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The University of Southampton
Institute of Maritime Law

Mr Richard Coles

Senior Visiting Research Fellow

Mr Richard Coles


LL.B. (Hull), Solicitor (England and Wales), Solicitor (Ireland)

Richard Coles is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Maritime Law and a Consultant to Gateley Plc, a national commercial law firm. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1972, joining the ship finance department of Holman Fenwick and Willan the following year.  In 1977 he moved to Carter & Co, a smaller City law firm, becoming a partner a year later. In 1990 he joined the niche maritime law firm, Shaw and Croft to develop the non-contentious side of the shipping practice, serving as Senior Partner  from 2003 until the merger of the firm with HBJ Gateley Wareing (now Gateley Plc) in 2007. Between 2007 until 2014, Richard was the lead partner responsible for transactional superyacht work in the Yacht Team at Gateley.

During the course of his professional career, Richard has sat on various external shipping industry  committees, including the U.K Chamber of Shipping Small Ship Issues and Defence and Security Issues Committees, the Chamber/Ministry of Defence Shipping Defence Advisory Committee and most recently, the Cayman Islands Shipowners’ Advisory Council - Yacht Committee.  From 1998 to 2014 he advised a leading superyacht industry trade association in connection with the world-wide activities of the Association and continues to be involved in the training of yacht brokers.   

Richard Coles has had a longstanding interest in the Reserve Forces, spending his last nine years of service as a part-time legal staff officer dealing mainly with issues relating to the law of armed conflict. For two successive years he attended as a member of the U.K. Government legal team a review conference in Geneva convened under Amended Protocol II of the 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, “the  CCW Convention”. He was awarded the Territorial Decoration and retired in 2007.

Richard is the author of Ship Registration: Law and Practice published in 2002, the second edition  written jointly with Ed Watt in 2009 and the consulting editor of the third edition published in 2018. He is jointly with Professor Filippo Lorenzon the editor and author of The Law of Yachts and Yachting first published in 2012 and the second edition which followed in 2018.

He continues to research and lecture in his chosen areas of expertise.


The ownership, construction, financing and registration of ships and yachts, yacht charters and all other aspects of superyacht operation, international maritime conventions and the law of armed conflict.

Future publications

Richard is, jointly with Professor Andrew Serdy of the Institute of Maritime Law, the author of a paper entitled Ship Registration and Brexit that is scheduled to be published in Volume 43 of the Tulane Maritime Law Journal in the Summer of 2019.



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Mr Richard Coles

Institute of Maritime Law

Southampton Law School

University of Southampton

Highfield Campus

Southampton SO17 1BJ

United Kingdom



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