Ever since 1609 when Henry Hudson first sailed the HALF MOON into New York’s stunning, natural harbor, New York has been the crossroads of the maritime world. From New York’s waves of nation-building emigrants to its colorful parades of ocean liners to its innovative waterfront companies which pioneered containerization, the history of New York has been inseparable from the maritime history of the world. Few ports hail more passenger vessels and move more containerized, break bulk and bulk cargo than the port of New York. And, with its many trucking companies, extensive interstate highway systems and network of intermodal rail ramps, New York harbor is not only the gateway to America but to its Pacific shores and the world beyond.
New York’s impact on national and international maritime commerce, however, is much more than the sum of New York’s cargo and passenger statistics. The New York metropolitan area now boasts one of the most wide-ranging maritime support structures in the world. For example, as the business of shipping becomes more demanding, shipowners have come to New York to raise capital from New York’s unparalleled financial and banking institutions to create stronger, publicly traded shipping companies. New York remains the center of marine insurance and brokerage in the United States, calling itself home to companies like Marsh, the brokerage giant, and the American Institute of Marine Underwriters whose members include AIG, Chubb and CNA, all themselves pillars of the New York and worldwide insurance community. For more than a century the port of New York has been a central office location for the major liner carriers of the world. The New York area is also home to large and small manufacturers and shippers of goods of all kinds and represents the most concentrated and affluent consumer market in the world. An equally important part of the New York landscape is New York’s concentration of maritime support services which includes ship agents, charter brokers, sale and purchase brokers, vessel registries, marine surveyors and marine consultants. No description of the New York maritime scene would be complete without mention of New York’s world class societies, institutions and organizations, all dedicated to improvement of the maritime industry and the development of its laws. This includes, by way of brief example, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”), an ever-important force in the development of maritime and trade law.
Because of the vibrancy and breadth of New York’s maritime commerce and its service sector, New York has developed an enviable maritime legal system capable of providing clear and efficient legal guidance to the marine industry both in New York and throughout the world. This facility is anchored by the highly regarded federal court system in the New York area, originally created more than two centuries ago by constitutional grant which includes “admiralty and maritime jurisdiction” over shipping matters. New York also is home to the United States Court of International Trade. Arbitration always has been an important feature of the New York legal landscape, and New York enjoys being the home of the Society of Maritime Arbitrators Inc. and the American Arbitration Association as well as other trade arbitration bodies, all of which have developed extensive expertise and precedent. Mediation also is fast becoming the dispute resolution method of choice in New York by reason of its efficiency and low cost. Because of New York’s prominence as a center for maritime legal matters, lawyers in the area are both experienced and knowledgeable and typically specialize in maritime and trade matters.
We hope these pages and those located in our side bars and our connected links will further help you to explore the strength and diversity of the New York maritime community and its legal service industry and to discover “The New York Advantage.”