Member of the Month: Brabners

In this article we interview Mark Rathbone, Partner and Head of Corporate at Brabners, the Mersey Maritime Member of the Month for May 2023. Here he discusses his work in relation to the Maritime sector and takes a look at some of the key challenges and opportunities for organisations in this space.

Please can you tell us about your experience and expertise in the Maritime sector?

I’m a Partner and Head of Corporate at independent law firm Brabners with over 25 years’ experience advising a wide range of local and national, private and public sector organisations and individuals on all aspects of corporate transactional and governance arrangements acting for buyers, sellers, funders and management.

I also have expertise in setting up complex corporate and contractual structures, such as complex joint ventures, port concession agreements, fund structures and unregulated collective investment schemes.

I have significant experience in the supply chain sector, with a particular focus on ports. We are proud to be working with some of the largest maritime businesses, including Peel Ports Group, Terminal Investments Limited, the global ports group, and MSC, its parent.

We have, from its inception, engaged with the Liverpool City Region Freeport, one of eight special areas within the UK’s borders where different economic regulations apply with tax and customs incentives.

Brabners provides advice covering multiple business areas for organisations in the Maritime industry including commercial contracts, procurement, property, planning and environmental law, corporate transactions and structures, banking and finance advice, tax advice, dispute resolution and employment and pensions.

Can you tell us a bit more about Brabners?

Brabners is a purpose-led independent law firm which seeks to play its part in demonstrating that business can bring about positive change, by being innovative, diverse and sustainable.

Its mission is to make the difference for its clients, people and the communities it serves.

We are also a certified B Corp and are recognised as the fourth best law firm to work for in the UK, and one of the Top 25 Best Large Companies to Work for in the UK overall.

Established in 1815, Brabners is now a firm with a modern, progressive outlook and a national reach, whilst remaining anchored in the North. The firm has more than 470 colleagues who work both remotely and across our four offices in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Lancashire.

Our flexible approach allows us to foster a culture of innovation and allows our colleagues to best support our clients with both their challenges and opportunities, both now and over the long term.

How are Brabners working towards the Maritime 2050 strategy?

Since the strategy was published in 2019 the Maritime industry continues to face major economic, societal and geopolitical shocks.

For example, the Covid-19 pandemic brought into sharp focus the integral nature of the UK’s supply chains and the war in Ukraine and conflicts in other nations continue to affect this. So too does the changing relationship between the UK and EU and evolving trade agreements with other nations.

But where there are challenges there is also innovation.

We have supported Peel Ports Group with its investment in its terminals and infrastructure, helping the organisation to futureproof its operations in line with anticipated changes to port provision, requirements of the shipping lines and digitisation.

In fact, technology forms a major part of the Maritime 2050 strategy, something we are very aligned with. As well as having a dedicated Supply Chain and Manufacturing Sector, we have a Technology Sector and have been very active in supporting these sectors. As part of this, I helped to found a tech accelerator in the region, Baltic Ventures Limited, to help to build the capacity for the City Region to build, support and invest in those technology businesses of the future which can make a difference. As part of the journey to launching Baltic Ventures, I have had discussions with Maritime UK and Mersey Maritime about innovation and technology, maritime innovation accelerators and whether this new accelerator may be able in time to assist.

A key part of the Maritime 2050 strategic ambitions is to maximise the UK’s strength in maritime professional services and to retain and enhance our reputation and the UKs competitive advantage in maritime law, amongst other professional services. Brabners is certainly aligned with this ambition and working hard to help to achieve it. Our work in the Ports industry here and abroad and the quality of the clients we act for and the projects that we have assisted with is a clear indication that we are on track with this shared ambition.

This work has also been directed at supporting and developing the significant maritime infrastructure in the UK, in the Liverpool and Birkenhead port infrastructure and regeneration, at Heysham, Sheerness and Medway.

Our work in Health and Safety and our engagement with and support for the Freeports agenda and the Liverpool City Region Freeport are also central planks in the Maritime 2050 ambitions.

ESG is also at the heart of everything we do. We are a certified B Corp and therefore have unparalleled knowledge and expertise when assisting organisations with environmental and sustainability goals to meet their targets.

What are Brabners’ goals for 2023?

The maritime sector contributes nearly £40 billion to the UK economy and employs 185,000 people.

It’s a fascinating space to operate in and our goals are very much aligned to supporting those organisations with their challenges and opportunities.

From our own perspective, we have grown significantly in the last 5 years, some 45%. We have a younger, more vibrant and diverse workforce with great ambitions for the future. We look to continue our growth, to develop our own people and to learn from our clients and those we work with.

On our journey, we wish to continue to be an active and engaged participant in the UK Maritime cluster, particularly the Mersey Maritime cluster.

What does it mean to be a Mersey Maritime member?

We really value our membership of Mersey Maritime. Through it, we feel part of a fantastic Maritime Cluster which helps the Liverpool City Region and the wider UK hold a more competitive advantage.

Mersey Maritime has been at the forefront of driving maritime clustering in the UK and has created, in our view, the best and most vibrant of those clusters.

For us, it’s about using the historic strengths of Liverpool to build a fantastic future for the city, and we very much want to be a part of that by continuing to work with a driven, engaged and fun set of people.

Further information

For further information on the support Mark and the team at Brabners can provide for your organisation, please contact or 0151 600 3124.

Events Micro Standard Executive Sponsor Partner
Invitation to 12 Face-2-Face breakfast events
Opportunity to attend workshops, forums and meet the buyers’ events (priority access dependant on membership level and business relevance)
Opportunity to present at Face-2-Face and networking events
Opportunity to attend executive dinners and drinks
Opportunity to meet VIP guests, industry leaders and stakeholders
Opportunity to attend The Maritime Exchange Conference
Priority booking for tickets / tables at Mersey Maritime Industry Awards
Opportunity to have 1-2-1 with Mersey Maritime board members
Opportunity to host specific events at your own facilities
Creation of bespoke events programme to support your business focus / priorities
Opportunity to attend Maritime UK and other national trade bodies events and forums
Communication / PR Micro Standard Executive Sponsor Partner
Opportunity to feature in social media marketing campaigns where appropriate
Opportunity to promote your news, events and job vacancies via the Ezine
Receive regular updates, news, events and Ezine (tailored to membership level)
Opportunity to be Ezine Member of the Month
Digital Micro Standard Executive Sponsor Partner
Logo and website link on Mersey Maritime website
Website link on Mersey Maritime email signature
Relationship Management Micro Standard Executive Sponsor Partner
Dedicated account manager
Quarterly meetings and reporting
Business Support Micro Standard Executive Sponsor Partner
Creation of bespoke package of business support, marketing and events tailored to your business
Access to funding, support, guidance and expertise from Dr Matt Fulton, Chief Innovation Officer (additional resource from Liverpool John Moores University, University of Liverpool and MTC)
Direct access to Government elected and officials - local, regional, national and international
Facilitation of B2B introductions
Discounted rates for use of conference facilities at Mersey Maritime
Access to Maritime UK and other national trade bodies through Chris Shirling-Rooke, Mersey Maritime CEO’s role as Assistant Chair of Maritime UK
Bespoke Requirements Micro Standard Executive Sponsor Partner
Bespoke services and solutions