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Joseph Malpas

Trainee Solicitor

I studied Social Anthropology, before completing the GDL. I then completed the LPC in London, after successfully applying directly for a training contract at HFW.

When completing the GDL, I particularly enjoyed contract law, and found that the majority of significant cases in this area of law are shipping and commodities cases (with HFW acting in many). I have been very lucky to train at a firm whose work is both personally and intellectually stimulating in this way.

My first seat was in the Commodities team in London. During this seat I worked on a liquefied natural gas (LNG) dispute that went to the High Court for a week-long trial. The dispute regarded the legal interpretation of a contractual formula, that allocated the cost of nitrogen added to LNG delivered by the litigating parties. The Court considered key cases of contractual interpretation (the same I enjoyed studying at law school), and it was very interesting watching top barristers make submissions using the hearing bundles I had spent hours preparing. Also during this seat I assisted with two (super)yacht arbitrations and a shipping-related financial services dispute, and provided advice to commodities trading companies on LNG sale and purchase agreements. Whilst it was a busy six months, I learnt a great deal.

My second seat was spent with the Shipping team in the firm’s Melbourne office, where I assisted in a substantial offshore energy dispute. Whilst the firm is notable for giving Trainees lots of responsibility, this was particularly the case during my time in Melbourne. I was tasked with leading the preparation of a key witnesses’ evidence with junior counsel, involving many long meetings with the witness to discuss significant documents and the facts of the matter, before liaising closely with junior counsel to draft the primary and reply witness statements. Despite the hard work, I also had plenty of time to enjoy the delights of Melbourne, such as watching the Australian Open, exploring the Great Ocean Road, and consuming as much artisan coffee and street food as possible.

My third seat has been in Ship Finance, where I have assisted with the (re)financing, sale and purchase of ships and yachts. It has been very interesting experiencing this side of the shipping industry, and I have been allowed to liaise directly with shipbrokers, bank representatives, high net worth individuals and CEOs. I have been involved with negotiations with solicitors from another firm regarding amendments to finance documents and have attended numerous closing meetings, giving me insight into how transactions proceed from start to finish.

Besides matter-related work, I have played football for the firm against client teams, and competed in the Baltic Exchange’s Warwick Cup sailing competition in the Isle of Wight. I have had a fantastic training contract so far.