Shipping: foreign firms in China

Clyde & Co LLP

Benefiting from a sizeable offering in Shanghai, in particular, and also able to draw upon the expertise of numerous lawyers from other key regional offices, including Singapore and Hong Kong, the 'professional and efficient' team at Clyde & Co LLP remains well-positioned to handle a range of contentious and non-contentious shipping work involving a nexus to China. Ik Wei Chong leads the team and combines pure shipping disputes expertise relating to marine casualties, charterparty, and shipbuilding issues, with broader China-related commercial and investment disputes experience on behalf of shipping and commodities entities. Nicholas Lum's return to the firm in December 2019 from Ince strengthens the team's litigation capability, particularly in light of his expertise advising China-based shipping clients on cross-border disputes. At an associate level, Beijing-based Flora Tang is recommended for her disputes expertise relating to cargo claims, bills of lading, and charterparties, while the 'excellentChristian Liu is forging a strong reputation in the marine insurance market from Shanghai. The firm's joint law venture in China, Clyde & Co Westlink JLV, also enables the team to represent clients before the local courts.

Practice head(s):

Ik Wei Chong


‘The professional and efficient team provides legal and business strategic thinking, and can directly communicate with customers in Chinese and English.’

‘Ik Wei Chong and Christian Liu are excellent.’


With three partners focusing on litigation, HFW's 'enthusiastic and industrious' Shanghai office has the strength-in-depth to handle a tremendous volume and range of wet and dry disputes for the firm's stellar roster of clients, that includes shipowners, shipyards, and shipbuilders. With over 20 years' experience on the ground in Shanghai, the team has a 'very clear understanding of what their clients need' and is thereby able to provide 'top-notch advice and representationto many of the leading PRC-based shipping entities, both on local matters, as well as overseas arbitration and litigation (where it is able to draw upon the expertise of practitioners based in other key locations, including London). In addition to his broad-ranging contentious and transactional work for PRC-based clients, 'first-rate' team head Nick Poynder is also noted for his Korea-related shipping work. UK and US-qualified partner Trevor Fox also handles a range of dry disputes work for local clients, which are appreciative of his ability to provide culturally sensitive advice through the prism of an international outlook. On the admiralty front, 'terrifyingly good' PRC-qualified lawyer Jenny Chester is recommended for salvage matters, while master mariner Julian Davies handles casualty work throughout North Asia. Consultant Stephen Marais has a focus on shipping finance matters, including sale and leaseback mandates, and export credit-backed transactions. 'Amazingly thorough and thoughtful' senior associate Thilo Jahn provides 'critical insight' to clients engaged in disputes arising under commodity contracts, charterparties, bills of lading as well as offshore and shipbuilding contracts.

Practice head(s):

Nicholas Poynder


‘The team is very able, enthusiastic and industrious, but, above all, has a very clear understanding of what its clients need and an understanding of business in the Far East, which they bring to bear most effectively in London arbitration and litigation.’

‘The Shanghai office offers absolutely top-notch advice and representation on shipbuilding and offshore construction disputes and has a well-deserved reputation with some of the best Chinese shipyards.’

‘Nicholas Poynder puts his heart and soul into his clients’ cases. He has a great feel for what needs to be done and he is accordingly a winner.’

‘Nicholas Poynder is a first-rate lawyer: with strong understanding of technical issues, excellent black letter law skills and a total commitment to client’s interests. He is an accomplished litigator.’

‘Thilo Jahn’s native language is German and that gives him an excellent edge but his English is absolutely perfect – not just technically perfect, but he has that critical insight and humour which goes above and beyond. He is amazingly thorough and thoughtful.’

‘Jenny Chester is excellent at liaising with her colleagues and brings out the best of them. She is terrifyingly good.’

Key clients

Genting Hong Kong Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Genting Hong Kong Limited on its $900m sale and lease back transaction of m.v. “Genting Dream”, a 2016-built cruise ship.    


Co-headed by Paul Ho and Wai Yue Loh from Shanghai and Beijing, respectively, Ince is 'well-established in the China shipping market' and combines 'commercial' sector expertise, alongside litigation, corporate, regulatory and finance capabilities, to provide a rounded service to a broad range of clients, including P&I clubs, lessors, banks and shipyards. The 'professional and well-educated' Ho has a particularly strong reputation in relation to Chinese shipbuilding matters, both on the front-end of deals, as well as in any disputes that may subsequently arise. In addition to his broad-ranging dry disputes expertise, which includes advice in relation to cargo claims, charterparty and bills of lading, the 'very user-friendly' Loh also handles admiralty work and forms a key part of the firm's overarching international emergency response team that provides round-the-clock representation in relation to marine casualties anywhere in the world. Dual qualified in the UK and PRC, Shanghai-based partner Shirley Li's transactional and litigation practice covers both traditional shipping, in addition to international trade matters, including advice to Chinese shipowners, managers, and insurers on the impact of sanctions. Shanghai-based managing associate Zeldar Wang provides 'user-friendly and knowledgeable' advice to owners, charterers, and their P&I clubs in litigation before the Hong Kong courts and in international arbitrations.


‘Ince is very commercial, and able to conduct high-value litigation at good value rates.’

‘The team provides logical and clear advice.’

‘It is a well-known team and is well established in the China shipping market.’

‘Paul Ho and Louie Zhang are extremely professional and well educated and I trust them 100% in terms of the subjects they work for us, which is dealing with the shipyards in China.’

‘Wai Yue Loh has excellent legal knowledge, and good understanding of the commercial background. He is very user-friendly and easy to communicate with.’

‘Zeldar Wang is very user-friendly and knowledgeable.’


Key clients

China COSCO Shipping (various subsidiaries)

China Merchants Group (various subsidiaries)

China Development Bank (various branches)

Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (various branches)

Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Financial Leasing

Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding

Shanghai SWS Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.

Guangzhou Wenchong Shipbuilding Group

China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC group) (various subsidiaries)

Shanghai International Port Group

Wikborg Rein

Praised for its 'commercial and efficient approach', Wikborg Rein is appreciated by clients for its ability to combine 'an international mindset with a strong knowledge of the Chinese market'. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given its Norwegian heritage, a significant proportion of the work that is handled by the firm's Shanghai representative office relates to shipping matters with a nexus to the oil and gas and offshore sectors. This has manifested itself not only in new money transactions but also distressed and restructuring work, which has experienced somewhat of a recent surge, as a result of a period of generally depressed oil prices. Although some of the work relates to advice on behalf of institutional Norwegian clients on their China-related mandates, the team is continuing to develop increasingly robust relationships with a myriad of Chinese stakeholders. For example, as part of team head Ronin Zong's broad-ranging dry shipping workflow, he is increasingly active on behalf of Chinese state-owned shipyards in shipbuilding transactions and disputes. Likewise, newly appointed partner Chelsea Chen continues to pick up significant financing, sale and leaseback transactions, and portfolio trading work on behalf of a growing roster of Chinese lessors.  The team is rounded out a partner-level by Yafeng Sun, whose transactional and litigation work includes advice to P&I clubs and hull and machinery underwriters on casualty matters.

Practice head(s):

Ronin Zong

Other key lawyers:

Yafeng Sun; Chelsea Chen; Claire Jiang


‘The combination of a general international mindset and competence with particular Chinese knowledge and experience is very valuable. Also, the firm’s commercial and efficient approach is highly appreciated.’

Key clients

Viking Cruises AS

China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited

COSCO Shipyard Group Co., Ltd.

China Merchants Holdings Co., Ltd.

ICBC Financial Leasing Co., Ltd.

CMB Financial Leasing Co., Ltd.

Bank of Communications Financial Leasing Co., Ltd.

Avic International Leasing Co., Ltd.


Norwegian Hull Club

Skuld P&I Club

Work highlights

  • Represented COSL in a lawsuit against Equinor claiming losses and damages for USD 500 million arising from Equinor’s unlawful termination of a long term drilling contract with COSL.
  • Advising Viking Cruises AS in their JV in China with China Merchants Group in relation to construction and operations of river cruise ships in Chinese waters.
  • Assisting CNOOC Cenertech in selling a series of aged FPSOs.

DLA Piper

Although DLA Piper has fewer transactional and shipping litigation-focused practitioners on the ground in mainland China than some of its peers in the market, the 'client-oriented and cost-effective' team forms a vital part of the firm's Greater China offering which is driven from Hong Kong. Promoted to partner in May 2020, the 'outstandingXiaoshan Chen spearheads much of the shipping and international trade disputes work handled from Shanghai and benefits from excellent familiarity with disputes settled via arbitration in a variety of locations including Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Singapore, and Australia.

Practice head(s):

Xiaoshan (Kelvin) Chen

Other key lawyers:

Roy Chan; Eva Yao; Ernest Yang; Kevin Chan


‘The team provides a client-oriented and cost-effective service.’

‘Kevin Chan has a great commercial understanding of his cases and excellent client care skills.’

Key clients

Ping An Property & Casualty Insurance Company of China

Stephenson Harwood

Although much of Stephenson Harwood's market-leading shipping finance work in the region is led from Hong Kong, under the guidance of Evangeline Quek, the Shanghai office regularly forms an integral part of the firm's approach to resourcing work throughout Greater China, particularly when there is a Chinese bank or leasing company involved. Quek also has a strong reputation for owners, P&I clubs and financiers as parties to charterparty and contractual disputes, as well as in relation to contentious marine insolvency cases. Fluent in English and Mandarin, associate Simone Liu is a growing favourite among Chinese banks, lessors and shipyards across a range of financing mandates and has a pivotal role helping to develop the firm's mainland China finance practice.

Other key lawyers:

Simone Liu

Key clients

AVIC International Ship Development (China) Co., Ltd.

Inner Mongolia Junzheng Energy & Chemical Group Co Ltd

Bank of Communication Financial Leasing Co., Ltd.

SPDB Financial Leasing Co., Ltd.

China Development Bank

China Development Bank Financial Leasing

Everbright Fortune International Leasing

ICBC Financial Leasing Ltd.

The People’s Insurance Co of China (Hong Kong) Ltd

The Export-Import Bank of China

CMB Financial Leasing Ltd.

T.S. Lines Ltd

Work highlights

  • The shipping team in Hong Kong and Shanghai advised CMB Financial Leasing to strike a leasing deal for five 15,000 TEU containerships that the French carrier CMA CGM is ordering in China from China State Shipbuilding Corporation.
  • Acted as English law and lead counsel for ICBCFL in its $214.2m pre- and post-delivery sale and leaseback of two newbuilding shuttle tankers for Teekay Shuttle Tankers.
  • Advised Bank of America, as lead arranger and facility agent, in a first secured term facility made available to CMB Financial Leasing Co., Limited to refinance its sale and leaseback of the LNG tanker “Oak Spirit”.