Maritime & Transport law

The umbrella term in the Maritime & Transport law specialisation is 'transport law'. The transport of goods and people by road, water, rail and through the air. Transport law has its own principles and characteristics, hidden behind a multitude of regulations. Each branch of transport has its own laws and regulations. Given the diversity of issues and the complexity of transport law, it is valuable to enage a specialist who can identify the core of the problem, knows what solution will help you and translates that into a proactive approach. LGGA is the right partner for you. We have extensive experience in Maritime & Transport law as well as in related fields of such as employment law, financing & securities and commercial contracting. In addition to our legal experience in this field we bring practical maritime experience and skills. Our main maritime and transport law expert, Frans Langerak, has gained working field experience as a captain on inland waters – on cargo and passenger cruise ships – and he is also a qualified Officer of the Watch All Ships. This enables him to truly understand his clients and their challenges in the industry.

Our approach 

Our Maritime & Transport law team has extensive experience in maritime and (international) transport law; we know our way in the industry and in this field of law. We translate the norms of the laws and regulations into concrete actions. We draw up or assess and comment on the necessary contracts such as transport, forwarding and storage agreements. We furthermore advise on contracts relating to the construction, purchase and sale of vessels, chartering and crewing matters. This enables you to focus on your core business and ensures you that your legal duties and challenges are taken care of.

In case of a difference of opinion or a conflict between parties, we can negotiate for you and support you in your dispute with expert advice and experience. This includes litigating before the courts or an arbitration institute on liability issues – for example in case of damaged or lost cargo, or a damaged vessel – and forms a substantial part of our work. 

Our approach centres around delivering pragmatic advise, effective communication and thinking ahead for our clients. This means we can effectively support our clients, not only when the need is there, but also in an earlier stage.

We constantly assess developments in the field of Maritime & Transport law, in order to help clients prepare for the future.

The oceans are big, but the world is a small place. And in that world, we would like to partner with you; we like to invest in long-term relationships and are known as competent, reliable and accessible.

Related areas of laws and regulations

Maritime & Transport law also involves other areas of law, like employment law and financing & securities law, as well as administrative and criminal law.  At LGGA, we have over 60 lawyers working in various fields of law that can assist you with issues related to these fields of law. Please read more about our other specialisations on the specialisations page.

Laws and regulations in the Maritime and Transport sector

In Maritime & Transport Law, certain issues come up regularly. For example the drafting and assessment of transport, forwarding and storage agreements, as well as litigating about these contracts. The nature of the goods transported, as well as the quality and quantity, is central to this. Cases are often about the civil liability question, which gives an extra dimension in case of multimodal transport where several modes of transport are being used. An import part of Maritime & Transport law is the transport of hazardous substances, regulated by the Transport of Hazardous Substances Act, which requires due diligence.

In order to be able to transport goods it is important that the means of transport are up to standard, both from a legal as a business point of view. This includes the construction, reconstruction and the purchase and sale of vessels and other means of transport such as trucks and trains.

For example, the construction of a seagoing ship by a Dutch shipowner. Often, a hull is purchased in Asia, which is then completed in Europe, with the motorisation taking place in the Netherlands. It is important – in addition to making clear agreements about the building quality – that the choice of law and forum provisions in the agreements are stated correctly, so that you will be able to find the right office in case of a legal, or other, emergency.

Your specialist
Frans Langerak

Specialist Corporate law & Maritime & Transport law

What can we do for you?

Drafting and assessing contracts in transport law requires an expert approach, given the multitude of regulations.

This also applies in the event that liability of the carrier or forwarder for damage to the goods transported must be litigated, where great importance comes to the question whether the parties actually intended to conclude a contract of carriage or a forwarding contract.

This makes quite a difference, because the regulations regarding the contract of carriage is of a mandatory nature and contains a presumption of liability, but also a statutory limitation of liability.

This in contrast to the forwarding contract, in which the forwarder (usually) does not carry out the transport himself, but engages a carrier, which arrangement is not mandatory. In a forwarding contract, there is no presumption of liability and a limitation of liability must be actively stipulated.

LGGA’s Maritime & Transport law team has extensive experience in drafting and reviewing – as well as in negotiating and litigating – transport, forwarding and storage agreements and will be pleased to assist you with these matters.

Building a ship is not a small thing. Years often elapse between the initial idea, the ship’s design, the calculation of the construction and stability by the naval architect, the laying of the keel, performing of sea trials and the christening or handover, as well as the (final) payment. Obtaining the necessary financing is also of great importance.

From the very beginning, but also later on in the process, we can think alongside you as shipowner, broker or private person – buyer or seller –- and assist you in the negotiation process, in drawing up the necessary agreements and in litigating or arbitrating issues with regard to the construction, purchase and sale or refit – including repowering and electrification – of a vessel. We can also assist you with the financing structure and the associated relevant documentation.

Special attention should be paid to the choice of law and forum provisions; which law will form the basis of the contract and which court or arbitration institute is competent to take cognisance of any disputes? Correct enforcement of a verdict or arbitration decision is of great importance here too.

LGGA’s Maritime & Transport law team has extensive experience in drafting agreements for the construction – including newbuilds and refits – and purchase and sale of ships, as well as negotiating and litigating issues in connection therewith.

Often on the basis of the Norwegian Sales Form 2012 for sea-going vessels, ferries and cruise ships, and the MYBA – Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association – contract for (super) yachts.

Bespoke agreements are often drawn up for the contracting of newbuilds or refits of inland navigation vessels or pleasure yachts in the Netherlands and Europe, depending on the preferences of the parties.

In cases of collision and damage to vessels, people and / or cargo, it is important to act quickly; notify the insurer, let the surveyor do his work, and…be sailing again as soon as possible. We are pleased to take the legal settlement of a claim out of your hands, if possible together with the insurer.

We can provide insight into who is liable for a collision damage, tainted cargo, an incorrectly, not or too late delivered product or an unpaid claim, and then issue a notice of liability, whether or not accompanied by a petition for the seizure of a vessel or cargo, followed by the initiation of a subpoena before the competent court or arbitration institute.

The process of determining the liability of a person or legal entity and the extent of the damages may take a long time, but it must be handled with diligence and expertise in all cases.

In Maritime & Transport law, short limitation periods apply and before you know it, you are too late. Therefore, call in our expert help in due time.

It is not always clear with whom, what responsibility lies in transport law and what the moment of the transfer of risk is. For the continuity of business operations and in order to control the risks, it is important to clearly and legally correct, draft and sign your agreements on the transport, forwarding and / or storage of goods, for example between a shipowner and ship’s agent.

In case of shipping agency , the relevant contracts are concluded between a shipowner and the provider of the cargo , whereby the agent ensures that everything is arranged for the ship and that it can enter the port easily. This therefore involves the performance of logistical activities, or having them performed by third parties.

The contract of affreightment is a contract by which one party (the shipowner) undertakes, in exchange for a specified price, to make available to the other party (the charterer) a designated vessel in whole or in part for the carriage of goods and / or persons.

In case of contracts of affreightment, a distinction can be made between three types of contracts: bareboat charter, voyage charter and time charter.

It is important to have a clear insight into the advantages and disadvantages of the various types of contracts when establishing the agreements, so that the right charter agreement for the specific situation can be drawn up.

A contract of affreightment maybe, but does not necessarily have to be a contract of carriage in the sense of Book 8 of the Dutch Civil Code, which is something to take into account.

LGGA’s specialists in Maritime & Transport law can advise you on the rights and obligations involved in the transport of goods, by drawing up the right agreements for your situation. We can also negotiate on commercial terms and conditions and litigate – in the competent court or at an arbitration institute – if agreements are not honoured or commitments broken.

LGGA is also the right partner for crewing matters, such as employment contracts and contracts of assignment.

We can advise and assist you in disputes concerning agreements such as transport, forwarding and storage agreements, the construction, purchase and sale agreements of ships, charter parties and employment contracts or contracts of assignment.

Both prior to signing agreements by negotiating the terms and conditions and drawing the draft documents, as well as by conducting legal  proceedings at the relevant court or abitration insitute, also in case of an appeal.

It is important to appear at the correct legal institution, which can be a court or an arbitration institute and to present the facts and circumstances as accurately as possible, using the relevant (international) laws and regulations and the latest case law and literature.

In courts and arbitration institutes in the Netherlands, we can assist you ourselves; if litigation has to be conducted abroad, for example in an arbitration procedure in Norway, we will support you in the proceedings, but a Norwegian litigation lawyer will always be consulted and engaged as well.

The specialists of LGGA’s Maritime & Transport law team pay particular attention to the Shipping Disciplinary College – formerly known as the ‘Raad voor de Scheepvaart’ – which hold its office in the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam.

The behaviour of ship’s officers sailing under the Dutch flag can be complained about before this board on the basis of the Seafarers Act. The central criterion that may or may not lead to a measure is ‘good seamanship’. In case the board concludes a violation of the ‘good seamanship’ criterium, there can be a disciplinary sanction imposed, which may include a warning, reprimand, fine of up to €4,500 or disqualification from sailing for up to two years. As you might understand, this can have a serious impact and it is important to have a professional defense set up.

If a complaint has been filed, it is very important to seek expert legal assistance for your defense as soon as possible.

The Maritime & Transport law specialists at LGGA will be pleased to assist you.

There are also other aspects of Maritime & Transport law that should be taken into account.

For the payment of taxes, it makes a big difference whether a newly built ship is qualified as an inland vessel or outside (sea-going) vessel. A proper inspection and obtaining the necessary permits and stamps in due time are very important in this respect.

Classification bureaus are experts and take a lot of work out of your hands. However, in many cases it is also wise to take a critical-constructive look at other aspects of your shipping business, which do not always get the attention they deserve. This includes getting the right financing and security arrangements at a reasonable interest rate, finding the optimal balance with regard to the necessary insurances,  finding the right and qualified crew (crewing matters), as well as arranging the business operations in the best possible way from a fiscal point of view, with regard to the flag state and the organisation of business operations). Additionally it is good to look for possible exemptions of mandatory  pilotage regulations and to be – advance – well aware of the need to take environmental measures such as a Ballast Water Treatment System or gasoil scrubbers.

In the case of newbuild ships and refits it is also important to ensure a proper delivery report with the corresponding qualifications – approval, non-approval, or approval subject to repair of defects –, which report should preferably be drawn up in the presence of, in addition to the technicians and engineers, your expert lawyer.

Please feel free to contact us without obligation to discuss your questions.

We can furthermore assist businesses in the field of Maritime & Transport law with our expert teams in employment law, travel law, financing & securities, corporate law and commercial contracts & litigation. We always set up a multidisciplinary team of lawyers if needed, to effectively and professionally assist and advise you. Please find more about our other specialisations and teams below:

Call: +31172530250
The oceans are big, but the world is a small place
Frans Langerak