Marine economy

Advising organisations in the marine or maritime industry

Our team has extensive experience in the marine or maritime industry, as well as specialising in advising ports and harbours and those operating in the aquaculture sector. The team advises on the full range of services across the sector with the benefit of specialist legal, industry and local knowledge.

Our offices in Lerwick, Inverness, Elgin, Thurso, Glasgow and Edinburgh place us close to the major centres of activity in the sector around Scotland, and we are ranked for Transport in the Legal 500 independent legal directory, which notes that our team is “particularly geared towards shipping and maritime law, and also advises clients on matters concerning ports and harbours.”

Our proven track record is built on placing our clients’ business needs and commercial interests at the heart of our advice. From advising on the purchase, sale, chartering and financing of vessels, through warranty and collision claims, to advising clients with maritime tourism matters, our experience spans the industry.

Scotland’s ports and harbours support oil & gas decommissioning in the North Sea, as well as providing operation and maintenance bases for the growing offshore wind and marine renewables sectors. We provide the full range of strategic commercial advice required by the modern port business.

Our team is “particularly geared towards shipping and maritime law, and also advises clients on matters concerning ports and harbours.” The Legal 500

Contact us

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Why choose us?

Commercial & finance

Our team has extensive experience providing the corporate and commercial advice required by businesses, owners, operators and lenders in the sector and its supply chain. Our corporate team is also ranked as one of Scotland’s top dealmakers. Key services include:

  • Banking & finance
  • Commercial contracts
  • Commercialisation
  • Competition law
  • Construction & engineering
  • Intellectual property, patent law & design rights
  • MBOs
  • Mergers & acquisitions
  • Partnerships
  • Property & leases
  • Restructuring & insolvency
  • State aid

Ports, harbours & infrastructure

We have advised on everything from the purchase of a harbour to the major infrastructure projects transforming a harbour into a key operations and maintenance base. Our team also has experience in working in the UK and overseas with both marine installations designers and contractors, and the car ferry operators that use such facilities. Our key services include:

  • Harbour law
  • Major projects and infrastructure
  • Turnkey and joint venture contracts for specialised harbour installations and equipment


Our dispute resolution team, one of the largest in Scotland, knows the sector, delivering commercially focused, pragmatic solutions to any contentious issues, while on Shetland, our experienced local practitioners can respond to urgent court instructions involving a range of issues such as arrestment, claims and crewing matters. Our key services include:

  • Arrestments
  • Banking and financial services disputes
  • Contentious construction
  • Debt recoveries
  • Planning and environmental/public inquiries
  • Property litigation
  • Public law and judicial review
  • Regulatory and compliance
  • Insolvency

Offshore & renewables

Our award-winning renewable energy team has extensive experience of offshore wind, wave and tidal. We have advised some of the leading companies involved in marine energy on the development of their technology and products and the various rounds of funding to finance these. Our key services include:

  • Buying & selling renewables projects
  • Civil and marine engineering and O&M
  • Options and leases
  • Funding
  • Grid connection
  • Planning
  • State aid & procurement

Vessels & operations

Harper Macleod can advise on all legal aspects of owning and operating ships and others vessels, from design and build contracts to leasing and sales:

  • Shipbuilding contracts
  • Ferries - routes, ticketing, terminal operation
  • Acquisitions and disposals
  • Leasing
  • Banking & finance
  • Charters
  • Maritime tourism


Aquaculture is of growing importance to Scotland’s economy, particularly in the Highlands and Islands, with Scotland responsible for around 90% of all UK production. The industry is regulated with a view to promoting food safety, compliance with legislation and sustainability.
We have wide experience of advising businesses operating in the aquaculture industry on issues including commercial matters, leases and property, licensing, brand creation and protection, health & safety, regulation and environmental.

Employment law

Harper Macleod has an award-winning team that provides advice and strategic support which is focused on delivering practical, straightforward and solution-driven assistance for your employment law issues. Working for some large employers in the sector, we have specialist knowledge of the particular issues that can arise.

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