Mark Johnson has more than 25 years of experience in the maritime and legal fields, including time as a captain of a ship. Mark advises a range of clients operating across the maritime sector, including oil majors, offshore wind installers and service providers, owners, managers, banks, lessors, private equity, and shipbuilders in negotiation and documentation of large-scale and complex maritime and offshore projects as well as advising on ownership structures, construction, sale and purchase, financing, management, operation, pooling, repair, and refit of all types of vessels, including FPSOs, drilling rigs, LNGCs, wind turbine installation vessels, autonomous vessels, and superyachts.

Clients appreciate that Mark functions as an extension of their own team. More than just external counsel, he’s a partner to clients and works closely with them to get their transactions over the finish line. He is truly invested in his clients’ goals and measures his achievement by their success.

Mark’s experience includes:

  • Acting for a leading owner/operator of jack-up installation vessels in relation to the drafting and negotiation of construction contracts with various builders for new jack-up installation vessels to service offshore wind projects
  • Acting for the buyer in distressed ship sale and purchase (US$200 million-plus) of a deep water pipelayer and construction vessel and associated remotely operated vehicles (including coordination of cross-jurisdictional and bankruptcy risk matters)
  • Acting for an offshore drilling unit owner/operator in relation to the sale and recycling arrangements for its rigs
  • Drafting pro-forma ship sale and purchase agreements for one of the world’s largest container lines
  • Acting for a shipbuilder in the preparation of a pro-forma superyacht construction contract
  • Representing a private client in the negotiations of the purchase (US$200 million-plus) and later sale of one of the world’s largest superyachts

Mark is recommended in the Shipping section of the 2021 edition of the Legal 500 UK (Legalease), which lauds him as “cooperative and proactive in his advice.” The directory describes him and his colleague Andreas Silcher as “highly experienced, personable and sensible. They follow instructions diligently, offer commercial and constructive suggestions and have a deep understanding of the market in which they are operating – and tailor their work accordingly.”

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Selected Client Representations
  • Represented an oil major in relation to the disposal of its entire VLCC and product tanker fleet, including dovetailing inspection and transfer arrangements to avoid disruption of any of the crude oil supply commitments of the oil major.
  • Representing the seller of a semi-submersible drilling unit relation to the sale of the unit and subsequent delivery arrangements for unit related equipment in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Advising an offshore drilling operator its negotiation with a leading Asian shipyard for the construction contract for a semi-submersible drilling unit.
  • Advising an offshore wind farm installer in its negotiations with a number of leading Asian shipyards for the construction of an offshore wind turbine installation vessel.
  • Advised a shipyard in the negotiations of a construction contract for an aggregate dredging vessel.
  • Advised one of the world’s largest commodities houses on and negotiating vessel ownership, employment and management structures (including sale and leaseback arrangements) and negotiating and managing transaction process for the acquisition and bareboat chartering of numerous shipbuilding contracts and second hand vessels delivering into the structures.
  • Represented a private equity fund in relation to undertaking due diligence and structuring acquisition arrangements for purchase of a number of tanker pool companies.
  • Represented leading European financiers in relation to structuring assignment and novation arrangements for a succession of shipbuilding contracts (for various vessel types) so as to fit with the requirements of Spanish leasing structures.
  • Represented a shipyard in relation to the negotiation with another shipyard (and with construction supervisor) for the construction (and supervision of construction), transportation and commissioning of one of the world’s largest floating drydocks.
  • Represented a Middle Eastern drilling company in the acquisition of numerous jack-up rigs, including acquisition of rig construction contracts mid-construction as well as the acquisition (and transportation arrangements) of distressed sale second hand units in West Africa.
  • Represented numerous buyers and sellers in the sale and purchase of sail and powered superyachts from 30m to 100m plus (and also advised in relation to associated flagging, crewing and technical management arrangements).
Publications and Speaking Engagements
  • “Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) Webinar,” moderator, webinar 15 November 2019.
  • “Legal and Liability Issues for MASS,” panelist, Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium, Amsterdam, 27 June, 2019.
  • "Be Prepared: Advice for the Shipping Industry on the Cyber Threat," co-author, Ship Law Log, 5 October 2017.
  • "Cyber Attacks – the New 'Pirates,'" speaker, webinar, 28-29 September 2017.
  • "Superyacht Finance 2017 - Challenges and Opportunities," co-author, Marine Money, 1 September 2017.
  • "Beyond ColRegs; Challenges Facing Vessel Autonomy," speaker, Offshore Arabia, Dubai, 28 February 2018 - 1 March 2018.
  • "The Legal Challenges Facing Vessel Autonomy," author, Fairplay, 21 July 2017.
  • "The New SUPPLYTIME 2017," co-author, Ship Law Log, 10 July 2017.
  • "Ship Management Arrangements – Issues and Security, A Ship Lender’s Perspective," speaker, London International Shipping Week, 7 September 2015.


LL.B., College of Law, 2008

Graduate Diploma in Law, College of Law, 2007

B.Sc., Royal Holloway University of London, 1998




England and Wales

Shaping the Legislation for Autonomous Vessels in the UK
October, 01 2021

The UK government has released a new consultation on remotely operated and autonomous vessels. This provides an excellent opportunity for any interested parties to be involved in the shaping of the UK’s autonomous shipping regulation and help steer the future of this developing industry. The review highlights that existing maritime regulation is a barrier to innovation and not written with new te [...]