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Christopher R. Hart

Sr. Counsel

Christopher R. Hart

Houston

T:+1 713 651 8283

Chris Hart is a senior counsel in the firm's Houston office. Chris practices business litigation and arbitration with an emphasis on resolving shipping, energy, and commercial disputes.  He also advises clients on U.S. shipping regulations and in transactions involving charter parties, maritime contracts, and infrastructure projects with maritime law concerns.  Chris has broad experience in matters involving maritime liens, vessel arrests, maritime attachment and garnishment remedies, ocean transportation contracts and bills of lading, cargo claims, shipping casualties, marine pollution, offshore energy services contracts, oil & gas exploration and production casualties and disputes, and many of the legal issues encountered by clients engaged in the shipping and offshore energy industries.

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  • Education

    1990 - J.D., with honors, Duke University School of Law
    1983 - B.S., with highest honors, United States Merchant Marine Academy

    While attending Duke University, Chris was a senior editor of Law & Contemporary Problems. He is admitted to practice in Texas state courts, the U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas, the District of Colorado, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Tenth Circuits, and the U.S. Supreme Court.  Prior to law school, Chris sailed as a professional mariner.

  • Representative experience
    • Representing US fuel supplier to enforce maritime liens against multiple ships and coordinate global ship arrests following financial collapse of a global bunker intermediary
    • Representing port operator to arrest ships, assert maritime attachment and garnishment remedies, and collect payment for stevedore services
    • Advise LNG liquefaction and export terminal owner regarding tug services agreement and potential marine liabilities associated with terminal operation
    • Advise LNG export terminal offtaker regarding various aspects of LNG tanker time charter parties
    • Representing crude oil pipeline owner in eminent domain proceedings to acquire easements for constructing a new crude oil pipeline
    • Representing bareboat charterer in lawsuits concerning early termination of four tanker bareboat charter parties, with interpleader and arrest of subfreights, writs for maritime attachment and garnishment of property, and efforts to stay lawsuits pending foreign arbitration
    • Representing owner of a well test service vessel in dispute with a shipyard concerning ship conversion services
    • Representing energy exploration company in arbitration of breach of charter party claims for unseaworthiness and failure to perform time charter for ultra-deepwater semisubmersible drilling vessel
    • Representing charterer in negotiating and drafting a time charter for a well test service vessel
    • Representing tanker charterer in arbitration of time and voyage charter party disputes, including demurrage, charter party interpretation, and various breach of charter claims
    • Advising European bank on enforcement remedies under the U.S. Ship Mortgage Act, in a case arising from US government detention of a vessel and claims asserted against the vessel by maritime lienholders and by government agencies for fines and penalties
    • Representing exploration and production company in lawsuit following termination of three long-term daywork drilling contracts
    • Representing oil terminal operator in dispute with state oil company over expropriation of contract rights
    • Advising crude oil lightering company in negotiating and drafting tanker voyage and time charters, contracts of affreightment, and lightering services agreements
    • Obtained defense verdict for vessel owner and Jones Act employer in a jury trial of seaman claiming two injuries, pulmonary disease from exposure to toxic fumes in the vessel's paint locker and a fractured hip from slip and fall on deck, in Texas state court
    • Advising Central America power plant owner in negotiating and drafting fuel supply purchase and marine transportation agreements
    • Advising cogeneration plant owner in negotiating and drafting LPG back-up fuel supply purchase and marine transportation agreements
    • Negotiate and draft service contracts related to LNG terminals, including master service agreements, terminal operating agreements, and personnel agreements, on behalf of LNG terminal operator in USA, Middle East, and Latin America
    • Advising clients on Jones Act cabotage law, vessel documentation, coastwise trade regulations, and vessel owner citizenship issues
    • Negotiate and draft various services contracts and charter parties in offshore energy exploration and production sector
    • Advising a transportation carrier in responding to claims asserted by a cargo shipper for alleged breach of an alleged requirements contract for crude oil ocean transportation
    • Obtained defense summary judgment for oil field services company in lawsuit involving federal law exclusive remedy for state law wrongful death and survival claims following fatal accident near drilling location
    • Representing petrochemical company to enforce contractual indemnity rights following fatal casualty in chemical plant
    • Representing subsea pipeline owner in lawsuit against vessel whose anchor unexpectedly let go and fouled pipeline, including shipowner's Limitation of Liability Act claims
    • Defending a tanker owner and operator in various cases alleging seaman personal injuries under the Jones Act
    • Representing grain cargo interests in various voyage charter party disputes and cargo claims
    • Defending international oil major in lawsuit alleging unjust enrichment and seeking percentage of profits from large oil and gas discovery in Kazakhstan's North Caspian Sea
    • Representing oil and gas working interest owner in arbitration arising from royalty trust agreement; obtained favorable declaratory judgment interpreting overriding royalty interest conveyances and gas purchase agreement concerning proper calculation of net profits interests payments from gas fields located in three states
    • Representing energy company in dispute concerning gas processing contracts, antitrust law allegations and natural gas measurement
    • Representing energy company in lawsuit concerning JOA preferential purchase rights, volumetric production payment, and contractual indemnity arising out of gas field in U.S.A.
    • Representing international shipping company in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation matter
    • Leading discovery and investigation teams in internal, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Department of Justice investigations of export control regulations, international trade sanctions, and FCPA issues
    • Prosecuting claims on behalf of a VLCC owner and its hull and machinery insurer to recover damages to the crude oil tanker M/V Vic Bilh following collision with a lightering service tanker
    • Representing a tanker owner following a near collision with another vessel in the Houston Ship Channel that caused the tanker to allide with a dock facility
    • Advising a tanker time charterer following an oil spill from the ship in the Mississippi River
  • Admissions
    • Texas State Bar License
  • Publications
    • "The Jones Act and Export of Crude Oil and LNG from the USA," Pratt's Energy Law Report, Vol. 16-7, July/August 2016; Legalseas Shipping Newsletter, March 2016 (co-author with Lisa Houssiere)
    • "Rotterdam Rules - Ratification Status in the U.S. and Effectiveness of Choosing to Apply Them Voluntarily," Legalseas Shipping Newsletter, July 2016 (co-author)
    • "Manifest Disregard of Law No Longer a Basis to Vacate Arbitration Awards,"  HMAA Newsletter, Summer 2009
  • Speaking engagements
    • "Overview of Maritime Law in the Offshore Energy Sector," Client Presentation, Houston, Texas, May 2015 (co-presenter with Lisa Houssiere)
    • "Overview of Federal Statutes and Regulations Impacting Offshore Drilling in US and Canadian Waters," 2nd Annual Seminar on Drilling in Ice-Affected Regions, IBC Energy, London, May 22-23, 2014 (Co-presenter with Wylie Spicer)
    • "Force Majeure Clauses in OSV Charter Parties and Other Contracts," OSV Chartering Contract Management North America Conference, Lloyd's Maritime Academy, Houston, Texas, March 24, 2014
    • "The Jones Act and the Cargo Preference Act in the U.S.A.," Background to Shipping North America Conference, Lloyd's Maritime Academy, Miami, Florida, November 18, 2013
    • "Macondo Litigation:  Some Recent Decisions in the Deepwater Horizon Lawsuits," Norton Rose client seminar, London, May 15, 2013
    • "International Transportation Law," University of Houston Center for Logistics and Transportation Policy, Houston, Texas, March 23, 2011, September 23, 2010, March 2010, and November 2009
    • "Fuel Supply Contracts and Disputes: A Legal Perspective," Bunkerworld Business Exchange, Houston, Texas, March 2010
    • "Maritime Personal Injury Law in the U.S.A.," Client Presentation, Houston, Texas, 2009
    • "Personal Injury and Economic Damages Claims Arising from the Maritime Emergency," South Texas College of Law Seminar, Houston, Texas, July 2000
  • Memberships and activities
    • Maritime Law Association of the United States, Proctor Member
    • Houston Maritime Arbitrators Association, Board of Directors (2008 - 2010), Secretary (2008 - 2010)
    • Federal Bar Association
    • State Bar of Texas
      • Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Law Section
      •  Litigation Section
    • Houston Bar Association
      • Litigation Section
      • Oil, Gas & Mineral Law Section
    • U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association
      • Houston Chapter, Past President and Past Board of Directors
      • Meritorious Alumni Service Award (1998)