• Arthur Nitsevych

    Partner, Attorney, Interlegal Law firm
    LMAA and SCMAA member, FNI

  • Natalya Myroshnychenko

    Partner, Interlegal Law firm
    President of WISTA Ukrainian

  • Nikolay Melnykov

    Partner, Interlegal Law firm
    MNI, LMAA & GMAA member, Chairman of the Nautical Institute of Ukraine, MNI

  • Artem Skorobogatov

    Partner, Interlegal Law firm
    Representative in FOSFA


Address: 24B Genuezska Street,
Odessa, 65009, Ukraine
Tel.: +380 482 33 7528
Fax: +380 482 33 7529
E-mail: odessa@interlegal.com.ua
Web-site: www.interlegal.com.ua

Interlegal is a recognized law firm with its head office in Odesa, the biggest sea-gate of Ukraine. Founded in 1995, Interlegal gained the reputation of an international maritime law expert operating and servicing clients in the Black Sea Region. Interlegal expertise has been focused on the following major practices crystallized from our experience for over 20 years: shipping, transport & logistics, ports & terminals, international trade, corporate, investment & transactions, litigation & arbitration. Within wide practice in commercial shipping, Interlegal also renders the full range of yachting services: concluding sales contracts of yachts and ships, their registration and insurance. All participants of the transportation process are among the firm’s clients: cargo owners, carriers, forwarders, agents, ports, terminals, charterers, shipowners, insurers, banks, etc. 

Interlegal employs 37 top level law experts, advising clients 24/7. Careful selection has brought together talented, enthusiastic, goal-oriented professionals united by high standards and a team spirit able to solve hard tasks effectively and to observe quickly the firm’s purpose:  Our mission is to be useful for Shipping, Transport & International Trade people in their fair business! While continuously developing our legal practice in Shipping and International trade in the Black Sea Region, we opened offices in Batumi (Georgia), Istanbul (Turkey), and Varna (Bulgaria). The annual research of the legal service market, Ukrainian Law Firms 2012-2016. A Handbook for Foreign Clients, has determined Interlegal as one of the leading firms handling maritime, transport and infrastructure matters.

Maritime Law in Ukraine

Ukraine is a maritime state on the Black Sea and Azov Sea coasts, which has its own fleet, shipbuilding and ship repair facilities, a number of sea ports and river ports on two rivers, the Dnipro and the Danube, open for navigation. There are established short sea links with Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece along with direct rail links to Central Europe, the Baltic States, the Russian Far East and Central Asia, thus making Ukraine a trans-shipment hub too. The list of sea ports opened now for foreign vessels calls is provided by the Order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of 26 June 2013 No. 466-p and includes 13 sea ports (Reni, Izmail, Ust-Dunaysk, Belgorod-Dnestrovskiy, Chornomorsk, Odesa, Yuzhny, Mykolayiv, Olvia, Kherson, Skadovsk, Berdyansk, Mariupol).

Ukraine is one of the world’s leading grain and sunflower oil exporters and is an important gateway for the import and export of commodities and goods. Ukraine exported 21.22 million tons of grain in 2016 (by 22 December 2016). According to information of the Agrarian Policy Ministry of Ukraine announced on 30 December 2016, the grain export forecast for the July 2016 — June 2017 season runs to a total of 41.6 million tons. The major ship owners include Ukrrichflot and the Ukrainian Danube Shipping company. Ukraine is also ranked as the 5th supplier of seafarers to the world’s fleet market, providing some 75,000 officers and ratings.

Main Features of Maritime Law

Shipping has been at the forefront of international trade for over 5,000 years — no other industry has ever played such a fundamental part in economic voyages. Over the past fifty years, shipping has become progressively safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly. Sea transport is the ideal way to move large volumes of cargo. In comparison with air or road transportation, vessels are capable of carrying huge amounts of goods or commodities and are suitable for transporting gas and liquids as well as various types of hazardous freight.

Generally, Maritime Law describes all the legislation related to ships and shipping, including the building, navigation, crewing, operation and other activities and incidents related to ships. One feature is its international nature, which pleads for international uniformity in maritime law. This necessity has been satisfied internationally by implementing a number of international conventions or agreed rules like the Hague-Visby Rules unifying certain rules of law related to Bills of Lading, or the York-Antwerp Rules fixing the grounds for general average assessment. In some jurisdictions and in Ukraine in particular, the provisions of such conventions are implemented in local laws through the Merchant Shipping Code or similar. The widespread use of standard form documents as the basis of most contracts of carriage (like GENCON, SIINACOMEX, NYPE or BPTIME3) also has the effect of unification.

The second obvious feature of maritime law is that contracts for carriage of goods by sea fail to be performed in specific and often hazardous conditions, in which it is practically impossible for one party to supervise the work of the other party on a daily basis. This factor is the key instrument in development of the sea carrier’s general duties and legal grounds for them, including the duty to provide a seaworthy ship and not to deviate from the route stipulated by the charter party as well as other carrier’s duties connected with the sea voyage. It also influences those parts of maritime law dealing with the shipper’s duty to disclose the dangerous nature of goods shipped and the master’s powers of jettison and other extraordinary powers conferred on the master of the vessel in the event of an emergency.

The third notable feature affecting the nature and the practice of maritime law is that shipping regulated by such maritime law is directly dependent on other commercial activities. Contracts for the carriage of goods by sea are not made in commercial isolation. They are typically entered onto in order to sell goods or to give effect to a previous sale. This means that contracts for sea carriage often reflect direct interest of both, sellers or buyers, under a sales contract. Third parties may become involved in the carriage of goods in other ways. This leads to complex questions about who can sue and who can be sued. In the absence of a contract provision dealing with the particular problem, the main role in such cases is played by the governing law of a carriage contract, which is English law for the majority of sea carriage contract forms, or local law as the law of the place of the incident.

The use of standard forms is a great point of maritime law practice. The vast majority of standard contracts developed by international associations, in particular, BIMCO (Baltic and International Maritime Council), FOSFA (Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats Associations) and GAFTA (Grain and Feed Trade Association), contain standard or default provisions on application of English law. So, under the circumstances, Ukrainian maritime law practitioners deal mainly with casualties and incidents, not with contracts. The Merchant Shipping Code of Ukraine of 23 May 1995 regulates all main questions in this respect such as collision, pollution or grounding. Ukraine signed, and is a party to, many international conventions. For example, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78), the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR 1979), the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs 1972), the International Convention on Maritime Liens and Mortgages (Geneva, of 6 May 1993), the International Convention Relating to the Arrest of Sea-Going Ships (Brussels, of 10 May 1952), etc.

Role of Arbitration in Shipping

Maritime cases are both very specific and very complex. To draw the right conclusion, one needs to have specific knowledge and expertise. That is why many in shipping favor arbitration over litigation. Arbitrators are more knowledgeable in maritime matters than judges, who have limited exposure to shipping. They can decide cases based upon the law, their practical knowledge and commercial reasoning. Furthermore, judges may be forced under the doctrine to decide modern-day disputes based on antiquated case law. Arbitrators, however, are not bound by this doctrine and have broad latitude to use their commercial sense of fairness. Neither are they  bound by strict court rules of evidence and procedure.

London remains the most popular choice for maritime arbitration. The majority of standard form charterparties, international sale contracts, salvage contracts, reinsurance and P&I Club Rules provide for London arbitration and, in particular, arbitration at the LMAA (London Maritime Arbitrators’ Association). Many bills of lading incorporate an arbitration clause in the charterparty under which the bill is issued.

In Ukraine we have the Maritime Arbitration Commission at the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an independent permanent arbitration institution operating under the Law of Ukraine On International Commercial Arbitration of 24 February 1994the Statute on the Maritime Arbitration Commission at the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Annex  No.2 to this Law) and the Rules, approved by the Decision of the Presidium of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry No.18(1) of 17 April 2007, as amended by the Decision of the Presidium of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry No.24(6) of 25 October 2012.

Ukraine is a Maritime State

Ukraine’s position as a maritime power requires both the following global trends in sea trade and trends in the regions of the Black Sea and Azov Sea. The domestic sea economic complex development is dictated by the high profitability of the transport service market due to the world-recognized competitive advantages of water transportation (ecological compatibility, low price, investment attractiveness, etc).

However, the legal framework which regulates the marine industry remains imperfect. In particular, most of the items on its functioning in Ukraine are still regulated by subordinate acts. Several authorized central executive bodies  have neither top level marine activity management, nor the required level of coordination between them and local executive bodies located in maritime regions.

The procedure for establishing of the Maritime Administration is at the stage of creation of a regulatory basis for its activity. In particular, on 29 September 2016 the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine submitted for consideration to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine the Draft Order On Establishment of State Sea/River Transport Service of Ukraine — the Maritime Administration.

The Ukrainian legal community has recently unified its efforts with the aim of improving the legal framework regulating some of the main issues of maritime law, in particular ship arrest in respect of maritime claims, ballast waters regulations, and others. Such work will definitely result in necessary amendments to legislation, giving Ukraine the possibility to obtain a strong system of maritime law and to become more attractive as a maritime jurisdiction.