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George K. Kontakis

Fax +1.212.536.3901
George K. Kontakis is a litigation attorney in the firm’s New York office and member of the K&L Gates maritime practice group. His practice encompasses a broad range of domestic and international maritime related matters, both civil and criminal. His civil practice includes environmental compliance, civil DOJ investigations, USCG Voluntary Disclosure applications, charter party disputes, maritime arbitration, P&I and FD&D matters, maritime collisions, spills and casualties, OFAC enforcement and compliance, vessel sales and purchases, insurance coverage disputes, and attachment and arrest proceedings. His criminal practice includes USCG investigations, and DOJ prosecutions, of MARPOL/APPS related crimes, including so called “magic pipe” allegations, and CWA and Ports & Waterways Safety Act violations. He is very experienced with environmental compliance, court ordered third-party auditing and probationary concerns.

Mr. Kontakis has successfully handled numerous maritime arbitration matters and complex civil litigations. He regularly works with global clients providing advice and strategy in all aspects of these matters. He has significant experience in conducting onboard vessel investigations, have concluded nearly 100 such investigations over the last decade. He frequently interacts with the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Justice, protecting the rights of vessel owners, operators, and crewmembers. Mr. Kontakis has concluded numerous plea agreements with the Department of Justice regarding MARPOL/APPS prosecutions, and has been a member of the trial team in several high-profile matters challenging the government’s case. Mr. Kontakis has also recently closed nearly $500M in vessel and yacht transactions.

Prior to law school, Mr. Kontakis earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Transportation (cum laude) at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point (USMMA), as well as an unlimited U.S. Coast Guard Third Officer merchant mariner’s license and commission in the U.S. States Navy Reserve. Following graduation, Mr. Kontakis spent several years working as a dry cargo shipbroker with a highly regarded New York based global shipbrokerage firm and as acting Chartering Manager of a New Jersey based vessel Operator. Mr. Kontakis is also an avid off-shore sailboat competitor, having been awarded The Eugene F. Moran Award upon graduation from USMMA.


  • Chambers USA, ranked nationwide in Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Litigation (New York) – Associates to Watch, 2017-2019
  • Legal 500 United States - ranked as a “Next Generation Lawyer” for Transport: Shipping category, 2017-2018
  • Super Lawyers, Top Rated Transportation & Maritime attorney in New York, Rising Stars 2018
  • Matthew I. DeLuca Sr. award for excellence in chartering and brokerage studies
  • Eugene F. Moran award for overall achievement as an offshore sailing team skipper

Professional/Civic Activities

  • Maritime Law Association
  • Connecticut Maritime Association 
  • American Bar Association
  • New York Bar Association

Speaking Engagements

  • “USCG Authority to Conduct Inspections/Investigations and Crewmember Rights”, BLG Annual Maritime Law Seminar, Montreal, Québec - December 2018
  • “MARPOL Annex I Violations, A Case Study and Anticipated Annex VI Prosecutions in the U.S.”, Norbulk Senior Officers’ Conference, Riga, Latvia, September 2016
  • “MARPOL Prosecutions in the United States”, Norbulk Senior Officers’ Conference, Riga, Latvia, September 2015
  • Represented one of the largest U.S. salt importers in SMA Arbitration with full recovery of claim, costs and fees. Also assisted with arbitration award enforcement efforts.
  • Represented claimant in insurance claim against AIG and insurance broker for freight financing coverage
  • Represented largest US exporter of soda ash in potential GA claim and eventual C/P dispute
  • Represented Charterer in Rule B attachment of Vessel for security from Vessel owner for C/P dispute and cargo claim
  • Represented defendant Shipowner in Rule C Vessel arrest arising out of enforcement of maritime lien claim
  • Represented claimant in Rule B attachment of vessel for outstanding necessaries
  • Represented garnishee with “close” ties to named defendant in Rule B attachment action
  • Represented charterer in Force Majeure C/P dispute arising out of Hurricane Harvey
  • Review and drafted Terminal Tariffs for large fertilizer producer’s terminal facility
  • Represented Shipowner claimant in demurrage dispute against charterer
  • Represented Vessel Owner in Constructive Total Loss claim after government improperly detained vessel in excess of six-months
  • Represented charterer/receiver in claim against Vessel Owner for late delivery of cargo and resultant plant shutdown
  • Represented Fortune 500 charterer in C/P dispute arising from vessel breakdown, owner’s abandonment of vessel and eventual cargo transshipment
  • Represented charterer in SMA arbitration in claim from vessel owner for off-spec bunkers and consolidated claim against bunker supplier
  • Represented freight forwarder in claims from carrier for detention and demurrage after cargo rejected at discharge port and returned to port of origin
  • Represented cargo interests in significant GA claim and insurance coverage issues pertaining to same
  • Represented numerous vessel owners in USCG/DOJ criminal environmental violation investigations and prosecutions
  • Represented numerous vessel owners in USCG civil penalty actions
  • Represented owners in civil DOJ claims
  • Represented numerous vessel owners and managers in USCG Voluntary Disclosure Investigations and Reporting
  • Closed nearly $500M in second-hand vessel tanker sales for Gener8 fleet pre-acquisition by Euronav
  • Represented maritime company in OFAC investigation and pre-penalty settlement