Federal Court Ruling Has Serious Implications for Yacht Closings


The world of recreational boating finds itself with ever more regulation and complication with numerous parties and contracts involved. While, traditionally, the vast majority of boat deals are closed with the assistance with either an in-house or third party documentation agent, there is an upward trend towards the sensibility of using a maritime attorney to assist in closing these deals. A recent lawsuit and verdict against nationwide boat dealer Bass Pro Shops has a serious impact on the vast majority of boat purchases and suggests that specialized attorneys should be involved in more boat deals than ever before.


A U.S. appellate court recently affirmed a $24 Million dollar verdict against Bass Pro Shops in a case filed by a boat purchaser against the company, alleging that their in-house documentation/closing department had committed the unlicensed practice of law in drafting purchase agreements, title documents, bills of sale and powers of attorney and then charging a “document fee” for the service.


Brokers, dealers, and documentation agents alike need to be aware of the implications of this case and take care not to draft paperwork that constitutes the unlicensed practice of law in Florida or any other state where you do business. Attorneys should be retained to draft all corporate paperwork, powers of attorney, and any other document that creates or alters legal rights or obligations in buyers or sellers. Unlicensed practice of law in the State of Florida constitutes a third degree felony and may expose the offender to civil penalties as well.


To meet the needs of the boating industry while also complying with the law, Luxury Law Group has created a proprietary computer-based closing system for boat deals that allows a licensed attorney to oversee each transaction while also maintaining the efficiency and fee structure that has made both internal and external documentation agents an attractive option for so many years. We have also created an in-house general counsel program whereby brokers and dealers alike can have access to an attorney for all deals for a fraction of the cost of hiring a staff attorney. The boating world has become increasingly more complex and buyers and sellers are more savvy than ever. It’s time that we evolve with our clients and move the industry into a more professional future.


About Luxury Law Group

Luxury Law Group is a full-service law firm focusing on transaction and litigation matters related to luxury assets including yachts, aircraft, real estate, custom automobiles, art collections and fine antiquities. Serving clients around the world, Luxury Law Group is strategically positioned, with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Stuart, Washington, D.C., and The Hamptons, to provide concierge law service expected by our diverse list of clients.

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