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What sort of clients do you advise?
There is no segment of the superyacht market that we do not advise upon. We have a broad spectrum of clients ranging from a significant proportion of Europe’s leading superyacht builders, owners, insurers and a number of the leading yacht designers.
How did you end up in superyacht law?
We need to go back to spring 1998 when I was a junior associate at Clyde & Co advising on LNG carriers and assorted oil offshore support vessels. A gentlemen came into the office wanting help to buy a Sunseeker Predator 80 which my more senior colleagues thought was not for them and in advising on the Sunseeker, I introduced to the superyacht brokers that I was working with, primarily at Camper & Nicholsons International, to a lot of the disciplines that I had learnt from the commercial shipping world. In 1998 we started developing what has eventually become a maritime discipline on its own. My department won a reputation for no nonsense and robust advice.
What makes a good superyacht lawyer?
An understanding of the law which is technically excellent coupled with the ability to communicate that to non-lawyers in a way that is accurate and definitive. A good superyacht lawyer is not the cheerleader for any vested interest and does not get too cosy with any particular stakeholder. Independence, independence, independence. Further, a good superyacht lawyer must have a real understanding of superyacht lifestyle and a working knowledge of superyacht design, naval architecture and shipbuilding. Without that depth and breadth of knowledge, a superyacht lawyer is not a superyacht lawyer.
What do you most like about your job?
Ultimately, it is about putting beautiful designs on the water and what I most enjoy is being involved with a project, the culmination of which is a delivery of a beautiful piece of design and naval architecture that is a showpiece for the work done by artisans dedicated to the best craftsmanship in the world. I well recall stepping on board the s/y “TIARA” with a sense of awe and wonder at being involved in such a wonderful piece of superyachting history.
What one piece of advice would you give to potential yacht buyers?
Do not listen to just one voice. Before you take the decision to buy speak to as many owners, brokers and professional advisers as you can.
John specialises in international marine transactional work and is a prominent member of the firm’s yacht group. His practice ranges from advising operators in the oil support industry to owners and builders of some of the world’s most luxurious superyachts.
He also advises on regulatory issues relating to the ownership of ships and has extensive experience in negotiating shipbuilding and ship financing documents. His clients are either shipping entrepreneurs or, in the case of John’s superyacht work, high net-worth individuals, superyacht builders, designers and banks.
John has been a partner since May 2003. He is a former development economist with the Foreign Office’s overseas development administration and has an economics degree from the University of Sussex and a masters in political economics from Middlesex University. He also has a law degree from the University of Westminster.
John is a regular contributor to superyacht symposia on issues as diverse as tax, the legal pitfalls surrounding superyacht design as well as superyacht finance. He also writes for several publications, including Boat International and The Superyacht Report.