One of the gravest errors to commit when engaging in either the purchase of a new build or second-hand superyacht is to employ legal counsel too late in the process. Superyachts are by their very nature large, complex and expensive, but all too often they are viewed as novel. More than being the go-to individuals when issues within the process arise, the superyacht industry’s legal fraternity is often turned to be the voices of reason and objective truth. Indeed it is hard to overestimate the value of a good lawyer during the buyer journey.

“A lawyer’s role in acting for a new buyer of a superyacht is a multifaceted one requiring a balance of different skills, deployed at different times throughout the yacht acquisition process,” explains Mark Needham, partner at Hannaford Turner. “At a very high level, a good superyacht lawyer will act as a trusted impartial advisor to the buyer, utilising their experience and expertise in acquiring superyachts to understand and control risk, problem-solve, drive the process forward and ultimately find a way to give the buyer and the seller what they want: namely the sale and purchase of the superyacht in question.”

When one considers the very purpose of the superyacht industry, the need for legal counsel seems to fly in the face of a pastime that is ostensibly a hobby and a pleasure industry. It seems counterintuitive that lawyers should play such a central role in the eventual enjoyment of a superyacht. However, the role of a good lawyer is as much to negate errors, as it is to litigate them.

“The purchase of a superyacht is not a frivolous purchase. It is a maritime asset that costs millions to buy and maintain. Imagine for one moment that you are not buying a yacht but an apartment or piece of fine art or an interest in a business for the same amount of money. How would you do that?” asks John Leonida, ex-lawyer and former partner at Clyde & Co, PhD researcher and occasional consulting superyacht advisor with LP Squared. “You would hire the right professionals to make sure the root of title is clean, that all the inspections are correctly undertaken, that the due diligence is complete. A superyacht purchase should be no different, but prospective owners new to the process often get so swept up by the idea of owning a yacht that the reason and logic that made them successful in the first place is abandoned. I have seen it too many times.”

It has been proved time and time again throughout the buyer journey that lawyers play a vital role in all stages of the process. In the recently published The Superyacht Buyer Report, ‘The role of lawyers’ explores the many and varied ways that legal counsel is an absolute necessity in the sale and purchase of superyachts and how to make the most of it.

The Superyacht Buyer Report provides a comprehensive reference tool for any client and their advisory team throughout the buyer’s journey. The report features 16 sequential chapters that outline this journey, with respected experts from every sector advising on best practice at each stage of the ownership process. The fourth chapter – ‘The role of lawyers’ – provides commentary from some of the market's most respected legal teams.

To read a complimentary version of the ‘The role of lawyers’ chapter in full, please click here 


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