Marine and Fisheries Law

David has a commitment to maritime law demonstrated by his successful completion of a masters degree in Maritime Law at Southampton University 2014-15 whilst in full time practice at the Bar.

In the last 5 years he has appeared in courts across the UK and in the Falkland Islands on matters relating to collisions, marine navigation offences, fisheries offences and fraud on the European Fisheries Fund.

He has  advised the MCA and defence solicitors and clients on matters arising from oyster fisheries in Kent, the MMO’s penalty points scheme for commercial fishing, the disposal of waste held on board cargo vessels destined for Turkey and China. He has advised prosecution and defence on the prospects of conviction in various cases concerning marine fatalities.

He has advised on applications for disclosure from the MAIB before the High Court in Winchester and Hull.

He has recently advised as to the regulations governing disposal of water held on board a vessel following a fire in Southampton Docks.

He has represented the regulator and the operator of a scrap yard at inquests arising from marine fatalities.

Notable Cases

  • R v David Marr (Brighton Crown Court) : in March 2021, prosecuted the master of a scallop dredger for failure to keep a proper lookout as a result of which three men, out night fishing, drowned; Marr was convicted and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.
  • R v M – Lewes Crown Court : in December 2019, prosecution of fisherman charged with Merchant Shipping Act offence arising from the deaths of three leisure fishermen.
  • Re K: advised commercial fishing company as to the proper application of and challenge to the Marine Management Organisation’s penalty points scheme resulting in suspension of licences for fishing vessels.
  • R v Innes (Winchester Crown Court) : (’The Cheeki Rafiki’ trial) in April 2018, led by Nigel Lickley QC, prosecuting the managing operator of a commercial yacht for the unsafe operation of the vessel resulting in the death of four sailors while crossing the Atlantic in the vessel Cheeki Rafiki.
  • R v S (Hull Crown Court):  defence of a pilot in November 2017 charged under s.21 Pilotage Act 1987 following collision between the City of Rotterdam and the Primula Seaways in the Humber at about 8.30pm on 3rd December 2015. The case involved multiple experts as to both the design of the vessel and the duties of pilots and masters under Coll Regs and IMO Res 960.
  • R v B (Newcastle Crown Court) - Defence of owner of crab processing factory in July 2015 facing charges of fraud relating to the European fisheries fund.
  • Inquest (Portsmouth): into death of PH in June 2015, representing owner of marine scrap yard following death of sub-contractor on site.
  • R v B September (Portsmouth Crown Court): Defence in November 2015 of alleged fraud on the European Fisheries Fund.
  • R v F (Bournemouth Crown Court) - Successfully argued the accused in a case heard in 2014, suffering acute psychotic disorder, was not guilty by reason of insanity.


David Richards reviews Fleet Maritime Services v the Pensions Regulator, on the applicability of automatic pensions enrolment for peripatetic employees


David hosted a seminar exploring the implications of Brexit for the UK fisheries industry. Together with Andrew Oliver of Andrew Jackson and Co. they discussed future regulation following Brexit with representatives of the industry from across England and Wales and from both fishers, POs and regulators. Following presentations and a round table discussion the meeting concluded that areas of most concern looking forward are:

  • Whether the Great Repeal Bill will be an exercise in buying time by the government
  • The need to reclaim territorial waters for exclusive use of the UK inshore fleet and to serve notice under the London Convention 1964
  • The need to strengthen the economic link requirements for flag ships
  • The assertion of UK regulation of technical requirements, as is done by Norway and Iceland
  • To ensure proper, full and as far as possible unified input from the whole industry to the Government’s Brexit Group Monthly Meeting
  • Articles
    • Responding to Covid-19: The maritime perspective in the UK

      David Richards, head of the marine group at 3PB and fellow barrister Dr Tagbo Ilozue have reviewed national and international maritime responses to the Covid 19 crisis, looking in particular at the UK regulatory framework that may be used to police responses to the coronavirus beyond the current lockdown.

      View Article
  • Recommendations

    ‘He takes a proactive approach to case preparation, meaning he works well with instructing solicitors.’
    Legal 500 2021/Crime

    ‘His forensic brain and good grasp of the issues allows him to quickly get to the nub of a case.’
    Legal 500 2021/Business and regulatory (including health and safety)

    ‘An experienced advocate who has excellent client skills.’
    Legal 500 2020/Crime - Tier 1

    ‘Thorough, hardworking, and excellent at marshalling evidence.’
    Legal 500 2020/Regulatory, health and safety, and licensing - Tier 1

    "A winner with judges and juries."
    Legal 500 2018/19/Crime - Tier 1

    “I owe him and my solicitor everything”: BB - client charged with fraud on the European Fisheries Fund
    Client testimonial

    “A credit to the profession”
    HHJ FS - following trial of two police officers

    HHJ JB - following rape trial of officer cadet


View Full CV
  • The Legal 500 - Leading Individual 2021 Logo

Academic qualifications

  • MA (Cantab) 1988
  • Bar Finals 1989
  • New York State Bar 2000
  • LLM Maritime Law Southampton University 2015

Professional qualifications & appointments

  • Principal Legal Adviser to the Director of Service Prosecutions 2015-16
  • Grade 4 prosecutor
  • CPS Rape Specialist
  • Recorder, Midlands Circuit
  • Legal Assessor Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Specialist Regulatory Advocates in H&S and Environmental Law List

Professional bodies

  • Western Circuit
  • Health and Safety Lawyers Association

Direct Access

David Richards is qualified to accept instructions directly from members of the public and professional clients under the Direct Public Access scheme.

More Information