Fenech and Fenech Advocates is the only law firm on the Island with a separate Marine Litigation Department. The geographic position of the Maltese Islands equidistant from Port Said to the east and the Straits of Gibraltar to the west, and from Sicily to the North and Libya to the South means that Malta is in the middle of one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. This, together with the fact that the Maltese flag today is the 2nd largest flag in Europe and the 7th largest in the world, and given that Malta is an important bunkering location with one of the largest free ports in the Mediterranean, has in real terms meant that the marine litigation department is kept extremely busy advising on situations as they arise on a 24 hour basis 365 days a year.
This department handles the whole cross section of shipping disputes and is continuously exposed to disputes arising from shipbuilding contracts to bills of lading and charter parties, from salvage, pilotage and collisions to arrest and other security or enforcement proceedings, from defective bunkers to major casualties, from pollution to crew claims. It is equally involved in giving advice on the effect of EU legislation on ships and shipping.
It is involved in the vast majority of shipping casualties involving vessels flying the Malta flag wherever the casualty may have occurred and has been actively involved in every Maritime enquiry to be held under the Merchant Shipping Act. The department regularly acts for charterers, owners, bunker suppliers, banks and financiers, brokers, P & I clubs, hull and machinery underwriters, tug operators, port authorities, and shipyards quite apart from Governmental Authorities as in the case of the casualty relating to the fishing vessel Samsher which exploded and left 4 persons dead in which matter Ann Fenech was appointed by Government to carry out a preliminary inquiry into the casualty under the Merchant Shipping Act.
The department has gained extensive experience in disputes involving the operations of dredgers, tankers, bulk carriers, container ships, reefer ships and reefer containers as well as disputes involving explosions on board tankers. In view of the diverse nature and size of casualties, personnel in this department are not only geared and prepared to give advice on the legal issues as they unfold 24 hours a day, but are also always prepared to offer crisis management at times and in scenarios when the persons with a financial interest in the casualty are hundreds of miles away from Malta and need to feel that all aspects of the casualty are being dealt with in the best possible manner. Fenech & Fenech enjoys the privilege of having immediate access to the services of a number of experts in sometimes remote parts of the world including surveyors, fire experts, marine engineers, naval architects, and other persons in highly specialised disciplines associated with shipping, who can be contacted at a moment’s notice to attend the scene of a casualty.
In addition, the department regularly acts for clients requiring pre-contractual or contractual advice on shipping related matters and is regularly consulted by government on such matters. The department is currently acting for the Malta Privatisation Unit in the privatisation process of the Malta Shipyards.
The department is regularly consulted by the Government on the update of shipping laws in Malta and has contributed to the amendment of numerous shipping laws over the past fifteen years.