We have received more enquiries recently about our “retainer” service. We understand that in a Covid world it is becoming more difficult for some clients to find the right in house legal experience.
We would of course always recommend that clients operating in the international shipping and trade markets have access to an experienced English lawyer. The vast majority of international shipping contracts are governed by English law and most disputes are resolved here in London.
Most of the work we do relates to disputes i.e. where things have gone wrong. Some of those disputes could have been avoided with the benefit of legal advice at the drafting stage. It is in the nature of lawyers that we are always thinking of how things might go wrong. In that sense, there is (we would say) considerable benefit in a client having access to a lawyer when the contracts are being drafted.
Our “retainer” service is designed to provide clients with flexibility. There’s no time recording and no bills to pay other than a fixed monthly retainer which is reviewed from time to time. The advantage for clients is that due to our size and structure, our senior partners and associates can be available as and when required. We can also advise clients on commercial and operational issues via our affiliate BDM Commercial.
To sum up, outsourced legal appears to be growing in popularity hence the uptick in interest in our “retainer” service. It appeals to smaller ship owners and traders operating with a lean back office. However, it also appeals to some larger corporate clients with extensive in house legal teams where those teams are mostly dealing with internal corporate and regulatory issues rather than issues specific to shipping. This is of course not to diminish the role of the in house lawyer who is perhaps always best placed to know what his only client (his employer) wants and requires.
Those interested in our retainer service should get in touch via their usual contact at BDM.