Marine law

Marine law solicitor

The joy of owning and operating a pleasure vessel is a compelling dream for many, but it has often been said that the two best days of a yacht owner’s life are the day they buy a boat, and the day they sell it.

With ever changing domestic and EU legislation, ownership and use can entail specific complexities. Whether you are a boat buyer, builder, surveyor, insurer or seller, there can be many unexpected and unique challenges for the unwary where the expertise of a specialist marine law solicitor is invaluable.

Tim Reynolds, a former boat builder himself, leads the Marine Law team and knows the sharp end from the blunt end when it comes to the complex issues involved. If it floats (or if it doesn’t!), we can help, providing informed and experienced advice, based on practical experience gained over 30 years in this unique field of law.

Our marine law team deal with both personal and corporate clients, and in relation to a wide variety of marine related subject matters ranging from international acquisitions to foreshore rights. We deliver the dreams, and try to end the nightmares.

Experts in marine legal services

The ‘excellent’ shipping practice of Verisona Law ‘impresses with high-quality instructions and advice’. It assists individuals, corporations and organisations with contracts, environmental planning, and the construction, acquisition, operation and disposal of ships, shoreside properties and businesses, with additional support from the firm’s insolvency and restructuring, employment and litigation departments.

The marine team manage yacht construction, technical, contractual and professional negligence disputes. A recent highlight was the advice provided to caravan site operator St Hermans Estate Company on the impact of a planned coastal path in Hayling Island concerning public access to the client’s sites, and its potential routing across land. ‘Outstandingly knowledgeable’ key partner Tim Reynolds is a trained engineer and boatbuilder; he is a ‘great negotiator’ and ‘provides a superb service, interacts well with clients and fights their corner with determination’.

Understanding and good at what they do. Impressive
Marine

Very friendly and competent service throughout. Would certainly recommend them.
Marine

Would use Verisona services if I required any legal assistance in the future.
Marine

The staff at Verisona Law are very polite, helpful and courteous. They go the extra mile to satisfy their customer's needs.
Marine

Sound professional service with the stated outcomes being success fully completed. Clear and precise advice given with reference to the specifics of the process.
Marine

Friendly, professional, helpful and very good service.
Marine

Verisona Law courteously and efficiently dealt with our legal requirements. They kept us updated during each stage of the process with clear, concise and competent communication. Many thanks.
Marine

Everything was explained in understandable detail and the team assistant was very friendly and clear spoken. Thank you.
Marine

Fast service. Was always available. Explanations were good, advice was good.
Marine

I found Verisona Law both very professional and very friendly and understanding of my situation and needs. Would recommend them without hesitation.
Marine

Absolutely great service for what I needed. Polite and professional
Marine

I went to Verisona Law because I had been unsatisfied with two previous attempts with other firms. Verisona gave that real sense of service, made.me feel like a client they were happy to assist at all times and ultimately gave the BEST advice and guidance. Dont waste money; go to Verisona FIRST!
Marine

As always clear concise advice & professional service delivered in a friendly 'at ease' manner. Thank you

Marine

Very satisfied with my legal representative, very satisfied with their communication, very satisfied with their speed of response to enquiries.
Marine

Very satisfied that they did what we agreed from the outset and the value for money.
Marine

Very satisfied with clear communication, the speed of their responses, and that they did what we agreed at the outset.
Marine

Prompt, courteous, polite and efficient.
Marine

I was very impressed with your support and advice in this matter.
Marine

Fairly satisfied with my legal representative and very satisfied with their approach and clear communication.


Marine

Very pleased with service, could not be faulted. Thank you
Marine

I was grateful for personal contact and meeting at my house. We had a very pleasant and personal meeting at my home and useful discussion.
Marine

A very positive experience.
Marine

I found Verisona Law both very professional and very friendly and understanding of my situation and needs. Would recommend them without hesitation.


Marine

I have used Verisona Law for a number of family items,. Wills, conveyancing etc. They are an excellent company to deal with.


Marine

Very satisfied with the approach of the staff and with my legal representative.


Marine

Everything was explained in understandable detail and the team assistant was very friendly and clear spoken. Thankyou.


Marine

Sound, professional service with the stated outcomes being successfully completed. Clear and precise advice given with reference to the specifics and the processes involved.
Marine

Very friendly and competent service throughout. Would certainly recommend them.


Marine

Very satisfied overall, all very straightforward and hassle free.


Marine

Fairly satisfied with their communication and very satisfied with their approach and the progress of my matter.
Marine

A good service with very helpful staff. A pleasant experience.

Marine

Verisona Law courteously and efficiently dealt with our legal requirements. They kept us updated during each stage of the process with clear, concise and competent communication. Many thanks.
Marine

Very satisfied with the progress of my matter, very satisfied with their approach and very satisfied with the fees estimate.

Marine

Excellent. Would use Verisona services if I required any legal assistance in the future.


Marine

I am very pleased with the service which I had from the team at Verisona Law Solicitors, I could not had better. Thank you all very much


Marine

Very professional service. Always responded to my queries within 24 hours. Would definitely recommend.


Marine

Very happy with the service.
Marine

Faultless service throughout, which was such a change from previous experiences with other firms of solicitors.


Marine

Very professional, understanding and good at what they do. Impressive.
Marine

Highly likely to recommend this firm.
Marine

Absolutely great service for what I needed. Polite and professional


Marine

Excellent advice from our visit to the Verisona Law. Would have no hesitation in recommending this place.
Marine

Tim Reynolds - Head of Marine Law

Tim is Head of the Marine team at Verisona Law. Tim specialises in marine and admiralty law particularly in relation to pleasure vessels and is recognised as one of the foremost experts in the field, addressing a vast range of issues from contractual to technical, via the statutory and occasionally bizarre.

Practising internationally, Tim represents owners, insurers, boatyards and high profile marine organisations, as well as those buying or selling their boats. Tim is regarded as one of the foremost marine lawyers in the UK, serving a client base ranging from leading industry names and marine institutions to private individuals and clubs.

In recent years Tim has been instructed in projects and cases ranging from the multi million acquisition and full restoration of large well known classic sailing and motor yachts, the pre purchase verification of Dunkirk Little ships participation in Operation Dynamo through contemporary records, through to the establishment and protection of ancient manorial rights of mooring, as well as the sale, purchase, management and provision of business support to a wide range of marine business ranging from large shipyards down to small chandleries.

Tim is also a Leading Individual in the prestigious Legal 500 guide 2021.

Case studies

Remote hearing leads to £2m recovered for client

We worked with a yacht-owner to help them with difficulties they were experiencing with a yacht worth approximately £2m.

Despite being purchased as new, the vessel was found to have a number of significant defects that prevented any independent use of it for over 15 months. On instruction, we arranged for a detailed survey and analysis of the vessel to be carried out – with Verisona Law’s Head of Marine Tim Reynolds flying out to the Eastern Mediterranean himself to meet with the client.

The case was  vigorously resisted and ultimately was the subject of a seven day Arbitration Hearing which found in favour of our client, whose entitlement to reject the vessel and obtain redress was upheld. Our client received damages and recompense of approximately £2m, together with an Order for Costs.

The success of this claim is a direct consequence of our actions as above and the use of suitably expert counsel and marine surveyors in order to ensure that the complex factual matrix, some of which related to complex engineering issues, as properly presented during the remote Arbitration Hearing, in which a number of witnesses gave remote evidence from both the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

£2,000,000

Carefully crafted contract helps protect client

We acted on behalf of a client who was selling a barge to EU Nationals.

The vessel was Dutch Registered, and the contract stipulated the full payment could be made in instalments over four years. We recommended the contract further provided for our client’s interest in the vessel to be preserved by a Mortgage Registered in the French Registry and for repossession and disposal in the event of non-payment, and for interest to accrue on such payments.

As it happened, the buyer did not make any significant payments to our client and we were consequently reinstructed to issue Notice of Termination of the Agreement and to repossess the vessel where she lies in France. In accordance with the terms of the contract we had prepared, Notice of Termination was served so the purchasers of the vessel had to surrender her up to our clients.

Our client secured a new purchaser, and instructed us to pursue a claim for losses against the purchasers, who sought to avoid proceedings.  Following the instruction of formal process servers in France, we were able to agree and commence Arbitration Proceedings in the UK, which Proceedings were contested.  The Arbitrator ultimately gave award in favour of our client, awarding him much of his losses and costs.  Our client has now instructed French Lawyers to enforce the award in France and such enforcement continues.

Had we not anticipated the possibility of breach at the point of forming the contract, there would have been no provisions enabling our client to terminate and recover the vessel, or providing for UK Arbitration.

Expert defence for a practical resolution

Our client had owned a small sailing yacht for a number of years and sold it to an individual, who did not have a survey during the purchase process.

A year later the new owner claimed the vessel had been sold with significant defects. The claim was denied but proceedings were issued.

At this point, we were instructed expert solicitors to inspect the vessel in the EU once travel restrictions allowed.  As a result of the inspection and the resultant report and valuation, we were able to file a detailed defence and ultimately enter into negotiations to secure commercial settlement to all parties’ satisfaction, and in sums considerably lower than those initially sought.

As our client was abroad for the duration of this matter, this left much of the arrangements, negotiations and instruction in our hands. Our specific expertise enabled us to readily identify the key matters in dispute, and employ appropriate expert evidence to challenge the new owners expert opinion, so enabling practical and swift resolution of the litigation to all parties’ benefit.

£80,000

Protecting reputations with legal expertise

We were instructed by a business in the UK that had designed and supplied a specialist vessel to a marine operator.

The vessel was designed and constructed to exacting and specific standards, reflecting the intention on the operator’s part to use it as a high speed ferry and a test bench for developing diesel/hydrogen fuel for the engines.

Following delivery of the vessel, the operator claimed the engines had flooded and suffered damage as a result of failures in design.  The owners had replacement engines installed following an insurance claim, and the insurers, exercising the right of subrogation, sought to recover their costs and expenses from our clients.

We were instructed and sought and obtained further details as to the circumstances and the vessel’s loss, which suggested post-supply modifications to the vessel to affect its trim and operation of the vessel for other purposes than those expressly contemplated at the design stage.

We consequently instructed expert marine surveyors with specific expertise in these issues, who ultimately identified the true cause of the engine failures as the consequence of excess hydrogen within the fuel mix, attributable to fuel trials undertaken by the owners.

We consequently refuted liability, and invited Insurers to refer matters back to the owners for comment, since which time nothing further has been heard.

While the value of the claim was not huge, the damage to our clients’ reputation arising from adverse finding was significant.

Piling on the pressure to meet deadlines

We were instructed by a couple who had placed an order for a small but high specification and value motor boat.

Delivery had been expected in 12 months, but the work on the vessel was very slow. As more deadlines past, our client grew concerned as to whether the vessel would be delivered, particularly as they had paid most of the purchase price in advance.

We were recommended to assist, and looked in to the matter in detail, we appointed a local surveyor with specific history of previous successful dealings with the yard in question.

By a combination of persistence on the part of our clients’ appointed surveyor, and continued practical and constructive pressure on our part, we were able to get the vessel completed to the highest specifications within a short timescale, and to the satisfaction of both the Yard and the new owners. This illustrates the importance of having a clear understanding of what is practical and achievable in such circumstances, particularly given the Covid working restrictions in place at the time and its effect on the financial affairs of many small businesses in the pleasure marine sector.

Tim Reynolds - Principal Lawyer and Southern Region Head of Marine

Tim is Head of the Marine at Verisona Law. Tim specialises in marine and admiralty law particularly in relation to pleasure vessels and is recognised as one of the foremost experts in the field, addressing a vast range of issues from contractual to technical, via the statutory and occasionally bizarre.

Practising internationally, Tim represents owners, insurers, boatyards and high profile marine organisations, as well as those buying or selling their boats.

Tim is regarded as one of the foremost marine lawyers in the UK, serving a client base ranging from leading industry names and marine institutions to private individuals and clubs.

In recent years Tim has been instructed in projects and cases ranging from the multi million acquisition and full restoration of large well known classic sailing and motor yachts, the pre purchase verification of Dunkirk Little ships participation in Operation Dynamo through contemporary records, through to the establishment and protection of ancient manorial rights of mooring, as well as the sale, purchase, management and provision of business support to a wide range of marine business ranging from large shipyards down to small chandleries.

Natalie Chance - Team Assistant - Marine

Natalie works as a Team Assistant to the Marine Law Team. Natalie provides day to day support, transcribing and producing documents and being the first point of contact for clients.

Natalie has been a Legal Secretary for 31 years and has worked at Verisona Law since 1988.

In her spare time Natalie enjoys socialising with family and friends.