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Lawyers the winners so far from Hanjin Shipping crisis

Lawyers are clearly the biggest winners to date in the 17 days since Hanjin Shipping sought court receivership, triggering supply chain chaos and the largest container shipping bankruptcy in history.

Across the world, lawyers have been fighting either to protect or arrest Hanjin assets.

The US federal bankruptcy judge who last week issued an order protecting Hanjin Shipping vessels from asset seizure in US ports, on Thursday reinforced the decision by denying a motion from some creditor firms to lift that order.

The new motion was brought on behalf of fuel and towing companies owed by Hanjin Shipping, the South Korean giant that went into receivership in Seoul in late August.

Judge John Sherwood in US District Bankruptcy Court in Newark, New Jersey, said the companies would have to seek redress in South Korean courts.

After Judge Sherwood’s order last Friday, Hanjin container ships that had been waiting in US coastal waters started docking and unloading in West Coast ports.

The judge did try to press Hanjin’s lawyer on what the line’s plans are – to liquidate or restructure.

The lawyer, Ilana Volkov, would not be drawn however, telling the court: “There is no clear visibility as to exactly what will happen with the business,” she said.

Another bankruptcy court status conference for the case is scheduled for September 23.

North of the border in Canada, news emerges of another two Hanjin boxships under arrest. The Hanjin Vienna and the Hanjin Scarlet have been held as a number of parties, including terminal operator DP World, seek $3.6m in debts.

In Asia, lawyers working for Hanjin have convinced the Singapore High Court to recognise the line is in court receivership, paving the way for a slew of ships moored off the Lion Republic to start calling there and offloading cargoes at the key transhipment hub.

Hanjin has sought court protection in a total of 43 countries so far.


With additional reporting by Donal Scully.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Lawyers and Bankers, are the real culprit in forcing shipping companies, Like Hanjin Shipping, To resort to tactic like bankruptcy when Hanjin Shipping, maneuvering room has been blocked, So, now that Hanjin Shipping Management, has been successful in asking for help in 43 Countries, & Both U.S. Bankruptcy & South Korea Bankruptcy Judges, Extending Hanjin Shipping, Till, December 19, 2016, To come up with a workable plan, and No Thanks, to Hanjin Shipping, Banks, Who failed on them, and Seaspan who was too greedy to lower their chartering rates, On what three (3) lousy container ships, please..If Hanjin Shipping, Is Smart, Dump, Rest of its Other Sixty, (63) Three Charter Ships, & Leased containers, & Only use your own ships, and containers. Get back to basic. You will be in far better leveraged position, out of bankruptcy then any of your competitors, who have far more debt then you.

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