Stann Law is the latest firm to boost London’s strength in marine casualty legal and consultancy work.

It burst onto the legal scene when it helped secure the release of the 20,388-teu Ever Given (built 2018) from arrest in the Suez Canal after the famous grounding incident in 2021.

At the time, the ship’s Japanese owner, its insurers, as well as its operator and cargo interests, were under enormous pressure to see the ship sail as soon as possible.

But, the Suez Canal Authority had control of the Ever Given and was holding out for $500m in compensation.

Negotiations appeared to be every bit as delicate and tense as the salvage operation to dig the ship free. The talks were not helped by another wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stann represented Japanese owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha and its insurers to come to a settlement that seemed to satisfy everyone. It even ended in a fanfare ceremony to see the ship off.

“When the deal was signed, we were the only party present from the Ever Given side of things,” Stann founding partner Faz Peermohamed said. “It was right in the middle of Covid and a very tricky time, so we had to be a bit careful, but we had a good relationship with the [Suez Canal Authority] in Egypt.”

As shipping’s most high-profile recent casualty, the Ever Given was a notable success for the firm, which itself started life in 2020 when it split from Ince & Co.

Now operating independently, Peermohamed has built up a team of 19 and recently moved into new offices right in the heart of the City of London’s marine insurance community.

While shipping law firms are often named after the surnames of the founding partners, Peermohamed chose an unconventional route to get the family name on the door.

Stann is made up of the initials of the first names of his five children.

Short and simple

The short and simple name also seems to reflect the firm’s no-nonsense practical approach to shipping law.

“When clients appoint a lawyer, they are keen to know that the relevant experience is there and you can understand the ships they operate,” he said. “They want to know, have you been there before, and can I trust you with this case?

“They get annoyed if a lawyer sets out an academic argument about something.

“Simplicity, in my view, is the ultimate sophistication, a good lawyer is someone who can make a really complicated issue look simple.”

Dredgers try to remove sand from around the 20,388-teu Ever Given (built 2018). Photo: Suez Canal Authority

Peermohamed served at sea, before coming ashore for a 30-year career at Ince interrupted by a brief spell as chief executive of Norwegian Hull Club.

The list of high-profile casualty cases he has been involved with also includes maritime disasters such as the Prestige and Costa Concordia.

The combination of experience at sea and handling shipping’s biggest casualties has put him in good stead for winning instructions when ships run into trouble.

The approach and in-house marine technical expertise and the latest IT casualty monitoring technology have helped Stann win the business of some of the world’s largest shipping and insurance companies. It was recently involved in the 6,400-ceu Felicity Ace (built 2005) car carrier fire.

Much of its work is on an annual retainer basis for legal representation as well as emergency response, accident investigation, loss prevention technical and media representation.

“When the worst happens, we are ready to take immediate action,” Peermohamed said. “In our experience, the response to a casualty is often defined by the decisions made in the first few hours and it is crucial that this time is used wisely.”

The firm not only works with marine casualties but also other facets of legal work such as dry bulk contractual and charterparty disputes. It also has developed an aviation division.

There are plans to take on more lawyers, mariners and expert consultants, with a representative office abroad planned to be the next significant stage of the firm’s development.