‘One of a kind’ – distinguished shipping lawyer Julian Clark has died, aged 60

Tributes paid to former Ince & Co senior partner and global head of shipping at Hill Dickinson

Julian Clark

Warm tributes have been paid to Julian Clark, a leading figure in the shipping and maritime industry, who died last week from cancer aged 60.

Clark, fomer senior partner at Ince & Co and global head of shipping at Hill Dickinson, leaves a legacy marked by distinguished service and profound impact on the maritime and legal sectors. He dedicated more than three decades to the field, specialising in arbitration, mediation and litigation, having also worked at as a name partner at shipping boutique Campbell Johnson Clark and at HFW, which he joined after training and qualifying at Clifford Chance. 

News of Clark’s death comes after a diagnosis of terminal cancer in February, which he shared on LinkedIn. He described it as “a very severe and aggressive form of cancer”, while praising the work of the National Health Service (NHS).  

Throughout his career, Clark was lauded for his deep legal knowledge and strategic acumen, particularly in high-stakes international trade, piracy and environmental law cases.

He joined Gard, a Norwegian marine insurance company, as a senior legal adviser in March last year. In a statement, the company said: “Once at our head office in Arendal, Norway, Julian quickly connected with colleagues in claims and other functions. There was no doubt that we were embarking on an exciting journey together. Unfortunately, the journey together was of an all too short duration. Julian’s prostate cancer spread and could not be cured despite tough treatment.”

Clark’s brief tenure at Gard followed what will have been a turbulent spell as senior partner of Ince, which he joined from Hill Dickinson in September 2019. His arrival at Ince followed its acquisition out administration by listed law firm Gordon Dadds and held the promise of a revival of fortunes for the shipping firm. 

However, the rebranded Ince Group ran into trouble during the covid-19 pandemic and Clark departed for Gard at the end of his term as senior partner, shortly before it was bought out of administration for a second time, this time by regional UK firm Axiom DWFM. But the rescue proved illusory – the rebranded Axiom Ince was closed down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority last October ahead of a Serious Fraud Office investigation into around £66m of missing client funds.

Responding to Ince’s collapse, Clark told the shipping press: “I’m in mourning”. Clark’s time at Hill Dickinson, meanwhile, although short, had a significant impact; he was based in the firm’s London office and was involved in frequent travel between Piraeus, Monaco, Hong Kong and Singapore, where he was well-known thanks to his time at HFW and Campbell Johnson Clark.

At the time, the firm described Clark “a first-class lawyer with proven ability to grow a business in the marine market where he is highly respected”.

That respect extended to HFW, whose head of shipping, Paul Dean, described Clark as a “larger than life character who joined us from Clifford Chance when they rationalised their shipping practice. We then parted ways when, along with Alistair Johnston and Jonathan Campbell, he set up CJC”.

Beyond his legal prowess, Clark fervently advocated seafarers’ welfare, including by supporting the charity Stella Maris. He was instrumental in campaigns to recognise seafarers as crucial workers, notably during the Covid-19 pandemic, emphasising their critical role in global supply chains.

A former professional musician, his dedication extended to combining his passion for music and law by organising a 60-piece virtual choir to support seafarer wellness initiatives. This demonstrated his ability to bridge his artistic talents with his professional goals, which extended to regular performances with the IBA Maritime Law Committee’s band, Seven Seas, which regularly featured at events for Law Rocks, including at the IBA annual conference. He also led fundraising efforts for refugees at Law Rocks! London for Ukraine.

The London International Shipping Week organisers paid tribute, saying: “Julian, you were one of a kind, and whether you were performing on the legal stage or the stage of the Grosvenor House Hotel, your humour and kindness filled the room.”

One of Clark’s last great contributions was releasing “The Alchemist's Daughter” on various streaming platforms. All proceeds from the album will be shared between Prostate Cancer UK and Stella Maris. 

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