Admiralty & Shipping Law Gibraltar

Ship Arrests

Gibraltar’s strategic location, modern port facilities and legal system based on English Common Law are just some of the reasons why it has become one of the world’s leading jurisdictions for ship arrests.

Another key reason is that Gibraltar’s legal system, skilled practitioners and considerable experience in this field provides for swift and straightforward resolutions and sale of arrested vessels, whilst also ensuring that the rights of affected crews are properly upheld. We also advise private clients on the legal aspects of owning private yachts, including registration in Gibraltar.

Generally speaking, ship arrests occur only when all other alternative attempts at resolution have been exhausted. As the economic climate worsens, particularly in the wake of Covid 19, the rate of defaults is expected to rise and with it, the number of ship arrests made globally. Therefore, speedy resolutions become all the more important, giving Gibraltar a clear advantage.

One of the most high-profile cases in Gibraltar in recent times has been the seizure of the tanker Grace 1, which put both Gibraltar, and the ship arrest sector, squarely in the public eye. The incident occurred in 2019, when the Iranian vessel, which was flying a Panamanian flag, was boarded by Royal Marines on suspicion of delivering oil to Syria, in violation of EU sanctions.

The move escalated already fraught tensions between the UK and Iran, prompting Iran to seize a British tanker in reprisal. Gibraltar eventually helped to reduce these tensions, releasing the ship on condition that it did not enter Syrian waters. As Gibraltar was still a member of the EU at the time the incident occurred, it also made the decision not to comply with a US detention order as it was not applicable under EU law.

Hassans acted for the Gibraltar Port Authority in relation to the detention of supertanker “Grace 1” for breach of EU sanctions against Syria. Partner Lewis Baglietto QC led a team of lawyers bringing a diverse range of expertise to the challenge.

This case is just one of the many high-profile ship arrests which Hassans has been involved with over the years. Our firm’s specialist Ship Arrests team have considerable experience not only in Ship Arrests but also in the successful negotiation of sales of seized vessels. We also have a considerable experience in all aspects of Shipping and Admiralty law.

Our contentious maritime team is here to advise and take you through the entire process to ensure a swift and successful resolution. Contact us today to find out more.