Our team of well-trained and experienced maritime lawyers are fully committed to the provision of tailor-made maritime legal services. These range from disputes settlements on all matters pertaining to loss of or damage to goods during ocean carriage or preliminary storage prior to ocean transit; ship arrest, resolving any disputes that result from discrepancies that occur due to the absence of detailed terms with specific rights and/or obligations under contracts of carriage of goods by sea and by other transport modes to complement a complete logistics chain. We ensure that all our clients secure the best contractual terms favourable for their particular maritime operations and follow up on the execution of all their services under particular contractual regimes to make sure they are not involved in any legal danger that may cause any pecuniary loss to them.
Marine insurance and cargo security is one of the areas we consider very important in our maritime services and we maintain close professional and collaboration ties with the very big insurance underwriters worldwide and local marine insurance entities to make sure we secure the best and most efficient and cost effective insurance cover for all our clients. Resolution of ensuing disputes and claims satisfaction is a complementary service to these. Contact us at [email protected] or through our hotline on +237 9639 4603 or +237 3342 9575.
CARGO LOSS AND DAMAGE
A very large part of our practice is the defense of claims for cargo loss and damage on behalf of ship-owners and charterers. We have successfully handled claims, litigations and arbitrations involving virtually every type of cargo. We have represented liner services which have enabled us to develop expertise in liner claims, containerized shipments and a wide variety of general cargoes. The Firm also defends claims involving specialized cargoes, such as refrigerated commodities, dry bulk cargoes, etc.
While many cargo losses originate from an isolated incident (i.e. theft, handling damage, breakdown of reefer machinery), other claims result from major casualties, such as collisions, groundings, sinkings, fires, explosions and boarding seas causing loss of deck cargo overboard. We have significant experience in dealing with such major loss cases and, on short notice, our attorneys are prepared to attend at the scene of casualties and conduct on-board investigations in order to develop and preserve evidence.
We strongly emphasize the need to keep our clients appraised of significant developments and to work with them to establish the essential facts needed to evaluate the merits of each claim. In doing so, our main goal has been to determine at an early stage whether a particular claim can be successfully defended or should be settled on best terms in order to avoid the inherent costs of litigation.
COLLISIONS AND CASUALTIES
When a serious casualty occurs, the initial investigation and the evidence gathered can have a significant impact on the eventual outcome of the case. Crew members and witnesses need to be interviewed promptly, and often the vessel’s owners and/or crew members must be represented in hearings and investigations by authorities in place. The immediate aftermath of a serious collision or casualty is a time when there is no substitute for experience.
We believe that casualties must be handled – not just litigated. Some cases must inevitably be tried, but others should unquestionably be resolved commercially. Our goal, based on our experience, is to work with our clients to develop the best strategy for each particular case, consistent with the facts and law of the case and with the client’s business objectives.
The attorneys in our casualty group are prepared to respond 24 hours a day, and we have the technology and staff in place to provide the immediate, efficient response required to expeditiously deal with a casualty.
GENERAL COMMERCIAL LITIGATION
As an extension of our traditional maritime practice, the firm has become increasingly involved in general commercial litigation, both domestic and international. We have developed significant experience in this area and have dealt with cases as diverse as the sale of commodities, employment disputes, insurance coverage matters, brokerage commission claims, the enforceability of surety contracts and the defense of claims against cruise line performance bonds. In addition, we now routinely handle complex contract disputes, which often involve multiple jurisdictions.
As in all areas of our practice, our initial goal is to explore with the client whether a prompt and reasonable commercial solution to the problem can be achieved, without resort to litigation. However, when a negotiated solution proves impossible, or when a client’s defenses, or its ability to eventually recover, are at risk, we are prepared to move promptly to ensure that those rights are fully protected. We litigate such cases in municipal and regional courts as well as taking part in arbitration proceedings.
We assist our clients with debt collection in commercial cases, both domestic and foreign. We have extensive experience in identifying and seizing assets to either satisfy existing debts or to ensure collection of an anticipated judgment, often in conjunction with a foreign proceeding. Our longstanding relationships with a worldwide network of experienced law firms enable us to effectively pursue assets internationally, and advise on alternative locations for debt recovery if assets are moved from local jurisdictions. In addition, we have significant expertise in pursuing recovery through parent or subsidiary corporations, as well as defending against such an effort. We have successfully “pierced the corporate veil,” satisfying judgments in our clients’ favor against parent or affiliated companies of the judgment debtor. Conversely, we have successfully defended corporate clients in the reverse situation – where an alter ego action has been prosecuted against them for the debts of another corporate entity.
Finally, we provide general corporate and transactional advice on a wide range of matters including international transactions, sales and transportation issues.
Maritime work on or around vessels, whether by seamen, longshoremen or other marine workers, is often a hazardous occupation and continues to occasion a high incidence of injury. Seamen have no workers’ compensation structure and in order to legally recover from their employer due to personal injury, must commence a lawsuit against the employer. Longshoremen, although having compensation systems, will often file a third-party claim against the shipowner for injuries that occur on the vessels on which they are working.
Our approach is to provide as thorough a defense as possible in an economical way. This approach includes not only an intensive investigation as to the liability facts, but also a full examination of the medical aspects of the case. If our investigation indicates that a settlement is warranted, we promptly advise our client and seek authority to commence productive negotiations. If our conclusion is that there is no or questionable liability, or that the claimant’s damages are exaggerated, then we are fully prepared to vigorously defend any litigation brought against our client. With this approach, not only have we avoided catastrophic results, but we have managed to turn away claimants with questionable claims.
SHIP PURCHASE AND SALE
MULUH & PARTNERS has what it takes to represent sellers and purchasers of vessels in domestic and international sale transactions. These services, which include related financings, cover the following:
Review and negotiation of MOA terms. Advice on suitable jurisdictions for vessel registration, taking into account fees, administrative requirements, applicable law, political situation and lender acceptability. Advice on favorable corporate domiciles. Preparation of corporate documents, including articles of association, by-laws, corporate resolutions, minutes of shareholder meetings, secretarial certificates, and powers of attorney. Negotiating and drafting of financing documents, including loan agreements, ship mortgages, assignments, pledges, guarantees and miscellaneous undertakings. Preparation of Bills of Sale. Preparation of opinion letters. Attending ship sale closings. Handling post-sale disputes. We have a long established network of reliable contacts in foreign countries. These relationships help us to deal efficiently with some of the problems which often arise in preparing for a ship closing. The Firm maintains an extensive form file, updated to reflect changes in the law. As a result, we are prepared to move quickly in the event the transaction involves tight deadlines.
MULUH & PARTNERS, SISE FACE COLLEGE DE LA SALLE-AKWA, B.P 1632 DOUALA-CAMEROON, TEL: +237 3342 9575 or +237 9639 4603, Email: [email protected]