Marcus Staff

Marcus Staff

Call: 1994

"He is intelligent, innovative and forceful."

Chambers & Partners 2021 (UK and Global)

Marcus is “a very bright barrister with excellent technical skills” (Legal 500) who has been at chambers in London since 2007.  He works on a broad range of commercial and chancery matters.  Solicitors have described him as having “superb knowledge and an incredible eye for detail” and as “very good at commercial and traditional matters, he thinks laterally and is not afraid to venture into new territory”.

Prior to coming to London Marcus worked in Switzerland in private practice and for a leading Geneva-Zurich business law firm, engaged by ultra-high net worth individuals and families on establishing and maintaining international asset holding structures.  This experience has enabled him to develop particular expertise in cross-border disputes concerning private and commercial funds involving the duties of investment managers, trustees, banks and other financial intermediaries, and the rights of investors and beneficiaries in specific assets and funds of property.

These are recent and prominent cases in which Marcus has appeared:

  • PJSC Tatneft v. Gennady Bogolyubov & others [2021] EWHC 411 (Comm), [2020] EWHC 3250 (Comm): Marcus appeared in this very substantial (42 day) online fraud trial for one of 4 the successful defendants who, it was alleged, had unlawfully diverted to their own use monies paid by a Ukrainian refinery for oil delivered to it by a Russian oil company.  The trial included cross-examination of multiple witnesses in Ukrainian and Russian through simultaneous interpreters online.
  • PJSE Tatneft v. Gennady Bogolyubov & others [2020] EWHC 2437, [2021] 1 WLR 1403: This was a subsidiary judgment in the aforementioned case.  The court confirmed that legal advice privilege had been extended to all foreign lawyers without regard to national standards or regulations governing them.
  • In re an LCIA arbitration (2018-2020):   Marcus acted for the Claimant in this claim on a contract debt.  The case included issues of forgery and fraud.  The arbitration forms part of a series of cross-border legal disputes between the same prominent investors contesting ownership and control of a substantial Ukrainian agribusiness (from 2018, ongoing).
  • Ann Maxine Patton v. Alvarez Jiminez de Pass (Bahamas Supreme Court, 4 September 2020, unreported):  Marcus acted for the successful Claimant seeking an order for the removal of the trustee and protector of a Bahamas law trust and the appointment of replacements.  He was supporting counsel from one of the Bahamas’ leading law firms, McKinney, Bancroft and Hughes.  This case was a milestone in a campaign of international litigation in which Ms Patton is seeking to recover her deceased husband’s assets for his estate, and other trust assets, out of the hands of his Costa Rica trustees who have, in breach of duty, diverted them to their own use and benefit.
  • In re a Scottish Estate (England & Wales, ChD, 2020): Marcus acted for Scottish executors claiming that deeds executed by the deceased recording gifts of his undeclared assets to his Swiss lawyer were sham documents intended to deceive Swiss banks into not reporting the assets (under exchange arrangements between the UK and Switzerland): the Swiss banks would have had to make the reports if the declared UBO had been a UK resident taxpayer.  The deceased had left instructions to his executors to get the assets in, to declare them to the revenue in England, and to pay associated fines and penalties.  The matter was successfully settled for the benefit of the estate after negotiations with the ostensible donee and HMRC.
  • Al Sadik v. Investcorp Bank [2018] UKPC 15, LTL 19/6/2018, [2018] 6 WLUK 316 (Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, Lord Hughes, Lord Briggs): The Privy Council construed a share purchase agreement entered into between an investor and his investment manager as authorising leveraged investments in a hedge fund.  It also concluded that the courts below had been entitled to regard the transfer of funds to a separate special purpose vehicle as an administrative, rather than an investment, step.  Marcus also appeared in this case at trial in the Cayman Islands and in the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal.
  • In re a Trust (2017, unreported, British Virgin Islands, High Court)Marcus appeared on a construction summons in the BVI High Court, then sitting in St. Lucia, in which the court determined whether or not a condition subsequent had been fulfilled releasing the trustees from liability to indemnify third parties (and from an obligation to retain a portion of trust property to fortify the indemnity).
  • Vendort Traders Inc v. Evrostroy Grupp LLC [2016] UKPC 15 LTL 14/6/2016 (Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Sumption, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hodge): This was an appeal from the British Virgin Islands Court of Appeal.  The Court upheld a ruling that the statutory demand should not be set aside where new evidence was not potentially decisive of whether a party was liable to pay the balance of an agreed purchase price under a share purchase agreement. In addition, an arbitration award upon which the statutory demand was based gave rise to an enforceable debt and did not require an order under the Arbitration Ordinance 1976 (British Virgin Islands) s.28 for its enforcement.  Marcus also appeared in this case at first instance and in the BVI’s court of appeal.
  • Labrouche v. Frey [2016] EWHC 268 (Ch): The court examined complicated trust arrangements relating to a will and found that the trustees were not guilty of an active breach of trust. The main dispute centred on whether a tax-efficient structure established in Liechtenstein was outside the testator’s estate, and the extent to which the testator had intended to divest herself of her assets and her rights in the structure.
  • Eurofinance v. Rubin LTL 24/10/2012, [2012] 3 WLR 1019, [2013] 1 All ER 521, [2013] 1 All ER (Comm) 513, [2013] Bus LR 1, [2012] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 615, [2013] BCC 1, [2012] 2 BCLC 682, [2012] BPIR 1204, [2013] 1 AC 236 : [2012] 10 WLUK 740, Times, November 9, 2012 (Lord Walker JSC, Lord Mance JSC, Lord Clarke JSC, Lord Sumption JSC, Lord Collins JSC): Marcus was sole counsel for the successful appellant in this conjoined appeal in which he was opposed by 10 counsel, including 4 leading counsel, and an eminent academic.  The case resolved a much-debated question in cross-border insolvency namely, whether or not the English common law rules on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments should be relaxed in the case of judgments made in foreign insolvency proceedings.  Marcus persuaded the Court to hold that the rule should not be relaxed.
  • Labrouche v. Frey [2012] EWCA Civ 881, [2012] 1 WLR 1360, [2012] 7 WLUK 4, (2012) 162 N.L.J. 934:  An appeal against a judge’s refusal to strike out claims was allowed and remitted for the strike-out applications to be reheard, as it had been fundamentally wrong for the judge to refuse to hear oral argument on behalf of the applicants and find against them on a reading of the papers.
  • Global Distressed Alpha Fund v. PT Bakrie Investindo [2011] EWHC 256 (Comm) LTL 21/2/2011, [2011] Bus LR 970, [2011] 2 All ER (Comm) 385, [2011] 2 BCLC 275, [2011] BPIR 644, [2011] 1 WLR 2038:  It was held that the High Court was bound by authority to hold that the discharge of the defendant’s obligation as guarantor as a matter of Indonesian law was of no effect in English law, which was the governing law of the guarantee.  The guarantee was given over a corporate bond issuer’s liabilities on the bonds, and it was governed by English law.  The case reaffirmed the well-established principle stated in Antony Gibbs Sons v. La Societe Industrielle et Commerciale des Metaux [1980] 25 QBD 399 that the judgment of a foreign court, in a foreign insolvency proceeding, will not, in and of itself, be held by an English court abrogate a contractual obligation arising under English law.
  • Rubin v. Eurofinance SA [2010] EWCA Civ 89, [2011] Ch. 133, [2011] 1 W.L.R. 1211 [2011] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 287, [2011] Bus L.R. 84, [2010] 7 WLUK 96,  [2011] B.C.C. 649, [2011] 2 B.C.L.C. 473, [2011] B.P.I.R. 1110, (2010) 160 N.L.J. 1192, Times, October 5, 2010: Marcus acted for the respondent resisting an attempt to overturn the 2009 judgment finding that a US Bankruptcy Court judgment for USD160 million would not be recognised or enforced in England because, at common law, the foreign court had lacked jurisdiction over the defendant.  While the appeal was successful, on further appeal to the Supreme Court the Court of Appeal judgment was overturned.
  • Rubin v. Eurofinance SA [2009] EWHC 2129 (Ch), [2010] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 81, [2009] 7 WLUK 859, [2009] B.P.I.R. 1478:  Marcus acted for the defendants who successfully resisted the enforcement of a USD160 million judgment made against them by the US Bankruptcy court setting aside (alleged) fraudulent dispositions.
  • Lehman Brothers International (Europe) (In Administration) [2008] EWHC 2869 (Ch), LTL 1/12/2008, [2009] BCC 632 : [2009] 1 BCLC 161, [2009] Bus LR D28, [2008] 11 WLUK 598:  In this case it was held that in the absence of any suggestion that administrators were acting improperly, it would be contrary to the nature and purpose of an administration if the court were to interfere in the detailed day-to-day management of the administration by requiring the administrators to devote more time and resources than they had already to answering questions put to them by a particular group of creditors.
  • Marlwood Commercial Inc v. Kozeny [2007] EWHC 950 (Comm):  On the evidence, there was good reason to suppose that a defendant had substantive control over assets potentially subject to a freezing order, despite the consistent claim of his mother and himself that the assets at issue belonged to her.
  • A v B [2007] EWHC 54 (Comm) [2007] EWHC 54 (Comm), [2007] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 633 | [2007] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 358, [2007] 1 WLUK 417, [2007] 2 C.L.C., 203, [2007] Bus. L.R. D59:  Where proceedings were brought in the English courts in breach of an arbitration agreement the costs of obtaining a stay of those proceedings and of setting aside service out of the jurisdiction should normally be awarded on an indemnity basis.
  • Vadim Schmidt v. Rosewood Trust Ltd [2003] 2 AC 709, [2003] 2 WLR 1442, [2003] 3 All ER 76, [2003] Pens LR 145, [2003] WTLR 565, (2002-03) 5 ITELR 715, (2003) 100(22) LSG 31, [2003] 3 WLUK 807, Times, March 29, 2003 (Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Hutton, Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe):  Marcus acted for the successful appellant in this landmark case in the law of trusts.  He was led by Alan Steinfeld QC.  It was held that the right to seek disclosure of trust documents was an aspect of the court’s inherent jurisdiction to supervise and, if necessary, to intervene in the administration of trusts and did not depend on the right or claim of a beneficiary to a proprietary interest in the trust property.

Other information

  • Recommendations

    Chancery: Commercial

    Chambers & Partners

    “A man with a remarkable intellect and great breadth of knowledge, who is excellent at communication and recognising the interrelation of very complex matters.” (2023)

    “A very clever guy who uses his intelligence in a practical way.” (2022 – UK and Global)

    “He is intelligent, innovative and forceful.” (2021 – UK and Global)


    Chambers & Partners

    Marcus Staff is particularly active in the Caribbean jurisdictions, having appeared in the Cayman Islands and the BVI. He is frequently instructed in contentious trust disputes, handling such issues as the removal of trustees and tax-related matters. He has also been involved in matters relating to investment funds and civil fraud. Strengths: “Marcus Staff provided clear and concise advice in technically tricky cases.” “He is knowledgeable, user-friendly and client-focused.” (2023)

    Strengths: “He has a great international trusts practice.” (2021 – UK and Global)

    Legal 500

    ‘Very easy to work with and a proficient communicator, very knowledgeable in the trusts sector.’ (2022)

    ‘He is a barrister of the highest calibre. He is incredibly detailed, leaves no stone unturned and user-friendly.’ (2021)

    Banking & Finance

    Legal 500

    ‘He is extremely thorough and detailed. He leaves no stone unturned. Especially good on matters connected with Switzerland and Swiss law. A really top senior junior who solicitors look forward to working with again soon.’ (2023)

    ‘He is engaged, to the point, highly intelligent, innovative, industrious and a team player.’ (2022)

    ‘Has good experience and sufficient flexibility when dealing with difficult clients.’ (2021)


    Chambers & Partners

    Marcus Staff is a former head of the set’s Geneva office. A man with long experience of handling trusts-related work, he counts a number of key solicitors firms among those that instruct him. He demonstrated his credentials in the trusts sphere by appearing in Schmidt v Rosewood Trustees, the leading trusts case heard in the Privy Council in the last 20 years. Strengths: “Hugely impressive and a delight to work with.” (2023)

    Strengths: “A man of remarkable intellect and great breadth of knowledge.” (2022 – UK and Global)

    Strengths: “A very clever litigator, who’s thorough and hard-working. He’s thinks very hard about trusts law and writes very well on the subject too.” (2021 – UK and Global)

  • Academic History
    • BA (York) 1990
    • Common professional examination 1993
    • Bar examinations 1994
  • Professional memberships
    • Bar of Eastern Caribbean (BVI)
    • Chancery Bar Association
    • Commercial Bar Association
    • Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists
  • Publications

    Common law assistance and cross-border insolvency: from modified universalism to supra-territoriality

    • Citation: C.R. & I. 2015, 8(1), 3-5
    • Subject: Insolvency
    • Keywords: Cross-border insolvency; Disclosure; Foreign companies; Jurisdiction; Public interest; Winding-up proceedings

    Disloyalty in the UK capital markets: investment intermediaries and fiduciary duties

    • Citation: B.J.I.B. & F.L. 2014, 29(2), 98-101
    • Subject: Banking and finance; Equity; Pensions
    • Keywords: Fiduciary duty; Financial markets; Investment management; Pension funds; Trustees’ powers and duties

    Geneva invention

    • Citation: Lawyer 2009, 23(43), 29
    • Subject: Banking and finance; Economics
    • Keywords: Economic conditions; Financial services; Switzerland

    The Lawyer global offshore report

    • Citation: Lawyer 2005, 19(23), 23-24,26,29,31-32,35-36,39,41-42,45,47
    • Subject: Financial regulation
    • Keywords: Bermuda; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Financial regulation; Isle of Man; Jersey; Law firms; Mauritius; Offshore financial centres; Switzerland

    The arbitration of trust disputes

    • Citation: J. Int. P. 1999, 7(4), 203-226
    • Subject: Arbitration; Trusts
    • Keywords: Alternative dispute resolution; Arbitration; Trusts
  • Languages
    • Fluent German and excellent French.