Over the past two years, the maritime industry has experienced a myriad of challenges – and lawyers in this space need to help their clients make their businesses sustainable, says the maritime lawyer.
Alison Cusack is the Founder and Director of Melbourne-based maritime law firm Cusack & Co. Speaking recently at the Boutique Lawyer ShowMs Cusack explained the issues and challenges the shipping industry has faced during the pandemic – and how it is coping with them.
Ms Cusack founded Cusack & Co in 2018 after working as an in-house maritime lawyer and said she “fell in love” with maritime law straight out of law school and never looked back.
“On a daily basis, everything goes from the front-end to the back-end. So I’m going to take care of the terms and conditions and get to know our clients’ business and how they actually work, so that I can write for the way they work, ”she said.
“And then try to learn from it for them as well, so that they can see that it’s not just about solving the immediate problem, but what can they do with the experience to enrich their future knowledge.” and how do they see their business? “
Over the past two years, the shipping industry has experienced a series of issues and challenges in the wake of the pandemic, Cusack added.
“The supply chain is in crisis and it’s not going to go away anytime soon. And it’s not just because of the crown, it’s because of all these other things that happened on top of that. So even if you took out the corona, the supply chain would still be in crisis because of all the issues. But the biggest issue facing shipping, supply chain, and shipping right now is our treatment of seafarers.
“We have over 700,000 sailors stranded on ships that have been there for over 11 months because they cannot return home, they cannot disembark for their holidays due to the border closures. And more importantly, we need to get them vaccinated, ”she said.
“Because, ethically, we should get them vaccinated. And at every port they come in, if they’re foreign, they should still be vaccinated. And we fought really hard as an industry to bring this to the attention of Barnaby Joyce, who among the DPM is also the Minister of Freight.
These issues have had a number of impacts for maritime law clients and maritime law firms like Cusack & Co.
“What has arisen in my office are disputes because people are making trade deals and making decisions to move their businesses forward. And then the invoices come in, and the invoices come in, and the claims come in later, and then they look at them and put them on the table, ”Ms. Cusack added.
“So really everyone is trying to better understand what the risks are in their business, how to strengthen them, and how to protect themselves. And also, defend yourself against the people who are just trying to say “We are going to use our strength and our muscles in the industry” because the top 10 freight carriers in the world account for 90% of the freight carried. “
While dealing with these issues can be stressful, Ms Cusack said her best advice would be to take a step back before making big decisions.
“When you watch it a year later, under the cold light of litigation, oh sure, it makes sense that you did X, Y, and Z differently. But I’ve been in those disaster recovery board rooms. And I can tell you that there may be 20 very, very capable and operationally experienced people in this room, and they’ll miss the obvious question that everyone asks six months later, ”she concluded. .
“So having been in this disaster recovery conference room scenario a lot of times, I think I’m a lot softer. And I say to clients all the time, “Hey, you made the best decision you thought at the time with the knowledge you have. Don’t worry about it. Let’s just do what we can now. Because like everyone else says, the best time to hire a lawyer is when you’ve started the case, and the second best time is today. So it’s this sweetness that I give to my clients that I also have to do with myself.
The transcript of this podcast episode has been edited slightly for publication. To listen to the full conversation with Alison Cusack, click below: