Shipbuilding and offshore construction

We have a market-leading practice in this specialist area, advising ship owners, shipyards and offshore contractors (as well as their financiers and insurers) in relation to projects for the construction and refit of vessels and offshore structures of all kinds.
  • Profile
  • Experience
  • Key contacts

We have unrivalled experience and expertise in the field of shipbuilding and offshore construction. We act for some of the biggest and best known shipbuilding companies in the world and have a particularly strong client base in the Korean market. We also represent ship owners/buyers from around the world.

Our experience extends to all kinds of vessels and offshore structures, including specialist vessels such as drilling platforms, LNG carriers, FPSO's, passenger vessels and superyachts.

The services which we provide cover the full spectrum of shipbuilding and offshore construction projects, from drafting of the shipbuilding contracts, refund guarantees and related contracts, through to contract negotiation, advising clients on contractual issues as they may arise in the course of the project, and handling dispute resolution including arbitration, High Court litigation and mediation.

We have been involved in some of the bigger most high value and complex disputes relating to vessels and offshore structures to have been heard in London.

As well as advising in relation to shipbuilding and offshore construction contracts, we also advise on vessel conversion and repair contracts and over recent years we have successfully conducted a number of landmark cases arising under refund guarantees issued in relation to shipbuilding contracts.

"They are very knowledgeable, they are available 24 hours a day and the expertise and guidance are top-notch. They are very good and provide heavyweight legal services."
Chambers UK 2015

VLCC to FPSO conversion dispute

Advising FPSO contractors on disputes with shipowners in relation to conversion of VLCCs to FPSOs for offshore Brazil.  The dispute concerned discovery during conversion of substantial steel wastage due to pitting.  The dispute led to lengthy English High Court proceedings and centred on the shipowners’ alleged breach of warranty.

Shipbuilding and offshore construction projects cancellation

Advising approximately forty separate buyers on their rights and seeking the repayment of instalments during the period 2008 to date, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. In each such instance the client shipowners recovered all instalments paid with contractual interest.

Successful litigation on behalf of European shipbuilder

Acting on behalf of a European shipyard in arbitration concerning delay and disruption claims arising from construction of two high specification drilling vessels, and successful application to the Court of Appeal.

High-value new building projects

Negotiating detailed terms and conditions for a series of new generation LNG vessels including drafting option agreements. 

Claims under refund guarantees

A High Court shipbuilding case for major Dutch shipowners claiming payment of multi-million dollar sums under refund guarantees following cancellation of a number of shipbuilding contracts. This case (W.S. Tankship II BV v Kwangju Bank Ltd and Seoul Gurantee Insurance Co [2011] EWHC 3013 (Comm)) has become one of the leading cases on the interpretation and effect of such guarantees.

New building projects

Producing in house terms for a buyer undertaking a major fleet renewal utilising many start up yards. Thereafter drafting modifications to meet the specific local and technical requirements for each new project while maintaining the essence and simplicity required of the standard form.

Delay and disruption claim

Advising a buyer on a builder's claim for damages in excess of US$14 million said to arise from buyer's interference with the construction process and other grounds for applying the "prevention principle".

Late delivery and cancellation of a shipbuilding contract

Acting for a European buyer on the termination of three shipbuilding contracts with Chinese yards on grounds of late delivery and unacceptable quality. Obtaining three arbitration awards ordering repayment of the buyer's deposits plus interest and costs. Thereafter serving demands on the refund guarantor banks and receiving payment of US$40 million plus all interest due.

Warranty claims re: diving support vessels

Advising in London arbitration proceedings concerning warranty claims in relation to the construction of a series of diving support vessels and diving equipment for use on board those vessels.

Duncan McDonald Partner

T:  +44 20 7809 2629
M:  +44 7887 754 949 Email Duncan | Vcard Office:  London

Latest news & insights

06 Feb 2014

From News

Stephenson Harwood hires new Korea shipping partner

International law firm Stephenson Harwood has appointed Michael Kim as a partner in the marine and international trade practice.


© Stephenson Harwood LLP 2016. Any reference to Stephenson Harwood in this document means Stephenson Harwood LLP and/or its affiliated undertakings. Any reference to a partner is used to refer to a member of Stephenson Harwood LLP.