A World-class 'Wet' Practice
The Casualty and Admiralty Department within the Shipping Group is one of the world’s leading ‘wet’ practices and has an outstanding reputation for domestic and particularly international work. As a result, we draw from an international client base representing both owners and hull underwriters as well as P&I Clubs, salvors and charterers.
We have always been involved in the more well known incidents, including prominent cases such as the ‘KAMINESAN’/’HYUNDAI 105’, ‘SELENDANG AYU’, ‘ERIKA’, ‘IEVOLI SUN’ and ‘KARIBA’/ ‘TRICOLOR’ (in all of which we acted for the owners or other principal parties) although it is the more routine casualty incidents that make up the vast majority of our everyday workload. The Unit commands an extensive expertise, handling a wide range of legal issues. We advise on technical disputes, jurisdictional matters, and disputes arising from collisions and groundings, fires, total losses, oil and HNS pollution, salvage, general average and limitation of liability.
Most of the Casualty and Admiralty team are legally qualified Master Mariners or other ex-seafarers.
These skills apply not only to the traditional ‘wet’ disputes but also to those incidents where specialist knowledge is required, for example, loss of cargo, oil spillages and fires and unsafe port cases. Clients acknowledge the benefit in utilising personnel who have a range of experience in the maritime industry, both operational and commercial.
Team-work: Clients and Experts
We focus on providing a proportionate response, with advice to clients to whatever breadth and depth, and level of involvement they need to fit with their operational requirements and way of working.
We work regularly with independent surveyors and other experts in most maritime countries. We are therefore able to advise clients on, and instruct, appropriate professionals at short notice. We are also experienced, of course, in working with our own overseas offices and other independent lawyers in all major jurisdictions, to ensure proper co-ordination and handling of the case simultaneously in two or more countries. It is our experience in handling casualties across the globe that often separates us from other firms’ wet practices.
The Department operates a Casualty Information Line (+44 20 7772 5 999) and members of the Casualty Response Team are ready, if needed, to travel at a moment’s notice. The Unit is well-known for using the latest in IT, enabling communications to be maintained where, in the past, it proved impossible. Use of digital cameras, for instance, can provide clients with an immediate view of the extent of any particular casualty, thus enabling effective commercial decisions to be taken to minimise exposure.
Please visit the Marine Casualty page for further details.
This quote about our shipping practice is taken from the Chambers UK 2010:
‘Reed Smith has a strong reputation for its work.’
Types of Work
- Collisions and Groundings: we have acted on incidents of every size and complexity, around the world. We attend on site as needed, to take evidence and negotiate with local interests. We provide support at maritime enquiries and investigations. We have defended Master Mariners in criminal prosecutions in English courts.
- Fires, Total Losses and Technical: we have frequent experience of fire and explosion cases, and of total losses and other claims involving not only nautical issues but also electrical and mechanical breakdowns.
- Salvage: we provide salvors and the owners of salved property real-time legal and commercial advice during a salvage operation. Sometimes we attend during the services themselves, to deal with media interest, local authorities or other problems. We advise on the proper amount and provision of salvage guarantees. We know what securities different salvors and insurers require, and also help with the related General Average and unseaworthiness issues.
- Legal Jurisdictions: we have daily experience of Lloyd's Open Form of Salvage Agreement (LOF) arbitrations, although we try, subject of course to clients' preferences, to settle or mediate cases at an early stage to avoid the expense and uncertainties of litigation or to meet cash flow requirements. In addition, we handle numerous cases involving multiple, international, jurisdictions, co-ordinating experts, correspondent lawyers and our foreign offices.
- Oil & HNS Pollution: we understand and advise on the legal and practical problems surrounding pollution following a casualty.
- Insurance and P&I: we are well known in the Club and underwriting markets in London and worldwide, and are experienced in handling all the insurance issues arising out of a maritime incident.
Selected examples of client work in the Casualty & Admiralty department:
- ‘KAMINESAN” Collision with “HYUNDAI NO 105”. Major collision and sinking off Singapore
- ‘ANTONINA NEZHDANOVA’ Advice in relation to a high profile wreck removal contract for a capsized passenger vessel in Japan
- ‘HYUNDAI FORTUNE” Five explosions and salvage off Aden
- ‘ERIKA’ total loss and oil pollution: emergency casualty management including on site work and media relations. Acting for club and owners
- Typhoon Dianmu: Investigation and advice to shipowners and their club regarding container losses
- 'ARABELLA’ Investigation and advice to shipowners and clubs relating to a grounding in the Philippines with subsequent losses
- ‘SELENDANG AYU’ acting for hull underwriter in high profile grounding and pollution accident in Alaska
- ‘CAPE HORN’ Acting for owners club and hull following fire and explosion after a berthing operation went wrong
- ‘ONAS’ Advising and investigating on all aspects of this grounding in the Caribbean
- ‘KARIBA’ Highly publicised collision between this vessel and the ‘TRICOLOR” in the English Channel. We continue to advise on the multi-jurisdictional issues with regard to limitation and liability
- ‘HANJIN PENNSYLVANIA’ Acting for the salvors of the casualty who were involved in a difficult salvage operation after undeclared dangerous cargo caused explosions on board the vessel
- ‘LIMBURG’ Acting for the salvors of this tanker which suffered an explosion and fire after a terrorist incident
- ‘IEVOLI SUN’ Another high profile casualty in the English Channel with political ramifications. In addition to the contentious aspects, assistance was provided relating to the structuring of the cargo salvage operation
- ‘EMIN” Acting for salvors in relation to the LOF salvage claim and subsequent SCOPIC claim following a grounding off Karachi
- ‘MAERSK TOKYO’ Fire and explosion off the coast of Dubai led to loss of life as well as the loss of much of this vessel’s container cargo. A member of the Department from London was on scene less than 12 hours from receipt of instructions. We acted for the owners in relation to the subsequent LOF and common law salvage claims, as well as GA and liability actions. Another multi-jurisdictional matter
- ‘D G HARMONY’ Acting for Slot Charterers following the explosion of a calcium hypochlorite cargo stowed on board which led to the total loss of the vessel
- ‘MSC CARLA’ Acting for owners following the mid-Atlantic break-up of the vessel in high seas. It resulted in a cargo claim and salvage award that are among the largest ever made. This was a multi-jurisdictional problem requiring close liaison with other lawyers, especially in the United States
- ‘MSC ROSA M’ Following the near capsize of the vessel on departure from Rouen, acting for owners in relation to the subsequent salvage and liability actions and defeating an application to deprive owners of their right to limit liability in a leading case