Next Generation Partners

Firms To Watch: Transport: shipping

Founded in 1981, the team at boutique Perth firm Cocks MacNish advises P&I clubs, ship owners and charterers on a wide range of shipping and maritime law matters.
The Ashurst shipping team in Melbourne advises shipowners and marine insurers on a comprehensive range of disputes and project matters involving commercial and maritime law.

Transport: shipping in Australia

Clyde & Co LLP

The powerhouse marine team at Clyde & Co LLP remains a market leader in the shipping practice area, specialising in advising commercial fishing operators, cargo interests, and litigation funding companies involved in high-value class action lawsuits. Headed by maritime legal authority Maurice Thompson, out of the offices in Melbourne and Perth, the group assists such clients as Murphy Operator, UIL, and RWE Supply & Trading with a diverse spectrum of matters. These include marine insurance claims, charterparty disputes, and contracts of affreightment. The team also includes admiralty law expert Ernest Van Buuren, who is based in Sydney and Brisbane, experienced shipping litigator Nic Van Der Reyden in Sydney, and special counsel James Cooper in Melbourne.

Practice head(s):

Maurice Thompson


‘The unique quality of Clyde & Co is the level of specificity pertaining to maritime trade law issues. As leaders in Australia the global footprint they have is comforting when disputes arise in foreign ports.’

‘Whilst Clyde & Co has a depth of partners the individual that stands out is Maurice Thompson. Maurice’s dedication to the profession and long experience has allowed him to retain incredible knowledge and precedent which is invaluable when navigating new issues. His swiftness and confidence has guided my decision on numerous occasions.’

‘Clyde & Co has the pre-eminent shipping practice in AU. The team’s breadth, depth, and expertise is unrivalled. Clyde & Co is the only AU law firm which is truly capable of conducting large complex shipping claims and litigation.’

‘The stand out partner is Maurice Thompson, who is an industry leader and innovator. Maurice has embraced alternative funding models which benefit his clients when many other lawyers suffer from inertia and are incapable of change. Maurice is to be commended for his forward-thinking plus his motivation and drive to achieve the best outcomes for his clients.’

Key clients

Murphy Operator Pty Ltd

Australian fisheries sector

UIL (Singapore) Pty Ltd

RWE Supply & Trading GmbH

Hamburg Sud Australia Pty Ltd and Hamburg Südamerikanische

Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft A/S & Co KG

Work highlights

  • Acted for approximately 500 clients from the Australian fisheries sector (including commercial fishers, commercial prawn farmers and seafood importers) in a class action against the Commonwealth Government seeking circa $500m in damages in respect of losses sustained as a consequence of the outbreak of the ‘White Spot’ disease to prawns and crustaceans, following a serious biosecurity breach in respect of the carriage of frozen seafood product by sea into Australia.
  • Acted for Murphy Operator Pty Ltd, Tobari Pty Ltd and SPW Pty Ltd in a class action against a Port Authority seeking circa $150m in damages for environmental harm arising from vessel dredging in the port of Gladstone, which decimated local fisheries on which the region and Queensland were reliant.
  • Advised RWE on the prospects of the arrest of MV Puerto Rosario at Abbot Point Port, Queensland, as security for its claim in London arbitration against the owners.


The experienced team at HFW advises major clients in the marine and shipping sectors on a broad range of matters. These include insurance liability claims, criminal and civil litigations, ship procurement, high-value cross-border M&A, charterparty disputes, regulatory compliance, construction contracts, tax, and issues related to offshore gas and oil operations. Led by international shipping authority Gavin Vallely from the Melbourne office, the team has a diverse client portfolio which includes P&O Maritime Services, Allianz, and APT Travel Group. The group is backed by cruise line industry expert Stephen Thompson in Sydney and Melbourne-based Simon Shaddick, who advises on matters in the offshore energy sector. The team lost Hazel Brewer, who joined Squire Patton Boggs in August 2021.

Practice head(s):

Gavin Vallely

Other key lawyers:

Stephen ThompsonSimon Shaddick


‘Shipping, logistics, and contracts is a challenging environment to be involved with, and we have always found the HFW team to provide accurate and supportive advice. This is inclusive of how to structure an entity, tax implications, service negotiations across legal clauses, and general support through sometimes exhausting periods. HFW can provide a one-stop option to support the industry.’

‘Gavin Vallely has a diverse background in shipping and logistics, with extensive experience. His assistance in contractual matters and advice have always been of the highest quality. Gavin is always approachable and available to help when needed. Gavin is very well networked and connected to other specialised resources that can assist where required on any matter.’

‘HFW is very responsive to emerging crises. Their emergency response team provides rapid support to clients. A diverse office network ensures they are not geographically constrained.’

‘Simon Shaddick is professional and knowledgeable in all matters related to shipping and the maritime industry. Very approachable and communicative.’

Key clients

SeaRoad Shipping Pty Ltd

Forico Pty Limited


P&O Maritime Services Pty Ltd


ASP Ship Management

DP World Group

APT Travel / APH Group

International Group of P&I Clubs including Charles Taylor / Standard P&I Club, North of England P&I Club, Steamship Mutual P&I Club, UK P&I Club, Shipowners Mutual and Japan P&I Club

Toll Group

Tokio Marine


Altera Infrastructure LLP (formerly Teekay Offshore LP)

TT-Line Company Limited

Mission to Seafarers

GFG Alliance / Simec Mining

Victorian Regional Channel Authority


Oldendorff Carriers

Pacific Basin Shipping

Viva Energy

China Navigation Company / Swire Shipping

Work highlights

  • Instructed by P&O Maritime Services (and its parent DP World Group) in relation to the proposed sale of its ice breaker class research ship the Aurora Australis, which had been chartered to the Australian Commonwealth Government for 30 years to support Australia’s Antarctic research stations.
  • Advised APT Travel/APH Group on high-value deal which included the full acquisition of the luxury cruise ship Caledonian Sky, as well as restructuring the interests in two other luxury cruise ships, and related corporate and financial interests across Australia, the UK, Sweden and the Bahamas.
  • Advised Altera in respect of its successful application for a hazardous wastes special export permit in respect of the decommissioned floating storage and offloading (FSO) ship FSO Dampier Spirit from an offshore oil field in Australia to a shipyard in Turkey for recycling.

Colin Biggers & Paisley

The experienced transport and logistics group at Colin Biggers & Paisley advises a range of marine insurers, charterers, P&I clubs, ship owners, and commodity traders involved in high-value cross-border transactions and litigation. The team is headed from Melbourne by maritime law authority Andrew Tulloch, and advises such clients as the Australian National Maritime Museum, HW Greenham & Sons, and AIG Insurance, on a broad spectrum of matters. These include charter party disputes, ship construction, procurement, cargo and liability claims, and ship finance. In Sydney, other key team members include ports and supply chain expert Stephen Thompson, insurance and commercial law specialist Stuart Hetherington, and Simone Whetton, who advises on outsourcing and procurement issues.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Tulloch


‘Colin Biggers & Paisley punches above its weight. The quality of its personnel outshines much larger firms. There is a can-do collegial attitude amongst the firm. How this makes Colin Biggers & Paisley different is that when they pull a team together, partners from across the firm that support transport and logistics, be they property, environment or other lawyers, come together as one rather than as separate individuals. The strength of the team at the forefront and behind the transport practice is highly dynamic and able to adapt to multiple scenarios because of the ability to draw on support from across the firm.’

‘Stephen Thompson is an outstanding transport lawyer. His advice is always very considered but he is not afraid to give you the hard advice if need be. He knows the industry landscape well through his years of practice and strong network. What makes him special is his highly personal engagement, ability to get the job done no matter how big the task, and his highly practical side, which delivers results.’

‘Stephen Thompson is so practical and really understands our business and how we like to approach issues. As a result, his valued and trusted advice is also cost-effective.’

Key clients

Australian National Maritime Museum

Eli Lilly

H W Greenham & Sons Pty Ltd

NTI Limited

Qube Ports

Thomas Miller

AIG Insurance

Work highlights

  • Acting for NTI Limited in defence of a claim brought against a company providing painting services to a historic pleasure craft vessel undergoing refurbishment which caught fire whilst on a hardstand in Brisbane.
  • Acting for the London insurance market in a claim relating to the theft of a large quantity of tobacco products from a bonded warehouse.
  • Assisted a global cruise line on multiple fronts, including advising on regulatory matters in Australia, such as the entitlement of port authorities to bar a ship from entry, and the implications of international conventions such as SOLAS and MLC on that issue.

HWL Ebsworth

The transport team at HWL Ebsworth advises a broad client base of P&I clubs, marine insurers, shipowners, cruise and ferry operators, renewable energy suppliers, and the Australian government on a wide spectrum of matters. Among its areas of strength are international charter-party disputes, inquests, cargo claims, salvage matters, financial tracing, and regulatory compliance. Headed by shipping and trade national leader Joe Hurley in Sydney, Philip Hunter in Brisbane, and Tony Morgan in Darwin, the group’s client portfolio includes the Shipowners' Club, Orient Overseas Container Line, and Anchorage Marine. The team is supported in the Sydney office by maritime liability authority Simon Liddy, personal injury specialist Anthony Highfield, and special counsel Jesper Martens.


‘The shipping team at HWLE are excellent at coming up with commercial solutions for their clients. They have key experience in the market and they use that knowledge to offer solutions. They collaborate together and work well as a team.’

‘Simon Liddy is fantastic, especially with personal injury claims. He has in-depth knowledge of the law and applies his vast experience to his cases. Joe Hurley is great at finding clients innovative and appropriate responses. He has a unique style.’

Key clients

Navios Shipmanagement Inc and Gard P&I Club

Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd and Steamship Mutual P&I Club

All Occasion Cruises and British Marine P&I Club

Kuehne & Nagel

Anchorage Marine Underwriting

Shipowners P&I Club

Club Marine

TT Club

Work highlights

  • Acting for Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd and Steamship Mutual P&I Club, a charterer of a container ship that lost and damaged about 85 containers off the coast of Australia in May 2020, including assisting the clients with the appointment of an expert marine engineer to board the vessel and investigate the causes of an engine breakdown that may have caused the loss of the containers, defending claims from cargo interests and seeking indemnity from owners of the ship.
  • Acted for Navios Shipmanagement Inc and Gard P&I Club, an owner/manager of a container ship that lost a number of containers off the coast of Australia in May 2020, including advising clients on the powers of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to issue directions for search and clean-up, demand security for fines and clean-up costs, and powers to detain the ship.
  • Acting for All Occasion Cruises and British Marine P&I Club, the owners of a cruise party vessel, in relation to a fatality on board the vessel on 2 February 2019.

Mills Oakley

The insurance, trade, and transport group at Mills Oakley Lawyers advises major marine insurers, claims agencies, logistics service providers, vessel operators, and port authorities involved in high-value domestic and cross-border claims. Led from the Sydney office by legal shipping authority Frazer Hunt and backed by special counsel and transport expert Maurice Lynch, the team’s portfolio includes AIG Insurance, Chubb Insurance Australia, and National Transport Insurance. The group’s practice spans litigation and arbitration, including class action suits, covering cargo insurance claims, policy coverage matters, breach of contract claims, and disputes over charter agreements and contracts of carriage.

Practice head(s):

Frazer Hunt

Other key lawyers:

Maurice Lynch


‘The team has great marine insurance acumen and knowledge – we as clients are not just a number. They are always on hand to answer questions and take queries.’

‘Frazer Hunt has years of experience. His maritime knowledge is fantastic and he has been able to assist on all of our major claims losses. Maurice Lynch is a real up and comer – he is highly experienced and qualified, with a great personality, and is an effective communicator in all parts of maritime litigation.’

‘Good relationship building, core skillsets (especially in the narrow field of maritime law), and prompt and considered advice.’

‘Maurice Lynch has a great friendly manner and a thorough approach to his work. He has a fantastic skillset in a quite narrow field of expertise, and has always been prompt and considered with his advice.’

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

  • Engaged to represent Chubb Insurance as 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.
  • Acting for various insurers in pursuing the first class action in the Federal Court of Australia on behalf of cargo owners in respect of a container stow collapse on board the MV APL England in May 2020.
  • Appointed by the Australian and Chinese insurers of a coal loader operated by Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group to coordinate investigations into the cause of the loss, quantum and business interruption, following significant damage in mid-November 2020 when it was blown off its rails during a storm during coal loading operations.

Clifford Chance

Leveraging the strength of its offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Paris, and London, the maritime and offshore practice at Clifford Chance acts for a wide range of clients in the shipping and offshore oil and gas sectors. Led by maritime legal authority Pat Saraceni in Perth, the team advises clients including Bahrain Steel on matters such as ship arrests, charterparty disputes, maritime and offshore disputes, casualty management, and regulatory compliance. The group is backed by senior associate Nathan Sexton in Perth.

Practice head(s):

Pat Saraceni

Other key lawyers:

Nathan Sexton


‘This team is at the top of its game, with excellent partners and associates who have a genuine mastery of the law.’

‘Pat Saraceni is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced maritime lawyers in the Perth market, and has good commercial sense in litigation.’

Key clients

Bahrain Steel

Work highlights

  • Continuing to act for Bahrain Steel (an iron ore pelletiser based in Bahrain) on a range of shipping-related matters, both corporate advisory and litigious.

Holding Redlich

The transport, shipping and logistics group at Holding Redlich counts domestic and international ship owners, ports, P&I clubs, operators, commodities traders, and charterers among its clients, advising on maritime disputes and transactions. Led by Geoff Farnsworth and Nathan Cecil from the Sydney office, the team’s client portfolio includes Cargill Australia and Hapag-Lloyd. The group’s full-service offering covers port logistics, ship arrests, regulatory compliance, collision and indemnity claims, and international sales.

Practice head(s):

Geoff Farnsworth; Nathan Cecil


‘Extensive experience and industry knowledge, and willingness and sincere interest in the sector.’

‘I like the way the team approaches problems, finds solutions, and provides advice.’

‘Nathan Cecil has shown that he is capable of steering through the cases efficiently and providing clear guidance.’

‘The team are really easy to work with because they always keep you updated and provide their view on how to proceed.’                                           

‘Geoff Farnsworth has good industry knowledge and a practical approach.’

‘Nathan Cecil is excellent – very sharp and user-friendly.’

Key clients



Five Star Motor Yachts

Cargill Australia Ltd

Savino Del Bene

Grain Trade Australia


Star Canopus Special Maritime Enterprise & Campbell

Johnston Clark

Work highlights

  • Acting for the owners of the Kiel Express, which parted its mooring lines in a heavy weather event at Port Botany on 14 October 2014, before coming into contact with two other vessels in the port, in a collision and indemnity claim.
  • Acting for Spliethoff, the operator of the Dijskgracht, in response to a claim for damage to a cargo of three floating breakwater pontoons during a voyage from Cork, Ireland, to Geelong, Australia.
  • Acting for Kalmar, a major Finnish supplier of port-related equipment and technology, in a claim commenced in the Supreme Court of NSW in relation to the supply of port equipment to the Port of Salalah, Oman.


The marine group at Kennedys advises domestic and international insurers, P&I clubs, shipowners, ports, and charterers involved in high-value cross-border transactions and claims. Headed by marine dispute authority Chris Finn in the Sydney office, the group assists such clients as Navigators Corporate Underwriters, Brit UW, and Markel Capital with a wide range of shipping issues. These extend to share and purchase contracts, collision and salvage claims, third-party liability claims and policy drafting. The team is supported in Sydney by shipping litigation specialist Joseph Nicholls and Peter Craney, who advises on hull, liability, and cargo insurance. Additional strength arrived with partner Jonathan Wyatt, who brought his team of eight lawyers from Clyde & Co LLP to the Perth office in May 2021.

Practice head(s):

Chris Finn

Other key lawyers:

Peter Craney; Joseph Nicholls


‘The team all put themselves in our position and try to resolve issues in the most practical way, rather than incurring fees for the sake of it.’

‘Peter Craney and Jonathan Wyatt are very knowledgeable across the industry segment that I work in. They are approachable to talk through issues on a face-to-face basis, which creates a basis for working towards solutions as a partnership.’

Key clients

Navigators Corporate Underwriters Limited

Brit UW Ltd

Markel Capital Limited

QBE Insurance (Europe) Ltd

Toll Group

Berkshire Hathaway Speciality Insurance

QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited

HDI Global SE, Australia

NTI Limited


Work highlights

  • Acting as defence counsel for the underwriters in a claim brought by DMS Maritime for approximately AU$14m, stemming from a fire.
  • Advised DSV, a global transport and logistics company, on claims against a voyage charterer.
  • Acting for Toll Global Forwarding (Hong Kong) Limited, on instruction from Berkshire Hathaway Speciality Insurance, its freight forwarder and NVOCC liability insurers.

Sparke Helmore Lawyers

The marine and transport team at Sparke Helmore Lawyers advises marine insurers, ports, shipowners, charterers, transport operators, importers and exporters, and government agencies on a diverse array of shipping matters. These include procurement for vessel construction, leasing arrangements, marine pollution incidents, regulatory compliance, P&I matters, and hull and cargo liability insurance policies. Headed in Brisbane by marine and transport law authority Michelle Taylor, who joined the firm in November 2020 from Colin Biggers & Paisley, and supported by marine insurance specialist Natalia Hallum, the group’s portfolio features such clients as the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the Port of Brisbane, and National Transport Insurance.

Practice head(s):

Michelle Taylor

Other key lawyers:

Natalia Hallum

Key clients

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)

Port of Brisbane

Northern Territory Department of Environment and Natural Resources

National Transport Insurance (NTI)

QBE Marine

Allianz Marine & Transit (AM&T)

Specialist Underwriting Agencies (SUA)

Work highlights

  • Acting for the AMSA in Federal Court litigation relating to the YM Efficiency incident, which concerns a shipowner’s liability for plastic pollution in the marine environment.
  • Acted for the Northern Territory Government in a Supreme Court special case, concerning charges issued against the master, owner and manager of the vessel MV Antung over an oil spill in the Darwin Harbour.
  • Advising the Port of Brisbane on port of refuge issues relating to the Maryam vessel.

Thynne + Macartney

The maritime and transport team at Thynne + Macartney advises on an array of cross-border matters for insurers, P&I clubs, and vessel operators. Areas of strength include charterparty disputes, insurance liability claims, shipbuilding and repair contracts, vessel sale and purchase, transport terms and conditions, marine regulatory compliance, and risk management issues. Headed in Brisbane by Michael Fisher and insurance litigation expert Matthew Hockaday, the group’s portfolio features the Shipowners' Club, British Marine, and Korea P&I Club. The team is backed by public liability specialist Murray Tavener in the Cairns office.

Other key lawyers:

Murray Tavener


‘T&M has varied experience of handling P&I claims not only in Australia but also in Oceania. We have been very satisfied with their service. T&M’s legal advice has been very informative and prompt.’

‘Michael Fisher is outstanding in every respect.’

Key clients

All members of the International Group of P&I Clubs

Shipowners P&I Club

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

  • Provided advice to Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association Limited concerning regulatory issues, cargo loss and damage, and environmental issues.  
  • Provided advice to Korea Shipowners’ Mutual Protection & Indemnity Association concerning oil pollution, cargo damage, environmental issues, wreck removal, and chartering.
  • Acting for the owners of the vessel Dianne (and their liability insurer) in relation to compensation claims for nervous shock and dependency made by the family of crew members.