Firms To Watch: Shipping

At Norton Rose Fulbright‘s Hong Kong office, Becky Tai leads a comprehensive and wide-ranging ship financing practice focussing on Greater China. In the past year she notably oversaw a BNP loan to COSCO for LNGs and financing for Scorpio tankers on behalf of ICBC Leasing.

Shipping in Hong Kong


Widely acknowledged by peers as a shipping firm at the height of its powers, HFW assists clients with wet shipping matters including collisions, grounding and salvage, as well as dry shipping matters such as charterparty, compliance and contractual work. This holistic practice is spearheaded by the highly experienced Christopher Chan – an executive committee member of the Hong Kong Maritime Law Association; he is well-supported by Patrick Yeung, who advises on transactional matters and dispute resolution, while Henry FungHenry Dunlop and Patrick Cheung are other key names at the firm. Angie Lo has a growing list of clients and is a building a strong reputation in the market.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Chan

Other key lawyers:

Patrick Yeung; Henry Dunlop, Angie Lo; Henry Fung; George Lamplough; Peter Murphy; Nicola Hui


‘A great team to work with, with strength in depth on shipping and shipbuilding matters.’

Key clients

Shanghai Shipyard Co. Ltd,

The Swedish Club Hong Kong Ltd

China Merchant Industry Holdings Co Ltd

Yes! E-sports Asia Holdings Limited

Bright Shipping Limited (Owners of SANCHI)


With Ince having provided legal assistance to shipping businesses for 150 years, the sea runs in the veins of the firm. Today, the shipping practice continues to act on some of the most complex disputes under the leadership of seasoned practitioner David Beaves and Paul Ho. Beaves and Ho are able to call on a strong bench of partners, including ‘key player’ Max Cross and Rosita Lau, who has an extensive list of shipping company and insurance clients, and Ruaridh Guy, a litigator who also has charterparty expertise. Richard Oakley is a master mariner and his experience serving at sea for nine years deepens his understanding of clients’ needs.

Practice head(s):

David Beaves; Paul Ho

Other key lawyers:

Rosita Lau; Max Cross; Ruaridh Guy; Richard Oakley


‘Ince have a very strong shipping practice – it has always been and remains their key area. They tend to be instructed in the biggest and most important shipping cases in Asia.’

‘Max Cross is the key player with the contacts and knowledge. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law and market.’

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP have long been a leader in the shipping field. The firm continues to offer a comprehensive shipping law service in China, which includes handling both contentious and non-contentious matters. Its lawyers are well regarded for their experience and ‘in-depth knowledge‘. Matthew Lam, with his particular specialism in marine casualty cases, leads on complex litigation and arbitration in Hong Kong. Fei Kwok is a specialist in maritime financing and represents a number of Chinese state-backed companies. Senior associate Rita Hung focuses on contentious marine matters. Clients note that Hung and Michael Ngexcel in shipping litigation‘. Anthony Woo departed the firm in May 2022 for Hauzen LLP.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Lam

Other key lawyers:

Fei Kwok; Rita Hung; Michael Ng


‘Committed to clients long term. Invested the time to understand client’s business model and pain points and can cater for solutions. In-depth knowledge in Maritime matters with a strong business sense.’

‘Matthew Lam led a stable team consists of very capable assistants. Michael Ng and Rita Hung particularly excel in shipping litigation and regulatory matters respectively.’

‘Highly experienced in shipping litigation matters. They have a good network with law firms in other jurisdictions.’


Handling an array of shipping finance and litigation matters with a global scope, CMS Hong Kong continues to gain traction in the market. The team has considerable experience in arbitration and is led by shipping litigators Andrew Horton and Steven Wise. Elliot Woodruff recently arrived from Ince as a consultant. Helen Tang, who specialises in disputes arising from bills of lading, charterparties and international trading and ship management contracts, is one of the firm’s rising stars. The team demonstrates particular expertise in liquidation matters and ship arrests.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Horton; Steven Wise

Other key lawyers:

Helen Tang; Elliot Woodruff


‘The team possess excellent knowledge and skills in tackling shipping-related issues, which is of paramount importance in decision of appointment by clients.’

‘Andrew Horton (Partner) and Helen Tang (Of Counsel) are thoughtful in assisting clients in consideration of different scenarios with evaluation of the best approach to recommend the optimal course of action, taking account of cost-effectiveness.’

‘Good and friendly.’

DLA Piper

The DLA Piper shipping team has a wide-ranging practice, which is led by Ernest Yang and Kevin Chan, and acts for shipowners, charterers and operators, shipyards, logistics providers and others on complicated commercial disputes, including bills of lading disputes, the defence of cargo claims, equipment claims against freight forwarders, detention, demurrage, charterparty and freight claims. Tom Van Hoof handles the financing side of the practice and his work often includes coordinating multi-jurisdictional financing transactions. Clients state that the shipping practice ‘stands out in providing assessments on the degree of legal and commercial risks against certain circumstances in a timely manner‘.

Practice head(s):

Kevin Chan; Ernest Yang

Other key lawyers:

Tom Van Hoof; Xiaoshan (Leo) Chen


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

‘The firm stands out in providing assessments 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 dispute resolution matters.’

‘They provide practical recommendations in solving disputes cases and in formulating strategies in arbitration cases in the shipping industry.’

‘We work with Mr. Kevin Chan (partner) and Mr. Leo Cheng (partner) the most at the firm. The team as a whole demonstrated outstanding efforts of professionalism in analysing the merits and demerits of our current arbitration case.’

‘They realistically anticipated the possible issues and unexpected events beforehand arising from the arbitration proceedings.’

Hill Dickinson Hong Kong

Led by Damien Laracy, with his 25 years of experience in the Hong Kong shipping game, Hill Dickinson Hong Kong is a major market player with a particular specialism in cases of collisions and damage wrought by typhoons and the firm acts for individual shipowners as well as major businesses. Antony Cowie oversees the financing and leasing side of the practice. Edward Liu left for Haiwen & Partners.

Practice head(s):

Damien Laracy

Other key lawyers:

Anthony Cowie

Reed Smith Richards Butler LLP

The Reed Smith LLP shipping practice often handles very sensitive disputes for an array of industrial shipping clients. The practice is characterised by the ‘professionalism’ and ‘dedication’ of its lawyers. Its team is jointly led by Peter Lee, who has a well-established non-contentious practice, and former mariner Lianjun Li, who advises on high-level shipping litigation. The latter is highly regarded by clients for his ‘deep understanding of the industry and unrivalled knowledge of the intricacies of shipping disputes‘. Min Li, noted for ‘his ability to look tactically at the big picture’, and Tat Pan are also names to note, as is qualified master mariner Peter Glover.

Practice head(s):

Lijuan Li; Peter Lee

Other key lawyers:

Min Li; Peter Glover; Tat Pan


‘Reed Smith has a deep pool of highly capable lawyers who are consistently excellent and are able to provide considered and succinct advice. We feel confident working with Reed Smith because of their professionalism and dedication to our cases. Their ability to grasp the crux of a case at short notice and deliver top-notch legal service efficiently sets them apart from others.’

‘Lianjun Li is a pre-eminent lawyer in the shipping world. With his extensive legal knowledge and impressive experience in maritime disputes as well as his responsiveness, he sets the industry standard for professionalism and competence. He deserves credit for the excellent work delivered by Reed Smith lawyers under his leadership.’

‘Min Li is a standout partner at Reed Smith. With his ability to look tactically at the big picture, he is able to deliver well thought through advice. Not only does he demonstrate impressive rigour in analysing thorny issues, but he is also always focused on finding the best way to achieve our goals and is willing to take his time to understand our operations and commercial concerns. His professionalism inspires confidence.’

Stephenson Harwood

Elizabeth Sloane, an experienced and respected arbitrator and litigator in the maritime field, leads the internationally minded Stephenson Harwood practice. Andrew Ridgen Green handles disputes including carriage of goods by sea, charterparty disputes, shipbuilding disputes, international trading disputes and disputes arising from accidents, such as groundings and loss of containers overboard. Cindy Ko is a highly rated managing associate with experience in several jurisdictions. Of counsel Jason Toms is another name to note. The firm’s lawyers form a ‘tactically astute, expert team that knows how to win in arbitration’.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Sloane

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Rigden Green; Jason Toms; Cindy Ko


‘The team at Stephenson Harwood has a commercial focus with a strong knowledge of the shipping industry, while also having technical expertise in shipping law. It is a strong balance.’

‘Andre Rigden Green is an experienced practitioner with clear strategy.’

‘Elizabeth Sloane is hard working and sensible in seeking to resolve commercial disputes.’

‘Tactically astute, expert team that knows how to win in arbitration.’

‘Elizabeth Sloane and Cindy Ko are particularly strong. Elizabeth is hugely experienced in shipping law. Cindy is a rising star whose work ethic is impeccable and who is adept at identifying the winning points.’

‘Andrew Rigden Green is an experienced and knowledgable practitioner with both contentious dry and non-contentious shipping and international trade related expertise.’

‘Andrew Rigden Green is flexible and commercial and will work hard to find a commercial resolution where possible.’

‘We would recommend Elizabeth Sloane, who is a hard-working and down to earth solicitor, sensible in her approach to advising on dry shipping/ charterparty related matters.’

Key clients

Damco Hong Kong Limited

Owners and underwriters of cargo onboard the vessel “KEN BREEZE”

Societe Generale

OCBC Wing Hang Bank Limited

Pantainer (H.K.) Limited

Panalpina World Transport (Japan) Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acting for Damco Hong Kong Limited (a Maersk group company) prosecuting and defending claims in the Hong Kong Court arising out of a large fire casualty in a warehouse at the Tuen Mun River Trade Terminal in Hong Kong.
  • Acting in a forum non conveniens challenge in the Hong Kong Court for the owners and underwriters of the cargo on board the vessel “KEN BREEZE” following a collision involving the vessels “KEN BREEZE” and “PACIFIC GRACE”.
  • Acting for Société Générale prosecuting a $89m marine bunker fraud claim in the Hong Kong Court.

Howse Williams

Howse Williams have an unique, valuable expertise in personal injury matters relating to shipping. The team is led by Chris Howse, who has specific knowledge in the of handling problems arising from the shipment of coal, iron ore, nickel ore and fluorspar. William Leung and David Coogans are experienced shipping lawyers offering advice on charterparty and bills of lading disputes, as well as collision, salvage and pollution cases.

Practice head(s):

Chris Howse; David Coogans

Other key lawyers:

William Leung; Eviana Leung; Bernard Murphy


‘David Coogans is a very knowledgable and respected shipping litigator.’

Tang & Co

Tang & Co, led by Chong Jun Tang, works in association with Helmsman LLC and provides representation on complex shipping disputes for clients in Hong Kong as well as those as far afield as the UK and Greece. The practice advises on defaults and debt recovery in the shipping sector and further contentious matters including sale and purchase disputes.

Practice head(s):

Chong Jun Tang

Key clients

The Swedish Club Hong Kong Limited

Skuld Hong Kong

Gard Hong Kong Limited

MS Amli

Vrontados S.A.

North of England (Newcastle)

Seven Seas Oil (Hong Kong) Limited

Index- Cool Marine & Industry Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised and represented Toyota Tsusho Corporation in the recovery of a $24m debt against Brightoil Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • Advising and representing Buyers in a vessel sale and purchase dispute that is currently in LMAA arbitration with a claim amount of $7m.
  • Advising and representing Buyers in an ICC arbitration with the recovery of $3.5m from Sellers following a default in supply of nitrile examination gloves.

Tsui & Co

Sam Tsui leads a specialised boutique shipping practice conducting shipping litigation and arbitration, as well as providing financing and insurance advice, at Tsui & Co. The practice has an international scope, with Tsui regularly acting on matters touching multiple jurisdictions. Clients praise the firm for its reliability and personal approach and report that the standard of work is ‘comparable to other senior partners in the international law firms situated in Hong Kong’.

Practice head(s):

Sam Tsui


‘They are very ‘know how’ and always give detailed advice with valuable suggestions in problem solving.’

‘Mr. Sam Tsui – very humble but knowledgeable. Very helpful and react very efficiently.

‘Essentially, the standard of the Firm’s work for shipping / insurance disputes is comparable to international law firms operating in the same sphere. But the Firm has a much more flexible fee arrangement for clients. Very strong presence in the Hong Kong Courts as well’

‘SAM TSUI. Despite operating in a boutique sized firm, standard of work rendered by Sam is comparable to other senior partners in the international law firms situated in Hong Kong. Sam is very experienced in legal matters pertaining to shipping and insurance and punches above his weight for charter party arbitration’


Key clients

Deyesion Shipping and Trading Company Ltd

Hongkong Bai Yuan International Business Co Ltd

Swedish Club

Itiro Corporation BVI

Watson Farley & Williams

Watson Farley & Williams advises a number of well-known multinational clients including Santander and Societe Generale. The Hong Kong team, led by experienced duo Madeline Leong and Christoforos Bisbikos, specialises in ship financing and helps clients to keep pace with a changing market. The financial leasing arm of China Merchants Group is a significant client.

Practice head(s):

Madeline Leong; Christoforos Bisbikos

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Silver; Marcus Gordon; Guan Jian

Key clients

Banco Santander, S.A.

Standard Chartered Bank

CMB Financial Leasing

Minsheng Financial Leasing

ICBC Financial Leasing

China Merchants Commerce Financial Leasing Co., Ltd

SPDB Financial Leasing Co Ltd

CDB Financial Leasing

BNP Paribas

Societe Generale

Work highlights

  • Advised CMB Financial Leasing Co., Ltd. on the $258.6m sale and leaseback of 12 vessels chartered by affiliates of Shandong Shipping Corporation, including 10 82,000 dwt bulk carriers to be operated by an affiliate of Shandong Shipping Corporation and two MR tankers operated by a leading NYSE-listed tanker company.
  • Advised China Merchants Financial Leasing (Hong Kong) Holding Co. Limited, the financial leasing arm of China Merchants Group, as borrower on $445.7m term loan facilities granted by a syndicate of leading international banks, led by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, who also acted as the sole sustainability coordinator.