In April 2015 we learnt of the retirement of Albert Levy, former Head of Yachts at international law firm, Ince & Co. Albert was a well known and popular figure within the industry, so we were keen to catch-up with Andrew Charlier, new Global Head of Yachts and Superyachts at Ince & Co, and the man now responsible for leading Ince & Co’s highly respected yachts and superyachts team. 

No stranger to yachting.  Andrew's first transactional yachting deal as a young lawyer back in 1990 was with a client he is still in touch with even today.  Dual qualified in English and French law, Andrew worked for a London shipping law firm for 3 years before establishing a Paris office for them, which subsequently joined Ince & Co in 2002.

Paris will remain Andrew’s main base in his new role, although frequent and regular travel to Ince & Co’s other strategic office locations is very much part of his agenda going forward. In fact it was in the Monaco office where we spoke to Andrew and asked him what was it about Ince & Co that differentiated the firm from other legal practices within yachting, he told us:

“Ince & Co’s significant global shipping heritage has been the foundation stone from which a number of other important sectors such as insurance, energy, international trade and aviation have developed, including the yachts and superyachts side.

“One of the single most important USPs that sets Ince & Co’s yachts and superyachts practice apart is our spread of offices located in many key locations. Monaco of course, where yachting has been a staple industry for many years, and where we have had an office since 2011, Hamburg where we have strong links with shipyards, Piraeus and Dubai which are important yachting centres, not to mention the London office which gives us access to international yacht brokers, yacht insurers, private banks and ‘family offices’ from where many high-net-worth clients run their yachting affairs. Meanwhile the Paris and Le Havre offices, as well as having strong transactional and litigation expertise in the yachting market, are the home of our VAT and customs team, which is another area we are now known to excel in. Finally, we have four office locations across Asia and have found a number of serious Chinese referrals have come our way in the last 3 to 4 years via our Hong Kong office.

As to how Andrew plans to take the yachts and superyachts team forward with Ince, he said:

“One of the aims will be to broaden and develop our transactional yachting practice primarily in London and Monaco. At present, our non-contentious yachting business is chiefly led by our teams in Paris and Hamburg, whilst London is of course well known mainly for its commercial dispute and litigation expertise. Over the last few years we have developed a stronger offering on the transactional side, although more remains to be done, and we plan to strengthen the team in the London office to add further depth to our transactional client offering.

Ince & Co’s London-held quarterly yacht seminars have been taking place for over ten years now and these well-attended meetings - broadly themed around relevant yachting subjects and attracting 50-60 people on some occasions - are certainly set to continue under Andrew’s regime, when asked about these he said: “Building upon the success of the seminars, we introduced a Yacht Brief in April this year; a regular series of online newsletters containing legal and regulatory features and case-studies intended to appeal across all areas of yachting. Feedback from clients and contacts so far has been very positive and the Ince & Co knowledge bank is an important aspect of our business and if  people haven’t signed up already to receive these, they can do so by contacting yachtsandsuperyachts@incelaw.com.”

In terms of market predictions as they stand today, Andrew was broadly optimistic, based on 2014 having been a solid year for both the new yacht order book and the brokerage market for second hand yachts. He added that he felt the market had found its level once again, with the global financial crisis in 2008 fading in the memory, and this despite an inevitable ebbing and flowing that has perhaps seen Russian interest dropping off, yet counterbalanced with rising demand from North America. Meanwhile in his view, China appears to remain in a state of ‘slow burn’ at least as far as can be gathered from the available market information on Chinese yacht deals.