage to the cables. Another highlight saw the department defending the owners and underwriters of a vessel that was grounded in France and had to discharge part of its cargo prior to going to the repair yard against salvage claims made by tug owners. Other clients include Cap Marine, Helvetia and AXA Corporate Solutions.

Ince & Co France SCP handles contentious and non-contentious matters, ranging from casualty instructions to transactional work, including chartering, and sale and purchase, and regulatory advice on fishing regulations, maritime employment law and customs and excise. The firm has the largest team in the French shipping market, with seven partners operating across the firm’s offices in Paris, Le Havre and Marseille. Managing partner Jérôme de Sentenac heads the team, which also includes Alexandre Besnard, Mathieu Croix, Freddy Desplanques and Vy-Loan Huynh-Olivieri. Laurianne Ribes, who joined from her own independent firm, and Fabien d’Haussy, who was a new arrival from ECD Avocats, are the key names in the firm’s newly opened office in Marseille. The department advises owners, charterers and freight handlers, yards and marine insurers and is the French member of Green Lane, an alliance of European customs and trade firms. Clients include CMA CGM, CGG and ferry operator DFDS France. Gilles Gautier retired in September 2017.

Lewis & Co AARPI is highly regarded and is regularly involved in casualty instructions and commercial dispute work. Areas of expertise include shipping and international trade, insurance-related matters, cargo claims and charter party disputes, but the team also handles personal injury claims, pollution litigation and international arbitration matters. Managing partner Lars Lewis and Peter Iglikowski, who are dual qualified in the UK and France, together with Leïla Esnard, have in-depth expertise of handling Anglo-French cases. Guillaume de Bascher is also noted.

Reed Smith’s strengths lie in commercial litigation and arbitration where the group has experience in vessel arrests, pollution matters, conservation and enforcement measures, and international trade law. Practice head Ana Atallah and counsels Emmanuelle Faivre, Luc Grellet, who has knowledge of dry shipping and insurance law, and Andrew Tetley, who sits in the International Court of Arbitration in Paris, are the key names.

Richemont Nicolas & Associés specialises in marine incidents, cargo insurance claims, arbitration matters and vessel arrests and handles domestic and cross-border matters. Co-directors Christophe Nicolas and Henri de Richemont, who has a strong casualty practice, have a core focus on French-speaking Africa. Recent work includes advising a Moroccan client on a partnership agreement with a Swedish shipping company and assisting a number of shipowners with the release of their seized vessels.

Villeneau Rohart Simon is an established player with a core focus on litigation, though it also handles advisory work. The team advises on marine casualties and disputes following the carriage of goods, charter party disputes, international arbitration, pollution matters and mandates pertaining to admiralty issues. The group also has notable experience advising on matters pertaining to mega yachts, in particular the sale and purchase of vessels, charter party agreements and construction agreements. Jean-Serge Rohart, Patrick Simon, Benoît Pincemin, Bertrand Coste and Sébastien Lootgieter are the names to note.


Shipping finance

Index of tables

  1. Shipping finance
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Shipping finance clients in France using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE WHO REPRESENTS WHO SITE

Norton Rose Fulbright has particular experience in export credit financings, but also advises its bank and shipowner client base on asset and acquisition finance, corporate lending, tax lease transactions and structured finance. The team handles a significant number of ship financings, especially cruise vessels and cargo ships, including LNG vessels, container vessels and VLCCs, but also assists with the financing of offshore and port equipment, containers and port facilities. Recent work includes advising Société Générale on the recourse financing of ten medium-range tankers for Oman Shipping Company. Other clients include BNP Paribas and Bourbon Maritime. Practice head Christine Ezcutari is the main contact. Alexandre Roth was promoted to of counsel in May 2017.

Stephenson Harwood advises financial institutions, leasing companies, shipowners and cruise lines. Tax lease financings are a key expertise, but the team, which has a broad international reach taking in the US, Canada, the UK and Italy, also has strength in refinancing mandates, such as the work undertaken for Silversea Cruises and BNP Paribas on a $550mn senior-secured notes issuance. Practice head Alain Gautron is supported by counsel Aude de Chavanne and tax partner Stéphane Salou. The team advised BNP and La Banque Postale, as senior lenders and hedge counterparties, and Caisse d’Epargne, as bridge lender, investor and lease co-arranger, on the complex re-financing of two Ro-Pax ferries through a tax lease with purchase option. CIC, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank and Corsica Ferries are other clients.

The ‘clearly very knowledgeable’ team at Watson Farley & Williams LLP acts for banks, export credit agencies and shipowners on the full gamut of ship financing matters. The group has recently handled restructuring, work-out, and enforcement matters and has notable strength in mandates pertaining to cruise ships. Laurence Martinez-Bellet, who covers the French law side, jointly heads the practice with Alexia Russell, who advises on matters under English law. Recent highlights include acting for Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, the Italian export credit agency Sace and a number of other banks on the financing and delivery of a cruise ship via a $374m loan facility. HSH Nordbank, Natixis and RBS are also clients.

HFW’s ship finance practice has a strong focus on tax leases, but the team has also recently handled restructuring and refinancing mandates. Practice head Jean-Marc Zampa is supported by senior associate Serge Rastorgoueff. The pair advised Baja Ferries on the bidding process for the acquisition of the Société Nationale Maritime Corse Méditerranée (now Maritima Ferries). Other work included handling the financing of four expedition vessels for Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, which combined a French tax lease and a secured loan facility. Ingepar and Natixis are other clients.

Following the arrival of dual-qualified practice head Alexander Premont in 2015, Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP has built a solid high-end financing practice that has ‘expert knowledge and skills in various jurisdictions’. Premont, who is noted for his ‘in-depth knowledge, pragmatism and responsiveness’, and his team ‘are good at anticipating issues before they arise’ and handle instructions pertaining to a large number of vessel types, including container ships, cruise liners, ferries and offshore oil and gas vessels, with a portfolio of expertise that covers debt and project finance, shipping loan securitisations, Islamic finance and capital markets finance instruments. Associate Joseph Newton is ‘an excellent lawyer’ who ‘always thinks a step ahead’. The group advised Société Générale on the French tax lease financing of a vessel chartered to Corsica Ferries. Other clients include BNP Paribas and A. P. Moller – Maersk.

Ince & Co France SCP has positioned itself as an adviser to shipowners, including high-net-worth individuals, but also works for financial institutions. The team has particular strength in issues concerning yachts and superyachts. Practice head Andrew Charlier and recently promoted partner Aymeric de Tapol are the key names. Louis Dreyfus Armateurs is a client of the firm.

White & Case LLP’s shipping practice has a highly international footprint with cases often involving Middle Eastern jurisdictions. Asset and export finance feature prominently in the firm’s workload, including recent advice to Société Générale regarding the merger of the United Arab Shipping Company and German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd, which included assistance with existing French tax leases regarding two ships. The group also acts for K-Sure. Victoria Westcott joined Reed Smith.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP acts exclusively for shipowners, mostly liners and shipyards. Practice head Brice Pommiès is noted for his ‘knowledge and understanding of complex structures which are positive factors for the overall success and viability of the transactions’; his expertise includes sale and operating leasebacks, high-yield financings and restructurings. Recent work includes acting for STX France on a construction financing mandate concerning three new cruise ships ordered by Royal Caribbean Cruises. Neptune Orient Lines and CMA CGM are other clients.


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