Shipping and Logistics

Bowman Gilfillan’s Shipping and Logistics department is a leader in its field, and has a solid reputation for providing fast and effective advice in all the major areas of South African law and practice. Legal 500 EMEA 2015 ranked our practice in Band 1. With sources saying, "Bowman Gilfillan’s shipping and logistics department reinforced its shipping credentials with the acquisition of Van Velden Pike & Partners in August 2014, bringing on board standout figure Andrew Pike, who is noted for his ‘great industry knowledge and ability to guide litigation in sensible and credible manner’. Outstanding practitioners Craig Cunningham and Jeremy Prain are also recommended. The shipping practice ranges from traditional ship finance to major casualty work and provides ‘a prompt and efficient service’, rooted in ‘a clear knowledge of the law’ and a ‘professional’ approach. Clients also appreciate the team’s international knowledge and perspective. The firm recently represented the owners and P&I insurers concerning a fire aboard the car carrier Tai Shan."

As of 1 August 2014, Bowman Gilfillan merged with Velden Pike Nichols, a niche shipping, ports and logistics practice in Durban and has consolidated its existing services in the ports of Saldanha, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Ngqura (Coega), Durban and Richards Bay through the acquisition of the extensive skills and experience of partners Mark van Velden and Andrew Pike and Senior Associate Anisa Govender.

Emergency Response

The Shipping and Logistics Department is available 24 hrs a day (+27 21 480 7920 – National Helpline)

Southern Africa’s dangerous coastline is notorious for serious high profile losses. We strive to provide immediate legal and practical assistance in an emergency. Our lawyers have been involved in many of the most significant local casualties of the past decade including:

The Smart, Kiani Satu, Ioannis NK, Boundary, Gulser Anna, Alexandros T, Safmarine Agulhas, Anangel Splendour and Kiperousa.

Bowman Gilfillan is the listed legal correspondent in the ports of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth for most of the International Group of P&I Clubs

Admiralty Litigation

South Africa’s liberal arrest and attachment procedures – notably the associated ship arrest and “security arrest” - make it a favoured admiralty jurisdiction for enforcing maritime claims and obtaining security for court and arbitration proceedings worldwide.

We regularly act for a range of international and local clients in bringing and defending claims, such as major shipowners, charterers, P& I Clubs, marine underwriters, and banks. 

The firm has acted in numerous High Court cases of legal and practical importance. Recent examples include the Rio Caroni, Silver Star, MSC Gina, Vasi, Deep Venture and Alina II.

Commercial Services

We advise businesses involved in shipping and trading on commercial matters such as ship building and repair, ship sale and purchase, international sales contracts, customs and excise issues, standard business terms, charterparties and bills of lading. We also act for local and foreign banks in shipping finance transactions, including ship and mortgage registration.

Ports and Terminals

The firm has extensive expertise in the Ports and Terminals sector, both in South Africa and in a number of countries on the African Continent.  We offer a full service to the Ports and Terminals industry, facilitating relationships between land and sea users and owners of ports, terminals and equipment.  Our offering includes: port and terminal regulations and legislation, terminal throughput agreements, ISPS advice, port economic regulation advice, terminal operating procedures, including rail and stockyard interfaces and management processes, inland terminals, building contracts from source to sea, equipment and other procurement contracts, project finance, PPP’s, risk management assessments as well as all litigation between parties to port or terminal operations.

We have worked on a number of major projects, including the proposed Durban Dig-out Port and full rail, terminal and port developments in several countries in Africa.

Our Expertise Covers The Whole Range Of Shipping and Logistics Legal Services, Including:

  • Arrest
  • Bills of Lading
  • Bunker disputes and arrests
  • Cargo claims
  • Charterparties
  • Carriage of goods
  • Commercial agreements including Standard Trading Conditions
  • General average
  • Hull and cargo insurance
  • International trade agreements and Letters of Credit
  • Liens
  • Logistics, including all modes of transport, clearing, forwarding and Customs
  • Maritime casualties – collisions, grounding and salvage
  • Marine resources
  • Mortgage foreclosures
  • P&I
  • Personal injuries
  • Pollution
  • Ports and Terminals
  • Salvage and stowaways
  • Ships agency
  • Shipbuilding and repair
  • Ship sale and purchase
  • Ship finance
  • Wrecks and wreck removal

The Shipping and Logistics Department is available 24 hrs a day (+27 21 480 7920 – National Helpline) and in case of emergency, the following people will be available:

Durban office

Cape Town office



In association with Bowman Gilfillan Africa GroupMember of Lex MundiMember of Employment Law Alliance