Partner – Aerlex
T: (+1) 310-392-5200 (ext. 125)
What sort of clients do you advise?
Owners and lenders. I’ve deliberately never targeted the yards for work because of the potential for conflicts of interest down the road. On a sale or purchase, the broker is an incredibly valuable member of the deal team, but the client is the seller or the buyer and you act in his or her interests. I’ve seen the lines get blurred and it’s a mistake that must be avoided by any lawyer. We do a lot of work acting as the specialist “second chair” in association with, and referred by, a client’s regular counsel.
How did you end up in superyacht law?
I was fortunate enough to start my career over 25 years ago learning from titans of the shipping industry in the legal sector, Messrs. Watson, Farley & Williams and their colleagues. It was that training and background in commercial shipping (which included cruise ships) which developed into an expertise in the superyacht sector. My entire career has been focussed on the transportation industry, encompassing a shipping and aviation practice. There are huge synergies between the two, not just from a legal perspective but also in terms of the client base in my superyacht and private jet practices.
What makes a good superyacht lawyer?
It’s a lot more than the technical legal skills. Everybody who succeeds in this industry has a common denominator: a passion for superyachts. You need to combine the legal skills with that passion for the industry and have the capacity to communicate the two.
What do you most like about your job?
In terms of clients, the opportunity to represent individuals who have achieved enormous success in their chosen fields, and to have the privilege to advise them on what is by any standard a significant personal investment. The aim is to make the whole process a joyous experience, and not have any shine taken off that stunning end product. And that’s where the second aspect of this job comes in which I value so highly: the character of the people (and the characters) who work in this sector.
What one piece of advice would you give to potential yacht buyers?
Don’t underestimate the value of having your lawyer with you on board during that summer cruise around the Mediterranean……….
Richard has over 25 years experience in the transportation sector, with a particular emphasis on superyachts and private jets. He re-located with his family to Southern California in 2013 after having spent 20 years based in Paris, where he latterly founded and managed the Paris office of Stephenson Harwood.
Richard has extensive experience advising on the purchase and financing of superyachts, both new and pre-owned, and related ownership and operational issues. He is recognized by numerous legal directories as a leading individual, and is praised by clients for always being available to meet their necessarily demanding requirements with a thoughtful, inventive and pragmatic approach.