Shelley Chapelski

Partner, Canadian Head of Transport
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

Shelley Chapelski

Shelley Chapelski


Related services and key industries


Shelley Chapelski is the Canadian head of our transport industry group and the leader of a team of experienced shipping lawyers within the transport team in Canada. Her practice encompasses both transactional and litigation aspects of maritime law, including maritime contracts, torts, liability claims, creditor's remedies and marine insurance matters. She has been recognized by her clients and colleagues as one of the leading maritime lawyers in Canada.

Shelley drafts and advises on a wide array charter parties, contracts of carriage, moorage contracts, insurance policies and other agreements that arise in maritime and transportation law, including ice pilot (navigator) contracts. She has also advised many users and suppliers of marine services on their obligations and liabilities under Canadian maritime law, including on the carriage of dangerous goods and bunkering operations.

Shelley has handled hundreds of casualties, including collisions terminal damage cases, cargo losses, and pollution events. She has resolved many passenger injury and death claims, including ones subject to the Athens Convention. She has dealt with dozens of vessel arrests and many maritime liens and limitation of liability proceedings. Shelley is a frequent advisor to marine insurers on coverage matters. She also has a particular interest in Canadian Arctic shipping, having worked with a number of clients who operate in that region.  

Shelley's clients include commercial vessel owners and operators, P&I Clubs and marine insurers, ports and terminals and maritime service providers.

She frequently meets with government representatives regarding the development of maritime law matters in Canada.

Shelley has represented clients in the provincial, supreme and appellate courts of British Columbia, Alberta and the Federal Court of Canada. She has also achieved numerous successful results for clients through mediation and arbitration.



Professional experience

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LL.B., University of Alberta, 1990

B.A., University of Alberta, 1986

  • British Columbia 1991

Shelley's experience has included:

  • Drafted and advised on a wide array of charter party agreements, other contracts of carriage and ship docking agreements for use on both coasts of Canada, the Arctic and Greenland (both BIMCO formats and bespoke contracts)
  • Drafted and advised on charter parties, ship management agreements and related documents for "floatel" services offered by vessels locating at offshore or shoreside construction projects to provide on-site worker accommodation
  • Acted for the charterer of a tramp vessel in which a load of containerized uranium spilled its cargo resulting in a $10 million+ claim (The MCP Altona)
  • Defended the ship assist tugs when the CAPE APRICOT crashed through a trestle and loading conveyor belt at Westshore Terminals causing damages in excess of $40 million
  • Advised clients on best practices for bunkering procedures and applying the IMDG code for the carriage of dangerous goods
  • Resolved hundreds of cargo claims, either as claimant or defendant, including successful court results (Canadian Forest Products Ltd. v. B.C. Rail Ltd., [2003] BCSC 263; Imperial Granite Supply Ltd. v. Sea Pearl (Ship), 1999 CanLII 15192 (BCSC))
  • Settled or litigated many dozens of personal injury or fatality cases occurring on both pleasurecraft and commercial vessels and at marinas
  • Enforced limitation of liability under the LMCC and the Athens Convention in a number of maritime accident cases, including those involving multiple seriously injured or deceased persons
  • Evicted dozens of vessels and harbour users from many small craft harbours and marinas culminating in some instances, the ultimate sale of the vessel. (Reported decisions include: False Creek Harbour Authority v. Shodan (The), 2002 FCT 275, The Acor SV,  2010 FC 844; WFP v. O'Brien et al 2011 FC 1528)
  • Prosecuted (or defended) domestic and foreign creditors' claims against various deep-sea vessels (including the Cali, Atlantis II, Nel, Zoodotis, Atlantis Two, Hanjin Vienna)


  • Best Lawyers in Canada: Transportation Law, 2022-2024
  • Best Lawyers in Canada: Maritime Law, 2010-2024 
  • Chambers Canada, Nationwide: Transportation - Shipping (Band 1), Chambers and Partners, 2016-2024
  • The Legal 500 Canada: Transport: Shipping (Leading Individuals), 2017-2024
  • Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, 2010-2024: recommended in Shipping & Maritime Law
  • Chambers Global: The World's Leading Lawyers for Business: Recognized as a leading lawyer in the area of Shipping Law (since 2013) 
  • Best Lawyers in Canada: Transportation Law "Lawyer of the Year," 2023 
  • Who's Who Legal: Canada - Transport Shipping 2020
  • The International Who's Who of Shipping & Maritime Lawyers: Recognized as one of top World's Leading Shipping and Maritime Lawyers (since 2007)
  • The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers: Recommended in the area of Shipping and Maritime Law
  • LexisNexis – Martindale-Hubbell: Peer Review Rated
  • Expert Guides - Guide to the World's Leading Shipping and Maritime Lawyers: Recognized as a leading practitioner in the area of Shipping and Maritime Law
  • Expert Guides - Guide to the World's Leading Women in Business Law: Recognized as an outstanding practitioner in the field of Business Law
  • Co-author, Canadian chapter for Getting the Deal Through - Ports & Terminals 2018, Norton Rose Fulbright.
  • Author, Canadian chapter for Ship Arrests in Practice 10th Edition.
  • Canadian Maritime Law Association, immediate past president
  • Canadian Maritime Law Association, secretary treasurer
  • Comite Maritime International, Marine Insurance Committee member
  • Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators' Association, arbitrating member and secretary treasurer
  • Canadian Bar Association - Maritime Law Section, BC branch
  • International Bar Association, former executive officer of Maritime Committee
  • Marine Insurance Association of British Columbia
  • Western Marine Community Coalition
  • Women's International Shipping and Trading Association
  • Plimsoll Club
  • Greater Vancouver Board of Trade
  • International Shipowners Alliance of Canada, former board member