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Rory is a partner in the London office. A dual qualified solicitor in England and Wales and Hong Kong, Rory has now returned to the London office having practiced in Hong Kong for 14 years.

Rory is a litigation and arbitration specialist, who handles complex cross-border litigation, international arbitration and mediation. His experience includes London  LMAA, ICC and LCIA arbitrations, as well as cases in the Commercial Court and Hong Kong Courts. His practice encompasses the full range of shipping, international trade and commodities and commercial matters with a strong focus on charterparty and ship sale & purchase disputes, carriage of goods by sea and cargo claims, contentious commodities-based advice, and debt recovery actions for large corporations.

“diligent and analytical”, “Rory Macfarlane ‘takes a very commercial approach to problems and try to see disputes from a client’s perspective’” Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2017

Rory has also grown a regulatory and compliance practice, co-heading the Asia regional team, with a particular focus on cyber-security and maritime regulations.

The breadth of Rory’s international experience in Asia is matched by his deep familiarity with the Taiwan business environment. Rory heads the Taiwan team and offers comprehensive legal counsel to major Taiwan companies. Rory takes on leading roles as international counsel on cross-border matters  having a significant Taiwan  element. He also has very good working relationships with the leading local firms. This makes him a valued resource for clients doing business in this market.

An element of Rory’s practice is also focused on providing non-contentious advice to clients in these areas. He is able to put his considerable experience to good use in negotiating and drafting both standard form and bespoke agreements for his clients such as Voyage Charters, Time Charters, COA’s, Bills of Lading and FOB/CFR contracts.  

Highlight matters:

  •  Acting for a leading global logistics services provider, which has recently suffered a number of cybersecurity breaches, to conduct a comprehensive audit of its cybersecurity readiness and internal protocols, addressing both legal and technical issues (in conjunction with a leading cyber security consultancy).  
  • Acting for a ship owner in a complicated case following an explosion during an off-shore STS crude oil transfer operation. Issues included crew death, crew injury, pollution, inter-ship liabilities, apportionment of liability to third party loading master.
  •  Acting for ship finance banks on multiple ship re-possession and subsequent sales to recover monies secured by mortgages over vessels.
  •  Advising Greek shipowner clients on PRC charterers withholding tax from hire.
  •  Advised Owners/Operators in the negotiation of 2 separate 25 year iron ore COA’s, each involving the purchase and construction of 14 vessels.
  •  Assisting Owners/Insurers to secure the release of vessels seized by Somali pirates, including arranging for payment of cash ransoms sourced out of Hong Kong.
  •  Acted for European oil trader in a multi-jurisdictional fraud claim involving mareva injunctions, anton pillar orders and committal proceedings.
  •  Acting for defendant purchaser in a multi-shipment coal sale and purchase dispute. Issues determined at arbitration included contractual interpretation of ‘trial burn’ provisions, self heating in stockyard, fire risk on milling and burning, specification issues and emission control issues.
  •  Acting for the sellers in several FOSFA Arbitrations and Appeals arising out of contracts for sale and purchase of soybeans. Cases involved post appeal enforcement of arbitration awards in PRC.
  •  Acted for Singaporean based coal traders in a series of trade and carriage related arbitrations arising under various sales contracts and charter parties.
  •  Insolvency related work, advising creditors on claims against insolvent debtor companies including attending creditors meetings, nominated to Committee of Inspection and seeking to have provisional liquidators removed from office and liquidations turned from section 228A winding-up to compulsory court supervised winding-up.

Recently reported cases:

  • Birnam Ltd v. The Owners of the Ship or Vessel Hong Ming [2011] HKCFI 577.
  • The Ruby Star [2015] 1 HKLRD 453.
  • The Almojil 61 [2015] 3 HKLRD 598. 

Cybersecurity articles by Rory Macfarlane

>  The Cyber-sized hole in the insurance market (first published in the November 2017 edition of The Marine Professional)

>  Cyber attack on Shipping company shows industry ill preparedness (FWD News - Forward with TOLL)

>  Digitalisation in Shipping.  Have you effectively mitigated your risk whilst seeking to reap the rewards? (Maritime Risks)

>  Cybersecurity a boardroom priority, says Ince & Co (Asian-Mena Counsel)

>  Cybersecurity an imperative, not a choice, says Ince & Co (first published in the September 2017 edition of Seatrade Maritime magazine)

>  Preparing for the inevitable – cyber-attacks a matter of when, not if, for shipping (Splash 24/7)

>  Shipping got off lightly in first cyber security attacks, say legal experts (Marine MEC)

>  New technology ‘could force shipping consolidation’ (IHS)


  • Oxford Brookes University
  • Nottingham Law School

Professional Associations:

  • Law Society of England and Wales
  • Law Society of Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong Maritime Law Association - Committee


  • English


Commercial Disputes, Trade, Shipping