Transport: shipping in Australia

Clyde & Co LLP

Clients praise Clyde & Co LLP for the breadth of its ‘international practice’ and ‘synergy with other practice areas, particularly insurance’. Melbourne-based Maurice Thompson is ‘excellent with clients’ and heads the practice, providing clients with industry leading expertise across the fisheries, offshore construction, resources and mining, soft commodity trade and marine insurance sectors. The department is particularly reputed for its knowledge and experience in the offshore oil and gas sector and is also noted for its strong relationships with litigation funding companies. James Cooper is another key name in Melbourne with expertise in cargo loss, vessel damage, contractual disputes and ship arrests, he is highly recommended alongside Perth-based Barry Cameron. The 'very knowledgeable and experiencedPaul Hopwood joined the firm's Perth office from Cocks MacNish and the highly rated Ernest van Buuren  joined in December 2019 from Norton Rose Fulbright.

Practice head(s):

Maurice Thompson


‘Paul Hopwood is very knowledgeable and experienced in the shipping area’.

‘An international practice in an international industry is very important. Synergies with other practice areas, in particular insurance.’

‘Maurice Thompson is the leader. Excellent with clients. James Cooper is also good’.

Key clients


UIL (Singapore) Pty Ltd

BHP Biliton


Murphy Operator Pty Ltd

Torres Strait Islands Regional council

Crystal Cruise Lines

CITIC Pacific Mining Management

Topsail Insurance (MS Amlin Marine)

Work highlights

  • Acting for Transocean as owner of a semi-submersible offshore drilling rig in a dispute with a global energy major relating to the failure of a blow-out preventer in connection with a drilling campaign in the Joint Petroleum Development Area (shared between East Timor and Australia).
  • Acting for UIL against two Australian mining majors in respect of breaches of contract and misleading and deceptive conduct by the mining majors concerning non delivery of one million MT of coal under off-take agents involving very substantial shipping stem.
  • Acting for BHP in respect of large throughput losses sustained when its berths were clogged by vessels with compliance issues.
  • Handling a +A$150m class action against a Port Authority for environmental damage arising from a vessel channel deepening and dredging activities in the port of Gladstone which decimated local fisheries on which the region and Queensland were reliant.
  • Advising Crystal Cruise Lines in respect of its terms and conditions for river cruising in Europe and blue waters cruising in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands.


The caseload at HFW encompasses the full spectrum of shipping-related matters from charter parties and bills of landing through to shipbuilding and the construction of related infrastructure. The five partner team is spread across Sydney, Perth and Melbourne where it is headed by industry leader Gavin Vallely, a specialist in both contentious and non-contentious matters relating to offshore oil and gas installations, commercial bulk shipping and international trade. Perth-based Hazel Brewer is recommended for disputes in the maritime and transport sectors and recently defended vessel owners in a claim brought by multiple cargo owner plaintiffs who sought an indemnity and a negative declaration in relation to obligations of general average and salvage contributions. The offshore energy sector is a keystone for the practice and is a specialist area for Melbourne-based Simon Shaddick.

Practice head(s):

Gavin Vallely;

Other key lawyers:

Simon Shaddick; Hazel Brewer;


‘Excellent knowledge and experience with shipping and sea freight for bulk commodities’.

‘Advice covers both Australian and international aspects associated with the trade. Risk mitigation, risk management, advice on issues and commercial documentation preparation and execution.’

‘Hazel  Brewer is both knowledgeable and responsive. Active in the industry locally, well respected amongst our peers and a regular presenter at forums on shipping and associated matters.’

Key clients

Arrium Mining / OneSteel Manufacturing Ltd and its Administrators KordaMentha

Protrade International Pty Ltd

Triton Shipping Limited

Oldendorff Carriers GmbH & Co. KG

Rio Tinto


ASP Shipmanagement

RCL Cruises Limited (Royal Caribbean Cruises)

Grain Corp

Shipowners Mutual

Assuranceforeningen Gard

Stolt-Nielsen Group

Pentarch Group

Wallenius Wilhelmsen

Roy Hill

Work highlights

  • Assisted Bluescope Steel in addressing complex legal issues under the charte rparty and Australian environmental laws.
  • Advised Britmar Group on its commercial, regulatory, transactional and dispute resolution matters across the maritime space as it rapidly expands its Australian maritime operations.
  • Advising an international shipowner on corporate structure and related tax considerations arising from operating foreign flagged vessels to carry Australian domestic cargo, including advice on the Double Taxation treaty and Australian ‘freight tax’ and Goods and Services Tax regimes.
  • Acting on behalf of the liability insurers of an Australian livestock exporter in Federal Court proceedings arising out of an incident in which there was a fire on board a vessel, whilst fodder pellets were being loaded into the vessel’s silos.
  • Acting for the owners, operators and insurers of the tanker vessel “Diamond-T” in complex disputes involving shipping, admiralty and arbitration law and practice.

Colin Biggers & Paisley

Colin Biggers & Paisley’s ‘shipping team has a deep understanding of the Australian market and a high level of industry specific knowledge’. Its core strengths encompass admiralty, sea carriage, bill of landing and carter party disputes, marine insurance, policy wording and ship transactions along with hull, cargo and liability claims. Melbourne-based practice head Andrew Tulloch represents marine insurers, freight forwarders and charterers with P&I Clubs, charterers, ship’s agents and commodity traders. Connie Chen joined from HFW, bringing expertise in shipping-related M&A.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Tulloch

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Thompson; Connie Chen; Andrew Probert; Michelle Taylor


‘CBP’s shipping team have a deep understanding of the Australian market, and a high level of industry specific knowledge which can be difficult to find consistently at other firms.’

‘Stephen Thompson has an excellent approach to commercial contract discussions, and can be relied upon to be solution focused, yet resilient in negotiations to ensure the best outcome for his client.’


Work highlights

  • Pursued subrogated recovery against a freight forwarder for costs incurred in relation to the infestation by a prohibited Kapra beetle of cargo imported from New Zealand by Tecpak/Pact Group.
  • Acting for Engage Marine in establishing Engage Towage, a joint venture with Smit Lamnalco. 
  • Acted for Smit Lamnalco Towage (Australia) Pty Ltd on the successful tender to Rio Tinto on the provision of towage services at the Port of Weipa and the Port of Amrun.
  • Defence of a claim brought against Qube Logistics by owners of polo ponies carried aboard the vessel “Spirit of Tasmania” across Bass Strait, alleging that the horses died as a result of the negligence of the carrier and stevedores.

HWL Ebsworth

HWL Ebsworth is home to a ‘very strong marine practice with depth of knowledge across all relevant areas’. Spread across the entirety of Australia, the practice handles marine insurance, ship finance, construction, international maritime arbitrations and government regulatory work. Simon Liddy operates from Sydney with particular expertise in large-scale incidents involving multiple claimants, particularly in relation to passenger vessels. National head of transport Joe Hurley is likewise based in Sydney and advises on front end shipping and trade commercial matters in addition to running an extensive disputes practice. Philip Hunter, Tony Morgan, Luke Taylor, Keith Thomas and Jesper Martens  are the team heads and the various other national offices. Numerous P&I clubs form the client roster.

Practice head(s):

Joe Hurley; Philip Hunter; Tony Morgan; Luke Taylor; Keith Thomas; Jesper Martens;

Other key lawyers:

Simon Liddy


‘Very strong marine practice with a large number of practitioners with depth of knowledge across all areas of marine’.

‘Recommended for the quality of their advice, turnaround time and results’.

Key clients

P&I Clubs

Shipowners P&I Club

Charles Taylor P&I Club

Standard P&I Club

Freight Terminals

Diageo PLC


DHI Group

Kuehne & Nagel


Commonwealth of Australia


CBH Group

Admiralty Marshal of the Federal Court of Australia

Work highlights

  • Represented Mount Isa Mines Limited (and Navigators Insurance, London) in a dispute relating to the breakdown of a vessel carrying the clients’ cargo and questions of seaworthiness, salvage and general average.
  • Represented owners of fishing quota rights in a dispute with Dutch purchasers of the fishing rights.
  • Represented CSL Australia and its P&I Club following a fire on board the ship in June 2018 while berthed in Port Kembla.
  • Represented marine insurers  sued by the driver of a boat that capsized causing a leg amputation injury to a passenger.
  • Acted for marine insurers of an amphibious vessel that suffered an engine failure when being operated on land, causing it to roll backwards and turn over causing injury to a passenger.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright is reputed for its extensive industry knowledge, namely in the mining, oil and gas, marine insurance, commodities, financial services and government sectors. Forming its caseload are a range of regulatory issues, casualty response, shipping finance, sanctions, cybersecurity, marine insurance claims and risk advisory matters. Sydney-based senior associate Jacob Smit is an expert in all aspects of contentious and non-contentious international trade. Hazel Brasington departed to Ashurst and former practice head Ernest van Buuren has departed to join Clyde & Co LLP.

Other key lawyers:

Jacob Smit;

Key clients

CASA Engineering Brisbane Pty Ltd

DP World Australia Limited

Flotespace Pty Ltd

The APEC Papua New Guinea 2018 Co-ordination Authority

Skuld Assuranceforeningen (Gjensidig) (Skuld P&I)

Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Plc

Michael Else & Co (Charterers P & I Club)

CGU Professional Risks Insurance


Liberty Mutual Insurance

Travelers Underwriting Agency

Winsure Underwriting


Wartsila Australia



Silverseas Cruises

Austal Shipyards



QUBE Ports

ConocoPhillips Australia Pty Ltd

Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd and Mitsui-Soko Co Ltd

Brisbane Marine Pilots

Torres Pilots

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Work highlights

  • Working with Flotespace, a start-up company, to create the first ever “AirBNB” for Boats.
  • Continuing to represent the Government of Papua New Guinea (through the APEC Coordination Authority) in relation to the charter of ocean liners each just under 300m in length.
  • Urgent representation of CASA Engineering (building, civil and marine construction company) in the Federal Court in relation to an arrest of one of its major commercial barges by a PNG based contractor.
  • Acting for Assuranceforeningen Skuld (Gjensidig) (Skuld P&I) in relation to a selvage award claim concerning the cargo vessel “Thor Commander” which suffered a major engine failure near the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Acting for Stephenson Harwood and Royal & Sun Alliance PLC in a dispute involving the total constructive loss by fire of an Armidale Class Patrol Boat “HMAS Bundaberg”.


The ‘very knowledgeable and experiencedHazel Brasington heads the practice at Ashurst following her arrival from Norton Rose Fulbright. Based in Melbourne, she brings expertise in chartering and commodities with a proven track record of representing ship operators and owners, oil majors, marine insurers, mining companies and commodity traders. The practice is particularly adept in the oil and gas and defence sectors and is frequently engaged for employment and safety matters, shipping finance and acquisitions, disputes and infrastructure projects at ports.

Practice head(s):

Hazel Brasington

Other key lawyers:

Steve McKinney; Jeremy Chenoweth; Matthew Bubb


‘The practice is reinstating its shipping practice with return of Hazel Brasington who is very experienced in this area, having worked for a number of the leading Australian shipping practices over the years.’

‘Hazel Brasington is a very knowledgeable, experienced and commercial litigator’.

‘A very flexible team that can accommodate changing circumstances. Very experienced in the areas of defence and the ship industry. They go the extra mile to assist. Definitely client focussed.’

‘Defintely Steve McKinney and Hyans Mach from the Canberra office have provided outstanding service over a number of years.Their efforts have been extremely supportive and their knowledge of Defence and ship acquisition was instrumental in achieving commercial outcomes.’

‘This practice has individuals that have knowledge and experience’.

‘The individuals that I work with are easily accessible for face to face discussions to canvass all issues before providing an advice. The advice provided is wide ranging but not overly worked and that makes it easy to understand the issues and options. Commercial understanding of where matters might end up are also valued’.

Key clients

Viva Energy/Shell

Department of Defence

AGL Energy Limited

BHP Freight




Trident/Shell Shipping

Teekay Shipping


Work highlights

  • Advising Viva Energy on a major contamination incident involving a Turkish owned ship.
  • Advising Department of Defence on the $35bn Hunter Class Frigate Program.
  • Advising AGL Energy on intensive negotiations of a long term operating FSRU time charter party framework.
  • Acted for BHP Freight in a well-publicised dispute with Teekay Corporation.
  • Advising Transdev of the procurement of 14-24 passenger ferries.

Mills Oakley

Mills Oakley provides a ‘very experienced’ team of ‘marine insurance leaders’ with ‘excellent attention to detail’. The practice enjoys a strong reputation with marine insurers throughout Australia in addition to UK-based insurers and claims agencies, international freight forwarders, port authorities, marine plant and equipment operators in addition to logistics service providers. Sydney-based practice head Frazer Hunt specialises in disputes, contract and private international law in addition to insurance. Special counsel Maurice Lynch possesses experience in drafting distribution agreements, contracts of carriage and charter agreements for ships.

Practice head(s):

Frazer Hunt

Other key lawyers:

Maurice Lynch


‘A good combination of experienced senior lawyers able to oversight a team of intelligent junior lawyers’.

‘Frazer Hunt and Maurice Lynch have the experience to handle all marine and transport logistics legal issues, has the ability to provide pragmatic and commercial solutions with plain English advice.’

‘Mills Oakley are by far the leaders in legal services in the field of Marine Insurance. Their Marine team is very experienced and cost effective, producing good outcomes. Their Marine team only focusses on Marine work, so they have in depth knowledge which leads to correct advice and quick resolutions, where possible.’

‘Frazer Hunt (Partner) and Maurice Lynch (Special Counsel) are the 2 standout Marine lawyers in the firm. Very knowledgeable and always happy to help.’

‘Long-term experience, reputation and wins. How they treat clients.  Excellent attention to detail.’

‘Frazer Hunt  is extremely professional, has high integrity, vast knowledge and experience, relationship and results focused.  Always available no matter what time of day/night.  A genuinely lovely person.’

‘Team are expert on marine matters, more specialist than many peers.’

‘Frazer Hunt and Maurice Lynch are both approachable and responsive.’

‘The Partners at MO Lawyers have a unique sense of knowledge of the Marine Insurance Industry, unparalleled with other firms. Their contacts in the shipping Industry is highly invaluable. They have many more years of combined experience than any other firm which we use.’ 

‘Highly knowledgeable, flexible, friendly, helpful. – Frazer Hunt, Maurice Lynch – they always have time for a robust discussion and their billing is quite reasonable.’


Key clients

AIG Insurance Limited

Chubb Insurance Australia Limited

Liberty International Underwriters

Port Authority of New South Wales

Logwin Air + Ocean Australia Pty Ltd

HDI Gerling Industrie Versicherung trading as HDI Global SE


Collyers, UK

National Transport Insurance Limited

Sunderland Marine

Birdon Pty Ltd

Zurich Australia Insurance Limited

Allianz Marine & Transit

Work highlights

  • Complex cross border insolvency and in rem claim by US trustee in a bankruptcy arising from a failed jet charter company in Singapore and USA.
  • Marine hull and machinery policy indemnity dispute following constructive total loss of vessels in Papua New Guinea.
  • Charter party dispute relating to damage to cargo during loading in Queensland.
  • Marine hull and machinery policy indemnity dispute following constructive total loss of vessels in Australia.
  • Liability claim involving temperature damage to pharmaceuticals over several transits.