Robert Gay

Professional Arbitrator for Maritime Contracts

Robert Gay is now seeking appointments as arbitrator under maritime contracts of all types, including charterparties, bills of lading, shipbuilding contracts, sale and purchase contracts, and commission agreements. Appointments are accepted on LMAA terms unless otherwise agreed.

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Robert worked for 24 years with a leading firm of shipping solicitors in London. His experience includes

  • voyage charterparties
  • time charterparties
  • cargo claims
  • disputed General Average and liability for salvage
  • damages following collisions
  • shipbuilding contracts
  • sale and purchase of second-hand tonnage
  • marine insurance
  • insurance of offshore energy projects
  • cases in London relating to the pursuit of claims in courts outside the UK

He has a particularly deep knowledge of contracts in the offshore industry, including knock-for-knock agreements and exclusions of “consequential damages”. He has written a commentary on BIMCO’s charterparty form for offshore vessels (“Supplytime”), which is available here

Robert is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (“FCIArb“). Most of his work as a solicitor involved presenting cases in maritime arbitrations, and he is a Supporting Member of the London Maritime Arbitrators Association. He has a good knowledge of French, an adequate knowledge of Italian, and some (limited) Greek.

Robert’s LinkedIn profile:

English Law

Parties to maritime contracts frequently choose English law because there are decided cases which deal in detail with situations that arise in shipping and international trade, and English law is predictable. Because of the right to appeal from a London arbitration award, which exists under most arbitration clauses, London arbitrators decide cases according to the law which has been established rather than in accordance with their personal discretion.

Robert originally qualified as a barrister, and served his first six months pupillage at 7 King’s Bench Walk. He has a thorough and detailed knowledge of the law, as shown by his academic writings which include articles on damages in addition to demurrage, on safe port / safe berth claims, and on oil major approval clauses under the current vetting system. This knowledge will enable him to see which are the real issues in a dispute.

In his writings, Robert has been inclined to argue for the party which did not draft the charterparty form – in relation to tanker charterparties for owners, but for charterers in relation to Supplytime which may be seen as an owner-friendly form. However, he is very well aware of the obligation to decide disputes impartially and of the requirement to apply established law in a predictable way.

Factual Disputes

Robert’s previous work has given him enormous experience of reading pre-fixture exchanges and of presenting the evidence of factual witnesses and experts such as surveyors.

He has been used to testing the evidence of factual witnesses against the messages and documents in the case, and sometimes he has seen what went wrong when neither party was aware of it.

In relation to expert evidence, Robert has been used to getting an understanding of the expert’s opinions and arguments in order to present them to arbitrators who may not be experts in the field, and so he is well equipped to understand the evidence which experts are giving.

London Arbitration

English arbitration law requires arbitrators, working within the arbitration clause which the parties have agreed, to choose the procedure to resolve the dispute which the arbitrators consider will be fair but also proportionate in cost. Most maritime disputes which are resolved by London arbitration are decided on “documents only”, that is on the basis of written evidence and written submissions, without the cost of an oral hearing.

Robert is a careful but speedy reader of evidence and submissions, and is able to focus on the essential issues in a dispute while holding in his mind all the points which have been made.

He believes it is better and more cost-effective to dictate the first draft of an award; this has the advantage that when the typed draft comes back to the arbitrator, he or she can look afresh at the arguments which are set out in the draft (and the cost of typing is not an extra to be paid by the parties but is paid by the arbitrator out of the fees for the time spent dictating and finalising the award).

Commentary on Supplytime

Robert’s commentary on Supplytime 2017 was intended to be published as a book, but is now being made available to download from this web page.


London Maritime Arbitrators Association

Chartered Institute of Arbitrators

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