K&L Gates offers the U.S. and international maritime industry significant legal, transactional, legislative, and regulatory capabilities. Our wealth of knowledge and experience is a valuable asset for any business or association related to the maritime industry.
Because of our global presence, we offer our services throughout the world, whenever and wherever our clients’ needs may arise. However, the breadth of our experience is not reflected merely in the geographic span of our work, but also in our experience in and understanding of the maritime industry. Our team brings optimal levels of practical experience and industry insight into each engagement to help our clients achieve their goals.
Our maritime practice dates back nearly four decades. Today, the group represents owners and operators in all major sectors of the maritime industry — containerships, roll-on/roll-off vessels, liquid and dry bulk cargo vessels, passenger cruise vessels, and specialized vessels such as power-generating barges, tugs, mobile offshore drilling units, offshore supply vessels, fishing, dredging, and recreational boats. Our maritime clients also include ports, marinas, shipyards, investment and financing entities, maritime insurers, and a variety of industry groups and associations, as well as shippers and others with maritime-related needs.
On behalf of our clients, we are actively involved in matters ranging from U.S. legislation and industry-related rulemakings to ship sale and purchase, shipbuilding, repair conversion, and construction contract matters. The maritime group is especially skilled at handling complex international maritime arbitrations, mediations, adjudications, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. It also regularly represents clients before congressional committees, the Maritime Administration, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense and other executive branch agencies in the United States. Our attorneys provide maritime clients advice on vessel construction contracts, credit agreements, secured vessel financings, project financings, leveraged lease transactions, international structured financial transactions, and public financing of maritime projects. We have also handled cross-border disputes relating to pooling, competition, and consortium issues including regulatory control by port states, class, flag states, shipping distressed debt funds, and ownership and management structures.
Additionally, the tremendous scope of services available through the worldwide firm enables the maritime group to assist clients in related services such as insurance coverage issues, labor and employment matters, real estate transactions, construction law, and international transactions of every form. In sum, K&L Gates’ practice of maritime law takes a variety of forms in accordance with the requirements and goals of our global clients.
We represent clients before the U.S. Congress, the administration, or executive branch agencies on matters related to U.S. trade policy. Our lawyers also represent clients before the European Commission, World Trade Organization, U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. International Trade Commission, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on matters related to regulation of trade, allegations of illegal subsidies, and customs duties. K&L Gates advises clients and represents them before the U.S. Customs Service, the Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Treasury on trade-related matters. We represent clients in formal proceedings before the U.S. International Trade Commission or in federal courts.
We also advise domestic and international maritime clients on compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, its international counterparts, and numerous other international trade and export control issues. In these areas, as well as many others, our ability to integrate lobbying and regulatory compliance allows us to work with clients who want to change as well as comply with restrictions governing their business arrangements.
We also represent our clients in various government enforcement actions. Our approach is creative and pragmatic. Because the mere initiation of a government enforcement inquiry can cause severe harm to a company, we recognize the importance of moving quickly, gathering the facts, and seeking quick constructive engagement to prevent criminal or civil charges from being filed by convincing a regulator or prosecutor at the earliest stage possible that an enforcement action is not appropriate. If an action cannot be avoided and settlement is not practical, our enforcement lawyers vigorously fight any charges or claims that may be brought against our clients and have handled a wide range of grand jury or other government investigations and resulting litigation in court and administrative proceedings.
With the increasing severity and scope of potential violations that can face maritime clients, the maritime group includes significant resources skilled in conducting internal investigations for companies and other entities. Included among the resources available to clients for such investigations are a former U.S. attorney general, former senior officials of the European Union, and many former senior officials of domestic and international governmental agencies.
At K&L Gates we frequently deal with high-profile, high-stakes commercial litigation. We have the resources, sophistication, and track record to obtain successful results in cases with regional, national, and international significance.
The strength of the firm’s litigation and arbitration practice lies in the quality and breadth of experience of our people. Our firm is involved in complex commercial litigation worldwide including a substantial class action defense practice. Over recent years we have been involved in arbitrations in many countries across the world, including both non-administered arbitrations and arbitrations administered by the leading arbitration institutions, with the subject matter of disputes spanning a broad range of sectors ranging from maritime disputes to Middle Eastern property investment to Latin American offshore oil extraction and from complex insurance coverage disputes to software disputes. Those maritime arbitrations include disputes regarding shipbuilding contracts, marine insurance, oil and gas, and international sale of goods/trade finance.
Decisions made by governments and international bodies around the world have tremendous impact on success in the maritime industry.
K&L Gates’ Public Policy and Law practice represents maritime interests before the U.S. Congress, the administration and its executive branch agencies, various state governments and agencies, and non-U.S. governments and entities. We work closely with our clients to understand and achieve their business and policy goals. Maritime group professionals have years of experience in Congress and executive branch agencies which helps us to understand the complex issues affecting the maritime industry nationally and internationally and to provide our clients with effective and creative solutions to legislative, administrative, and judicial issues. We assist clients in presenting effective responses to government initiatives, both regulatory and legislative, in all matters affecting the industry. Coastwise laws, vessel documentation, customs duties, maritime promotional programs, export restrictions, antitrust analysis of the industry, tax matters affecting maritime clients, and many other issues are routine matters for the maritime group.
In the complex maze of environmental law, simply identifying the applicable requirements can be difficult, and implementing the requirements in a cost-efficient and effective manner is even more challenging. Considering the complexities of the law and the consequences of noncompliance, including criminal exposure for companies and their employees, many companies realize they cannot maintain the necessary legal knowledge within their own organizations.
K&L Gates lawyers have experience in various maritime environmental matters. We have assisted clients in developing effective compliance programs and systems. We help clients anticipate and avoid problems before they impede their objectives or result in needless, costly litigation. Our lawyers have conducted internal investigations of potential violations and successfully negotiated with the authorities to avoid prosecution on numerous occasions. When necessary, we forcefully litigate problems that cannot otherwise be resolved.
K&L Gates also represents individual clients or coalitions before the U.S. Congress, the administration, or executive branch agencies on matters related to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, Clean Water Act; MARPOL and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships; Ocean Dumping Ban Act; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; and Clean Air Act. We represent clients before the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on matters related to the development and enforcing of federal regulations under these acts. We represent clients before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, or federal courts on specific matters or investigations arising from those acts or implementing regulations. We also advise clients on matters relating to various international conventions and treaties including MARPOL.