Vanessa Rochester

Of Counsel
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

Vanessa Rochester

Vanessa Rochester


Related services and key industries


Vanessa Rochester practises predominantly in the area of shipping and transportation. She advises clients on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious work.

On the contentious side, Dr. Rochester has experience advising on and managing disputes involving marine pollution, collisions, groundings, maritime incidents, charterparties, carriage of goods, ship sale and purchase, shipbuilding and marine and non marine insurance, off-shore vessels, drilling contracts, pipelines, oil and gas transportation and distribution, as well as sale and distribution and a variety of intellectual property disputes. Dr. Rochester has acted for clients before the Quebec courts and the federal courts of Canada, as well as in relation to complex multijurisdictional disputes involving the United Kingdom, United States, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Dr. Rochester has particular experience with extraordinary remedies, such as injunctions, seizures and arrests. Dr. Rochester also acts for clients in both mediation and arbitration (both institutional and ad hoc).

As a solicitor of England and Wales, she has also acted for clients in the context of English court proceedings, LMAA arbitrations and mediations.

In addition to her litigation work, Dr. Rochester handles transactional work involving the sale and purchase of vessels and aircraft, financing, charterparties, contracts of affreightment, agreements related to the supply of transportation and logistics services, the purchase of assets in the transportation industry, insurance, regulatory compliance for LNG terminals, and the sale, transportation, export and import of oil, gas, and other commodities. Dr. Rochester also advises on intellectual property, privacy and data protection matters, including in the context of acquisitions, services and supply in the transportation sector.

She has also advised the Government of Canada on transportation policy and issues relating to energy regulation, and most recently in the context of carriage by sea reform. Dr. Rochester has testified as an expert on shipping matters before the Senate, and been instructed as an expert witness on Canadian Maritime Law.

Dr. Rochester spent three years practising transportation law in London, England, for a leading shipping law firm, where she acted on behalf of ship owners, charterers, insurers and P&I Clubs, in a wide variety of disputes, involving both English proceedings and a significant number of multijurisdictional disputes.

She also practised in Singapore for 18 months, where she acted on behalf of clients in arbitral and judicial proceedings. On the transactional side, she acted in the context of the sale and purchase of vessels, charterparties, newbuildings, seabed mining and insurance.

Professional experience

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Ph.D., Shipping and Commercial Law, University of Cape Town, 2008
LL.M., Shipping Law, University of Cape Town, 2005
LL.B./B.C.L., McGill University, 2004
B.A.(Hons.), McGill University, 2001

  • Quebec 2007
  • Solicitor, qualified in England & Wales 2011
  • Who's Who Legal: Canada - Transport Shipping 2018-2020
  • Best Lawyers in Canada: Maritime law, 2019-2021
  • Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, 2020-2021: recommended in Shipping & Maritime Law
  • Chambers Canada, Nationwide: Transportation - Shipping, Chambers and Partners, 2018-2021 "I would recommend her in a heartbeat"; "She acts quickly and intelligently, is legally innovative, is always accessible, has great client focus and gets results".
  • The Legal 500 Canada: Transport: Shipping (Next Generation Lawyer), 2019-2021
  • Who's Who Legal – 2018, 2019, 2020 "Standout practitioner"; "Vanessa Rochester is an 'extremely active and experienced player' in the shipping industry who frequently advises clients on incidents, groundings, oil and gas distribution, and transactions"
  • Ranked as the Rising Star for Canada: Shipping and Maritime by Expert Guides, 2017, 2018
  • Bob Deacon Memorial Law Prize, University of Cape Town, 2005
  • Canadian Maritime Law Association Prize, 2004
  • JSD Tory Award, McGill University, 2004
  • "COVID-19 Global Implications for Charterparties",
  • "Exploring New Shores: Transporting LNG From Canada By Ship"
  • "A Tearful Conundrum: Canada's FCA Affirms Dismissal of Infringement Claim in Patent Suit Regarding Ophthalmic Medical Devices", IP Monitor, July 2019.
  • "IP Monitor - Cry Me A River: Plaintiffs' Proposed Claim Construction Leads To Invalidation Of Asserted Claims By The Gillette Defence", IP Monitor, March 2018,
  • "International Arbitration: An Effective Neutral Dispute-Resolution Mechanism for International Transactions" November 28, 2016, Aero Montreal Publication.
  • "Chapter 26: Maritime Law and the Offshore Industry" in Canadian Maritime Law, 2nd Edition, 2016, Irwin Law.
  • "To The Winner Go The Spoils: Federal Court Deviates From Tariff To Award Fair And Reasonable Costs", July 2016.
  • "Limitation of Liability, Wilful Misconduct and Loss of Insurance Coverage – A Round the World Perspective" July 31, 2014, LegalSeas.
  • "Is Canada About To Overhaul Its Marine Environment Risk Management Regime?", February 2013,
  • "Unconscious Bias and Gender Bias," Canadian Maritime Law Association Annual Conference, June 12, 2020, held virtually.
  • "COVID-19: Accelerating the Court's Digital Shift," moderator for the Federal Court webinar with Chief Justice Paul Crampton, May 22, 2020. 
  • "Unconscious Bias and Gender Bias," Canadian Hydrographic biennial Conference, Quebec City, February 26, 2020.
  • "Ship Finance," Asset-Based Lending Group, Montreal (live) and Quebec City (video), October 23, 2019.
  • "Unconscious Bias," Master Mariners of Canada Conference, theme Equity and Inclusion in the Maritime Profession, Ottawa, October 3, 2019.
  • "Bills of Lading," Shell Shipping Seminar, Houston, September 30, 2019.
  • "Oil Tanker Moratorium Act," CMLA Annual Conference, Quebec City, June 14, 2019.
  • "Gender Diversity in the Maritime Industry," Key Note Speech, Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund 30th Anniversary Conference, May 28, 2019.
  • "Oil Tanker Moratorium Act," testimony at the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communication, Ottawa, May 7, 2019.
  •  "Importance of Diversity," WISTA Canada AGM and 20th Anniversary Event, November 14, 2018.
  • Canadian Bar Association
    • Federal Courts Bench and Bar Committee
    • Executive Committee – Maritime Law Branch
  • Women's International Shipping and Trading Association Canada
    • President (2017 - present)
    • Board Member (2012 - 2017)
    • Treasurer (2007 - 2009)
  • Canadian Maritime Law Association
    • Vice-President Quebec
    • Chair of the Carriage of Goods Committee
    • Chair of the New Technologies Committee
  • Law Society of England and Wales