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Maritime & Shipping Law

Maritime, shipping and Admiralty law in New Zealand shares a common maritime heritage with the UK and NZ legislation has many similarities to that of UK admiralty law.

Oceanlaw New Zealand is uniquely placed to offer clients expertise in both “wet” and “dry” aspects of shipping commerce. Our areas of practice encompass multiple disciplines in several jurisdictions. Our practitioners are very experienced in this field of law.

We have the skill base to cover most eventualities in-house, but also have a network of associates we can draw upon in appropriate cases.

Areas of Practice


  • Cargo damage
  • Salvage claims
  • Pollution incidents
  • Collisions
  • Maritime Incidents and inquiries
  • Ship Arrests
  • Vessel Agency


  • Purchase and sale and registration of vessels domestically and elsewhere
  • Towage contracts
  • Marine insurance claims
  • Structuring of ship owning and management companies
  • Joint venture agreements
  • Charter party agreements, bills of lading
  • Legislative drafting and advocacy
  • Contracts for the sale and purchase of commodities

For more information please contact Oceanlaw New Zealand

In the “wet” category our practitioners have considerable actual case experience in multiple jurisdictions in a wide variety of maritime incidents. We receive instructions from a range of local and international clients, including vessel owners, charterers and their insurers. We are able to manage the practical and legal problems that occur immediately following an incident and any litigation that may follow. We strive to offer a cost effective approach to dispute resolution and will explore all avenues before committing a client to the costs of litigation. We have in-depth working knowledge of NZ Admiralty Jurisdiction, the Maritime Transport Act 1996 and attendant rules and regulations and are well placed to advise on vessel and ship arrests, marine enquiries, pollution incidents and the like.

We have acted in a wide variety of cargo disputes for vessel owners, shippers and receivers of cargos, their bankers and insurers. This includes bulk and refrigerated cargos, and containerised goods. Cargo disputes demand a wide-ranging knowledge of both a legal and technical nature in multiple jurisdictions. We are well placed to act, with an established network of surveyors and loss adjusters in the Southern Hemisphere available at short notice.

In the “dry” category we act for a variety of participants in international trade. We have gained an enviable reputation as a market leader in vessel sale and purchase and flagging in New Zealand, the South Pacific and Southern Africa. We advise on issues of ownership, corporate structuring of vessel owning companies and reflagging of vessels. Our practitioners have managed major transactions for owners, charterers and mortgagee banks.

Shipping Legislation

Oceanlaw New Zealand has considerable experience in legislative drafting and has in main drafted a suite of maritime legislation for the Cook Islands. We have a comprehensive and detailed knowledge of the policy considerations behind the regulation of Maritime Commerce, and the mechanics of the manning, safety, survey flagging, limitation of liability, and the like, of vessels. We are also well placed to act for vessel owners that have suffered detentions under Port State Control measures, the ISPS code.

Oceanlaw New Zealand also has experience at lobbying government on the impact of changes to domestic maritime legislation.

The South Pacific

Oceanlaw New Zealand has developed an effective network of lawyers, surveyors, government officials and other contacts in the South Pacific and have advised clients on matters in Fiji, Solomon Islands; American Samoa; Tonga; Nuie, PNG and the Cook Islands. We have immediate access to the legislation of the countries of the South Pacific and have structured companies, lobbied government and managed litigation in several of these countries.