Nicholas Woo



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No one out there knows the Asia shipping market better.

Chambers [UK 2022]


Nicholas is a Partner in our Shipping and International Trade Team and an accredited CEDR (Council of Effective Dispute Resolution) Mediator.

Nicholas grew up in Singapore, obtained his LLB in England and was called to the Bar here in 1986. He qualified in Singapore as an Advocate and Solicitor the following year and practised in Singapore as a shipping litigator for five years. He then moved in-house working for a COSCO Singapore subsidiary where he gained valuable commercial experience. London beckoned and Nicholas qualified as an English solicitor in 1996. He was made a Partner in 2001, the first ethnic Chinese to be appointed as a partner in a major shipping law firm in London. Nicholas is now Head of Birketts’ Shipping and International Trade Team which he has helped grow from two fee-earners when he joined in 2004 to eleven fee-earners today.

Nicholas is a specialist in all areas of ‘dry’ shipping litigation with particular knowledge of shipping in Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. He also has some contacts with the Indian and Japanese shipping industry. He makes regular visits to these countries every year. Working for COSCO and spending many years representing other Chinese clients has helped Nicholas develop his ability to take instructions, give advice and lecture on English shipping law in fluent Mandarin.

Nicholas is based at our Ipswich office.

Reported cases include:

Several of Nicholas' cases have been reported, for example:

The Bunga Saga Lima (Bottiglieri Di Navigazione SpA v Cosco Qingdao Ocean Shipping Company) [2005] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 1

- on cargo holds cleanliness

New India Assurance v Through Transport Mutual ("The Hari Bhum") No 1 [2005] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 67; No 2 [2005] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 378

- on anti-suit injunctions in the EU immediately preceding the "Front Comor" decision

Samsun Logix Corporation v Oceantrade Ltd [2008] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 450

- on liens

Nicholas was instrumental in obtaining in 2009, the first ever order from the English High Court recognising the foreign insolvency of a major shipping company pursuant to the Cross Border Insolvency Regulations, with a consequential order staying all legal actions in England against that insolvent shipping company. It is estimated that that stay order affected over 200 separate legal actions that had been commenced against the clients.

Other Information

Nicholas sits on the Supporting Members Liaison Committee of the London Maritime Arbitrators Association. He has also previously undertaken a number of key roles in the industry, including chairing the time charterparty and cargo claims seminars organised by the Lloyds Maritime Academy in London and representing the Singapore Shipping Association at the Maritime Law Committee of the International Chamber of Shipping. Nicholas is a past President of the Singapore Business Group, a Singapore-British business networking group in London under the patronage of the Singapore High Commissioner to London.  He has recently been appointed as an Advisor to the Chinese Shipping Association in London supported by the Baltic Exchange.

Nicholas is ranked by Chambers [UK 2022]. In this edition clients say "no one out there knows the Asia shipping market better". The previous edition notes "he is very experienced in all sorts of maritime-related matters. His turnaround time is very prompt and always with comprehensive advice on how best to protect our interests." An earlier edition notes "he is a very responsive and kind lawyer who has strong leadership to drive a case". 

Nicholas is recommended and named as a 'Leading Individual' by Legal 500 [UK 2022]. Clients in the previous edition say ‘Nicholas Woo is able to speak [fluently] in both English and Mandarin. He is also quite capable of locating the key issue out of a complicated situation with his legal and commercial sense. This gives us a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages to help us make our decision how to proceed'. Another adds ‘Nicholas Woo’s commercial sense helps to lead us towards the best economic result'.

Leading Individual Legal 500 UK 2022           CSAL-logo-800px.jpg