Maritime and Logistics Contracts

  • Holland & Knight’s Maritime Team counsels clients on all types of marine contracts, including charter party, contracts of affreightment, bills of lading and forward freight agreements.
  • Our maritime litigators assist clients in rapidly resolving disputes involving maritime attachments, arrests and judgment enforcements, commodity and trading contracts, cargo claims and crew wages.
  • Holland & Knight has served as counsel or acted as arbitrators in more arbitrations reported by the Society of Maritime Arbitrators, Inc. (SMA) than any other law firm in the United States.

With admiralty roots dating back to 1830, Holland & Knight has a long history of maritime law experience and clients regularly turn to us for advice regarding all types of marine contracts.

An Informed Response from Contract Work to Litigation

Our Maritime Team includes charter party attorneys who provide recommendations on contracts of affreightment as well as time, voyage and bareboat charters. Our team also includes knowledgeable draftsmen, skilled negotiators and experienced litigators who quickly identify workable solutions to current problems and advise you on how best to respond to the unexpected.

We have handled myriad charter party disputes in both court and arbitration proceedings and, when a dispute arises, we will assist you in recovering your claim and protecting your interests. Our team approach ensures that experienced attorneys working from offices located in major coastal states will efficiently and effectively handle your matter.

Our experience is reflected in our record of achievement in charter party and Contract of Affreightment arbitrations. Holland & Knight maritime attorneys have served as counsel or acted as arbitrators in more arbitrations reported by the Society of Maritime Arbitrators, Inc. (SMA) than any other law firm in the United States. In fact, our team’s charter party attorneys are listed as counsel in numerous SMA arbitration awards that have been recognized by maritime treatises as critical expositions on maritime law.

Maritime Attachments, Arrests and Judgment Enforcement

Realizing that maritime arbitration awards and judgments can be "Pyrrhic" victories in the absence of security, our team is well-versed in both federal maritime security and state court security laws. We can help you quickly determine the validity of a claim or defense as well as the priority of a secured claim, which are critical considerations for shipowners or secured creditors in large arrest and attachment proceedings.

Whether you are seeking to attach the assets of an elusive defendant, arrest the vessel of a sister company on alter-ego grounds or secure the vacatur of a maritime attachment, our team has the knowledge and flexibility to help you achieve your objectives. We have represented plaintiffs and defendants in many maritime attachment and arrest proceedings under Supplemental Rules B and C throughout the United States, including key shipping states. In addition, our maritime attorneys are well-versed in the New York Convention and principles of international comity and can help you enforce or defend against an arbitration award or foreign judgment.

Our team is at the forefront of emerging issues in the maritime industry. For example, we are currently providing innovative advice to shipowners and garnishee banks concerning the implications of the seminal judgment creditor decision Koehler v. Bank of Bermuda Ltd., along with pre-judgment security involving intangible property as decided in Hotel 71 Mezz Lender LLC v. Falor.

Commodity and Trading Contracts

When working with commodity and trading contracts for oil, grain, ore and other bulk commodities, it is important to consult maritime attorneys who are experienced in arbitration and mediation under the rules of the International Court of Arbitration, American Arbitration Association, SMA, North American Export Grain Association and United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). Our team has extensive experience before these forums. In fact, a member of our team participated in the U.S. delegation to the UNCITRAL working group that drafted the completed Rotterdam Rules, which will replace the present treaties governing the international carriage of goods that include a sea leg.

Shipping Documents and Cargo Claim Defense

Our Maritime Team has extensive experience drafting shipping documents such as bills of lading, sea waybills and service contracts.

In addition, we actively defend clients against claims for cargo loss and damage, with an emphasis on claims involving international, intermodal shipments. Likewise, we have vast experience with cases involving perishable goods and the issues arising from refrigeration and controlled atmosphere shipments.

Crew Wage Disputes

Since crew wage claims can quickly evolve into "bet the company" disputes, rapid and effective advice is essential in limiting or preventing significant liability. Our team fully understands the nuances of crew claims related to the maritime industry. We regularly defend crew wage claims, particularly penalty wage claims brought under the U.S. Wage Statute, and have acted as defense counsel in several recent proceedings involving classes of crew plaintiffs.

Representative Cases

  • representing seller in $100 million-plus sale and purchase agreement dispute under the 1993 Norwegian SALEform
  • representing vessel owner in tank coating and cargo contamination dispute
  • defending tanker owners and charterers against market loss and other consequential damages resulting from vessel failing to meet laycan or delivery dates
  • representing vessel owner or charterer in defending frustration of charter claim resulting from vessel breakdown
  • representing shipowners in claims to recover contribution to general average under charter parties and contracts of affreightment
  • representing a shipowner in defending against charterer's claim of unseaworthiness resulting from vessel collision in the English Channel
  • representing shipowners in negotiating many types of charter parties and contracts of affreightment, including specialized agreements relating to non-traditional usages (Olympic Games, motion pictures, etc.)
  • representing shipowners and charterers in seeking to vacate various multimillion dollar maritime attachments under Supplemental Rule B in federal court proceedings in New York, California, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington and Massachusetts
  • representing company in judgment enforcement dispute under Koehler against garnishees
  • defending global container transportation company against cargo loss and damage claims involving refrigeration and controlled atmosphere shipments
  • representing shipowner in Jones Act wage disparity and penalty wage class action dispute
  • representing shipowner in vacation/holiday benefit penalty wage claim arising under Bahamian law
  • representing lending institution in maritime lien priority dispute between 27 different creditors
  • representing secured lender in fleet bankruptcy proceeding involving over 20 vessels and $160 million in secured claims