Keith W. Heard


Keith W. Heard has practiced maritime law since 1980, concentrating on matters in litigation and arbitration. Keith’s work on litigated matters has included the defense of claims for cargo damage, shortage and loss, including liquid, dry bulk and containerized shipments. It has also included work on collision and other casualty cases, including claims for General Average contribution, as well as the defense of matters involving the assertion of maritime liens. Keith’s work on arbitrated matters has included the prosecution and defense of claims for breach of charter parties and other types of maritime contracts. These matters have involved claims for failure to pay charter hire, contract cancellation, vessel misdescription, damage to main engines due to contaminated bunkers and other causes, demurrage, safe berth claims, cargo damage and hull damage to ships.

Keith has advised shipowners and charterers on ways to handle and resolve operational disputes arising under charter parties in an effort to facilitate contractual performance and avoid the need for formal dispute resolution proceedings. In addition, he has successfully represented parties in mediation, resulting in the cost-efficient resolution of various litigated matters.

As an additional aspect of his practice, Keith has assisted liner operators in re-drafting ocean bills of lading and has given advice on amendments to specific contractual provisions in bills of lading and charter parties.

Finally, Keith has served as an arbitrator and mediator in various maritime and commercial matters.


  • Yale University, B.A. 1977
  • Vanderbilt University School of Law, J.D. 1980

Memberships and Affiliations

  • American Maritime Cases (Associate Editor)
  • The Association of the Bar of the City of New York (Chair, Admiralty Committee, September 2012 to August 2015)
  • Connecticut Maritime Association
  • Maritime Law Association of the United States:
    * Chair, Committee on Arbitration and Alternate Dispute Resolution (2008-2012)
    * Delegate to the BIMCO Documentary Committee (2004-2011)
    * Member, Nominating Committee (2008 to the present)
  • NYMAR: New York Maritime Inc.

Bar and Court Admissions

  • New York, 1981
  • U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, 1981
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1994
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1998
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 2001

Practice Areas

  • Vessel casualty cases
  • Cargo damage litigation
  • General Average claims
  • Maritime lien disputes
  • Charter party disputes
  • Litigation and arbitration
  • Contract drafting


  • Acted for owners and bareboat charterer in limitation of liability proceeding arising out of the grounding of a U.S. flag containership in South Africa
  • Represented Russian owner of three Capesize bulk carriers in $15 million charter party dispute arising out of contractual terminations due to late hire payments
  • Acted for U.S. flag shipowner in New York arbitration arising out of Latin American charterer’s failure to perform final voyage under a multi-year COA
  • Represented Japanese voyage charterer in dispute with shipowner and discharging stevedore over improper stowage and delayed delivery of diverse steel cargo
  • Represented shipowner in New York arbitration against U.S. oil major to recover demurrage arising out of prolonged loading delay at Nigerian port allegedly due to force majeure
  • Acted for Russian shipowner in prolonged dispute with U.S.-based ship manager over alleged breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty claims, including mediation, and providing assistance to the shipowner upon contract termination
  • Acted for Dutch shipowner on potential products liability claim against U.S.-based manufacturer of tank coatings for chemical tankers
  • Defended Turkish owner of vessel that collided with a sunken wreck against claim by cargo owner in New York arbitration to recover indemnity for salvage payments and other damages
  • Defended various liner operators against cargo claims filed in federal court arising out of the loss of containers overboard
  • Represented Far Eastern bank on New York arbitration claim against shipowner who delivered cargo without demanding surrender of the original bill of lading
  • Acted for German shipowner in assertion of liens to recover sub-freight on containerized cargoes shipped to the Port of New York by a Chinese time charterer who was attempting to operate a transpacific liner service
  • Represented Norwegian shipowner in dispute with charterer and cargo receiver over alleged contamination of a $12 million cargo of MTBE rejected by the receiver at a U.S. West Coast oil refinery
  • Defended U.S.-based shipmanager in lawsuit by charterer to enforce on an alter ego theory a New York arbitration award obtained against a vessel owner

Published Articles and Presentations

  • “Manifest Disregard After Hall Street,” The Arbitrator, Vol. 40, No. 2, January 2009
  • “The ‘Winter Storm’ Continues to Rage,” Shipping & Transport International, Vol. 7, No. 2, October 2008
  • “En Banc Fifth Circuit Considers Extent of Arbitrator’s Disclosure,” The Arbitrator, Vol. 38, No. 3, April 2007
  • “Federal Circuit Provides Arbitrability Guidelines,” The Arbitrator, Vol. 38, No. 2, January 2007
  • “Preventing Unintended Contractual Consequences,” Standard Bulletin, October 16, 2006
  • “Circuit training: Can parties expand the scope of judicial review of arbitration awards in the US?,” The Maritime Advocate, Issue 31, October 2005
  • “Can parties expand the scope of judicial review of arbitration awards?,” The Arbitrator, Vol. 37, No. 1, October 2005