Carriage of Goods / Maritime Law

Carriage of Goods / Maritime Law
The breadth of our experience is reflected in the geographic span of our work and in our understanding of international trade and the maritime industry as a business. We help our clients manage risk and achieve their goals.

Through our work for clients, we are involved in all aspects of international trading-related matters, such as arising from multimodal, including documentation of international sales of goods based on INCOTERMS®.
We are also actively involved in traditional maritime issues such as charter party disputes, cargo claims and defense, hull and machinery, product liability, and personal injury, as well as commercial litigation; criminal defense; environmental compliance; ship sale and purchase; shipbuilding, repair, conversion, and construction matters. 
Our attorneys advise on credit agreements, secured vessel/aircraft financing, project financing, leveraged lease transactions, international structured financial transactions, and public financing of maritime projects.  

We represent major sectors of the trading/maritime industry, such as cargo owners, shippers, vessel owners, and operators. We also represent bunker suppliers, energy companies, shore facilities, shipyards, marine insurers, investment and financing entities, industry groups and associations, as well as commodities traders, and others with trading/maritime-related needs. Not only those - one of our partners participated for 2 years in the legislative council of the Ministry of Justice of Japan to legally advise a council member to amend the Commercial Code (re trading and maritime) of Japan; he is currently engaged as an agent of bankruptcy trustee for a ship-owner, appointed by Tokyo District Court.  

We are the member of The Japan Shipping Exchange, Inc.
(TOMAC : http://www.jseinc.org/en/tomac/index.html

We have handled complex cross-border disputes relating to international litigations, arbitrations, mediations, adjudications, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. Under current market downturn, impacting maritime industry, we focus on the growing arrest risk of vessels in operation. Not only ship owners and charterers but also, once arrested, cargo owners even who are not responsible for ship-arrest at all may be forced in real life to struggle with the arresters, in worst scenario suffer from losses and damages caused by late cargo release. We protect our clients’ interests - for example, we have recently supported our clients to avoid the so-called “double-payment” under ship-arrest risk by ING bank in relation to the OW Bunker group insolvency incident. We know our clients need geographically seamless assistance; for this purpose, we are providing our clients with information necessary to survive in this tough situation, such as English Court of Appeal’s the “Res Cogitans”([2015]EWHC 2022 (Comm),  see: http://shipandbunker.com/news/emea/956937-ow-bunker-latest-court-ruling-means-unconsumed-bunkers-are-now-a-factor-in-who-to-pay-disputes.

In such context, if necessary, we co-operatively work with experts in relevant jurisdictions such as England, Singapore, India, China, Korea and the United States of America.

Some tips re ship-arrest under Japanese law:

  • Japan is not a signatory to the primary treaty on maritime vessel arrests. Commercial Code mainly covers this topic. Commercial Code Article 842 and other laws list up maritime liens, including claim arising from bunker supplied to a ship owner.
  • No concept of “claim-in-rem” like under English law; but Japanese maritime liens are very strong, being similar to “maritime liens” under US law, with priority against mortgages which are even set prior to the maritime liens, with power to put a ship on judicial sale. Japanese maritime liens trace a ship even if the ship is sold to a third party.
  • Two measures are available for arrest – provisional attachment (“kari-sashi”) and compulsory execution (“hon-sashi”). Japanese courts usually require security if an arrestor pursues provisional attachment order. Mortgagees and maritime lien holders usually pursue a court order for compulsory execution.
  • Japanese courts recognize foreign maritime liens to arrest a ship but only if a foreign lien falls in a category of Japanese maritime liens. Japanese maritime liens cover almost all maritime-related claims but lack of some items such as claim arising from ship sales (need to consult your counsel).
  • No “sister-ship” arrest concept, unlike under English law - but similar phenomenon can be seen, for example, if a debtor to whom an arrestor has “in-personam-claim” tries to arrest another vessel of the debtor.

For your defense work:

As seen above, Japanese maritime liens are theoretically strong. However, you may be able to manage it to protect, or quickly release, your vessels by going for its weak points. For example, the maritime liens under Commercial Code Article 842 effective only lasts for one (1) year. There is argument, whether a bunker supplier can have the maritime lien, if the bunker supplier supplies it to a ship based on the bunker supply contract with the time-charterer (you should check bunker receipts) … and other issues. May good maritime lawyers be with you!