Shipping: foreign firms in China

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP, one of the most prominent foreign shipping firms in the Chinese market, represents shipowners, Protection and Indemnity (P&I) clubs, charterers and operators, hull underwriters, cargo insurers, trading and energy companies, financial institutions, shipyards, freight-forwarders and logistics companies in relation to shipping litigation. There is also a strong financing aspect to the practice, which includes advising on lending, leasing, export credit financing and asset value support. The firm is involved in transactions relating to container ships, tankers and cruise ships, often for large Chinese State-owned enterprises (SOEs). Ik Wei Chong – with his wealth of expertise in a range of shipping matters including charterparty and ship arrest – heads the team in Shanghai, supported by dispute resolution specialist Nicholas Lum and a strong bench of partners. At the more junior end of the team, legal directors Flora Tang and Christian Liu are recommended.

Practice head(s):

Ik Wei Chong

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Rourke; Nicholas Lum; Fei Kwok; Thomas Choo; Canming Wang; Flora Tang; Christian Liu


‘They are well experienced and professional.’

‘They have international knowledge to dissolve any legal problems quickly.’


Nicholas Poynder heads HFW‘s highly respected practice in Shanghai. The firm remains among one of the most prominent players in this market and handles wet shipping matters such as collisions, grounding and salvage; dry shipping including charterparty and bill of lading disputes and also transactional work. Its notable clients include Shanghai Shipyard and China Merchant Industry Holdings, and it also has considerable experience in contentious matters, including litigation before the UK Supreme Court. Julian Davies is a master mariner with over 12 years’ experience at sea. Lucy Chen is a highly rated associate, appearing on many of the firm’s key matters over the past year; her practice includes marine insurance, shipbuilding and repair contracts and fleet operation contracts, as well as complex casualty cases. PRC-qualified senior manager Jenny Chester works on salvage, pollution and collisions, while senior associate Thilo Jahn is another name for contentious work.

Practice head(s):

Nicholas Poynder; Christopher Chan (Hong Kong)

Other key lawyers:

Julian Davies; Jenny Chester; Thilo Jahn; Lucy Chen


Ince is one of the stalwart players in the Chinese shipping market and the practice covers the full life cycle of a vessel from building to scrapping. The highly experienced Paul Ho co-heads the team and advises on claims arising from shipbuilding, conversion/repair contracts and offshore construction, charterparty contracts and cargo claims, among other areas. Wai Yue Loh jointly heads the team and counts some of China’s largest commercial shipping and metallurgical companies among his clientele. He advises on disputes relating to trade finance and dry bulk cargoes. Shirley Li is another name for international arbitration and is experienced in Hong Kong, Singapore and London, while Hong Kong’s David Beaves is another key practitioner.

Practice head(s):

Paul Ho; Wai Yue Loh; David Beaves (Hong Kong)

Other key lawyers:

Shirley Li

Wikborg Rein

Norwegian firm Wikborg Rein services not only the majority of Nordic shipping and insurance operations in China but also massive Chinese maritime companies such as COSCO and China Merchants Heavy Industry Co, as well as British and other international clients. The practice demonstrates considerable expertise in both financing and disputes and recently assisted CNOOC with a large Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) carrier shipbuilding order. Managing partner of the Shanghai office Ronin Zong has over 20 years’ experience in dry shipping matters; Chelsea Chen continues her work focussing chiefly on offshore projects and energy fields; senior laywer Claire Jiang is recommended for contracts work; and Bard Breda Bjerken, who is qualified in England and Wales, and Norway, recently relocated from the London office.

Practice head(s):

Ronin Zong; Yafeng Sun; Chelsea Chen

Other key lawyers:

Bard Breda Bjerken; Claire Jiang

Key clients

China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited and subsidiary yards

COSCO Shipyard Group Co., Ltd. and subsidiary yards

China Merchants Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. and subsidiary yards

China National Offshore Oil Corp (“CNOOC”) and subsidiaries

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

  • Advised CNOOC on its long-term charter deal for six newbuilding LNG carriers with Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, to be built at Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding in China (known as CNOOC LNG Stage 1).
  • Advised CDB Leasing on the sale and time charter back arrangements of five oil tankers with Trafigura Group.

DLA Piper

The ‘client-orientedDLA Piper provides a range of shipping law advice and related services to its global client base, which includes insurance companies, banks and maritime developers. Ernest Yang and Kevin Chan oversee the China practice from Hong Kong, while Xiaoshan Chen, with his extensive experience in international arbitration, represents the firm in Shanghai. Chen has considerable experience in handling international disputes covering areas such as charterparties, shipbuilding, sale of goods, trade, commodities, ship sale and purchase and marine insurance. Clients praise the practice for its commercial risk assessment work and for its ‘sound judgment in planning and managing dispute resolution matters’.

Practice head(s):

Ernest Yang; Kevin Chan

Other key lawyers:

Xiaoshan Chen


‘We are satisfied with the overall services of DLA Piper.’

‘The legal services provided by the team are client-oriented and best suit our needs.’

‘The firm stands out in providing assessment on the degree of legal and commercial risks against certain circumstances in a timely manner and was able to demonstrate sound judgment in planning and managing the dispute resolution matters for our company.’

‘DLA Piper impressed us by giving practical recommendations in solving the dispute cases and in formulating strategies in arbitration cases in the shipping industry.’

‘The team as a whole demonstrated outstanding efforts of professionalism in analyzing the merits and demerits of the current arbitration case.’

Key clients

Third Eye Capital

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood is praised for providing a ‘responsive, prompt and efficient service’. On the dry side, the shipping team covers bill of lading disputes, contracts for the sale and purchase of vessels, voyage charter disputes, Covid-related disputes (including repudiatory breaches) and time charter disputes, among other areas. On the wet side, the practice covers collisions and criminal prosecutions. The team is jointly led by Hong Kong’s Andrew Rigden Green and Shanghai’s Evangeline Quek, who is regularly instructed for dispute resolution, including international arbitrations and has also built up a transactional practice, acting for financial institutions and shipowners. Simone Liu was promoted to partner in May 2021.

Practice head(s):

Evangeline Quek; Andrew Rigden Green (Hong Kong)

Other key lawyers:

Simone Liu


‘Able to advise on cross-jurisdictional matters.’

‘Andrew Rigden-Green and Evangeline Quek can be relied on for a responsive, prompt and efficient service.’