Maritime law Berwick Solicitors GalwayBerwick Solicitors offer a full range of legal services for fishermen, shipping companies and marine related industries. We also provide a full range of law services to domestic and international law firms, suppliers and companies.

Berwick Solicitors specialise in providing advice and representation in respect of all aspects of maritime law in ireland. Maritime law (also called admiralty law or marine law) is the law relating to all shipping, fishing and sea matters

Practice areas include Personal Injury and Accidents at Sea, Insurance Claims, All areas of dispute including collisions, Arrest and release for contract debt and dispute.

We provide a full service of defence of Sea Fishing trawlers that are detained for Sea Fishing offences. We provide court representation in all courts throughout Ireland, including the District Court, Circuit Court and the High Court. We are located close to the Galway Docks and are available for Ship Protests.

Our services include:-

  • Ship Protest Maritime law Berwoick Solicitors Galway
  • Court Representation in all Courts
  • Personal Injuries or Accidents at sea
  • Insurance claims
  • Defence services for fishing vessels detained for Fishing Offence
  • All areas of dispute concerning collisions and damage sustained to vessels
  • Services for both arrest and release of a fishing vessel concerning contract debt and dispute
  • Purchase and sale of a sea vessel
  • Purchase and sale of tonnage
  • Marine Mortgages

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions on Marine Law.


International Lawyer services

  • Enforcement of foreign judgments in Ireland.Maritime law Berwoick Solicitors Galway
  • Personal Injury Litigation in Ireland on behalf of UK/US residents and other non-residents.
  • Buying/Selling Irish fishing boats.
  • Summons/Document Service on Irish residents or companies based in Ireland.
  • Watching Briefs – attending court or tribunal hearings in Ireland.
  • Judgment/bankruptcy searches in Ireland.

In most cases, we can provide a schedule of our fees upon initial instruction. James Seymour is the partner in this office who primarily provides international lawyer services as a law agent. He is qualified as a solicitor in the Irish Republic, England & Wales and Northern Ireland. He is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a Notary Public. James has extensive experience acting as an agent for law firms in the UK, US and on the Continent.

Please click here for more information on our international law agency services.

Dispute Resolution (Court, Arbitration and mediation)

Disputes can be resolved by either taking your case to court or by referring your case to arbitration. Please click here to view more information on Arbitration and Mediation, or contact our Galway office on 091 567 545.

For more information on our Maritime Law Department or for a consultation, please contact:

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<div align="center">Amy Naughton</div>
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Amy Naughton

Solicitor

Tel: (091) 567 545 (Galway)
Tel: (01) 488 3322 (Dublin)
Email: amynaughton@berwick.ie
</p>
<div align="center">David Higgins</div>
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David Higgins

Partner

T: (091) 567 545 (Galway)
T: (01) 488 3322 (Dublin)
E: davidhiggins@berwick.ie

Maritime Law – Frequently Asked Questions

Ship Protest

A ships protest is a sworn statement or formal declaration made by the ship’s master or a member of crew, before a notary public. It is a record of fact only, and usually relates to damage that occurred to the ship, its cargo or a member of the crew.

The report must be made at the first available opportunity. The purpose of the declaration is to have a contemporaneous report of an incident that is likely to result in a claim for damage or injury against the ship’s master or owners, allegedly caused by negligence, breach of duty, or by illegal or improper conduct on the ship’s master, crew or owners.

Berwick solicitors are located close to the Galway Docks, and our Notary Public can meet a ship port side to formally record the facts surrounding the event in question.

For more information contact our Galway office on 091 567 545, Alisia Mulvany on 087 2022 329 or James Seymour on 086 815 2932.

Arrest and Release of a fishing vessel

One mechanism of enforcing a maritime claim is to arrest a ship. Due to the economic downturn ship arrests are now more frequent. Berwick solicitors act for both the claimant (i.e. the person seeking to have a ship arrested) and for clients wishing to defend such claims.

Grounds for Arresting a Fishing Boat

Maritime Claims are expressly provided in the Jurisdiction of the Courts (Maritime Convention) Act, 1989. This act gave effect to the 1952 Arrest Convention. The act lays out the grounds for arrest of a fishing vessel. A vessel may be arrested for actions in both rem and personam (In personam is the Latin phrase meaning “directed towards a particular person”. The judgement applies to a person and is called an “in personam judgement”.) In rem applies to property rather than a specific person.
The Act specifically provides for the following;-

(1) “Maritime Claim” means a claim arising out of one or more of the following:

(a) damage caused by any ship either in collision or otherwise;
(b) loss of life or personal injury caused by any ship or occurring in connection with the operation of any ship;
(c) salvage; (See Glossary)
(d) agreement relating to the use or hire of any ship whether by charterparty or otherwise;
(e) agreement relating to the carriage of goods in any ship whether by charterparty or otherwise;
(f) loss of or damage to goods including baggage carried in any ship;
(g) general average;
(h) bottomry; (See Glossary)
(i) towage; (See Glossary)
(j) pilotage; (See Glossary)
(k) goods or materials wherever supplied to a ship for her operation or maintenance;
(l) construction, repair or equipment of any ship or dock charges and dues;
(m) wages of Masters, Officers, or crew;
(n) Master’s disbursements, including disbursements made by shippers, charterers or agents on behalf of a ship or her owner;
(o) disputes as to the title to or ownership of any ship;
(p) disputes between co-owners of any ship as to the ownership, possession, employment or earnings of that ship;
(q) the mortgage or hypothecation of any ship.

(2) “Arrest” means the detention of a ship by judicial process to secure a maritime claim, but does not include the seizure of a ship in execution or satisfaction of a judgment.

(3) “Person” includes individuals, partnerships and bodies corporate, Governments, their Departments, and Public Authorities.

(4) “Claimant” means a person who alleges that a maritime claim exists in his favour.

Glossary

Admiralty action” means any proceeding for the determination of any of the following claims or questions:-

(a) a claim or question in respect of which the High Court of Admiralty in Ireland formerly had jurisdiction;
(b) a claim for the sale of a ship or any share therein;
(c) a claim to prohibit any dealing with a ship or any share therein;
(d) a claim in respect of a mortgage of, or charge on, a ship or any share therein;
(e) a claim arising out of bottomry;
(f) a claim for the forfeiture of any ship or her tackle, apparel or furniture, or the restoration thereof after seizure, or for costs or damages in respect of the seizure or detention thereof;
(g) a claim in the nature, or arising out, of pilotage;
(h) a claim arising out of a general average act.

Admiralty Marshal of the High Court – Clerk of the Court
Summons in Admiralty Action / Proceedings – a Summons is a legal document issued by the Court.
Ship Protest – the name given to the registrar recording the fact of an event or incident that occurred on board.
Bottomry – a contract similar in nature to a mortgage. The owner of a boat borrows money and pledges the boat as collateral. If the loan is not paid back the lender may seek to sell the boat.
Bottomry bond – is the instrument that embodies the contract or agreement of bottomry.
Towage – harbour towage provides assistance to incoming and outgoing seagoing vessels in ports.

The Procedure for Arresting a Fishing Boat

In order to arrest a vessel a summons is issued in the High Court grounded upon an Affidavit setting out the basis of the claim, why the arrest warrant is sought. The solicitor acting for the arresting party must give an undertaking as to losses and expenses incurred in arresting a vessel.

The application before the High Court is heard ex parte, without the knowledge of the otherside involved. Once an arrest warrant is granted, a court official will liaise with the local Revenue Customs and Excise Officers of the Revenue Commissioners of Ireland to place a watchman on board the vessel. The watchman will present the Court Order/Arrest Warrant to the Ship’s Master.

What happens after a ship/vessel/boat is arrested?

The vessel will remain under arrest until such time as it is released by Court Order, it is therefore, imperative that quick action is taken to have it released.

Release of a ship/vessel/boat

This may be attained by either:-
1. An amount of money may be negotiated between the parties release the vessel, such an amount will also include the courts fees,
2. A bond may be put in place to secure the release of the vessel until the issue has been resolved,
3. The vessel remains arrested until after the full hearing of the matter.

If any of these options are agreed by the claimant an application is again made to the High Court for the release of the vessel.

Sale of a Ship/Vessel/Boat

If no agreement is reached by the parties an application may be made to the High Court for the Sale of the Vessel.

Berwick Solicitors understand the need to act with speed in such actions; whether arresting a vessel or seeking to have it released. Berwick solicitors provide a prompt and comprehensive service.

For more information contact our Galway office on 091 567 545, Alisia Mulvany on 087 2022 329 or James Seymour on 086 815 2932

Legal representation in all courts

Berwick solicitors is a firm that specialises in litigation and provides representation on behalf of a plaintiff and defendant in all Courts throughout Ireland.

The District Court
Civil Matters
The District Courts are courts of local jurisdiction. There are 23 District Courts through out the country along with the Dublin Metropolitan Area. A case must be brought in the correct District Court area. The District Court has jurisdiction to award damages up to €15,000. The area is determined by where the defendant(s) ordinarily reside or carries on a business, profession or occupation. If it is a dispute in relation to a contract, the area where the contract was made, (claim must not exceed €15,000) in relation to a personal injury/ accident it would be the area that it occurred. (the maximum compensation award is €15,000)

District Court Appearance – Criminal Matters
In Ireland breaches of the Common Fisheries Policy carries a criminal sanction. Berwick solicitors provide a complete service in relation representation concerning these offences, from attending at the Garda Station to provide clear advice before you are interviewed to court representation.

The Circuit Court
The country is divided into 8 different Circuits. The Circuit Court’s monetary jurisdiction is limited to €75,000 (except for accident / personal injury claims where the upper limit is €60,000). The Circuit is determined by where the defendant(s) ordinarily reside or carries on a business, profession or occupation.

The High Court
The High Court hears all claims over €75,000. (Personal Injury awards over €60,000) The High Court holds the sole jurisdiction in relation to most Admiralty actions in the High Court Admiralty list.

Berwick solicitors act on behalf of both the plaintiff (the person bringing a claim) and also the defendant (person seeking to defend/dispute such a claim).

Personal Injuries or Accidents at sea

Injuries sustained at sea may be caused due to negligence of the owner who has an obligation to take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of employees.

Berwick solicitors have extensive experience in the area of personal injury and advising on accidents in the workplace.

For more information on accidents in work place click here or contact our Galway office on 091 567 545, Alisia Mulvany on 087 2022 329 or James Seymour on 086 815 2932

Insurance claims

Defence services for fishing vessels detained for Fishing Offence
In 2013, the Irish Naval service boarded over 988 fishing vessels and made 16 detentions for alleged infringements of fishing regulations. (at the time of writing the 2014 report was not released)

Berwick solicitors provide representation in relation to such detentions.

All areas of dispute concerning collisions and damage sustained to vessels

Berwick solicitors is a firm that specialises in litigation and provides representation on behalf of a plaintiff and defendant in all Courts throughout Ireland.

For more information contact our Galway office on 091 567 545, Alisia Mulvany on 087 2022 329 or James Seymour on 086 815 2932