Rising Stars

Transport: Shipping in Panama

Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega

Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega‘s shipping practice is renowned for the depth and breadth of its offering, with expertise in both contentious and transactional matters in this space. The team is skilled in advising owners and financial institutions on the financing of ships and shipping operations, as well as in obtaining port operations licences, and it also handles a high volume of registrations of vessels under the Panamanian flag (with a notable strength in the registration of mobile offshore drilling units). On the litigation front, the firm is particularly experienced in representing international clients in cross-border disputes. Practice head Jorge Loaiza III is highly sought after by banks, shipping companies and investors to advise on ship financing, acquisitions, litigation and registrations, while Pilar Castillo is also a standout name for shipping finance. The firm further strengthened its practice in August 2023 with the arrival of Fernando Aued, an expert in maritime litigation, from Dentons.

Practice head(s):

Jorge Loaiza III

Key clients


Macquarie Bank


Trafigura Beheer


Grupo Mexico

Schahin Engenharia

Grupo R


Carnival Cruise Lines

Work highlights

  • Advising IDB Invest, as lender, on the $128.3m financial package provided to BW LNG to fund the BW Tatiana floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), as part of the Energía del Pacífico (EDP) LNG-to-power project in El Salvador.
  • Assisted Norden with the purchase and resale to the Panamanian subsidiary of the Japanese end-buyer of six new buildings from a Chinese shipyard.
  • Acted as special Panamanian counsel to Constellation Overseas on the restructuring of its debt of over $425m, which was mainly secured by mortgages over six operative drilling rigs owned by the company’s subsidiaries.

Morgan & Morgan

Highlighted by clients as ‘prompt, responsive and cost-effective‘, Morgan & Morgan has a comprehensive shipping practice encompassing registration, finance and litigation matters. The team is equally adept at advising international financial institutions, ship owners and agents, and port operators on ship financing and registration, representing a large share of vessels flying the Panamanian flag. It is also highly active in disputes before Panama’s maritime courts, with particular prominence in claims against the Panama Canal Authority. The five-partner team is headed by Juan David Morgan Jr, who takes the lead in shipping and admiralty litigation, and Jazmina Rovi, who focuses on ship finance and registration. Francisco Linares, Luis Raven and Fernando Alfaro also bring extensive experience in maritime disputes. At the associate level, Andrés Mejía provides capable support in ship finance matters.

Practice head(s):

Juan David Morgan Jr; Jazmina Rovi


Prompt, responsive and cost-effective.

Jazmina Rovi stands out.

Key clients

AES Panama


Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation


KN Trading

Mitsubishi Logistics Corporation


Panama Ports Company

SK Shipping

Pan Ocean

Polaris Shipping

Tri Marine Group

Tsakos Energy Navigation

Forever Oceans Corporation

Assa Compañia de Seguros

British Marine P&I Club


Melones Oil Terminal

Panama Ports Company

The Britannia Steamship Insurance Association

The Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association

UK P&I Club

Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance

North of England P&I Club

Maersk Line

The American P&I Club

The West of England Ship Owners Mutual Insurance Association


World Fuel Services Corporation

Korea Line Corporation

KSS Line

Patton, Moreno & Asvat

Patton, Moreno & Asvat garners praise from clients for its ‘first-class knowledge and service‘ in the field of shipping law. The team is consistently active in advising major financial institutions and shipping companies on financing the acquisition of vessels and the registration of ship mortgages, as well as corporate transactions involving ship owners or guaranteed by naval mortgages. The firm’s presence in London (where Enrique Sibauste is the key contact for maritime services) means it is particularly well equipped to assist international clients. María Teresa Díaz, who draws upon more than 30 years’ experience in ship finance and registrations, jointly heads the practice with Belisario Porras, who is described as ‘an industry leader in shipping in Panama‘. Other names to note include Nadya Price and associate Joaquín de Obarrio, a specialist in maritime litigation.

Practice head(s):

María Teresa Díaz; Belisario Porras


First-class knowledge and service from shipping industry experts.

Belisario Porras is an industry leader in shipping in Panama. He is always available and provides expert advice in a very timely manner.

Knowledgeable and able to provide accurate legal advice to ensure a smooth transaction from start to end.

Key clients

Watson, Farley & Williams

Holman Fenwick Willan

JP Morgan Securities

Norton Rose Fulbright

Goldman Sachs & Co

Arab Maritime Petroleum Transport Company

Holbud Ship Management

Optic Marine/OMS Group

Work highlights

  • Acted as Panamanian legal adviser to JP Morgan Securities and US Bank Trust Company, National Association in connection with a public offering of $2bn 10.375% senior unsecured notes due 2028 by cruise company Carnival Holdings.
  • Acted as Panamanian legal adviser to Goldman Sachs & Co, as the underwriter, in connection with a public offering of an aggregate of 102,139,621 shares of Carnival Corporation.
  • Acted as Panamanian legal adviser to JP Morgan Securities, as representative of several initial purchasers, in connection with a purchase agreement with Carnival Corporation and Carnival plc (as guarantor).

Arias B Associates

A specialist in maritime law, Arias B Associates has a strong track record in both transactional and litigation matters. The firm is prolific in the registration of vessels under the Panamanian flag and also has an active practice assisting international financial institutions, leasing companies and export credit agencies with the Panamanian aspects of shipping finance (although it also has experience in transactions in Liberia, the Marshall Islands, Madeira and other jurisdictions). Representing ship owners, mortgagees and creditors in disputes before the Panama Maritime Authority is also a core area of expertise. Yvonne Arias remains the key name to note in the practice.

De Castro & Robles

Boutique admiralty and maritime law firm De Castro & Robles is commended for its strength in litigation, representing a diverse client base of owners and charterers of arrested vessels, underwriters and P&I clubs in disputes before Panama’s maritime courts. The firm also has a long history of handling claims against the Panama Canal Authority relating to damages and injuries incurred during transit of the Panama Canal. Other notable areas of activity include advising on the registration of vessels under the Panamanian flag and the registration of naval mortgages. Gabriel Sosa, whose practice covers cargo-related claims, and Eduardo Real, who also handles vessel and mortgage registration, are the key names. The practice was recently strengthened by the addition of associate Mariano Herrera, who has strong international experience, from Galindo, Arias & López in July 2023.

Avila & Co

Shipping-focused boutique Avila & Co is skilled in advising ship owners, financial institutions, insurers and other key players in the maritime industry on the full spectrum of non-contentious matters in this sector, including registrations under the flag of Panama, shipping finance and naval mortgages, and related corporate matters such as the establishment of special purpose vehicles. Tomás Avila, who brings recent experience of serving as secretary general of the Panama Maritime Authority, is the key name to note.

Quijano & Associates

Quijano & Associates takes advantage of its presence in various overseas jurisdictions, including the Seychelles and the British Virgin Islands, to advise a host of international clients on shipping matters. The firm counts shipping lines, vessel owners and operators, financial institutions and insurers – to name but a few – among its clients, with a solid track record of representing a considerable proportion of the Panamanian Merchant Marine fleet. Practice head Carla Rojas Pardini is well versed in the registration of vessels and naval mortgages, transfers of ownership and compliance issues. Randall Webster is also a notable contact.

Practice head(s):

Carla Rojas Pardini

Tapia, Linares y Alfaro

With a longstanding presence in the Panamanian market, Tapia, Linares y Alfaro is widely recognised for its expertise in maritime law. The firm has robust experience in advising on ship financing and the registration of vessels under the flag of Panama, and also represents both local and international clients in disputes before Panama’s maritime courts. Among the key names at the partner level are Mario Correa and Adolfo Linares (both experts in ship registration and financing); Fernando Linares (who handles shipping litigation); and Eloy Alfaro de Alba.