Peter Swanson Partner

Peter is a founding partner of the firm with over 30 years of professional legal experience. He practices primarily in the fields of maritime and health law.

Peter’s maritime case work involves vessel arrest and security, carriage of goods by sea, enforcement of maritime liens, civil and regulatory liability for ship source pollution, collision, port state intervention, immigration, bodily injury, chartering disputes, and constitutional issues arising in the context of “navigation and shipping”. Peter also routinely advises on the preparation and completion of transport and terminal contract documentation and is often involved in casualty investigations in both a marine and non-marine context.

Peter’s health law case work involves assisting health care professionals in relation to regulatory or disciplinary issues before their governing regulators, as well as providing assistance in respect of audits or court attendances. This work includes handling complaints against health care professionals through to hearing and possible judicial review.

Peter appears regularly as counsel before a variety of Courts. He has represented clients in the British Columbia Supreme Court, the Federal Court, the British Columbia Court of Appeal, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. He has also represented clients before a variety of tribunals including the Health Professions Review Board, the Medical Services Commission, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia and the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal.

Peter was recently appointed an Adjunct Professor of law, and is co-teaching the Maritime Law course at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia to 2nd and 3rd year law students.

Peter is a regular contributor to local trade journals on maritime law topics. He has written for the Advocate, the International Insurance Law Review, and co-authored the section on Canada for the International Comparative Legal Guide to: Commodities and Trade Law 2006.  Peter is currently active on number of boards and other organizations. He is a director of a number of not-for-profit organizations including the Chamber of Shipping of B.C. He is past Chair of the Provincial (BC) and National Maritime Law Sections of the Canadian Bar Association (“CBA”), and was Chair of the Host Committee of ICMA, 2012.  He has a long tradition of charitable fund raising for different organizations. In 2008 and in 2014 Peter competed as a team member in the Sailors Society Three Peaks Challenge (a 24 hour effort to climb three of the United Kingdom’s tallest peaks – Ben Nevis (4,406ft) in Scotland; Helvellyn (3,117ft) in England and Snowdon (3,560ft) in Wales).  He has also been involved in the organization of many events (fundraising and educational) including Comité Maritime International, Vancouver.

Peter is recognized by his peers as a leader in the field of maritime law. He has been listed in the Best Lawyers in Canada since it was first published in 2006, is rated as Repeatedly Recommended for shipping and maritime law in the Canadian Legal L’expert Directory, is listed in Who’s Who Legal Canada for Shipping & Maritime and Who’s Who Legal for Shipping and is listed with Chambers and Partners for transportation law.

Representative Cases

ING Bank N.V. v. Canpotex Shipping Services Limited, 2020 FCA 83 (CanLII), Federal Court of Appeal  - OW bankruptcy and payment for bunkers supplied to ships - contract – agency – privity of contract between actual bunker supplier and actual purchaser through medium of OW.

R. v. MV Marathassa, 2019 BCPC 13 (CanLII),  Provincial Court of British Columbia; Subject: ship source pollution – strict liability offences  –  required proof of act for all offences – availability and application of due diligence defence - acquittal of all charges;  R. v. MV Marathassa, 2018 BCPC 237 (CanLII), Provincial Court of British Columbia; Subject: Directed Verdict - Canadian Environmental Protection Act (“CEPA”)- not applicable to unintentional discharge of oil as distinct from intentional dumping at sea - acquittal of CEPA charge.

British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority v. Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia, 2014 BCCA 353 (CanLII), British Columbia Court of Appeal, leave to the Supreme Court of Canada denied 2015 CanLII 13581 (SCC); Subject: Judicial Review; employer — significant connection to the worksite — chambers — rescue — accident.

Z.I. Pompey Industrie v. ECU-Line N.V.; 2003 SCC 27, 30 C.P.C. (5th) 1, 224 D.L.R. (4th) 577, 2003 A.M.C. 1280, 303 N.R. 201, [2003] 1 S.C.R. 450, 240 F.T.R. 318 (note), REJB 2003-40815, J.E. 2003-892; Supreme Court of Canada; Subject: Contracts; Torts; International; Carriers --- Contract of carriage -- Performance of contract -- Deviation; Conflict of laws -- Contracts -- Choice of law -- Where contract specifying law.

Canadian Forest Products Ltd. v. B.C. Rail Ltd.; 2003 BCSC 263, 2003 A.M.C. 1125; Supreme Court of British Columbia; Subject: Contracts; Torts; Civil Practice and Procedure; International; Property; Carriers -- Liability for damage to goods -- Liability for goods shipped under contract of carriage -- Evidence of damage -- General; Maritime law -- Parties -- General; Carriers --- Contract of carriage -- Bill of lading -- Transfer of title; Bailment and warehousing -- Hire of services or work -- Bailee's liability to bailor for loss or damage – Carrier.

Colley West Shipping Company Ltd. v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2006 FC 1419 (CanLII), Federal Court of Canada; Subject: Agency; creation of relations; who constitutes an agent; Aliens: exclusion and expulsion of persons from Canada: Removal costs, liability for.

Ruby Trading S.A. v. Parsons; (2000) 194 D.L.R. (4th) 303, 264 N.R. 79, [2001] 2 F.C. 174, 2000 CarswellNat 3455, 2 F.C. 174; Federal Court of Appeal; Subject: Labour and Employment; Constitutional; Torts; Public; Civil Practice and Procedure; Maritime law --- Admiralty courts -- Maritime jurisdiction of Federal Court – General.

Ranjbar v. Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, 2014 BCSC 1983 (CanLII), Supreme Court of British Columbia; Subject: Torts; Occupiers Liability; Duty to Warn -- Causation -- gangway — ship — terminal — horn — ladder – bodily injury – failure to mitigate.

Professional and Other Affiliations

  • Called to the Bar of British Columbia, 1988
  • Law Society of British Columbia, Member
  • Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, Director
  • Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, Member and Director of the Canada Branch
  • Subcommittee on Execution of Orders of the Federal Court Rules Committee, Member 2012 – present
  • CBA, Member; (Provincial) past executive member and past Chair of the BC Maritime Law Section; (National) current executive Member and Past Chair of the National Maritime Law Section
  • Canadian Maritime Law Association, Member
  • International Sailors Society of Canada, Director and Past Chair
  • Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association, Arbitrating Member, Director and Past President
  • China Maritime Arbitration Commission, Listed Arbitrator
  • International Congress of Maritime Arbitrators (ICMA), Vancouver 2012, Host Committee Chair
  • Canadian Member, Topics and Agenda Committee, ICMA XIX (Hong Kong); ICMA XX (Copenhagen); and ICMA XXI (Rio de Janeiro)
  • Comité Maritime International, Vancouver 2004, Member Organizing Committee

Author and Speaker

Peter frequently writes and presents on various legal topics. He is often a presenter on behalf of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, through its “Business of Shipping” program. This has included presentations in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Prince Rupert, Nanaimo and Vancouver. He has presented many times at the Canadian Maritime Law Association West Coast Open Meetings held in Vancouver, and more recently at the AGM in Quebec City, and has spoken on behalf of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, the Vancouver Maritime Arbitrators Association and BIMCO.  He was a speaker on the enforcement of judgments and arbitral awards in 2016 at the International Maritime Arbitration Seminars held in Beijing and Shanghai, China, and in 2019 in Beijing and Ningbo.  Most recently Peter continued his work as a moderator during ICMA XXI which was hosted in Rio de Janeiro in March 2020.