Rising Stars

Firms To Watch: Transport: shipping

Headed up by shipping and international trade aficionado Hazel Brasington, the Melbourne-based Ashurst shipping team advises shipowners and marine insurers on contentious issues related to commercial and maritime law as well as international oil, gas, energy and renewables matters.

Transport: shipping in Australia

Clyde & Co LLP

The large group of lawyers in Clyde and Co LLP‘s shipping practice includes numerous dedicated marine lawyers and the team is praised as ‘a market leader in Australia (and beyond) because of its specific expertise in high-value commercial disputes relating to commodities and shipping‘. Key practitioners in the team include Ernest Van Buuren and Melissa Tang, who ‘specialise in complex disputes, regulatory work and advice’, and special counsel James Cooper, who is often called upon for the group’s largest mandates. The team lost Maurice Thompson in January 2024.

Other key lawyers:

Melissa Tang; Nic van der Reyden; Ernest van Buuren; Paul Hopwood; James Cooper


‘They have a strong understanding of their clients and their needs, are on top of all of the issues and push for a resolution that is both commercially sound and legally reasonable.’

‘Ernest van Buuren and Melissa Tang are standout practitioners in this team, with a very unique practice. They specialise in complex disputes, regulatory work and advice, and are among the few solicitors who have a thorough understanding of the legal issues involved and the most efficient means of resolving those issues in a commercially sound way.’

‘Excellent and dedicated team of lawyers. The top of the tree in Australia for me.’

Key clients

Hamburg Sud A/S

Maersk A/S and Hamburg Sud A/S

Murphy Operator Pty Ltd, Tobari Pty Ltd, SPW Pty Ltd

Tweed Bait Pty Ltd

UD Group

UIL (Singapore) Pte Ltd

Viterra Chartering B.V., and Viterra B.V., and Viterra Australia

Work highlights

  • Represented Murphy Operator Pty Ltd, Tobari Pty Ltd, SPW Pty Ltd in a marine class action.
  • Representing Hamburg Sud in claiming damages from the cargo receiver T & Q Australia Pty Ltd (Trading as Phoenix Technology Group) (PTG) caused by a fire that started in a container packed with lithium-ion batteries whilst onboard the M/V MOL Presence.


Gavin Vallely leads a team at HFW, which is described as ‘technically of the highest standards‘ across the full spectrum of shipping work. Vallely is ‘widely acknowledged as an expert in the shipping and transport areas’ and is supported by ‘a team of experts’. The group also includes Stephen Thompson and Simon Shaddick; Thompson utilises his significant commercial, shipping and trade law nous to act for a multitude of clients including ship owners, operators, charterers and third-party services providers, while Shaddick is described as having ‘approachability, depth of knowledge, and an ability to apply concepts to reality’. After the research had concluded, Maurice Thompson joined with a team of seven practitioners from Clyde & Co LLP in January 2024.

Practice head(s):

Gavin Vallely

Other key lawyers:

Owen Webb; Adam Richardson; Simon Shaddick; Stephen Thompson; Tom Morrison; Ashwin Nair; Maurice Thompson


‘They provide business input where needed and we have always found dealing with them technically to be of the highest standards. We have had a long-term relationship with HFW across a number of complicated areas and multiple levels within shipping and transport.’

‘The main point of contact for several years has been Gavin Vallely who has provided expert advice and assisted in setting up of required contracts, resolutions, advice. Gavin has always provided time no matter the complexity of discussions, outputs needed or advice. Gavin is widely acknowledged as an expert in shipping and transport areas and has, through HFW, a team of additional experts to be called upon to assist as required.’

‘The team is our go-to for all things shipping. They are a part of our team and essential to our success.’

Key clients

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCL Cruises Ltd)

Journey Beyond

The Shipowners’ Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association

North of England P&I Club (now NorthStandard P&I)

Beachhead Logistics

Swire Shipping


Steamship Mutual P&I

Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd

Cypress Maritime (Panama)

Work highlights

  • Assisted Royal Caribbean Cruise Line with a case involving the eruption of Whakaari/White Island Volcano off the coast of North Island, New Zealand on 9 December 2019.
  • Acted for Guardian Offshore AU Pty Ltd in relation to a catastrophic fire which rendered its vessel a total loss; and subsequently for the owners in proceedings against hull and machinery underwriters in the Federal Court of Australia.
  • Acted for Shipowners’ Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association as legal correspondent for the State of Victoria, Australia, including the Port of Melbourne.

Mills Oakley

Frazer Hunt heads up Mills Oakley‘s team, which is particularly strong in the insurance sector and represents several marine insurers in Australia, emblematic of the expertise of the group more widely, which is primarily spread across Melbourne and Sydney. Hunt is well supported by Maurice Lynch, whose ‘experience is valued and his prompt responses highly appreciated’ by clients. At associate level, Henry Holland stands out for his work for major domestic and international insurers and works on high-value insurance claims in the shipping industry, both in Australia and globally.

Practice head(s):

Frazer Hunt

Other key lawyers:

Maurice Lynch; Henry Holland


‘Maurice Lynch has assisted us a number of times in matters. His experience is valued and his prompt responses highly appreciated. We intend to continue working with Maurice Lynch in future matters when appropriate.’

‘Good team overall.’

‘The people are great to deal with and always provide sound legal advice.’

‘Frazer Hunt and Maurice Lynch are outstanding. They are commercially minded and seek to resolve disputes before they go to Court.’

‘Mills Oakley’s Marine & Insurance team is unique in that they have a structure with a practical mix of senior experienced lawyers in Frazer Hunt and Maurice Lynch overseeing a motivated team of associates, solicitors and graduates.’

‘Frazer Hunt is at the top of his game as a marine insurance lawyer, with the ability to provide advice on all matters – again from the very large and complex to the small but necessary.’

‘Maurice Lynch provides prompt superior practical marine legal advice re the complete range of matters on the basis nothing is too much trouble – he is a pleasure to deal with.’

Key clients

AAI Limited t/as Vero Marine

AIG Insurance Limited

Allianz Singapore


Bank of New Zealand

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty

Chubb Insurance Australia Limited

Collyers, UK

Department of infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts

Export Finance Norway

HDI Global SE

Liberty Special Markets

Logwin Air + Ocean Australia Pty Ltd

National Transport Insurance Limited

North Standard/Sunderland Marine

OSM Australia Pty Ltd

QBE Insurance

Zurich Australia Insurance Limited

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 Busan, Korea during an allision with the vessel MV “Milano Bridge” on 6 April 2020.
  • Representing Hull and Machinery underwriters in relation to the sinking of the MY “Fiji Siren” in Fiji on 15 November 2016.
  • Representing 1 Up Cargo in a claim for container detention made by COSCO Shipping Lines Co., Ltd in respect of containers shipped from Ports in Asia to Australian during Covid-19 when there were extensive delays to shipping schedules.

Colin Biggers & Paisley

Andrew Tulloch and Stephen Thompson lead the Colin Biggers & Paisley team from Melbourne and Sydney respectively. The group is instructed on a range of shipping issues such as admiralty, sea carriage, and marine insurance claims, and mandates ranging from high-value, multi-jurisdictional transactions to contentious proceedings. Of particular note is the group’s assistance with cargo and chartering matters, where it acts for marine insurers. Sydney-based Stuart Hetherington is a go-to practitioner for work in maritime and logistics law.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Tulloch; Stephen Thompson

Other key lawyers:

Stuart Hetherington


‘Excellent, very experienced lawyers, who also have a commercial mindset and are very supportive of and responsive to their clients’ needs.’

‘Stephen Thompson – an excellent lawyer who really knows the shipping and transportation industries. He can advise with ease on very technical legal issues, and is also very commercial. Fantastic to work with.’

Key clients

Dan Bunkering Singapore Pte Limited

United Salvage

Engage Marine

Mediterranean Shipping Co

Work highlights

  • Supported United Salvage with the salvage of the “Portland Bay”, including responding to an attempt by a vessel owner to deny that Lloyds Open Form had properly been invoked, and later assisted with evidence collection.
  • Acted for Dan Bunkering Singapore Pte Limited on the arrest of the “Yangtze Fortune” which involved dealing with a range of issues including obtaining court orders for vessel movements to avoid heavy weather, berthing for bunkers and provisions, urgent repairs and crew repatriation.
  • Acted for a major national stevedore and its liability insurer following a container stack collapse on board a ship in waters off Western Australia.

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance is ‘a strong participant among the admiralty and maritime players in Perth’, where practice head Pat Saraceni is based; she is described as ‘an excellent, results driven lawyer, operating at the top of her game’. Senior associates Nathan Sexton and Shannen Bowen are also key team members, especially for contentious work. The group has additional experience dealing with regulatory and compliance issues and deals with Australian regulators such as the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Authority.

Practice head(s):

Pat Saraceni

Other key lawyers:

Shannen Bowen; Nathan Sexton


‘A strong participant among the admiralty and maritime lawyers in Perth.’

‘Pat Saraceni is an excellent, results driven lawyer, operating at the top of her game.’

‘The expertise and service delivery at CC is truly excellent.’

‘Pat Saraceni – world leader in the field.’

Hall & Wilcox

Hall & Wilcox fields an ‘experienced, commercial, pro-active team with sound knowledge of contract, charter party and personal injury issues’. Key to the group’s multi-jurisdictional expertise is practice head Chris Sacré in Sydney, who is ‘conscientious, commercial and has wide experience of maritime law issues in London and Hong Kong in addition to Australia’. Elsewhere in the team, Kendall Messer in Perth is ‘highly engaged, well connected and fast to grasp detail,’ and is an experienced practitioner, dealing with a range of shipping litigation and transactional work.

Practice head(s):

Chris Sacré

Other key lawyers:

Paul Baxter; Kendall Messer


‘Chris Sacré in Sydney is conscientious, commercial and has wide experience of maritime law issues in London and Hong Kong in addition to Australia. Kendall Messer in Perth is highly engaged, well-connected and fast to grasp detail.’

‘Experienced, commercial, pro-active team with sound knowledge of contract, charter party and personal injury issues.’


The team at Kennedys is adept at handling the full range of shipping, trade and commodity services for clients throughout the maritime industry, acting on a variety of Australian and international marine insurance matters for clients including Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance. Praised as a lawyer who ‘understands the issues insurers face and works to find the best possible outcome for his clients‘, Peter Craney splits his time between Sydney and Melbourne; he leads the team alongside Jonathan Wyatt in Perth and Sydney-based marine specialist Chris Finn.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Wyatt; Chris Finn; Peter Craney


‘The Kennedy’s marine team are experienced and commercially aware operators, who are able to communicate in a clear and concise manner.’

‘Peter Craney understands the issues insurers face and works to find the best possible outcome for his clients.’

‘The team consists of a blend of experience from various global locations/jurisdictions and our business has been the beneficiary of that broad experience and expertise.’

Key clients

Allianz Marine and Transport (“AM&T”)

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI)

Navigators Corporate Underwriter Limited/AMICA NV


Toll Holdings

Liberty Special Markets

Bhagwan Marine





Work highlights

  • Assisted AM&T (Allianz Marine & Transit) with obtaining security for and ultimately recovery of the amounts paid to the Insured by AM&T, Tasmanian Ports Corporation Proprietary Limited, from the owners of the GOLIATH as a result of the vessel’s sinking on 28.1.2022.
  • Acting for Allianz Marine and Transport in relation to a claim for loss of cargo following a fire in the engine room of the MV TASMAN.
  • Acting for Quattro on instructions from its logistics liability insurers, BHSI, in respect of a claim involving a breach of contract and misleading and deceptive conduct brought by a NSW grain trading operation.

Sparke Helmore Lawyers

Sparke Helmore Lawyers‘ marine and transport group is led by Michelle Taylor, a practitioner with substantial experience in shipping casualty work, who is well supported by Richard Howard. The group has a strong national presence, with offices located across Australia, and also acts for key overseas clients, including the Government of Sri Lanka. As well as dealing with a range of local matters, the group also has experience drafting ship operation agreements and shipbuilding contracts, including those relating to projects in Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Singapore, China and Germany.

Practice head(s):

Michelle Taylor

Other key lawyers:

Richard Howard; Richard Anicich

Key clients

Government of Sri Lanka

West of England P&I Club

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Liberty Global Group

Subsea Pty Ltd

Allianz Global Corporate & Speciality (Singapore)

QBE Marine

National Transport Insurance

AST Oceanics Pty Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acted for the Cabinet of the Government of Sri Lanka as international legal advisors in relation to the wreck removal and environmental loss involving the “X-Press Pearl” incident.
  • Acting for West of England P&I Club and owners of “AG Neptune” in Federal Court of Australia admiralty “in rem” proceedings involving the arrest of a product tanker, with 62,700 metric tons of gasoil.
  • Successfully defending AMSA in the judicial review to defend process of procedural fairness with respect to the decision of a National Regulator (i.e. AMSA).

Wotton + Kearney

Naraya Lamart leads the group at Wotton + Kearney, which is described as ‘an excellent team, developing a real name in the market’, which will ‘always go beyond to arrive at the right contractual answer’. The team has a strong marine insurance practice and has experience acting in a range of proceedings, including hull and machinery, P&I, FD&D, cargo, freight forwarder and marina operator liability claims. On the regulatory side, Richard Howard is highlighted for his capabilities in negotiating with port authorities and regulators.

Practice head(s):

Naraya Lamart

Other key lawyers:

Richard Howard


‘Naraya Lamart and the team will always go beyond to arrive at the right contractual answer. Her ethics and ability to see through any complexity is brilliant.’

‘Naraya Lamart is establishing herself in the market.’

‘An excellent team, developing a real name in the market.’

Key clients

Chubb Insurance Australia

Zurich Australian Insurance