Heather Manson is a partner in our Johannesburg office in the shipping, aviation and logistics practice.
Heather’s practice is aviation-related with a focus on disputes in which she advises air service operators (airline and general aviation), airport operators, ground handlers, maintenance and ground handling service providers, original equipment manufacturers, financiers, lessors and their respective hull and liability insurers and reinsurers. She also advises insurers and reinsurers directly in relation to coverage. She has focused exclusively on aviation law for 12 years and has a notable reputation in the market. Heather also provides regulatory advice.
The majority of Heather’s instructions emanate from the Lloyds and South African aviation insurance markets. These include coverage, third party claims and subrogated recoveries. Heather also assisted insurers and reinsurers in the development of aviation-related insurance products and a large portion of her practice emanates from aircraft losses and disputes across Africa.
Her approach to disputed matters is a very proactive one in which she fully investigates all aspects of any potential claims and advises insurers on merits and strategy, with the aim of obviating unnecessary litigation.
Heather has litigation experience in the courts of South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Mozambique, United States of America, the United Kingdom and France.
She has an LLB (cum laude) from the University of the Witwatersrand and is the founding member of Aerial Network, GECAS.
A selection of Heather’s recent experience* includes:
- Providing aviation insurers with coverage advice in respect of a hull claim submitted by a DRC-based cargo operator. The dispute was submitted to arbitration in Johannesburg.
- Providing insurers with coverage advice in respect of a hull claim submitted by a South African operator, and the financiers of the aircraft. The claim was litigated in the courts of South Africa.
- Providing insurers with coverage advice in respect of a hull claim submitted by a South African operator following a fatal accident. The cause of the loss was suspected to be a low-G cyclic pushover.
Third Party Claims
- Representing an aircraft maintenance organisation and its liability insurers in respect of a fatal aircraft accident in Botswana. Litigation was brought in the courts of Botswana and the USA.
- Representing an aircraft operator and its liability insurers in respect of a fatal aircraft accident in the DRC. Dependents’ claims were made in the courts of USA (dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction) and South Africa, the extent of indemnity under the policy was submitted to arbitration and various disputes resolved via mediation in London.
- Representing an airport operator and its liability insurers in respect of theft at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg.
- Representing an airport operator and its liability insurers in respect of an accident in which an aircraft struck wild animals on the runway at Dire Dawa International Airport, Ethiopia.
- Representing a ground handler and its liability insurers in respect of the loss of consignment of bank notes.
- Assisting a helicopter owner and its hull insurers in enforcing a warranty claim against the manufacturer.
- Representing a South African airline and its hull insurers in a claim against an airport operator arising from an incident in which an aircraft was damaged when it struck a wild animal upon landing. The claim was brought in the courts of South Africa.
- Assisting an aircraft leasing company in enforcing the rights (under the Cape Town Convention and the lease) against an operating lessee (airline). This entailed the repossession of the aircraft under lease at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg.
- Representing a fixed based operator in a dispute with the lessor of the property in relation to the provision of customs and immigration services. An urgent application was brought into the courts of South Africa.
- Advising an aircraft owner in a dispute with its Kenyan lessee concerning claims for rental and maintenance costs. The dispute was submitted to arbitration in South Africa (Association of Arbitrators rules), with some interlocutory applications in the Kenyan courts.
- Assisting local operators and foreign airlines in the collation, lodging and argument of applications for domestic and international air service licenses and foreign operators permits before the respective licensing counsels.
- Advising a foreign airline in relation to the acquisition of a local airline in respect of the transferability of its air service licenses and operating certificates.
- Assisting an NPO UAV operator in relation to an application for various permits and risk mitigation on a pro bono basis.
Transactional (in conjunction with the transactional/ finance team)
- Advising various operators (airline and general aviation) on their conditions of carriage to ensure compliance with various applicable legislation and insurance conditions.
- Assisting various operators (airline and general aviation) on the acquisition and finance of aircraft, including the registration of various securities.
* Includes experience gained prior to joining Bowmans