Admiralty & Maritime Law

 Defense of Maritime Insureds

  • Protection & Indemnification
  • Marine Pollution
  • Hull and Machinery
  • All Risk
  • USCG License Defense
  • Builder’s Risks and Ship Repairer’s Legal Liability


We have proudly focused on maritime insurance defense for four decades. On appointment by P&I Clubs and domestic insurers we routinely defend owners/operators of vessels ranging in size from VLCC oil tankers to jet skis, and all types of commercial, fishing, and recreational vessels in between. We routinely deal with collisions, allisions, sinkings, and groundings; wrongful death, personal injuries, and fake injury claims; fires, oil spills, and cargo damage. As well, we represent wharfingers, terminals and marinas, yacht clubs, vessel repairers, etc. A common theme in all of our case handling is the importance of on-scene attendance by the attorney as soon as possible in conjunction with marine surveyors and forensic experts. Recent changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide new work-product safeguards for attorney/expert communications during the investigation and discovery — and with free communication comes better litigation strategy. There is no better way to know a case than for the attorney to oversee marshaling the evidence at the casualty scene, exchange it appropriately during discovery, offer and object to it at trial, and argue it on appeal. Passionate about our work and the importance of the maritime industry to the United States, we succeed in our cases because we are professional, experienced, and vigorous. This allows for intelligent legal advice and cost-effective case handling, enabling optimal value and results for our clients.

Charters
      • Bareboat
      • Time Charters
      • Voyage Charters

Our team has a broad knowledge on drafting charter agreements.  For example, tug and barges on time charter to assist with construction projects, support vessels chartered to Shell Oil for work in the Bering Sea, or Bareboat high speed ferries.  Of course, after the Charter is complete, there are often times disputes that lead to litigation concerning the condition of the vessel upon redelivery or payment of charter hire.  We have successfully represented our clients in these types of matters.

Commercial Disputes and Arbitration
  • Vessel Repair and Construction
  •  Salvage Contracts
  • Marine Products Liability
  • Marine Insurance Coverage

Contractual clauses requiring binding arbitration are common in vessel construction and maritime salvage disputes, among others. We have represented parties successfully before the Society of Maritime Arbitrators.  Our lawyers have served as arbitrators for the BoatU.S. Salvage Arbitration Plan as well as the Society of Maritime Arbitrators. We are also experienced in handling marine insurance coverage questions and interpretations of sometimes arcane policy language.

Compliance Plan Counsel
Guidance for your US Department Of Justice Compliance Plan, FS is uniquely equipped to provide your company with a one-of-a-kind legal service during your company's Environmental Compliance Plan ("ECP"). Attorney Liam O'Connell has served as USCG MARPOL/APPS Investigator, Court Appointed Monitor, ECP Auditor, Third Party Auditor, Internal Auditor, and an Expert Witness for US DOJ ECPs. Allow FS an opportunity to provide legal counsel to your company and take advantage of all Liam's experience so your ECP is both timely and successfully completed.

Vessel Arrest
  • Maritime Lien Enforcement
  • Preferred Ship Mortgage Foreclosure
  • Rule B Attachment & Rule D  Disputes

Civilized society has never come up with better leverage for prompt payment than the ancient procedure of arresting a vessel without notice.  We have used it over the years to great effect, for instance: arresting the NORTHWESTERN of Deadliest Catch fame for non-payment of an Aleutian Islands engine repair bill; foreclosing preferred ship mortgages on tug boats, fishing vessels, and yachts; and using Rule B to attach an LNG tanker in Boston because its breach of an English charter party did not give rise to a maritime lien authorizing a Rule C arrest.

Vessel Finance & Purchase Whether it is bank or owner financed or a charter with option to purchase, the documents necessary to memorialize the parties' agreement with respect to a vessel must be drafted clearly and in most cases recorded with either the National Vessel Documentation Center or a state's boat registration division.  FS has a great deal of experience with these types of transactions and can often provide guidance to handling complicated vessel financing matters.  Additionally, we can process and record all of the documentation associated with these transactions quickly, efficiently and most importantly cost effectively by not outsourcing it to a vessel documentation service.