Yacht and superyacht

Stephenson Harwood is recognised as a leading international superyacht law firm providing a full spectrum of legal services to the luxury and private yacht sector.
  • Profile
  • Experience
  • Key contacts

Our specialist team of international lawyers has extensive experience providing specialist advice in relation to a broad range of yacht and superyacht issues, including new-builds, sale, purchase, chartering, financing, dispute resolution, insurance and management.

We act for a variety of key players in the industry from ultra-high net worth individuals and family offices to yacht builders, banks, managers and charterers across key jurisdictions.

Stephenson Harwood's dedicated yacht team understands the business practices, legal requirements, insurance risks and financial needs of the yachting industry, a sector that, perhaps more than any other, requires attention to detail and appreciation of the unique.

We have excellent industry contacts and in depth understanding of the underlying business and commercial challenges.


  • Advising the future owner of a newbuild project for a 143-metre mega yacht.
  • Acted for the owner on the construction of a 42-metre Benetti superyacht scheduled for delivery in 2019.
  • Advised a UK owner on the novation of a Sunseeker construction contract into appropriate ownership structure.
  • Acted for a Chinese builder on a 88m yacht construction project.
  • Acted for a Chinese owner on the construction of a 30-metre Italian semi-custom built superyacht
  • Advised a Chinese owner on the construction of a 35-metre Benetti superyacht.


  • Acted for the owner regarding the pre- and post-delivery financing of a 55-metre Benetti superyacht and the related construction contract and refund guarantees.
  • Acted for a UK bank in respect of the financing of a 50-metre Baltic sailing yacht, including taking pre-delivery Finnish mortgage security.
  • Acted for a European bank regarding the pre- and post-delivery financing of a motor yacht which included export credit financing.
  • Acted for a Swiss private bank in the post-delivery financing of a 38-metre San Lorenzo superyacht, including taking BVI mortgage security.
  • Acted for a private equity fund in respect of the re-financing of a 58-metre superyacht, including taking a Marshall Islands mortgage security.
  • Advising a Chinese finance leasing company on the sale and leaseback of a 40-metre Princess superyacht (under construction), including the setup of a STAR trust in the Cayman Islands as ownership entity.

Sale and purchase

  • Advised a Chinese owner regarding the purchase of a 44-metre Benetti superyacht including Cayman Islands registry, EU VAT regulations and employment contracts for crew.
  • Acted for the ultimate beneficial owner on the sale of a superyacht, which involved the sale of the shares in a yacht owning/target company by way of a share purchase agreement.
  • Advised the seller on the sale of a yacht, including advice on the repayment to the financiers of the yacht and de-registering the yacht from the Isle of Man flag.
  • Acted for a Chinese owner on the sale and purchase of a 65-metre Amels superyacht, lying in EU waters, including Cayman Islands registration, EU VAT regulations and yacht management.
  • Advised a Chinese owner on the sale and purchase of a 58-metre Feadship superyacht, lying in EU waters.
  • Advised a Chinese owner on the sale and purchase of a 38-metre San Lorenzo superyacht in Hong Kong.

Contractual arrangements

  • Advised a UK owner of a 39-metre sailing yacht on an exclusive sales agency agreement.
  • Advised a Chinese owner of a 49-metre superyacht on a central agency agreement.
  • Drafted and negotiated a management agreement regarding a 50-metre Codecasa superyacht.
  • Advised the owner of a yacht on a major refit contract with a French yard.
  • Advising owner on confidentiality and data protection issues in connection with charter of superyacht by very high profile public figure.
  • Acted for a yacht builder on its acquisition of two shipyards in Hong Kong.

Dispute resolution

  • Acted for a high net worth individual in connection with a dispute with an Italian yard relating to defective workmanship and ongoing performance problems following the construction of a 44-metre newbuild motor superyacht.
  • Acted for a high net worth individual in connection with a refit contract with a European yard following serious hull defects discovered on maiden voyage of 35-metre newbuild luxury sailing yacht and subsequently securing substantial guaranteed payments by yard.
  • Acted for high profile owner in relation to defective warranty work carried out by an English repair yard on luxury yacht, ultimately resolving issue without reference to arbitration.
  • Advising an owner in connection with a claim for damage and delay arising due to issues with defective stabilisers.
  • Advised high net worth individual owner in connection with disputes concerning the poor condition of a hull following a refit at a European yard.
  • Advised an Italian yard in dispute with the owner regarding alleged construction defects relating to a 60-metre new build.
  • Advised a yard in relation to the repudiatory breach and the termination of a yacht building contract.
  • Advising a high net worth individual in relation to the repudiatory breach and termination of a newbuild superyacht contract.
  • Advised on the enforcement of personal guarantees through court based or arbitration proceedings in Mexico, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Russia and Malaysia.
  • Advising an owner in connection with various claims against a Spanish repair yard relating to incomplete repair works and damage to superyacht during lifting operations.
  • Acted for a high net worth individual in relation to a claim against the marina for total loss of a sailing yacht arising from a severe typhoon incident in Hong Kong.

Tax and VAT

  • Advised a European owner regarding the temporary importation of a yacht into the EU.
  • Advised a UK owner on an appropriate commercial operation structure of a 47-metre Kees Cornelissen superyacht to ensure registration and VAT regulation compliance.
  • Advised numerous Chinese owners on regulatory issues relating to VAT exemption and export and importation of yachts into and out of the EU.

Delivery and registrations

  • Advised an Asian owner regarding the registration of an Oceanco yacht (IOM flag) and the registration of a 55-metre Mangusta superyacht (Maltese flag).
  • Registrations of yachts on all Red-Ensign registries and numerous others including Cayman Islands, Marshall Islands, SVG, Malta, Bahamas and Holland.
  • Advising high net worth owner in relation to MCA certification of works carried out to superyacht prior to delivery.


  • Advised a European bank regarding the restructuring of a loan facility and related covenants due to borrower default.
  • Advised a European owner in negotiating amendments to the repayment terms of a building contract.

Enforcements and workouts

  • Advised numerous owners regarding the arrest of yachts in French, Italian and Spanish waters by customs authorities; obtaining release of arrest.
  • Advised a European bank regarding the sale of a yacht through court auction in Gibraltar.

Crewing and employment

  • Advised various owners regarding appropriate employment contracts for crew.
  • Advised a Chinese owner regarding the employment contracts and work permits of his 16 foreign yacht crew working in Hong Kong.
  • Advising insurance provider in relation to liabilities arising under international regulations relating to crew employment.

Maltese tax lease structures

  • Acted for a UK lender in a post-delivery financing of a new Sunseeker yacht, its delivery into a Maltese tax lease arrangement, the transfer of ownership from the lessor to the lessee upon the expiry of the lease period and the sale of the yacht to a third party and release of the lender's security over the yacht.

International expertise

Our associations with specialist superyacht lawyers in the BVI, Cayman Islands, Malta, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, The Netherlands, Germany and Italy means we can offer you the very best advice in regions where superyachts are registered and built.


Alain Gautron Partner

T:  +33 1 44 15 80 72
M:  Email Alain | Vcard Office:  Paris


Sean Gibbons Partner

T:  +44 20 7809 2613
M:  +44 7740 941349 Email Sean | Vcard Office:  London


Nijoe Joseph Partner

T:  +971 4 407 3921
M:  +971 50 644 3571 Email Nijoe | Vcard Office:  Dubai


Neil Noble Partner

T:  +44 20 7809 2670
M:  Email Neil | Vcard Office:  London


James Quarmby Partner

T:  +44 20 7809 2364
M:  +44 7958 776 759 Email James | Vcard Office:  London

Latest news & insights

08 Jul 2021

From Insights

Superyachts – pitfalls of construction and refit contracts, including the crucial question of owner's security

The Stephenson Harwood superyacht team recently hosted the second episode of a series of virtual events.


26 Apr 2021

From Insights

Stephenson Harwood superyacht webinar #1: The post COVID on-board experience

The Stephenson Harwood superyacht team recently hosted the first episode of a series of virtual events. The event was moderated by Neil Noble with the contribution of ..


04 Apr 2019

From News

Stephenson Harwood advises on Hong Kong's first superyacht services centre launch

Law firm Stephenson Harwood has advised Hong Kong Cruise and Yacht Industry Charitable Foundation Limited on the launch of Hong Kong's first superyacht management serv..


© 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.