For over 150 years Mayer Brown has been providing legal services in Hong Kong and is one of the few global law firms with a full-time shipping practice. Our experience extends across the full spectrum of maritime law covering both shipping finance and dry shipping. With offices in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, we offer clients local market knowledge with a truly global reach, making us the "go-to" shipping law firm, which is backed by a strong team of ship finance lawyers with over six decades of shipping experience.
Our reputation in shipping finance space
Our acclaimed shipping practice is regarded as "[an] expert in ship finance" – Chambers Asia Pacific 2016. Our proven track record is truly manifested through our continuous top tier rankings in shipping finance in leading international legal directories since 2008. The recent awards and prestigious prizes won in Asia and China include the "Shipping & Maritime Law Firm of the Year (International) 2015" by China Law & Practice and the "Ship Finance Award 2015" by Seatrade Maritime Award Asia.
What do we do in Shipping
- Shipping finance. We advise many of the world's top lenders and lessors on their loan transactions including charter documentation and the sale, purchase and registration of ships.
- LNG transportation. We have a long history of assisting sponsors with LNG vessel time charters, new-building contracts, LNG terminal user agreements and marine services agreements for operation of LNG terminals.
- Export financing. We act for major lenders, arrangers and borrowers in drafting and negotiating finance documents covered by SINOSURE, KSURE, China-Exim Bank and the Export Credit Agencies of Denmark and Norway.
- Shipping litigation and arbitration. We advise on the full range of dry shipping work such as ship arrest and mortgage enforcement, sale and purchase disputes and charter party arbitrations. Our shipping team also collaborates with our Restructuring, Bankruptcy & Insolvency and Insurance teams to advise on complex contentious matters for our ship finance clients in relation to their customers' defaults. We act in many high-profile ship finance workouts including matters involving Chapter 11 & 15 issues as well as prominent maritime claims.
- Commercial and operational arrangements. We advise on all aspects of shipbuilding, repair and maintenance, the acquisition and sale of ships and contracts for management and employment of ships including drafting, reviewing and negotiating commercial contracts.
- Regulatory. We advise on all aspects of regulatory issues related to the shipping industry, including registration of ships and mortgages overseas, tax, embargoes and trading regulations.
- Advised China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO) on a US$ 3 billion credit of which US$1.749 billion has been set aside to finance or refinance COSCO's acquisition of 53 ships. This deal is a crucial move to implement the State Council's programme to promote the transformation and upgrading of the PRC shipbuilding industry, said a senior executive from CEXIM at the signing ceremony. These newbuilds will save 20% bunker consumption on average when compared with the same type owned by COSCO at present. The newbuilds will help the structural adjustment of the Chinese shipbuilding sector since they are all built at Chinese yards.
- Advised Taiwanese bank bilateral lenders and syndicates, Mega International Commercial Bank Company Limited and Chinatrust Commercial Bank Limited (Chinatrust Bank) with regard to recovery of over US$ 400 million of loans secured over vessels. Vessels were arrested in Singapore, South Africa and Malta. In response, TMT filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. We acted as lead counsel to the lenders in the recovery process. Following on from the Chapter 11 filing by TMT, we were advising, again as lead counsel, in connection with opposition to the Chapter 11 proceeding in respect of the vessel owning companies and, among other things, in contesting applications by TMT to the US court for release of vessels from arrest. The matter was high profile and highly complex involving major issues in relation to conflicts of laws and jurisdiction consequent on the successful filing by TMT for Chapter 11 protection of overseas incorporated single purpose vessel owning companies. The case was significant as regards the extra territorial application of Chapter 11 and the recognition of that jurisdiction by the various foreign courts impacted by the automatic stay. The eventual lifting of the stay by the US court demonstrated that foreign shipping companies with no meaningful connection to the USA, and with no real prospect of rehabilitation, will obtain from Chapter 11 proceedings, at best, only a temporary reprieve. In addition, whether US courts will continue to accept jurisdiction in all cases where trivial connections to the USA have been argued (such as money held in a US law firm’s account to settle future fees), remains to be seen.
- Acted for a syndicate of banks who had lent money to BLT, an Indonesian tanker company that was at one stage the third largest chemical carrier in the world. Our original role was to register some Hong Kong ship mortgages and opine on them, which had gone through smoothly three years previously, but then BLT got into financial difficulty. DNB (the lead bank and agent) sold down its share of the loan and we were asked by them to answer various questions that arose in the context of their continuing role as the agent. Our role then expanded to assist in the gradual restructuring of the group, specifically in connection with enforcement rights against assets in Hong Kong and Hong Kong legal questions. This matter is shortlisted as "Deal of the Year - Restructuring" by IFLR Asia Awards 2016.
The practice is particularly renowned for its ship finance capabilities and has advised on numerous award-winning transactions, including:
- Mayer Brown wins the “Ship Finance Award” by Seatrade Maritime Awards Asia in 2015.
- Mayer Brown wins the “Shipping & Maritime Law Firm of the Year (International)” by China Law & Practice 2015.
- ICBC Cross-border Vessel Leasing deal – “Asset Finance Deal of the Year 2011” by Asian Legal Business China Awards
- Mitsui OSK Lines and Qatar LNG carriers transaction – “Asset Finance Deal of the Year 2006” by Asian Legal Business Awards
- Citibank / China Exim Bank co-financing for China Shipping Group – “Trade Finance Deal of the Year 2006” by Trade Finance magazine
- Guangdong LNG Vessel Financing – “Shipping Deal of the Year 2004” by Asian Legal Business Awards
The firm also won “Asset Finance Law Firm of the Year” by Asian Legal Business in 2004 and 2005.
What the directories say:
- Ranked Band 1 for Shipping Finance (China) by Chambers Asia Pacific 2008-2016
- Ranked Band 2 for Shipping Finance (Asia Pacific) by Chambers Asia Pacific 2011-2016
- Ranked Tier 1 for Asset Finance (Hong Kong) by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2010-2016
- "They are a top-class firm. They have a dedicated team that is very knowledgeable on shipping finance and they understand what we need." – Chambers Asia Pacific 2016
- "one of the leading aviation finance teams in Hong Kong with depth of quality from partner to associate" – The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2016
- "It is a top-class firm. It has a dedicated team that is very knowledgeable on shipping finance and they understand what we need." – Chambers Asia Pacific 2015
- "They are efficient and very responsive. They provide good advice which is professional and practical." – Chambers Asia Pacific 2015
- "Mayer Brown has a powerhouse shipping finance offering, where it acts for some of the region's most prominent and active lenders. It also has niche expertise in LNG project financing, vessel time charters, and newbuild contracts, which makes it an attractive proposition for shipping companies such as Mitsui OSK Lines." – The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2015
- "Mayer Brown is best known for its ship finance practice, which advises a number of the region's major lenders on new facilities and the renegotiation of existing facilities." – The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2014
- "The lawyers' response times are 'unbelievable', and 'they always know exactly what the client needs'" – The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2014
- "We do lots of business with them and I rate them highly; a very strong practice." – Chambers Asia Pacific 2014
- "The 'experienced and reliable' team at Mayer Brown draws praise for its experience on aircraft, ship and railway project financings." – The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2013
- "In ship finance they are definitely a go-to firm, with deep experience and good relationships with the bank. We have nothing to worry about when it comes to their abilities." – Chambers Asia Pacific 2013
- "The firm is involved in many major deals in the region." – Chambers Asia Pacific 2013
- "This Hong Kong-based practice is widely recognised for its impressive shipping finance practice, and receives instructions from various major lenders in the market." They are highly organised and demonstrate commercial sensibility. They have outstanding expertise and are able to meet unreasonable demands." – Chambers Asia Pacific 2012
- "A force to be reckoned with in shipping finance." – Chambers Asia Pacific 2012
- "This firm is home to the top shipping finance practice in Greater China." "I'm impressed by their knowledge and experience in dealing with Chinese companies, and by their ability to deal with Chinese structures. Their total offering is more comprehensive than many other practices" – Chambers Asia Pacific 2012
- “The firm has been the predominant law firm for shipping finance for decades. It retains a strong domestic stranglehold on the Hong Kong market, undertaking a voluminous amount of work for a diverse range of shipping industry clients." – Chambers Global 2007
- “With a mighty contentious shipping practice, JSM is often regarded as the premier firm for representing the major financial institutions for ship finance in Asia.” – The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2007/08