Ships, Seas and Ports

Our expertise

We do not just handle the usual commercial disputes related to transportation, shipping and ports, we also offer you our special expertise in international, European and national maritime regulation, the public and private law applicable to ports and marine management and offshore projects.

Services in general transport and maritime matters

Our expertise includes, for example:

  • the facilitation of contract negotiations relating to chartering, transport, goods handling, warehousing, salvage, etc.;
  • the handling of claims and other disputes (cargo damage and loss, collisions, accidents in waterways and ports, salvage, general average, ship’s arrest at home and abroad, ship mortgages, ship sales, transport insurance, port handling and warehousing, overland transport, inland navigation, rail transport, air transport, forwarding, ship agency, ship brokerage, etc.);
  • advising and litigation in connection with ship registration, ship’s mortgages, safety standards and ship classification, maritime discipline, criminal and labour law, transport insurance and all other aspects of public maritime law.

Port law and policy

We offer you expertise in everything to do with port affairs:

  • national port policy and organisation of the public sector;
  • corporatization and transformation of port authorities and their subsidiaries;
  • advising and assistance in all matters relating to pilotage, towage, mooring and unmooring, cargo handling, bunkering, ship repair, waste collection, port security, etc. including the drafting and negotiation of concessions, permits, lease agreements and other contracts;
  • application of competition law to port monopolies and tariffs;
  • preparation of and negotiations on port terminal concessions, leases and other contracts and assistance in tendering and negotiation procedures;
  • analysis, drafting and challenging of commercial port customs and practice;
  • advising about environmental rules applicable in ports;
  • defence of public agencies and commercial undertakings in matters concerning port dues and charges;
  • advising and challenging dock labour regulations (laws, regulations, CBAs);
  • advising and dispute resolution in connection with the right of access of ships in distress (e.g. the Prestige case);
  • negotiations of international maritime agreements and treaties on the law of ports and rivers;
  • ensuring the maritime accessibility of ports in marine areas;
  • supervision of application dossiers for market access to shipping, port, rail and air services.

Marine management and offshore projects

We offer national and international experience in the field of:

  • advice and procedures on the international status of marine areas (internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone, continental shelf, high seas, deep sea bed);
  • management of access routes to ports, including free passage, maintenance works and charges;
  • construction of artificial installations and ports at sea;
  • dredging, land reclamation, cable-laying and scientific research at sea;
  • assistance concerning concession projects for offshore projects and operations.

Some achievements

These are some of the files we have been working on:

  • the handling of a major dispute concerning access to the market for port towage services in the port of Antwerp (2022);
  • in-depth advice on the revision of the general conditions for port concessions in one of the largest ports in Europe (2022);
  • analysis and advice on facilitating cross-border river navigation on the Jamuna (India – Bangladesh) (2022);
  • assistance in the Flemish transposition of Directive (EU) 2017/2397 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2017 on the recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation (2021-2022);
  • in-depth policy and legislative advice on the facilitation of seagoing inland navigation in Belgium (2021);
  • in-depth policy and legislative advice on reforming Albania’s port management and the construction of a new port (2021);
  • preparation of the Belgian Shipping Code, which replaced French and Belgian laws from 1681, 1807 and 1879;
  • numerous advices on the draft EU port legislation (finally adopted as Regulation (EU) 2017/352);
  • the arrangements for dock labour in the member states of the European Union and its conformity with international and European law;
  • the preparation of Flemish legislation concerning pilotage and Vessel Traffic Services;
  • the notification of public port investments to the European Commission under the State aid rules;
  • advising on the enforcement powers of harbour masters and other harbour officials (various assignemnts from port authorities and private professional organisations);
  • advice and procedures concerning the charging by ship owners and port terminals of detention, demurrage and surcharges;
  • the challenging of port labour monopolies in several EU Member States;
  • the establishment of the Greek Port Regulator;
  • the commercialisation of the port of Limassol (Cyprus);
  • the preparation of concessions and privatisation of port terminals in Liberia and South Africa;
  • assistance on various offshore projects, including advice on the preparation of wind energy projects (various European countries), the impact on navigation of wind farms in Belgium and France, the establishment of a research station at sea (Belgium), the status of the foreshore and its impact on ports (Ireland), dredging work at sea (Southeast Asia) and the laying of new submarine cables (Caribbean Sea);
  • international treaty negotiations on the management of and navigation on the Scheldt (Europe) and the Mekong (Southeast Asia).