Shipping in Canada

Bernard LLP

Vancouver-based Bernard LLP focuses on maritime and insurance law, and has a strong track record in litigation and complex transactions for domestic and international clients. Key areas of expertise include freight disputes, ship arrests, and claims arising out of collision, grounding, salvage and pollution. Peter Swanson and Gary Wharton are both highly recommended for complex marine sector-disputes.

Practice head(s):

Peter Swanson; Gary Wharton

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP's national shipping practice acts for clients including ship owners, operators and charterers, liner companies, and ship builders. In addition to handling a huge variety of commercial, regulatory and compliance work, the practice group is especially well known for its handling of contentious matters. Indeed, team has shown its strength in matters relating to collisions and spills, cargo claims, charter party contract litigation and ship arrests. Practice head Jean-Marie Fontaine in Montréal is among the primary contacts. Vancouver-based Dionysios Rossi is a name to note for environmental claims.

Practice head(s):

Jean-Marie Fontaine

Key clients

Kirby Corporation

BELPacific Excavating and Shoring Limited Partnership

Ridley Terminals Inc.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd.

British Columbia Coast Pilots Ltd.

Panalpina Inc.

COSCO Shipping Holdings Co./Orient Overseas International Ltd.

BC Ferries

BMT Fleet Technology

Eastern Pacific Shipping

Federal Fleet Services

Marine Canada Acquisition Inc.

Chantier Davie Canada Inc.

TT Club

Canada Steamship Lines

Seaspan ULC

Fathom Marine

Ocean Network Express

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company

Work highlights

  • Acted as counsel to BMT Fleet Technology Ltd. and its insurer, ITIC, in connection with the design and construction of a “seabus”. The vessel purchaser and operator, Translink, has alleged that a number of deficiencies exist with respect to the vessel, and has commenced arbitration proceedings against BMT.
  • Representing Logistec in the appeal of a decision relating to terms and conditions of Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association.
  • Acted as Canadian legal counsel to Kirby Corporationin all ongoing criminal and civil proceedings arising from the grounding of the US-flagged tugboat M/T Nathan E. Stewart on October 13, 2016, while transiting the Inside Passage of B.C., spilling approximately 100,000 litres of fuel into Seaforth Channel.

Brisset Bishop

Brisset Bishop is a Montréal-based shipping boutique with an outstanding reputation in litigation. The team has recognized strengths in cargo damage claims, ship arrests, pollution claims, personal injury and pilotage disputes. David Colford is known for his record in contractual disputes and litigation before the admiralty and civil courts. Danièle Dion has extensive experience of litigation and ADR.

Practice head(s):

David Colford; Danièle Dion

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright's national full-service shipping practice is able to draw upon the firm's extensive global platform to handle multi-jurisdictional contentious and non-contentious shipping matters. Contacts in Vancouver include John Bromley QC, who has a strong reputation in litigation; Shelley Chapelski, who handles a wide range of transactional matters and insurance claims; and Andrew Stainer, an up-and-coming partner specializing in casualty and emergency response. In Montréal, Vanessa Rochester has extensive experience in multi-jurisdictional disputes, and transportation practice head Alain Ricard is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Shelley Chapelski; Alain Ricard

Other key lawyers:

John Bromley QC; Vanessa Rochester


Vanessa Rochester is very knowledgeable. She explains all issues well and elaborate on the impacts of various changes to overall security and risk. She takes her time to help us better understand in a friendly way. It is a pleasure working with her and I feel we are in good hands with her.

Key clients

Bridgeman Services Group LP

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)

Groupe Desgagnés and subsidiaries (Petro-Nav Inc.)

Harlock Murray Underwriting

Neptune Bulk Terminals (Canada) Ltd.

North of England P&I Association Ltd.

Ocean Group

Pembina Pipeline Corporation

Port de Quebec

Prince Rupert Port Authority

Royal Bank of Canada

Seaspan ULC & other companies of the Washington Marine Group

Shipowners’ Mutual Protection & Indemnity Association Limited.

Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund


Work highlights

  • Advised marine transportation services client Bridgemans Services Group LP on a wide range of matters.
  • Advised tug company Seaspan ULC on a range of matters including its fleet renewal programme.
  • Assisted Vancouver Dry-dock Ltd., Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. and Victoria Shipyards with ship construction awards from the Federal Government with respect to the renewal of the Canadian fleet. Also advised on the day to day work of repair contracts, procurement, environmental issues and technology agreements.

Fernandes Hearn LLP

Maritime and admiralty law is a core practice area at transportation boutique Fernandes Hearn LLP, which has handled a variety of transactional matters and disputes in the sector. Rui Fernandes is the name to note; he specializes in marine insurance-related matters and has acted for various types of brokers, agents and marine surveyors.

Practice head(s):

Rui Fernandes

Isaacs & Co

Based in Toronto, Isaacs & Co is a specialist litigation firm with experience in cargo damage claims, marine personal injury and environmental disputes. Led by Marc Isaacs, the practice group also provides emergency response for collisions, casualties, explosions and other marine and environmental incidents.

Practice head(s):

Marc Isaacs

Stewart McKelvey

Based in Halifax and Saint John, Stewart McKelvey has a full-service shipping practice focused on Atlantic Canada. Core areas of expertise include casualty response, acquisition and financing transactions, commercial and insurance disputes and advice to port authorities and terminal operators. Halifax-based Will Moreira QC and Saint John-based Paul Harquail are names to note.

Other key lawyers:

Paul Harquail; Will Moreira QC

Stikeman Elliott LLP

Stikeman Elliott LLP has handled a huge variety of maritime and shipping matters, with a track record in transactions and disputes, as well as in maritime insurance work. Peter Cullen in Montréal is known for his work in alternative dispute resolution.

Practice head(s):

Peter Cullen