Dr. Miquel Roca
Managing Partner and Solicitor
We met at the AntwerpXL expo last week, Miquel. That should tell me that you are a maritime lawyer, but please tell us about what kind of law you practice. Do you have a special field of law in which you feel particularly experienced?
As a maritime lawyer, I specialise in all legal aspects of marine affairs. I advise my clients on charter parties, project cargo, heavy lift, logistics contracts, commercial contracts and disputes and of course, London Maritime Arbitration.
Who are the owners of LMA Legal?
As with any other law firm, we have partners at many different levels, as well as associates and junior lawyers, all of whom possess a high level of expertise in maritime law. I am currently the Managing Partner in the firm.
When did you start your own career as a lawyer? Also, why did you choose this career path?
I only became a lawyer to be a maritime lawyer. I must admit, I find general law quite boring. If it were not for the ships and this industry, I wouldn’t be a lawyer. In fact, before I became a maritime lawyer I worked as a stevedore in a sea carrier company as well as at a Port Authority, all of which gave me a fantastic insight into the industry, which I can now apply in my day to day work assisting my clients.
Many of our readers are small or medium sized companies and, of course, in a perfect world there would never be a conflict of interest and thus never the need of a lawyer. Sadly the world isn’t like that, so I suspect that many of our readers would like to know whether you also cater and serve smaller, even individual, companies and/or persons?
Sure, we do. We have services and prices for all sizes of companies. For example, at AntwerpXL we launched our flat monthly fee legal rate, under which for a small monthly fee, clients can ask us unlimited legal questions. Also, we can review contracts, clauses, help them draft emails or letters – anything related to the breakbulk and maritime industry – without having to worry about the cost of expensive lawyers. It is a superb service at a very reasonable price.
As we all know, there are many law firms out there. What do you think makes your company the right choice?
Yes, there are many options out there. What distinguishes us from the rest, firstly, is our contractual compromise to always respond to a client’s queries within twenty-four hours. We know that time is always a factor in this industry, so we adapt to it. I am not aware of any of our competitors offering such a promise.
Secondly, we provide very sensible and commercial advice that allows clients to avoid having to go to courts or arbitration. We believe that legal services are not supposed to be used as firemen once the fire is already blazing. Rather they should be used as prevention doctors, working with the clients and assisting them in being as protected as possible. This avoids any unnecessary legal costs being incurred in future disputes.
You are based in London. If a client has a case in, for example, Argentina, does that mean that you would delegate that to an Argentinian partner, or would you take on the case yourself? Can you please explain to our readers about how the world of law works across borders and in a global economy?
There are no borders in maritime law. Most, if not all, of the charter parties and logistics contracts are subject to English law and London Arbitration. Consequently, we have clients all over the planet and assist them all from London. Also, some clients have in-house lawyers and we work with them, as they do not always have permanent contact with the law as it is applied in the latest cases in courts and arbitrations.
Do you have any good rules of thumb that you could share with our readers regarding what to be careful with nowadays in international and global shipping?
A strong contract makes a company strong in performance. Some companies use template contracts, or stick to the same one they have been using all their lives, etc. This is dangerous. We draft tailor made contracts to each client and it is advisable to review them on a case to case basis. We also draft bill of lading clauses and proforma charter parties to carriers and charterers to make sure they fit perfectly into their business. It is better to spend a little bit on prevention doctor-lawyers than to spend a fortune on firemen-lawyers.
Finally, what’s the best way to reach you for further information?
I am on LinkedIn and Twitter (@Miquel_ro) and am always available by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.