Business law, maritime law and law of the sea

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The law relating to activities at sea is based primarily on Maritime Law and the Law of the Sea. Maritime Law is the law of things, activities and events related with the sea. Specifically, it deals with matters concerning seagoing personnel, ships and other seagoing vessels, charter contracts and ocean transport, ship ownership and sales, maritime safety, incidents at sea and marine insurance. 

The Law of the Sea on the other hand is the law of maritime space, it defines its zones as well as the rights and obligations of States in these zones, especially in regard to environmental protection and law and order at sea. 

While Maritime Law is a dominant speciality of specialised law firms, the Law of the Sea is indispensable for the development of activities at sea, such as the exploitation of resources or the installation of structures in the open sea. 

Apart from Maritime Law and the Law of the Sea, professionals also make use of the multidisciplinary expertise of law firms, combining the classics of business law, civil law and community law with more specialised branches (insurance, contract, environment, tax, criminal, intellectual property).

The basic task of lawyers is to inform and advise, act on behalf of clients, draft legal documents, reach compromises and finally defend their clients. Most jurists, lawyers and practitioners of Maritime Law are members of the French Association of Maritime Law (AFDM) which acts as coordinator and consultant at national and international level. 

Association Française de Droit Maritime

The French Maritime Law Association (MLA) has a membership of around 400 professionals in maritime law (academics, maritime lawyers, in-house lawyers from maritime companies or organisms). Its objective is to study all matters concerning maritime law and law related to maritime activities in general in all its aspects (domestic and international, private and public). 

Chambre Arbitrale Maritime de Paris

Dispute resolution by arbitration or conciliation can be carried out through the Chambre Arbitrale Maritime de Paris (Maritime Arbitration Court of Paris), which can provide companies of all sizes with the necessary facilities. Its services are as effective as similar Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions and are quicker and less expensive. 

Law Firms

Cabinet BMC 

Specialised in maritime issues, the law firm BMC Lawyers is established in Paris and Marseille. 

Loyalty, responsiveness, cost-efficiency, and privacy are the promoted qualities in the firm that assists members of the shipping community (ship-owners, insurers, P&I, banks, shipyards, brokers, fishermen…) whether in amicable issues (contract drafting, sales & registrations of ships, negotiations…) or disputes (collisions, chartering, cargo claims, fire, hidden defects and warranties, pollutions, customs claims, ship arrest and sales on auctions,…) 

Recognized for its skills, the law firm BMC Lawyers is listed in Legal500 and in Chambers and Partners directories. BMC is also a referenced service provider for numerous insurance companies. 


Cabinet Dollfus

Franck Dollfus formed his own independent maritime and transport law practice Cabinet Dollfus in Paris in 2011. He represents and advises a wide range of national and international clients including ship owners, managers and operators, cargo and liabilities underwriters, salvors, brokers, recovery agents, logistics and transport operators, and overseas lawyers. 

Cabinet NomoS

NomoS was founded in 1998 by partners coming from large Parisian business law firms. The firm gathers today 37 lawyers endowed with specific and complimentary legal skills in the subject matter of law responding to the principal needs of its clients : Competition/Distribution/Consumption, Intellectual Property/Medias/New technologies, Social law, Mergers and Acquisitions/Corporate, Tax Law. 

NomoS is conceived as a partner firm in the long term for its clients assisted generally for their entire legal lifespan, whether it be in everyday business, exceptional operations or litigation. 

Athough of purely French origin, NomoS has always favored a strong international opening. Its clients comprise about 70% of companies belonging to anglo-saxon groups or multinationals companies whose 30% are French ones. 

NomoS considers that the understanding of the practices and sectors of activity of our clients, coupled with the perfect mastering of our legal specialties, constitutes a supplementary token of excellence. NomoS therefore follows closely what’s happening in our clients’ sectors in order to ensure the constant understanding of their needs and to anticipate the legal evolutions. The profiles of lawyers whose NomoS is recruiting are diverse and several of them come from businesses. 

NomoS takes care that the balance of men-women is not just a stated goal. Five out of 10 partners of NomoS are women. 

Clyde&Co LLP 

An internat ional law firm established in Paris since 1992, specialising in insurance, transport (maritime, air, road, rail), construction, commodities, industrial risks and arbitration. 

Favarel & Associés 

The Favarel law firm has been providing its experience in maritime law and international affairs since 1997. Composed of a team of multilingual lawyers specialising in maritime law and transport, international arbitration, company law, banking law and insolvency law, it acts regularly in cases arising from environmental disasters and industrial accidents on board ships, drafts international contracts to build luxury yachts and has developed a global network of exclusive partners. 

Gicquel Associés

Gicquel Associés, a firm of international business lawyers, includes among its partners people with knowledge of the complexities of maritime tax law and sustainable development. 

Holman Fenwick Willan

HFW has one of the longest established, largest and best known maritime law practices in the world, widely recognised by clients and competitors alike. Founded in 1883 in London and based in France since 1977, the firm is a recognised market leader in every aspect of maritime law, from high profile casualties (collisions, salvage, wreck removal, pollution and other environmental issues, hull insurance, actual and constructive total losses and personal injury claims), through the carriage of goods by sea to the purchase, finance and insurance of maritime assets, as well as port infrastructure and development matters. 

Ince & Co France

Part of international law firm Ince & Co since 2002, their historic links with the players of the maritime sector and the French insurance market go back several decades. Their offices in France practise French law and English law in the fields of advice, litigation and arbitration. 

Kramer Levin 

Present in Paris, New York and Silicon Valley, Kramer Levin is an international law firm with more than 375 lawyers. Its global, creative and personalized approach allows for highly efficient work on both advisory and litigation matters. 


  • infrastructure & energy (project finance, project management & engineering, construction, sub-contracting); 
  • construction litigation & Industrial risks; 
  • data protect ion, business secrecy & cybersecurity; 
  • public law (public procurement, use of public land, concessions, regulatory, environment); 
  • other: litigation & arbitration, corporate M&A and restructuring, tax, employment, banking & finance, insurance. 

Le Berre Engelsen Witvoet

A team of 5 Paris based lawyers with an international network, LBEW is specialised in all maritime and transport activities, and provides its foreign and French clients with expertise in litigation, arbitration and advice. 

Lewis & Co

Lewis & Co AARPI solicitors and avocats provides a full range of international services in shipping, international trade insurance and commercial law. Its lawyers have been involved in some of the highest profile major maritime casualties over the years as well as day-to-day commercial disputes arising under shipping contracts. An Anglo French practice, the firm specializes in shipping, international trade and insurance, and advises on both English and French law. 

Normand & Associés

An international law firm created in 1950 specialising in all strategic branches of maritime law, particularly for clients such as shipbuilding and repair companies and their subcontractors and suppliers, as well as shipping companies, institutional maritime players and insurance companies, and of fering services both in consulting and litigation (judicial, administrative and arbitration). 

Normand et Associés assists its clients at all stages of their business (from drawing up contracts to handling litigation and enforcement of legal decisions), but also with regard to industrial and professional risks (insurance law, labour law, criminal law, etc.). 

Norton Rose Fulbright LLP

A pioneer in the shipping sector, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP is a leading international legal practice at the forefront of innovative structures implemented in this area whether in shipping finance (mortgage loans, tax leasing, export credit), corporate and capital markets, marine insurance, competition and regulation, tax, admiralty, infrastructure, energy and shipping litigation, and regardless of the type of ship (gas carriers, cruise ships, oil tankers, bulk carriers or container ships…). 

Reed Smith

Reed Smith is a global relationship law firm with teams specialising in shipping and maritime law, as well as international trade, insurance and arbitration all across Europe (Paris, London and Athens), in the United States (Washington, New York), in Asia (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore) and in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi, Dubaï). Reed Smith's strength in these practice areas is a result of its global presence - and especially its long presence in Greece and Asia - and its network of experts, and, as far as the Paris office is concerned, of the team of lawyers dedicated to maritime law led by Luc Grellet. 

Richemont Nicolas et Associés

An international law firm established in Paris since 1945, specializing in transport law (road and air) and particularly maritime law in all of its aspects, as well as insurance and arbitration law. 

The firm’s lawyers handle cases in France and abroad, especially in French-speaking Africa, directly and through a network of specialist correspondents. 

Shubert Collin Associés

Shubert Collin Associés is an international business law firm, with particular expertise in advising French and foreign clients with respect to international operations. In the area of maritime law, this “boutique” firm (twelve lawyers) operates essentially in the area of tax law (tonnage tax, VAT, business tax, tax litigation, etc.). 

Stephenson Harwood

International law firm specialising in maritime and transportation law; practices in all fields of maritime law and in particular the purchase and sale of vessels, financing of vessels (including Loi Girardin, mortgage loans, tax leasing, export credit); structuring ownership; flagging; port development; concessions and public tenders; European aid and subsidy issues; all tax aspects relating to transactions. In addition, Stephenson Harwood assists its clients in the arrest of ships, enforcement of securities, insurance claims and commercial litigation. 

Trillat & Associés

Trillat & Associés Law Firm is dedicated to the business activities of its clients as advisor and litigator in court or in arbitration. The firm has expanded significantly particularly in the international fields (contract management, merger – acquisition, etc.) especially in Germany and China. In addition, Trillat & Associés Law Firm benefits from a solid reputation in industrial accidents (pollution, Mont Blanc tunnel fire, AZF plant explosion in Toulouse, collapse of the QUEEN MARY gangway in Saint-Nazaire, Channel Tunnel fire, etc.) where it handles the insurance and criminal aspects. 

Villeneau Rohart Simon

The first maritime law firm established in France (Paris - Marseilles), and recommended by Chambers, it specialises in litigation, arbitration and mediation in maritime law (Admiralty, carriage, C/P, marine insurance, shipbuilding, yachting, pollution…).