01 Sep 2020

Hill Dickinson mourns loss of Piraeus office head Patrick Hawkins

Colleagues and clients pay tribute to 'much loved' and 'trusted' Greek office managing partner

Patrick Hawkins

Patrick Hawkins; noted for his 'charm, modesty and tremendous sense of humour' Hill Dickinson

Patrick Hawkins, a leading shipping litigator and head of Hill Dickinson’s Piraeus office, has died aged 59 following a heart attack suffered in July.

Hawkins, who spent more than thirty years working with Hill Dickinson and legacy law firms, was the founding partner of the firm’s Piraeus office.

After qualification at Hill Dickinson in Liverpool, Hawkins, a fluent Greek speaker, moved to work for Greek law firm Vgenopoulos & Partners until 1993, when Hawkins founded the Piraeus office of Hill Taylor Dickinson, which later remerged with parent firm Hill Dickinson in 2005, leading that office until his passing. 

He was an important figure in the Greek shipping market, where he handled both wet and dry shipping disputes, with a particular specialism in salvage work, both for owners and insurers, as well as for salvors. 

The joint heads of Hill Dickinson’s maritime group, David Wareing and Tony Goldsmith, said that Hawkins was a “much loved” colleague, adding: “Patrick’s total commitment to his work and clients continued until the day he was taken ill, which makes his passing even more of a shock to all his colleagues and friends.”

Hawkins, they said, would be “greatly missed in both countries by so many of us in the marine industry”.

Posting on LinkedIn, the American P&I Club said Hawkins was “a trusted counsel to the club for over 20 years, [and], more importantly, a valued friend to all of us here at the club”, while his friend of over 40 years, Artemis Pittas, posted a warm and generous tribute on Lloyd’s List. Others recalled Hawkins’ “charm, modesty and tremendous sense of humour”.

Fellow partner David Pitlarge, recruited by Hawkins in 2005, recalled him as being “extremely knowledgeable, quick and tremendously versatile” as a lawyer, with “genuine mastery of the various esoteric aspects of shipping law” as well as of marine insurance; one highpoint of this was the UK Supreme Court litigation of the Renos litigation. 

Pitlarge added that Hawkins’ legal acumen enabled him to advise quickly  – an asset in complex litigation – as well as having intellectual rigour, and adopting a methodical and forensic approach as required, which he called “a winning combination”.  

Another Piraeus partner, Andrew Dyer, praised Hawkins’ “deep commercial appreciation of his clients’ objectives and the necessary commercial angle to resolving their legal problems”.

Colleagues praised his mentoring skills in particular, and his commitment to working with younger lawyers, with Piraeus partner Maria Moisidou saying Hawkins judged his success by the number of partners of the future he had mentored and created.

“So many of us would not be where we are now without Patrick,” she concluded, noting that Hawkins had shared his practice, knowledge and experience freely and fully, thus “building up lasting relationships based on unlimited trust”. 

Pitlarge concluded: “‘What made him so exceptional was the combination of his humility and unselfishness – often expressed by his willingness to involve others, often younger, more junior or less experienced than him, and give genuine respect to their views.”

Hawkins, whose funeral took place last week, is survived by his wife, Vicky, and his two daughters, Myrto and Thalia. A commemorative service is planned by the firm in Greece when pandemic restrictions abate.