Nathanael’s practice encompasses a broad range of shipping, commodities and trade finance matters, both contentious and non-contentious.
He regularly advises banks and commodity traders on commodities disputes, trade finance disputes (with a particular focus on letters of credit litigation), trade finance documentation, and shipping matters. He has also assisted court-appointed Judicial Managers in commodity fraud investigations.
In recent years, he has been instructed with increasing regularity by banks, traders, oil terminals, and underwriters, to advise on sanctions. Nathanael has also been appointed as an external investigator in relation to alleged sanctions breaches, filing representations and disclosure reports to the United Nations Panel of Experts on North Korea, OFAC, and local authorities.
Nathanael has appeared at all levels of the Singapore courts, both as counsel and led by Senior Counsel. He has also handled arbitrations in Singapore, London, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur under the SIAC, SCMA, LMAA, HKIAC, and ICC Rules.
From 2017 – 2020, he was the Head of Group Legal & Sanctions Compliance at one of Southeast Asia’s largest vertically-integrated shipping, oil trading, bunkering and oil storage groups, where his responsibilities included managing the insurance portfolio of a fleet of more than 160 vessels, and making direct representations to the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts regarding alleged sanctions breaches. From 2019 – 2020, he was a member of the Singapore War Risks Mutual Class Committee, the only war risks mutual insurer in Southeast Asia.
Apart from his native English, Nathanael is also conversant in Mandarin.
Nathanael is amongst the distinguished and select group of experts to be named as an Accredited Specialist for Maritime and Shipping Law by the Singapore Academy of Law’s Specialist Accreditation Scheme.
Nathanael was named as one of Singapore’s 70 most influential lawyers aged 40 and under by the Singapore Business Review in 2016.
Notable Cases & Transactions
- Acted for a Chinese ship owner to set aside an arrest, culminating in a landmark Singapore Court of Appeal decision clarifying the right of appeal to the Singapore Court of Appeal to set aside an arrest.
- Acted for a major container line operator and shipowner to set aside an arrest, and obtained an award of wrongful arrest, following the collapse of the OW Bunker group.
- Acted for German ship owners in a charterparty dispute worth more than US$60 million.
- Acted for a seller in a London arbitration arising from a ship sale and purchase dispute valued at more than US$35 million.
- Acted for one of Asia Pacific’s largest oil storage terminals in claims arising from an allision by a Very Large Crude Carrier.
- Advised and acted for shipyards and owners in various newbuilding disputes.
- Successfully advised and acted for a Malaysian shipyard in resisting the buyer’s call on a refund guarantee under a newbuilding contract.
- Advised and acted for a mortgagee in the successful enforcement of a mortgage over a 172,000 dwt bulk carrier.
- Reviewed and drafted bills of lading, standard form contracts of affreightment, and FSU floating storage contracts, for various tanker operators, managers, and traders.
- Advising various banks, traders, oil terminals, floating storage operators, underwriters and e-commerce players on Russia-related sanctions, including policies on compliance with the Russia Price Cap.
- Acting for the owner of an LNG production and storage facility in an SIAC arbitration, with claims arising from alleged breaches of sanctions against Russia valued in excess of €110 million.
- Advising an International Group Protection & Indemnity Club on sanctions against Russia.
- Acted for a national oil company in a dispute arising from the sale and purchase of cargo loaded on board MAERSK MAGELLAN, which was alleged to be of Russian origin.
- Acted for an independent oil trader in a dispute arising from alleged breaches of sanctions against Venezuela.
- Acting for multiple ship owners and commodity traders in relation to various investigations by and disclosure to the United Nations Security Council Panel of Experts on North Korea, OFAC, and law enforcement agencies, in relation to alleged breaches of sanctions against North Korea.
- Acted for one of Asia Pacific’s largest independent oil storage terminals to investigate and defend allegations of storing Iranian-origin oil, in breach of US sanctions.
- Advised various trade finance banks and commodities traders on the scope and effect of UN and Singapore sanctions.
Commodities / Bunkering
- Advised and acted for various ship owners, bunker traders and physical suppliers in the wake of the collapse of the OW Bunker group of companies.
Advised two independent oil traders in separate oil derivatives disputes arising out of the collapse of MF Global.
Successfully resisted a challenge to an SIAC arbitration award worth more than US$12 million arising out of an oil trading dispute, which went before the Singapore Court of Appeal.
Acted for various oil, coal and iron ore traders in ICC and SIAC arbitrations, and disputes arising out of the globalORE Standard Iron Ore Trading Agreement.
Reviewed and drafted general terms and conditions of sale for various commodity and bunker traders, including one of Singapore’s largest bunker suppliers by volume.
Acted for one of Singapore’s largest bunker suppliers by volume in defending multiple claims for off-specification bunkers following organic chemical contamination in the Singapore bunker market in 2018, and the implementation of the IMO 2020 sulphur cap.
Commodity Trade Finance
- Acting for various commodity finance banks in the enforcement of security following the collapse of oil, metals, and agri-commodity traders, including arresting ships under bills of lading pledged to financing banks, and the sale of pledged cargoes, both afloat and ashore.
- Advised various issuing, negotiating, and confirming banks of letters of credit on alleged fraud and discrepancies in documents presented for payment under letters of credit, and in subsequent litigation.
- Successfully acted for a negotiating bank to obtain reimbursement from the issuing bank, in the first known instance of a negotiating bank availing itself of a non-documentary condition under UCP 600 in Singapore.
Advised and acted for a major trade finance bank to enforce its security in London and Singapore under a syndicated loan worth more than US$14 million following the borrower’s insolvency.
Advised a major trade finance bank in the enforcement of its security in Singapore and China under a syndicated loan worth more than US$25 million following the Qingdao metals financing scandal.
Drafted general commodity finance terms and conditions for a major listed European trade finance bank.
Drafted collateral management agreements for various trade finance banks.
Other Notable Cases
- Acting for court-appointed Judicial Managers to investigate allegations of commodity financing fraud.
- Successfully recovered more than S$6 million from Singapore Customs in excess excise duty imposed on diesel fuel.
- Advised an aircraft leasing company in the lease of an aircraft engine to a major budget air carrier.
- Advised and acted for the holders of a promissory note in an SIAC arbitration.
- Advised and acted for liquidators of an oil trading company.
- Advised and acted for a worldwide luxury hotel operator in an HKIAC arbitration.
- Sinopec International (Singapore) Pte Ltd v Bank of Communications Co Ltd  SGHC 245
- Genuine Pte Ltd v HSBC Bank Middle East Ltd, Dubai  5 SLR 1186
- The “Nasco Gem”  2 SLR 63
- Prestige Marine Services Pte Ltd v Marubeni International Petroleum (S) Pte Ltd  1 SLR 917
- Class Committee Member, Singapore War Risks Mutual (2019 – 2020)
- Co-author, “Wrongful Arrest of Ships” in “The Arrest Conventions: International Enforcement of Maritime Claims” (Hart Publishing, 2019)
- Contributor, Documentary Credit World (June 2013, Vol. 17, No. 6)
- Co-author, “Singapore’s Apex Court Reshapes the Doctrine of Anticipatory Breach in the “STX Mumbai”” (presented at the 8th International Conference on Maritime Law, Dalian, 2015)