Transactions involving pleasure boats, yachts, and other types of large marine vessels are rife with challenges. Taxes, regulatory documentation, financing, ownership structure, and insurance are just some of the items that need careful consideration before moving forward.
Tripp Scott is a full-service law firm with an entire practice devoted to maritime law and the transactions and contracts associated with various marine vessels. A brief listing of the services our lawyers offer and issues they can advise you on include:
- Purchase and sale agreements
- Review of proposed terms and conditions
- Analysis of liability and tax implications
- Registration and regulatory compliance
- Ownership structure
- Maritime new construction or renovation agreements
- Financing and escrow concerns
- Employment agreements
- Ownership succession plans
- Fractional ownership agreements
- Warranty claims
- Broker representation
Our ability to harness the talents of individual attorneys from various practice groups and to collectively focus their efforts toward achieving each client's goals is an invaluable asset. Our maritime law group works closely with lawyers from many of the firm's other practice groups to develop integrated strategies and solutions to the challenges at hand.
To discuss a potential boat purchase or another type of maritime law concern — contact our law offices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to arrange an initial consultation.
More specific information about our maritime law practice and some of the various issues we can assist you with are detailed below.
· Purchases and Sales
We represent both buyers and sellers of yachts that are residents of myriad countries. We assist the owners in every aspect of yacht ownership. We can also introduce purchasers and their brokers to prospective lenders. We will work with a documentation service of the owner’s choice or recommend documentation services, as needed.
· Ownership and Registration
The firm advises yacht owners in how to take title to a vessel and where to register and “flag” the vessel. In addition to registering vessels in the United States, we assist owners in forming an entity in offshore tax havens to take title to the vessel and register the vessel in that country or another country of the owner’s choosing. There are a number of benefits to offshore ownership that we discuss with each owner. The firm assists the owner in the selection of the country to organize the holding company and register the vessel. We assist the owner in understanding the benefits to foreign ownership and the differences between the various registries. The firm also advised the owner as to the tax and legal differences in the various tax havens. We form entities and register vessels in every major tax haven yacht registry including, the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. The firm has relationships with corporate agents and law firms in each of these jurisdictions to assist in the registration process, legal issues and provide local legal opinions when required by lenders.
· Tax Planning
The firm has experience in advising owners on the various tax issues affecting yacht ownership. These include the sales and use tax considerations of various states, customer taxes, second home interest deductions, suitability issues, capital gains tax concerns, charitable donation options, ownership structures, both domestic and foreign, the international value-added tax, and U S. income tax depreciation and like kind exchanges of vessels
The firm has experience in representing lenders and owners in lending transactions. The firm acts as counsel for several major lenders, including one of the primary lenders in the mega yacht market. The firm has acted as counsel to lenders who provided financing on over 20 of the top 100 largest American owned yachts per Showboats International. The firm has represented several major banks in taking their first steps into yacht lending by explaining the legal and business risks associated with yacht lending, and assisting them in developing their loan documentation for yacht secured transactions.
We have represented lenders in foreclosing and repossessing vessels registered in the US and foreign jurisdictions. We have assisted lenders in locating and seizing vessels located in foreign countries. We also advise lenders in strategies to maximize the resale value of repossessed vessels in conjunction with yacht brokers with which the firm has a relationship. We also assist lenders, yacht owners, and brokers in connection with asserting enforcing and defending maritime liens against vessels.
· New Construction and Renovations
We assist owners in structuring transactions with shipyards for new builds as well as renovations. Our experience includes construction of large mega yachts as well as high-end custom sport fisherman. We assist the owner in structuring the contract with the yard as well as assisting the owner’s lender in obtaining a satisfactory lien position during the construction phase. We have relationships with European law firms to provide a legal team to assist an owner in working with European shipyards. Additionally, we handle disputes between yacht owners and vendors in connection with the furnishing of labor and materials in yachts during the maintenance, repair, and renovation of vessels in Florida and elsewhere.
· Broker Representation
The firm has substantial experience in brokerage commission disputes involving private yacht owners, yacht brokers, and yacht builders/shipyards. The firm represents owners and brokers in all aspects of commission disputes, in both transactional matters (contracts and negotiations) and in litigation. We also represent brokers with respect to licensing matters pursuant to the Florida Yacht and Ship Brokers’ Act.
We advise owners in the various aspects of yacht chartering. This includes drafting charter agreements, assisting the owner in selecting a broker to solicit charters, crew issues, and registry selection to benefit the desired charter activities and advising the owner on the tax issues and advantages to chartering.
· Business Side of Yacht Ownership
Operating a large yacht is like operating a small business. The firm has experience in the various agreements and business issues that come up in operating a large yacht. This includes employment issues in hiring crew, including employment agreements with captains, management agreements, employment tax issues and immigration issues.
· Charitable Donation Programs/Foundations
The firm has advised clients on all aspects of yacht charitable donation programs, including creating the charitable organization, structuring the documentation, advising charities on the federal tax and state law issues associated with vessel donation programs and representing donors and purchasers of vessels from such charities.