Beginner’s Guide to Choosing Your Best Maritime Lawyers in Singapore
Singapore’s maritime industry is not just about cruise ships docking at ports or fishing vessels going out to sea. It’s actually a dynamic part of the economy, enabling this nation to maximise its position as a gateway into Asia. The industry is booming with port facilities, technological breakthroughs, shipyards, and all the components that make up a healthy business ecosystem. To thrive in this environment, entrepreneurs and investors need access to the best maritime lawyers in Singapore.
Singapore is yet again the World’s Top Leading Maritime City, and its Ship Registry is in the top five globally. According to the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA), Singapore is the port of call for more than 140,000 vessels annually. With more than 200 shipping line routes, it is also the world’s largest bunkering and container transhipment hub. Unsurprisingly, it is also the second-largest container port in the world.
The Government’s latest Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map revision aims to hit SGD2 billion in growth by 2025. Singapore’s maritime industry should achieve a 2% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) between 2021 to 2026.
Engaging maritime attorneys as part of your enterprise solutions is necessary to secure your interests and rights in this industry. In this guide, we take a look at the definition of maritime lawyers and the nature of their work. Towards the end, you’ll discover a list of Singapore’s Top 10 maritime lawyers. Rest assured that these are the best you’ll find in the industry.
What Are Maritime Lawyers?
Maritime lawyers specialise in maritime law, including nautical issues and maritime business. It can be workers’ contracts, as well as ship liens occurring on land or sea, that relate to maritime activities. Generally, if there is a civil issue, then you will definitely need the services of a maritime lawyer.
Hence, modern maritime law comes with extensions, i.e., ancillary fields of finance, insurance, goods and services, etc. The legal scope encompasses maritime and marine activities’ recreational, commercial, and navigational aspects. Ports and ships with a Singapore flag fall under the jurisdiction of Singapore’s maritime laws. The law may also extend beyond Singapore’s territorial waters into multiple international jurisdictions.
It is a vast body of law, and these attorneys need versatile industry-related skills, knowledge, and experience. Aside from drafting contracts or attending hearings, maritime attorneys also offer expertise in other areas. The best maritime lawyers in Singapore will be able to handle any of the following:
- Dispute resolution for charter party conflicts, cargo damage, etc.,
- Marine insurance and risk management, trade finance, etc.
- Commercial and admiralty litigation
- Arbitration and tribunals
- Shipping and logistics
- Ship or port arrests legal advisory services
- Sale and purchase, registration, licensing, and mortgage of ships
Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, consists of common law principles, statutes, conventions, and treaties. It includes merchant shipping, marine transport of goods, as well as disputes that occur on land and sea. In Singapore, governing statutes include the Merchant Shipping Act and the High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act. As a modern free-trade port, Singapore’s maritime laws have an extensive range and encapsulate:
- Private and cross-border business
- Domestic and international concerns
- Carriage of goods and passengers
- Ocean-going vessels, barges, tug boats, etc.
- Ships, ports, dockyards, etc.
- Logistics, goods, and services relating to maritime or port activities
Why Do You Need Maritime Lawyers?
Maritimes lawyers play an important role in this industry as disputes, accidents, and other infringements can be complex to navigate. Generally, entrepreneurs and investors do have good trade knowledge; however, they can’t do the job of a competent maritime attorney. The legal fields overlap, ranging from contract to tort, negligence to admiralty laws. A reputable maritime attorney will understand these complexities, apply relevant laws, and chart a course to success.
Another consideration is that settlement negotiations, insurance claims, etc., sometimes include cross-border jurisdictions. Maritime laws simply aren’t uniform and are further vitiated by conventions, treaties, etc. Familiarity with another country’s court process, legislation, and even the judicial network all carry weight in such cases. Ideally, the attorney in charge should be qualified to practice law in more than one jurisdiction.
Claims can be complex to quantify while proving causation and liability requires a skilled advocate in court. Expert maritime attorneys will be able to gather evidence, formulate strategies, and work towards the outcome you want. Their experience facilitates early and professional case evaluation and advice, thereby saving time and money. Such instances will require a capable, maritime-focused team of experts to traverse the legal requirements successfully.
There are also instances when a dispute or incident is unique to the maritime or marine industry. For example, a ship may be unseaworthy, accidentally polluting or damaging the port or the waters in the harbour. In these situations, several laws may apply, including international environmental legalisation, and damages may run into millions of dollars. A swift legal solution or response is critical in handling the situation, minimising losses, and preparing for fallouts.
Where Should I Find Maritime Lawyers?
Singapore is renowned as a world-class business hub and international maritime centre where commerce and shipping flourish. Multinational enterprises, entrepreneurs, and investors continue to flock to Lion City with its competitive commercial and maritime ecosystem. The Government is also going full steam ahead to make Singapore a Global Maritime Hub for Connectivity, Innovation and Talent.
As the legal framework in these fields continues to evolve, engaging the best maritime lawyers in Singapore is crucial. It’s the most sensible way to protect your interests and rights and ensure you stay legally up to date.
There may be plenty of maritime attorneys in Singapore, but only a select few make our Top 10 list. These lawyers have the experience and expertise to assist clients with multijurisdictional challenges as well as private concerns. Their track records are impeccable, while professionalism is the byword of their success stories. You can be certain that only the best make the cut, as nothing short of excellence passes our due diligence.