About Maritime

The maritime and boating industry has its own laws, language and customs. It also faces problems not found in other industries or other areas of law. Having experience not just as maritime lawyers but with added practical experience gained from marine business ownership and marina operations, we know how to deal with these challenges – legally and commercially.

We provide a full range of legal services relating to the maritime industry, including marina developments and restructures, arrest of ships and other admiralty law matters, contracts and claims, negotiation of ship charter and management agreements, and the construction, purchase and sale of vessels.

Marinas, wharfs, slipways and hardstands

  • port and marina developments and restructures including survey issues, meeting government and port authority requirements, compliance with relevant Australian standards, applications for consent, dredging levies;
  • ‘subdivision’ and registration of separate dry or wet lots such as marina berth subleases, easements and other land use agreements with the state government, utility providers and local authorities;
  • risk advice;
  • standard documentation such as marina berth subleases, rental pools;
  • development and implementation of consistent practices dealing with the use and occupation of various facilities by third parties including common areas, hauling, slipping and storage of vessels and hardstand facilities;
  • licensing and/or sublease arrangements for port or marina associated facilities such as jetty/pontoon/fuelling facilities (eg tourist operators), rental agreements and/or permits to occupy for short terms (eg for visiting vessels);
  • enforcement rights including termination of marina leases and marina berth lists;
  • port and marina management agreements;
  • transfer of freehold or leasehold (on and off title) interests within a port or marina complex;
  • port and marina rules, regulations, mooring and hardstand terms and conditions;
  • work health and safety and employment law advice; and
  • advice on port and marina insurance coverage.

Boat builders, manufacturers and other marine businesses

  • vessel construction and repair contracts and disputes;
  • shipping registration;
  • contracts including negotiations, manufacturing, supply and distribution agreements;
  • creation and registration of security interests under the Personal Property Securities Act;
  • preparing trading terms; debt recovery and enforcement; and
  • warranty claims and insurance issues.

Commercial vessel operators

  • complying with Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) regulations and requirements with respect to the operation and construction of commercial vessels;
  • advice regarding Australian ship registration, survey and other regulatory issues;
  • work health and safety and other liability issues;
  • employment law issues;
  • commercial agreements and contracts; and
  • vessel construction contracts, construction and repair disputes.

Private vessels

  • sale and purchase of vessel contracts, charter agreements, fractional ownership and similar contractual arrangements;
  • marine incidents (eg collisions with navigation markers and other vessels);
  • loss and damage claims and insurance related issues;
  • private marina berth rental agreements;
  • sale and disposal of abandoned vessels; and
  • protection of interests in vessels (including under construction) by security interests under the Personal Property Securities Act.

Maritime law

  • admiralty law including arrests (including appearing in the High Court of Australia) and general ownership matters;
  • shipping registration and AMSA requirements;
  • marine incidents (eg collisions with navigation markers and other vessels);
  • sale/disposal of abandoned vessels; and
  • protection of interests in vessels (including under construction) by security interests under the Personal Property Securities Act.


  • employment law and work health and safety advice and representation;
  • liquor licensing and gaming regulation;
  • disciplinary and membership issues;
  • constitutions and corporate governance;
  • contract negotiation and terms;
  • tenancy and leasing issues;
  • permits and regulatory compliance for marine events;
  • submissions to government and other regulatory authorities including eg with regard to designated mooring areas; and
  • mooring management agreements.


  • a full range of legal services relating to the maritime industry
  • marina developments and restructures
  • arrest of ships and other admiralty law matters
  • contracts and claims
  • negotiation of ship charter and management agreements
  • the construction, purchase and sale of vessels


  • The restructure of the leasehold arrangements of three marinas. This involved negotiating with multiple parties including the state government, a complete restructure of the wet and dry leasehold arrangements of two associated marina complexes, and a 10 year extension of the lease term. A significant obstacle to the project was solved by the innovative use of concurrent leases, allowing the existing leasehold structure to remain but be overlaid with new leasehold structures – something never done before in this setting. This allowed the restructure, which would otherwise quite likely have been impossible, to succeed. Without this, the club involved would most likely have failed and hundreds of marina berth holders could have lost their investments, as occurred at Port Hinchinbrook.
  • The reconfiguration of the wet lease for a marina, involving renegotiation of the head and subleases and the registration on title of some 280 marina berths, which to date had been unprotected by registration.
  • Advised for the member of a team representing the foreign owners of a commercial vessel (tugboat) involved in a fatal collision in North Queensland. This involved advising the owners and employees of the vessel on their obligations and potential prosecution under the Work Health and Safety Act, and dealing with the union, Queensland Police Service, Maritime Safety Queensland, Maritime Safety Australia Authority, other parties involved in the incident and the Port Authority.
  • Representing other marine industry participants, such as boat builders, charter operators and specialist marine suppliers, and working with marine surveyors and insurers, is another part of the team’s work.
  • Actively representing the interests of more than a dozen boating and yachting clubs as well as marinas, means that our Maritime team has the experience and can help clubs and marina operators with the various challenges by which they are confronted.

Maritime Articles

Our Experts

Ian Heathwood

Partner, Brisbane