Dentons and Nortons vie in shipping dispute

PARTNERS at Denton Hall and Norton Rose are fighting head to head in what is potentially one of the UK's longest running arbitration cases.
The arbitration involves a disagreement which has been going on for three years between shipping companies All Seas Group, represented by Denton Hall, and Sing-apore-based Sembawang, which is being advised by Norton Rose. The dispute is over a contract to upgrade an All Seas Group-owned ship called Solitaire.
According to John Miles, senior litigation partner at Denton Hall, Sembawang had tendered and won a contract in 1993 to upgrade the ship from a bulk carrier to a deep-sea pipe-laying vessel.
Miles explains: “In October 1995 All Seas terminated the contract for a number of reasons, including that the quality of the work being done was not good and it was taking too long.”
Since 1996, five hearings have taken place in front of the London Maritime Arbitration Association.
But Miles says: “This could go on for much longer. There is a hearing set for September this year and a potentially huge hearing is set for next year.”
Norton Rose's head of litigation, shipping and energy Peter Martyr, who is leading a team of six solicitors, says the arbitration is liable to go on for quite some time.
Miles adds: “Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on state of the art technology for the ship. It is a very complex case and there is still some way to go.”