Transport: shipping in Australia

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP has significantly reinforced its already market-leading practice over the past 12 months. Ernest Van Buuren, a leading name for marine insurance and casualties, offshore oil & gas, and regulatory investigations, joined from Norton Rose Fulbright where he served as practice head. Buuren splits his time between Brisbane and Sydney where Nic van der Reyden is a further notable addition from HFW; he strengthens the team’s expertise in respect of charterparty, bill of lading, ship construction, and contract of affreightment disputes. The practice is headed by Melbourne-based Maurice Thompson who is widely considered 'second to none' when it comes to activities in the resource and offshore oil & gas sectors, leveraging his experience of practicing in the USA, South Africa, and China to provide a first-class service for multi-jurisdictional matters. Also based in Melbourne is special counsel James Cooper who excels in regard to cargo loss, contractual disputes, ship arrests, and vessel damage matters. The team evenly splits its focus between disputes, advice, and insurance claims work and is the go-to choice for marine industry class actions in Australia.

Practice head(s):

Maurice Thompson


‘The size of the team means there is always a depth of talent available. Across the team, there is a lot of practical experience (master mariners, captains, and so on) that give a pragmatic problem-solving approach but intellectual horsepower especially at the partner level when needed.’

‘Maurice Thompson provides exceptional service. His network in the profession and the industry, in Australia and abroad is second to none and has on numerous occasions helped to manage issues from escalating. There is a good balance between junior and senior team member engagement with matter costs reflecting the tight commercial management under Maurice Thompson’s leadership.’

Key clients


UIL (Singapore) Pty Ltd

Murphy Operator Pty Ltd

Torres Strait Island Regional Council

UD Group

Work highlights

  • Handling a A$150m class action against a Port Authority for environmental damage arising from vessel channel deepening and dredging activities in the port of Gladstone which decimated local fisheries on which the region and Queensland were reliant.
  • Acting for WCP in claims against ocean carriers ANL and CMA CGM for the carriers’ failure to issue bills of lading and failure to deliver the goods in Rotterdam following carriage from Australia to Rotterdam after the seller/shipper of the goods in Australia went into liquidation without paying the ocean carriers the required freight/carriage fees.
  • Acting for TSIRC in claims against Sea Swift in respect of the systematic non-payment of berth and port dues from Sea Swift for the use of moorings throughout the Torres Strait Islands.


HFW’s lawyers are ‘invested in the shipping industry’ and are recommended for their ‘availability and willingness to always assist’. Practice head Gavin Vallely is a specialist in offshore oil & gas installations, international trade and commercial bulk shipping; he is based in Melbourne alongside Simon Shaddick whose caseload spans maritime casualty disputes, charterparties, shipping contracts, and cargo damage. Stephen Thompson  handles a range of transactional and contentious cases including the trade of hard and soft commodities, acting for ship owners, operators, charterers and third party services providers. He also has significant experience in the cruise line industry. The group provides a full-service offering and is also active on the drafting of carriage contracts, shipbuilding, and the construction of port infrastructure. Clients note that the firm’s ‘global spread is a significant benefit’ for cross-border matters. The team lost Hazel Brewer to Squire Patton Boggs in August 2021.

Practice head(s):

Gavin Vallely

Other key lawyers:

Simon Shaddick; Stephen Thompson


‘Availability and willingness to assist always.’

‘Time frames explained and met.’

‘Strong and accurate advice to date.’

‘Fantastic at dealing with different personalities within our business.’

‘Across the firm, whether it be Melbourne, London, or Shanghai, their people are invested and have currency in the shipping industry; besides the law, they know what matters to the client.

The individuals know their industry, their customers’ concerns, and above all, know the law. Their global spread is a significant benefit.’

Key clients

Simec Mining (formerly BHP Steel / OneSteel Manufacturing Ltd)

Protrade International Pty Ltd

Triton Shipping Limited

Viva Energy

Rio Tinto

Institutional insurers including AIG, Allianz, CGU and Zurich

ASP Shipmanagement

RCL Cruises Limited (Royal Caribbean Cruises)

Olam International Limited

International Group P&I Clubs including American Club, Shipowners Mutual, Steamship Mutual, Gard, Skuld Japan Club and Standard Club

Incitec Pivot Limited

Swire Group / China Navigation

Citic Pacific Mining

Liner operators including CMA CGM, Cosco , Hamburg Sud , Maersk, TT-Line, Wallenius


Roy Hill

Work highlights

  • Acted for the owners, bareboat charterers, and P&I (liability) insurers of the vessel HAWKSBILL. When Cyclone Damien struck in February 2020, the HAWKSBILL broke from a mooring, allegedly collided with and damaged another vessel, then ran aground near Dampier, Western Australia. The incident resulted in some pollution and significant damage to the HAWKSBILL, which was declared a constructive total loss, necessitating a complex and expensive wreck removal and disposal project.
  • Defending a claim under bills of lading (Bills) (brought by multiple plaintiffs seeking an indemnity and a negative declaration in relation to obligations to contribute to General Average and Salvage, arising out of a grounding.
  • 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 ‘knowledge of the marine industry is exceptional’, with its service characterised as ‘service-driven, pragmatic and approachable’. The practice’s ‘wide range of experience’ is distributed across insurance, admiralty, sea carriage, ship transaction, procurement, vessel charting, supply chain, and logistics contracts, as well as a variety of disputes. Also active on the regulatory front, the group notably represents the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and also advises shipping and port clients on strategies and compliance obligations. Melbourne-based practice head Andrew Tulloch comes ‘highly recommended’ and is a ‘pleasure to work with’; his team has recently increased the number of port-related acquisition and reorganisation instructions received.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Tulloch


‘Their experience and knowledge in the Marine industry here in Australia are exceptional. They are always professional, diligent, practical, and have a common-sense approach when handling any issue. From coverage opinion to recoveries. Easy to deal with and probably one of the best firms in Marine in Australia.’

Andrew Tulloch I have dealt with for 15 years and is always professional, practical, and easy to deal with. Always has a common-sense approach to the handling of any issue and provides advice or explanation tailored to the audience relevant to that advice. I would highly recommend him to anyone who is looking for legal advice in the Marine field. Andrew Probert also I have dealt with for about 10 years and the same applies to him.’

‘Concise, professional, and thorough tailored advice on matters of concern. It is pleasing and comforting to know that we are able to pick up the phone and call a team member to discuss issues personally. The team has comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of maritime and business law covering all issues as required.’

‘We have dealt with the team for numerous years and continue to forge a strong working relationship. I have found the team to be highly professional, responsive, and reliable always with exceptional service provided and advice of high quality.’

‘I deal with Andrew Tulloch and Carlita Bloecker. Both fantastic in their knowledge, expertise, etc. They are always contactable, helpful, and consistent. We never have issues with this firm, be it timing, communication, or billing. They host the Melbourne Marine Insurance Forum in their chambers, which is a huge asset to the whole Marine insurance industry, both locally and abroad.’

‘They are always approachable, very transparent, and honest. Both of the Andrews in the firm are just excellent – I cannot find any fault! No one ever builds false hopes nor expectations which would in any way cast doubt on our relationship, both personal and professional.’

‘The team has a wide range of experience in both the areas of Transport and Logistics and International Trade.’

‘The team contains individuals who have identifiable strengths in either technical legal advice or alternatively more commercial legal advice as is required on a case by case basis.’

‘Individuals like Stuart Hetherington command a flagship position within their market segment and that is of value because that position and any advice that comes out of that, is respected by others within the market segment.’

‘Michelle Taylor is valued because of her willingness to provide detailed technical analysis when needed.’

‘The CBP transport and shipping team is unique in the manner in which they approach tasks and their willingness to react to requests, often at short notice and out of hours. We have no hesitation in seeking their support for day to day or unique tasking. Their work is always of a very high standard.’

‘Stephen Thompson is a stand out partner at CBP. He is most obliging and willing to assist no matter what the issue is and regardless of any notice provided. The team is diligent and highly professional and we enjoying engaging with them.’

‘Very service-driven, pragmatic, and approachable.’

‘We really appreciate our relationship with Connie Chen. High quality, kind, fast, and pragmatic.’

Key clients

H W Greenham & Sons Pty Ltd

Qube Ports and its insurer

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)

Northern Territory Environmental Protection Agency

Huon Aquaculture Group Ltd (Huon)

Smit Marine Australia

Hutchison Ports Australia

Work highlights

  • Acting for AMSA in admiralty proceedings against the owners of the YM Efficiency to recover costs for the recovery of 81 containers that went overboard from the Vessel off the coast of Newcastle in 2018.
  • Acting in defence of action brought against TT Line as operator of the Bass Strait vessel, Spirit of Tasmania, and Qube Ports as stevedore in relation to the alleged death in transit of a number of polo horses.
  • Acted for Smit Marine Australia in the Federal Court on the arrest of bulk carrier Maria G.O at the Port of Gladstone and subsequently commencing proceeding against the shipowner on a salvage claim.

HWL Ebsworth

Home to a ‘comprehensive team with a range of experience’, HWL Ebsworth is engaged for the full spectrum of shipping matters, operating across maritime and trade law, corporate and commercial matters, in addition to ‘the full range of shipping disputes’. In Sydney, practice co-head Joe Hurley is a star name for admiralty cases and front-end trade and shipping commercial affairs, while Simon Liddy’s foremost expertise is marine pollution and liability matters with specific experience in large-scale, multiple claimant incidents. Found among the client list are P&I and International Group clubs, public sector clients, ferry operators, shipowners, and marine insurers, among others.

Other key lawyers:

Simon Liddy; Anthony Highfield


‘HWLE has a comprehensive team that covers the full range of shipping and transport disputes.’

‘The HWLE team have a range of experience and have always been highly competent.’

Key clients

Commonwealth of Australia/Federal Court of Australia/Admiralty Marshal

Hoegh LNG AS

Panalpina World Transport Pty Ltd

The Shipowners Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association (Luxembourg)

All Occasion Cruises Pty Ltd

Club Marine as underwriting agent for Allianz Australia Insurance Limited

UK P&I Club

Steamship Mutual P&I Club

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Admiralty Marshal of the Federal Court of Australia in relation to the judicial sale of the yacht Monster Project which had been arrested on the eve of the 2019 Sydney to Hobart yacht race, preventing the yacht from racing.
  • Instructed to advise Hoegh LNG on all Australian regulatory issues arising out of the importation of an FSRU into New South Wales for long term (20 year) charter at Port Kembla (NSW). Issues included importation, tax, crewing, licencing, incorporation in Australia, gas market regulation, planning and environmental and other issues arising.
  • Acting for Panalpina World Transport Pty Ltd in relation a dispute with Scandium21 Pty Ltd, part of CleanTeQ, a large ASX listed company, regarding carriage of two 605tonne autoclaves from New Caledonia to Australia, destined for the Syerston Project, for the extraction of nickel, cobalt and scandium minerals at Fifield, in the district of Parkes, in the Central West Region of New South Wales.

Holding Redlich

Holding Redlich is home to ‘extensive knowledge on all aspects of maritime law, including both the Australian and international aspects’. Jointly headed by Sydney-based duo Geoff Farnsworth and Nathan Cecil, the team is geared to act on regulatory compliance, port infrastructure and operation, workplace relation and safety, as well as ship arrest and enforcement matters. It is also instructed for domestic and international arbitration, as well as disputes, acting on the destruction of cargo claims, demurrage disputes, and those related to the termination of long-term shipping arrangements, among others.

Practice head(s):

Geoff Farnsworth; Nathan Cecil

Mills Oakley

Mills Oakley is home to ‘highly skilled and experienced’ lawyers, ‘particularly in the field of marine insurance’. Practice head Frazer Huntis one of the most senior marine legal practitioners in Australia’, representing an Australian and international client roster of maritime and other insurers, particularly those in the UK and Europe. He operates from Sydney alongside special counsel Maurice Lynch, cited by clients as ‘a pleasure to deal with’; his workload includes distribution agreements, ship charter agreements, and contracts of carriage. Other clients include claim agencies, logistics service providers, marine plan and equipment operators, and freight forwarders.

Practice head(s):

Frazer Hunt

Other key lawyers:

Maurice Lynch


‘The Mills Oakley team has very broad expertise across the complete range of marine/transport logistics legal matters – hull & machinery, cargo, marine liability, warehousing, road, rail & freight forwarding. They have the advantage of having senior practitioners able to oversee a capable team of juniors. Their collective advice is practical and delivers common sense commercial solutions.’

‘Frazer Hunt is one of the most senior marine/transport logistics legal practitioners in Australia – and is clearly at the top of his game. Frazer is consistently able to provide complete and practical solutions to complex matters,’

‘Maurice Lynch complements Frazer, and has wide expertise across the complete range of marine/transport logistics legal matters. Maurice is also a pleasure to deal with, and has the ability to simplify complex issues with straightforward, cost-effective responses.’

‘Their experience and knowledge in the Marine industry here in Australia is exceptional. They are always professional, diligent, practical, knowledgeable, and have a common-sense approach when handling any issue. From coverage opinion to recoveries. Easy to deal with and probably one of the best firms in Marine in Australia.’

‘Frazer Hunt and Maurice Lynch I have dealt with for 10-plus years and is always professional, practical, and easy to deal with. Always has a common-sense approach to the handling of any issue and provides advice or explanation tailored to the audience relevant to that advice. I would highly recommend them to anyone who is looking for legal advice in the Marine field.’

‘MO Lawyers are a highly skilled and experienced field, particularly in my field of Marine Insurance. They are always contactable, helpful, and always ready to share their knowledge.’


Key clients

AAI Limited t/as Vero Marine

AIG Insurance Limited


Chubb Insurance Australia Limited

Collyers, UK

HDI Global SE

Liberty International Underwriting

Logwin Air + Ocean Australia Pty Ltd

National Transport Insurance Limited

Sunderland Marine

Zurich Australia Insurance Limited

Australian Superyachts Pty Ltd

Work highlights

  • Representing the property insurers of Pusan Newport Co., Ltd in respect of damage to five quay cranes and a berth at the Port of Bussan, Korea during an allision with the vessel MV Milano Bridge in April 2020. The team is developing a strategy for repair of the cranes and develop a strategy to maximise the recovery.
  • Representing Hull and Machinery underwriters in relation to the sinking of the MY Fiji Siren in Fiji on 15 November 2016.
  • Mills Oakley is representing the owners of the MY Dragon Pearl in relation to an ownership dispute following the collapse of Zetta Jet Pte Ltd in Singapore and Zetta Jet Inc in the US, two companies operating private jet aircrafts for celebrities and high-net-worth individuals.

Thynne + Macartney

Based in Brisbane, Michael Fisher heads Thynne + Macartney’s shipping practice, focusing on maritime commercial matters; examples include contracts of carriage, charterparties, shipbuilding and repair contracts, vessel transactions, and disputes. Among a range of other matters, the team is also well-versed when it comes to personal injuries, industrial relations law, and employment matters in the context of maritime law, representing a client roster of shipowners, port authorities, marine repairers, hull insurers, and transport companies.

Practice head(s):

Michael Fisher

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Hockaday

Key clients

All members of the International Group of P&I Clubs

Sunderland Marine (now part of North Group)

The TT Club (Through Transport Mutual Insurance Association Limited)

International Transport Intermediaries Club


British Marine

Korea Shipowners’ Mutual Protection & Indemnity Association

Consort Express Lines Ltd / Steamships Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising the APL England’s liability insurer and operators regarding 50 containers damaged or lost from the vessel after it hit rough seas south-east of Sydney in May 2020.    
  • Appointed to act on behalf of the shipowners and their liability insurers following the Solomon Trader grounding incident in Honiara, Solomon Islands.    
  • Acting on the capsize of a fishing vessel, Dianne, with loss of life to six of the crew. Advised owners and insurers regarding loss of vessel and search and salvage of vessel.