Ernest is an internationally recognised lawyer with over 25 years' experience. His areas of special interest are international trade & transport, particularly shipping, including both contentious and non-contentious work. He also has extensive experience in offshore oil & gas.
Clients consider Ernest a trusted advisor – he stands out for his ability to apply technical knowledge and grasp key issues in the industry to provide commercial solutions.
Ernest has been appointed as a lawyer of choice by Australian and international clients including ship owners, freight forwarders, marine insurers, government agencies and "blue chips" companies in the offshore oil & gas, commodity and mining sectors to handle almost every type of shipping related matter.
With over 12 years of experience at sea and qualifications as a master mariner and a Masters of Law in Admiralty law (with distinction) from Tulane University, USA. Ernest also has significant experience representing clients in Supreme Court and Federal Court litigation as well as Australian and overseas arbitration.
Joining Clyde & Co in 2019, Ernest is a key member of the APAC marine team with strong experience in Australia, but also New Zealand, Fiji, The Philippines, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and French Polynesia.
Ernest is consistently recognised by Chambers and Partners, Best Lawyers and Asia Pacific Legal 500 as a leading shipping lawyer.
Ernest was also recognised in the 2022 edition of Best Lawyers Australia as "Lawyer Of The Year" for "Transportation Law".
Admiralty arrest: Advising and representing clients on arrest of ships, including the Admiralty Marshal, mortgagees, charterers, cargo claimants, ship owners and their insurers defending claims.
Marine insurance: Advising marine insurers on cargo claims, charterparty disputes, freight forwarder liabilities, port liabilities such as unsafe port claims, stevedoring claims and other marine liability claims.
Financing ship sale & purchase: Advising clients including major oil and gas companies, Australian resource companies, Banks and the Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Defence) on ship sale and purchase agreements, ship registration, hire and lease back arrangements.
Emergency and casualty response: Advising on casualty response incidents such as groundings, collisions, fire and significant cargo incidents, including on scene incident response, pollution liabilities, salvage, media response, dealing with multi-agency investigations, claims and subsequent legal proceedings. Acting for ship owners and other interests.
Significant incidents including:
"Rena". Advising owners and insurers on grounding on Astrolabe Reef, New Zealand in 2011. Ernest led the initial incident response team (legal) in New Zealand including salvage, pollution response and prosecution of the owners, masters and crew as well as investigations by Maritime New Zealand and Transport Accident Investigation Commission.
"B Oceania" and "Xin Tai Hai" collision in Malacca Strait in 2011 and subsequent liability proceedings in Chinese and Australian courts for claims exceeding $105 M.
"APL Sydney" damage to sub-sea gas pipeline in Melbourne in 2008 and subsequent court proceedings involving (successful) Article 6 Limitation Convention claim.
Due diligence/Maritime operations: Advising on the due diligence and subsequent purchase of maritime businesses, including Sydney harbour cruise company, offshore oil and gas FPSO operations, general and passenger cargo shipping operations in PNG and Australia.
Freight forwarding: Advising freight forwarders, customs brokers and their insurers on freight forwarder and customs claims, including Australian Border Force (Customs) investigations and prosecutions. Advising on anti-dumping investigations and inquiries.
Offshore Oil & Gas: Advising on marine and shipping aspects of recent significant oil and gas projects in Australia, including operational issues arising out of the 3 Gladstone LNG projects, Gorgon and Wheatstone projects. Advising on purchase, registration and importation of significant offshore facilities including FPSO's and FLNG's covering regulation by AMSA and NOPSEMA. Advising participants in the original North West Shelf Project.
Marine pollution: Acting for P&I Clubs and owners defending marine pollution claims against including oil, noxious liquid substances, hazardous substances, garbage and "plastic bag" prosecutions in the Great Barrier Reef.
Ports: Advising on maritime issues associated with port development including, advising a on the disposal of dredging spoil, towage licenses and marine facilities for expansion of some of the largest ports in Australia.
Ship design and construction: Regularly advising on ship design and construction contracts, including non-contentious contracting advice, negotiating contracts such as large scale upgrades for offshore facilities involving overseas yard work and installation. Disputes including arbitrations and court proceedings.
What they say
"A good operator who knows everyone in the industry and has a great depth of knowledge" Chambers 2020
Casualty, Salvage & Wreck Removal
Mining & Natural Resources
Oil & Gas