Skip to Main Content
Our Commitment to Diversity

Maritime: Maritime Compliance

The maritime industry has never been more regulated and the industry is currently facing, and will face in the years ahead, the most complex regulatory changes in its history.

New, safety and environmental regulatory requirements present an unprecedented set of new risks for the industry. These issues are of central importance to our clients due to the increasing legal complexities and serious consequences of noncompliance, including criminal exposure for companies and their officers, shoreside employees, and vessel crews.

Our lawyers have broad-based experience in the entire spectrum of maritime safety and environmental matters, including prevention and compliance issues, as well as administrative, civil, and criminal defense.


Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Defense

Our maritime and environmental compliance and defense capabilities are comprehensive, and our lawyers are routinely deployed throughout the United States immediately, at any time, to meet the needs of our clients.

We have assisted clients in developing effective compliance programs and systems, both preemptively and following specific incidents, including government investigations and court-ordered compliance. We help clients anticipate and avoid problems before they impede objectives or result in costly litigation. Our lawyers routinely conduct internal investigations of potential violations and have successfully negotiated with authorities to avoid prosecution on numerous occasions, including through the use of voluntary disclosure programs.

In cases of alleged non-compliance, we routinely represent and advise clients at every stage of an investigation, from the initial boarding and inspection of a vessel, through any vessel detention, and, if the case is referred for criminal prosecution, during any subsequent grand jury investigation. When necessary, we forcefully and effectively litigate problems that cannot otherwise be resolved and have successfully defended a number of owners, operators, and crewmembers through trial in both criminal prosecutions and in civil fine and penalty cases.

In the United States, we have represented individual clients or coalitions before the US Congress, the administration, and numerous executive branch agencies, such as the US Coast Guard (USCG), US Customs and Border Protection, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the US Department of Justice. We routinely represent clients on matters related to the development and enforcement of international conventions, US law, and federal regulations.

Examples include:

  • Development of effective compliance programs and systems
  • Internal investigations of potential violations
  • Voluntary disclosures under USCG Appendix V Environmental Crimes Voluntary Disclosure Policy
  • Negotiated resolution of violations to avoid prosecution
  • Represented clients before Congress, various administrative and executive agencies (USCG, EPA), and in civil and criminal enforcement cases before the courts on matters related to the OPA and the CWA; MARPOL and APPS; Ports and Waterways Safety Act, Maritime Transportation Security Act, Ocean Dumping Ban Act; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Clean Air Act; and various international conventions and treaties.
  • Cases involving investigation and prosecution for Seaman’s Manslaughter Act
  • Port state control and other regulatory matters
  • Pollution and environmental claims and civil or criminal enforcement defense
  • OSLTF claims
  • NRDA claims

We have provided counsel to various public and private interests involved in shoreside maritime operations, including ports, facilities, and operators, including issues such as port regulatory and compliance frameworks.

Public Policy, Regulatory and Legislative

Our Maritime professionals have years of experience in legislative and executive branch agencies, which helps us understand the complex issues affecting the maritime industry nationally and internationally, and provide our clients with effective and creative solutions to legislative, administrative, and judicial issues. We regularly advise clients on compliance with coastwise laws, including the US Jones Act cabotage requirements. Our integrated lobbying and regulatory compliance practice allows us to work with clients who want to change, as well as comply with, restrictions governing their business arrangements.


We have advised clients on complying with applicable cybersecurity laws and regulations. This has included advising clients on effective use of blockchain and other protective technology, assisting clients to mitigate risks associated with a cyber-attack, and providing guidance on obtaining comprehensive cyber liability insurance.


We represent clients before the US Congress, European Commission, World Trade Organization, US Trade Representative, the US International Trade Commission, US Customs and Border Protection, US Departments of Commerce and Treasury, and various administrative and executive branch agencies and federal courts on matters related to regulation of trade, US trade policy, allegations of illegal subsidies, and customs duties. 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. We have experience in sanctions counseling, including Office of Foreign Asset Control compliance.

Additional Thought Leadership Pages
Return to top of page

Email Disclaimer

We welcome your email, but please understand that if you are not already a client of K&L Gates LLP, we cannot represent you until we confirm that doing so would not create a conflict of interest and is otherwise consistent with the policies of our firm. Accordingly, please do not include any confidential information until we verify that the firm is in a position to represent you and our engagement is confirmed in a letter. Prior to that time, there is no assurance that information you send us will be maintained as confidential. Thank you for your consideration.

Accept Cancel