Maritime sanctions against Russia – a moral and commercial minefield

14 Mar 2022

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GMS’s latest podcast is an insightful conversation with Julian Clark, Stephen Askins and Prachi Shah about how shipping is adapting to the latest “completely unprecedented” maritime and financial sanctions against Russia. Ince’s Global Senior Partner Julian Clark and Tatham’s Senior Partner Stephen Askins, two of London’s leading maritime lawyers, discuss the challenges for shipping posed by an “unprecedented” range of sanctions against Russia with GMS’s legal counsel Prachi Shah. The podcast guests share their views on what the latest sanctions mean for chartering contracts, sale and purchase deals, KYC considerations and how shipping companies and cargo interests can stay on the right side of OFAC. The legal trio also considers the extent to which sanctions against Russia are both a commercial and moral obligation. Julian Clark reveals that law firms connected to Russia are shutting up their London offices “because the lawyers are saying we’re not prepared to work for this Russian firm anymore.” He adds, “I don't think we've ever seen anything like it.” Summing up the challenge for many, Stephen Askins recognises the financial considerations of operating under sanctions. “It’s a really difficult situation. If you’re a shipowner or charterer, you want to be paid, and you want to know that you can discharge cargo at the destination you’re taking it because anything else… is going to cost you money.” He adds that shipping is still weighing up the commercial risk as the situation unfolds. “Even if you think you know what the answers are on a Tuesday, the problem is it has changed by Wednesday, so we are all tiptoeing around this very, very carefully,” says Askins.