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firm start a website about maritime law. The partners did not consent so
Chris went home that evening and created “Chris Giaschi’s Maritime Law
Page”. Within one year he purchased the domain name Admiralty law.com,
which indicates just how early his entrance onto the internet was. As well as
writing its content, Chris designed, developed, coded and maintained the
website. It immediately became the leading source for Canadian maritime
law cases and commentary, and it remains so today. Had Chris been born 50
years earlier this website would be a textbook now in its ninth edition.
When Chris left McEwen Schmitt in 1997 to establish his own firm he
took with him just two open files and Admiraltylaw.com. His new firm subleased
office space at 815 Hornby Street, next to the Wedgewood Hotel.
Chris’s father told him that he should buy the building rather than pay rent.
Had he followed his father’s advice he would have made a great deal of
money when property values in Vancouver skyrocketed five years later.
That opportunity lost, he was left to make his living as a litigator.
Starting a maritime law practice from scratch is not easy, and in the
beginning one generally takes whatever work comes in. Chris’s first clients
were owners of a diamond concession in southern Africa who had lost their
financing when four European engineers were killed at the mine site by
guerrillas. His next client was being sued for selling a cargo of Russian fish
twice. Chris turned away the third man who came through the door, a fellow
who worked at the No. 5 Orange “showroom pub” and said he suffered his
injuries in a boating accident. However, in time and inexorably, Chris’s
practice flourished, and he came to represent some of the leading marine
insurance companies in the world (a large proportion of maritime claims
are at heart disputes between underwriters) as well many of the local tug
and tow companies who are the big carriers on our coast.
At the same time he was building his practice Chris volunteered his time
to the profession and the marine community. He rose through years of
committee work to become president of the Canadian Maritime Law Association
(“CMLA”) and chairperson of the National Maritime Law section of
the CBA. He was made an honorary member of the Comité Maritime International,
an organization founded in Antwerp in 1897, in recognition of his
contributions to the international unification of maritime law. He served as
chairperson of the Education Committee of the Association of Marine
Underwriters of British Columbia. He was an adjunct professor of maritime
law in the Faculty of Law at UBC. Since 1994 he has delivered to the Open
Meetings of the CMLA an annual paper on developments in Canadian
maritime law, an abridged version of which has for many years been published
in Lloyd’s International Maritime and Commercial Law Yearbook. There