"A boutique firm with specialist expertise in maritime and admiralty law… Stands out in the market for its combined focus on English and US maritime, logistics and trading cases."Chambers & Partners USA 2020
Maritime claims and casualties require experience on both global and local levels.
Our dedicated lawyers provide advice and advocacy related to cargo claims, general average, collisions and allisions, sanctions compliance, personal injury and wrongful death defense, insurance, vessel arrests and asset seizures.
Zeiler Floyd Zadkovich regularly advises vessel interests, terminal operators, logistics service providers, equipment owners and operators, P&I Clubs and domestic insurers on all facets of maritime and transportation law. Our global team has been recognized as leaders in this sector, utilising industry experience and legal know-how to provide efficient and effective service to our clients.
Our team’s practical, hands-on industry experience includes:
In addition, our lawyers regularly publish articles, present at industry seminars and teach maritime law as guest lecturers and adjunct professors.
Our practical approach to the business needs of our clients has earned us recognition in Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 as go-to lawyers in this sector.
Casualties, collisions and oil pollution claims require an urgent and considered response. We act swiftly, always cognisant that the first priority in any casualty situation is the safety of the vessel and crew.
As we have held the command position in these emergency situations, we are adept at managing the various interested parties, including responders, salvors, technical experts, investigatory bodies, media relations, insurers/P&I Clubs and the corporate clients and counterparties.
Evidence gathering, protecting and preserving is another aspect. Such steps as: securing witness statements, relevant vessel documents, attending witness interviews by investigative authorities and liaising closely with other concerned parties in the immediate aftermath to obtain information. Each casualty response demands a different approach. Our experience makes us adaptable.
We can be contacted in an emergency at our 24/7 phone line: +1 917 868 1245 or +44 7920 519 233.Back to top
Personal injury and wrongful death verdicts have reached all-time highs.
Whether defending against maritime personal injury claims on the water, or injuries suffered in over-the-road accidents, lawyers at Zeiler Floyd Zadkovich have the experience and know-how to investigate the incident, identify critical defenses at an early stage, and protect the interests and assets of our clients. Our attorneys regularly appear in state and federal courts throughout the country, achieving excellent results as efficiently as possible.
Our lawyers stand ready to respond to maritime incidents, preserving critical evidence, interviewing witnesses and assisting with US Coast Guard investigations. We defend clients in court cases involving Jones Act and LHWCA 905(b) claims, and injury and death actions resulting from vessel accidents.
In addition, we represent transportation and logistics companies involved in injury claims on land. Our clients include carriers, brokers and equipment owners throughout the US. We vigorously defend claims in court, preserve contractual and equitable claims against responsible parties, and assist insurers in analysing the merits to set appropriate reserves.Back to top
We have experience acting on both sides of newbuild transactions: both for major shipyards and for purchasing vessel owners. We advise buyers during the transaction period and have acted for buyers in respect of warranty claims following delivery.
We also advise on disputes relating to ship sale agreements, including issues relating to vessel condition and sellers’ delivery obligations.Back to top
Our Shipping team are experts in enforcement actions, either in our office jurisdictions or further afield (working in close contact with known and trusted foreign lawyers).
We have acted for a series of major financing institutions in obtaining a recovery against vessel portfolios. Our experience includes overseeing the entire process, from an initial letter of default to a court ordered sale of a vessel. Our approach is to maximise recovery, while minimising risk to the lender.
We also have considerable experience advising on ship finance transactions, loan agreements and ship mortgages.Back to top
We have extensive experience of charterparty negotiations and drafting. We perform various roles in the charterparty process – from leading negotiations with the counterparty and the drafting exercise to advising behind the scene on specific clauses. We have been involved in countless long-term and short-term charter negotiations both from an in-house and a private practice perspective and consider ourselves well-placed to work efficiently with our clients to finalise the contracts accurately and promptly.Back to top
A successful claim means an actual return. Not just the paper an award is written on.
Across our office jurisdictions and working closely with our local network, we act swiftly, accurately and where necessary, assertively to secure our client’s position. We are recognised as market-leaders in US security actions, including enforcement actions against ‘alter-ego’ defendants by piercing the corporate veil.
Our security actions involve vessel arrests, asserting liens over cargo, sub-freights and sub-hires, securing attachments over business receivables or attaching other assets belonging to the defendant. We frequently do so in the backdrop of insolvency, including actions to unwind potentially fraudulent transfers and to trace funds so that our clients can make a full recovery.
Obtaining security requires a blend of creativity and forensic study. We combine these attributes to enforce claims and turn judgments into money.Back to top
We have extensive experience acting on the full range of shipping contract disputes. Those include bills of lading, charterparties, contracts of affreightment, letters of indemnity, seawaybills, and bills of exchange.
Under time charterparty disputes, our work encompasses off-hire issues, advising on withdrawal for non-payment of hire, re-delivery issues, hold cleanliness cases, speed and performance warranties and much more.
In respect of voyage charterparites, we act on demurrage claims, claims relating to payment of freight or deadfreight and missed cargoes. We also act for clients in respect of bill of lading claims, including mis-delivery or damage to cargo.
Shipping disputes regularly involve arbitration (LMAA, LCIA, ICC, SMA, AAA, SIAC, HKIAC, CIETAC and ad hoc), as well as litigation and conservatory measures in the English courts, and the US federal and state courts.Back to top
Assessing criminal and civil options, and coordinating an asset seizure search and attach strategy in Mexico for a major case for shipowners pursuing a Chinese mining conglomerate in Mexico. The underlying case involved allegations of cartel cooperation and fraudulent dissipation of assets (USD 2.5 million).
Representation and assisting the representation of several clients in several US Federal District Courts regarding seeking of security for underlying claims by way of maritime attachment proceedings.
Representation of International bank involving actions under the Insolvency Act 1986 to unwind a transaction at an undervalue/a transaction entered into with intent to defraud creditors. Part of a broader coordinated global approach to enforce a claim against an insolvent entity.
Representation of a major US oil refinery in relation to disputes under their shipping contracts during the COVID-19 crisis. The dispute related to delays under a bespoke charterparty.
Pursued a claim for major US commodities trading house for damages in respect of late delivery / unseaworthiness against vessel owners in LMAA arbitration proceedings. Also handled negotiations with Mediterranean receivers. Brought related actions in Texas and Turkey for discovery and vessel arrest against the owners.
Legal advice to a major American oil company on disputes relating to their fleet of vessels, including queries relating to demurrage, off-hire and cargo contamination.
Commenced ad hoc London arbitration proceedings for an Italian coal trader claiming wrongful arrest in respect of a time charterparty. Involved complex conflict of laws questions.
Pursued a large energy company for shipowner clients seeking damages arising due to delay / fire to a terminal in Brazil. We intervened into related English Court of Appeal proceedings and obtained a favourable outcome.
Assessing the laws on lifting the corporate veil on companies in Mexico for a major shipping demurrage case, where the underlying cargo interests were not in a position to accept delivery and the vessel carrying crude ended up waiting for months before discharge could occur (USD 3+ million).
Advised a major international trading house (Singaporean plc), in respect of a cargo claim against vessel owners. Travelled to Lagos and Port Harcourt, Nigeria, to take evidence from our trading clients, surveyors, port terminal operators and harbour masters. In the arbitration proceedings, the Owners counter-claimed for wrongful arrest in Nigeria / breach of London arbitration agreement.
Acted on an ad hoc arbitration claim for international London-based trading house, specialising in steel and metals trade, against an Italian receiver for liability under UK COGSA for quality issues.
Representation of major Danish shipowner in an off-hire and performance dispute which threw to both US and English jurisdictions.
Acted for a Belgian/Turkish shipowner in relation to outstanding sums under a series of charter parties. Obtained an award in the client’s favor. The matter involved dispute over jurisdiction, overdue hire payments and the validity of an assignment.
Preparation of bespoke template charterparty documents for vessel owners in the LNG industry. Advising on the terms of ShellLNGTime 1 and ShellLNGTime 2 to provide a comprehensive template/standard form document at an appropriate risk level for clients.
Representation of major international LNG supplier and charterer on their position in respect of a multi-million dollar off-hire claim. The dispute turned on bespoke off-hire wording and complex legal questions in LCIA arbitration.
Defense of logistics company against claims involving a cargo of copper that disappeared from a container in transit. Enforced package limitation under the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act and won appeal before Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Representation of client insurance company in the Eastern District of Wisconsin regarding damages to a cargo of food products carried from California.
Representation of European bank regarding recovery of a multi-million dollar claim against an insolvent entity under claims relating to mis-delivery of cargo. Assertively pursued security actions against possible assets and successfully obtained an attachment over assets belonging to an alter-ego in a US targeting a vessel in the Southern District of Texas. In a reported decision, successfully defeated post-discovery motion to vacate seizure order and dismiss action. Global litigation included proceedings in UK and East Asia.
Representation of Italian shipowners in defense of numerous cargo claims resulting from signficant vessel incident involving major container loss.
Advised on and drafted protective clauses for a major US oil refinery in relation to risk under their shipping contracts during the Covid-19 crisis.
Acted for a Norwegian chartering company in four separate arbitrations/charters. Issues include failure to nominate, coercion to pay outstanding demurrage, failure to pass on money received from sub-charterers and receipt of fund by agents for principals. There were separate Norwegian proceedings for security.
Advised a major Polish chemical company, as charterers, in relation to an LMAA arbitration claim brought by the Owners for demurrage and other outstandings.
Representation of global energy major in an LMAA arbitration in a long-term charterparty dispute for a LNG carrier.
Representation of European ro-ro operator and logistics services provider in relation to a multi-jurisdictional dispute arising from container damage at the Port of Cork, UK.
Defended oil spill indemnification claims against client time charterer following oil spill event on Mississippi.
Representation of Asian shipowner in US federal litigation brought against a publicly traded US minerals and mining company in connection with the pursuit of fraudulent transfer claims. In a reported decision, successfully defeated summary judgment motion made by defendant.
Secured a settlement at almost the entire value of the claim for a major shipping operator in respect of a shortage claim under bills of lading.
Defended an ICC arbitration claim for our Egyptian trader clients, as sellers, for short shipment under a sale and purchase contract.
Obtained dismissals based on U.S. maritime law defenses resulting in reduction of client’s damages from multimillion-dollar jury verdict to less than $300,000.00 in a lawsuit by former Jones Act employee and family.
Advising Mexican subsidiary of a major Austrian group in the oil drilling industry on its day-to-day corporate and employment issues, including the drafting and reviewing of master sales agreements that contain provisions stipulating specific timeframes and transportation information for delivery and return of rental equipment, as well as other complex commercial contracts.
Acted for an international metals trading house, and then its cargo underwriters, in a major subrogated claim against Owners, Shippers and Receivers in relation to stolen steel cargo. The case involved multi-layered court action across the world, including vessel arrest proceedings in Turkey and Lebanon, and other corporate criminal actions in Russia, Florida and Switzerland.
Representation of US energy major in defense of general average claims following vessel grounding. Claims not pursued following aggressive pursuit of international discovery and investigation. Handled global coordination of legal and investigatory team.
Defended demurrage claim based on a series of long-term delays at various load/discharge ports. Developing arguments based on tendering of an invalid NOR and deploying compelling fact-based evidence to fall within an exemption to demurrage
Advised coal trader on a 1.5 year coal supply contract dispute against the receiver. The receiver argued repudiation for alleged fraudulent conduct, namely backdating a B/L. Client claimed damages for wrongful repudiation in LCIA proceedings. There were related LMAA arbitration proceedings and UK court proceedings for freezing orders and vessel arrest.
Advised shipowner clients and its P&I Club on a cargo misdelivery claim and associated indemnity action. The bill holders’ claim was subject to LMAA arbitration proceedings and the indemnity proceedings were before the English High Court. Our client obtained freezing orders against the commodities trader in England, enforced those in Switzerland and Rule B attachments against the indemnifying party in the US, having defended a sister-ship arrest in Morocco and related proceedings in Dakar.
Obtained dismissal of employee’s workers’ compensation claim for Longshore Act employer client at trial level, resulting in settlement for amounts previously paid following appeal of court’s dismissal.
Representation of a Singaporean shipping company with its main seat of business in London in enforcement and recognition of foreign award proceedings (USD 5.7 million, Mexican courts).
Advised a large US commodities trader in an arbitration claim for overpaid hire and bunkers on a time charterparty. This involved insolvency proceedings in Greece and various actions for security.
Floyd (lecturer), “Interrelation between maritime law and national security” FZ Presentation, 30.07.2020
Watch Luke Zadkovich on shipowner’s lien over cargo as part of our “How to Deal with an Economic Crisis?” series.
The inter-club agreement is designed to prevent litigation. It normally does so, so any reporting providing further clarity is welcome.
The vessel was time-chartered on an NYPE form containing the BIMCO Non-Payment of Hire Clause. Hire was payable 15 days in advance, every 15 days.
Lerch, Zadkovich and Floyd (authors), “International Uniformity and Maritime Liens over Cargo: An Ocean Not Easily Navigated”, Tulane Maritime Law Journal [44 TUL. MAR. L.J. 251 (2020)].
“International Uniformity and Maritime Liens
over Cargo: An Ocean Not Easily Navigated”
We are excited to share our full journal article published by the prestigious and highly acclaimed Tulane Maritime Law Journal [44 TUL. MAR. L.J. 251 (2020)], co-authored by Aiden Lerch, Luke Zadkovich and Edward Floyd.
The “Alpha Harmony” was a lesson in paying close attention to the Laycan provisions in voyage charterparties. The Vessel tendered NOR on a Sunday morning. Charterers under both a Head Charter and a Sub-Charter had a right to cancel later on the Sunday (12:00 under the sub-charter; 23:59 under the head charter). Charterers under each Charterparty purported to cancel.
US Supreme Court decides that the safe berth clause establishes a warranty of safety. A monumental, yet widely expected, decision.
It has been widely reported that LNG receivers in China have recently declared force majeure on LNG contracts due to disruptions caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) which has now been given the official name COVID-19 (“novel coronavirus”). This was done after force majeure certificates were issued from the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (“CCPIT”), with the approval of China’s Ministry of Commerce.
BIMCO rounded off 2019 by releasing an overhaul of the BIMCO Sanctions Clause. Owners previously held the right to ignore charterers’ orders based on owners’ “reasonable judgment”. That right is removed. This will be of some comfort to charterers, who will be pleased to see the back of a subjective test in owners’ favour.
This note reports on an interesting and important US federal court decision concerning sanctions enforcement and, significantly, a rare instance of a business challenging OFAC’s interpretation of a US sanctions regime. Exxon was successful in voiding a US$2 million sanctions penalty. However, for the rest of us this case demonstrates why caution around sanctions remains of paramount importance.