Our experience in contentious cross-border litigation and arbitration gives us the insight to advise our clients through the complex issues that can accompany large and sophisticated salvage disputes and transactions.
IMG frequently acts for salvors, OSRO's, Vessel Owners, and Charterers during and in the aftermath of shipping casualties and ensuing operations. In salvage matters that turn contentious, we represent clients in international arbitrations around the world, under many different laws, as well as in litigation before U.S. courts at all levels. We also we work alongside all the different parties that may be involved in salvage operations, including insurers, governments, and other local interests. IMG not only helps Vessel Owners and Charterers respond to oil spills, wreck removals, and salvage operations, but we also can advise clients on how best to tender their claims, claims calculation, and claims budgeting, and regularly advise clients on the legal implications of accidental bunker spills and contamination, environmental damage, wreck removal, environmental damage, and ship recycling.
For non-contentious matters, IMG draws upon a wealth of transactional experience when advising clients on the legal nuances of their contracts during a spill response or salvage operation. Our attorneys have experience in negotiating and drafting charter parties and salvage agreements using all of the major industry form contracts, including Lloyd’s Open Form, SCOPIC, and other general commercial agreements. In addition, we have experience negotiating and preparing customized charter parties and salvage contracts when the industry standard cannot be adapted to meet the needs of a particular vessel owner, charterer, or salvage operation.
R. Isaak Hurst, Esq.
Founder and Principal Attorney
- 24/7 Emergency Response
- Oil Spill Response, Wreck Removal and Salvage Claims
- Bareboat, Voyage and Time Charter Guidance
- Arbitration and Litigation
or call (206) 707-8338
to speak to someone today.
How We Can Help
SMFF Regulations and Vessel Response Plans
Owners and operators of tankships carrying petroleum oils calling in the United States waters are required by law to have pre-casualty Vessel Response Plans. The Plans require vessel Owners to identify and contract with a Salvage & Marine Firefighting (SMFF) service provider who can respond within specific time requirements. Our attorneys frequently advise Vessel Owners about their VRP obligations and offer guidance on salvage planning, emergency towing, indemnity provisions, and environmental liability.
Charter agreements have always been an important strategic option for those in the salvage industry, but these contracts are not without risk. Our clients come to us to understand their legal responsibilities under their charters and rely on us to execute their most complex charter party transactions. With a client base that spans owners, charterers, OSROs, financial institutions, governments, and insurers, we can offer our clients a unique insight into their most complex transactions and the shifting regulatory and commercial landscape.
Limitation of Liability Actions
The Limitation of Liability Act permits an owner of a vessel to limit its liability for damages arising from an accident involving the vessel. 46 U.S.C. § 30505. The Limitation of Liability Act, however, does not define who or what a vessel “owner” technically is. This ambiguity has resulted in a fair amount of litigation between charterers, partial owners, sellers of vessels, shareholders, and vessel managers about their ability to file a limitation of liability action. Our attorneys frequently advise Vessel Owners about their rights under the Limitation of Liability Act and offer guidance on the exceptions that prevent an owner from limiting its liability.
Generally speaking, if a vessel sinks in navigable waters, its owners, charterers, or operators have a duty to remove that vessel and/or to reimburse the United States if the United States removes it, irrespective of whether the sinking was accidental or negligent. Moreover, the vessel operator whose negligence contributed to the sinking may be liable for extraordinary expenses of navigating other vessels around a wreck prior to removal. Due to these serious legal penalties, we frequently advise vessel owners in the aftermath of a sinking and provide legal guidance on the ensuing operations to help with environmental and pollution concerns, insurance claims, third party liability, and Coast Guard investigations.