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The number of reported shipping litigation cases dropped sharply between 2003 and 2004 - but some firms are still seeing an increase in work.
A study of the Lloyd's Law Reports carried out by shipping boutique Jackson Parton shows that in 2004 there were 15 fewer reported cases than in 2003. But if the year continues as it has started, 2005 should see a big jump in reported shipping litigation.
Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG) saw the largest increase in reported cases between 2003 and 2004, with the number rising by over 100 per cent, from three to seven. Ince & Co's reported cases also grew by four, up to 13.
BLG head of shipping and international trade Nigel Wagland said the increase was due to the growth of the department, which hired Hill Taylor Dickinson partners Tim Taylor and Patrick Foss in late 2003.
However, Wagland pointed out that, wherever possible, BLG tries to settle its cases amicably. "We've expanded and broadened our horizons and it's gone incredibly well," he added.
Meanwhile, other firms suffered a drop in cases, with Stephenson Harwood appearing in the law reports just twice in 2004 compared with 10 times in 2003. Some firms, such as Clifford Chance, which recently merged its shipping practice with its insurance and reinsurance practice, have yet to feature in this year's reports.
Jackson Parton founding partner Nick Parton said the figures show that clients are instructing a smaller number of law firms than they used to.
Number of reported shipping litigation cases, 2002-05