Stephen is identified as “one of the new breed of client-friendly and client-committed silks” who is “able to find and develop arguments that others at the commercial Bar cannot” and as “the go-to guy for high-net worth individuals.” Stephen has consistently been ranked in Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession as a leading Barrister in the field of Commercial Law (15 consecutive years) as well as Chambers Global and The Legal 500 (see “Recommendations”) and in other practice areas.  Stephen was one of only 6 barristers to be named in The Lawyer Hot 100 for 2015.

He is a commercial chancery trial advocate, specialising in multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional cases, particularly involving fraud, complex legal issues and tough cross-examination of witnesses and experts. This skill-set has led to his practice spanning all commercial, fiduciary and trade sectors from energy, oil and gas, banking, financial services, shipping, aviation and insurance. He is frequently involved in shareholder disputes, fraud and asset tracing/recovery (particularly involving breach of fiduciary duty), sale and purchase and complex banking derivative disputes.

Praised by clients for his work ethic and recognised as a tenacious advocate, he is particularly well-suited to large disputes that span different disciplines, where he combines his skills as an advocate with a direct, commercially-minded and pragmatic approach to problem solving, representing individuals, SMEs, corporations, global organisations and blue chip companies. He has an established reputation acting for high net worth individuals and their structures in commercial disputes.

In addition to regularly appearing in the Court of Appeal, Commercial Court and Chancery Division, Stephen has experience dealing with arbitrations, both as arbitrator or party appointee.

Stephen’s international practice includes involvement in a number of oil and gas arbitrations for and against large multi-nationals and State entities in various jurisdictions. He has recently acted for the State of Venezuela in ICSID enforcement proceedings in the Commercial Court.

Many of his cases involve international aspects and he frequently works with teams of lawyers from other jurisdictions in cases that typically commence with anti-suit injunctions, freezing injunctions and other forms of interim relief, including restraining insolvency, winding up and company proceedings.

Current high profile cases include leading a team of five counsel in the recently publicised £1billion claim against Barclays for a US bank; acting for Gulf Air in current proceedings for fraud/breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy against 7 Defendants; on behalf of OnurAir in proceedings with a jet engine lessor; on behalf of an Oil Exploration JV in relation to exploitation of seismic data;  in a test case on behalf of investors in a fraudulent investment scheme against a bank for failing to open a segregated trust account.

Stephen has recently been involved: in a dispute between Sovereign States and Salvage contractors involving a famous high value (excess $1Billion) wreck and issues of international cultural heritage; on behalf of an intended GLO Representative Defendant (representing all UK dealers) in the Volkswagen Nox emissions litigation; on behalf of a Football Club in takeover issues with the Premier League; on behalf of Steve Wynn (of “Oceans Eleven”/Wynn Resorts/ “The Bellagio” fame) in his “superyacht” company’s dispute for breach of fiduciary duty/fraud against various defendants; on behalf of a household name Energy Company in a relation to a long term £multi-million bio-mass contract and shareholder dispute.

Other high profile cases include acting for Sudan in its $multi-billion oil ownership/pipeline transit fee disputes with South Sudan, (the genesis of which involved the declaration of war); the commissioners of Oil field pumping stations in a USD 1 billion arbitration; Alexander Vik in his £64M dispute with Deutsche Bank, Nob Su in various cross-border insolvency disputes arising out of the collapse of TMT; Cross border insolvency disputes resulting from the collapse of KLC in Korea and SANKO in Japan (numerous cases in various jurisdictions); OW Bunkers (all levels from arbitration to the Supreme Court); on behalf of P and I insurers and others in respect of the recent Iranian Sanctions; the builders of the biggest Cargo vessel ever constructed which foundered on its maiden voyage; NITC in its USD 1.5 billion insurance/Iranian sanctions re-financing dispute; office holders seeking recovery against the insolvent’s indemnity insurers; shareholders in a £multi-million 944 Petition involving allegations of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty; and on behalf of well-known City solicitor defending commercial court proceedings alleging personal involvement in a £12M fraud.

In addition he is currently engaged in a number of derivative mis-selling claims against financial institutions/Banks which will be progressing through the courts over the next 18 months as well as various shareholder disputes.

Areas of experience

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  • Banking and Financial Services

    He has acted for and against most of the major banks in both retail and commercial disputes including inter-bank cases and spent a large part of his junior practice acting for Finance Houses. He has acted for investment banks, tertiary lenders, Hedge Funds and off-shore investment vehicles. He is often involved in asset tracing claims (international and domestic), frequently arising out of fraud disputes. His practice is both advisory and litigious with Freezing/Mareva and anti-suit injunctions. He is currently engaged in various matters arising out of the mis-selling of hedge and other derivative products, and has recently advised one bank in relation to its takeover of another.

    As well as his current cases, typical illustrations include:

    • Deutsche Bank v Vik (Costs Party) [2016]: largest non-party costs order ever made (potentially up to £64 million) against company director and sole shareholder on basis of his fraudulent evidence and advancing a multi-billion USD counterclaim against bank based on that evidence.
    • GHEKKO v RBS and NatWest [2015]: claim alleging fraudulent mis-selling of derivatives (TARNs).  Settled before trial in 2015.
    • Re NITC [2011/12]: acting for National Iranian Tanker fleet in USD 1.5 billion re-financing/sanctions dispute.
  • Civil Fraud, Asset Tracing & Recovery

    Stephen’s cases in each of the above categories frequently involve allegations of fraud and international wrongdoing, particularly in his commercial and insolvency cases. It is his well-established streetwise and tough “no nonsense” approach that causes solicitors to frequently select him for these sort of cases drawing on his preeminent skills as a trial advocate and his reputation for highly responsive cross examination. He particularly relishes difficult trials involving cross- examination of experts and professionals.

    Stephen is currently engaged in two major cases involving allegations of fraud against banks, and two cases In one the claim has recently been issued.

    He is also representing investors in a Ponzi fraud in a dishonest assistance and breach of trust claim against a bank, listed for hearing in the Court of Appeal October 2018, and various arbitrations in which allegations of fraud, either as a cause of action, or in respect of evidence in the disputes, arise.

    In addition to his current cases, typical examples include:

    • Monde Petroleum v WesternZagross [2016 – current judgment oustanding]: Claim alleging fraudulent misrepresentation by W to induce M to give up 3% share in Kurdistan Oil Field.
    • Deutsche Bank v Vik (costs party) [2016] EWCA Civ 23: largest non-party costs order ever made (potentially up to £64M) against company director and sole shareholder on basis of his fraudulent evidence and advancing a multi-billion USD counterclaim against bank based on that evidence.
    • Ghekko v RBS and Nat West [2015]: Claim alleging fraudulent mis-selling of derivatives (TARNs). Settled before trial in 2015.
    • Westwood Shipping v (a major City firm of solicitors and ors) [2012]: Allegations of $12M unlawful means conspiracy against city solicitor and others allegedly utilising and verifying a deliberately falsified document to remove assets from a company.
    • Ghanem Al-Thani Holdings WLL v Jaguar Cars Exports Ltd [2012] EWHC 856 (Comm): Claim in deceit by member of Qatari Royal family against Jaguar in relation to duration of exclusive distribution agreement.
  • Commercial Litigation

    Many of Stephen’s cases involve complex issues covering a number of legal categories as his practice spans the Chancery Division and the Commercial Court and arbitrations. They often involve freezing injunctions and preemptive applications. He is frequently instructed in shareholder disputes, unfair prejudice cases, and contractual and regulatory disputes for a wide variety of clients as well as insolvency and cross border insolvency matters. He has acted for ship owners, charterers, insurers, football clubs, rock stars, European royal families, solicitors in personal and partnership disputes, Barristers chambers, global companies and Rich List individuals, and anecdotally Haringey Council in respect of confidential information and HRA right to privacy issues in the Baby P case. In addition to his current cases, typical cases include:

    • Deutsche Bank v Sebastien Holdings and Alexander Vik [2016] EWCA Civ 23. Case concerning the biggest non-party costs order ever made (potentially £64M).
    • PST Energy 7 Shipping LLC v OW Bunker Malta Ltd and ING [2016] I Lloyd’s Rep. 228/ [2015] EWCA Civ 1058: Bailment; Retention of Title; Sale of Goods; Title; Transfer of property in goods.
    • W H Smith Travel Holdings Ltd v Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Ltd [2015] EWCA Civ 1188. Duty to account/running account/ burden of proof and set off.
    • Integral Petroleum SA v Melars Group Ltd [2015] EWHC 1893 (Comm): Conflict of Laws; Energy; Company law; EU law; capacity; jurisdiction clauses.
    • United Petroleum v Varteg [2014] EWHC 4652 (Comm): Breach of fiduciary duty; fraud, conspiracy.
    • Revenue and Customs v Sunico A/S [2014] EWCA Civ 1563. Appeal in respect of an MTIC fraud, extensions of time and variation of conditions.
  • Energy, Oil & Gas

    Stephen has an active and increasing practice in this area from arbitrations in respect of pipe lines, mineral ownership disputes, oil purchase and sale, mid-stream pipe line transit fees, to Commercial Court cases in respect of EPSAs, PSCs and options to participate in Oil Field development. He is ranked as a Leader in Energy in The Legal 500 where he is described as a “tough fighter in court”.

    As well as his current cases, typical illustrations include:

    • Monde Petroleum v WesternZagross [2016 – current judgment oustanding]: Claim alleging fraudulent misrepresentation by W to induce M to give up 3% share in Kurdistan Oil Field.
    • PST Energy 7 Shipping LLC v OW Bunker Malta Ltd and ING [2016] I Lloyd’s Rep. 228/ [2015] EWCA Civ 1058: Bailment; Retention of Title; Sale of Goods; Title; Transfer of property in goods.
    • Integral Petroleum SA v Melars Group Ltd [2015] EWHC 1893 (Comm): Conflict of Laws; Energy; Company law; EU law; capacity; jurisdiction clauses.
    • X Joint venture v Y Joint venture [2013]: Leading team of 8 lawyers including one other silk. Acting for the commissioners of a number of oil pipeline pumping stations in a USD$ 1.6 billion two month UNCITRAL arbitration.
    • Government of Sudan v Republic of South Sudan and ors [2012]: representing Sudan in its well publicised disputes with newly formed South Sudan and others arising out of competing oil ownership and pipeline transit fee claims.
  • Insolvency

    Stephen spent much of his time as a junior involved in insolvency matters and shareholder disputes, his first reported case as a recently qualified barrister concerned an application for a disputed validation order in 1986. He has continued to develop this area, including within the maritime sector as well as generally. More recently he has seen a resurgence of non-marine cases and once again practices significantly in this area in mainstream office holder’s actions, claims by creditors, and 994 Unfair Prejudice Petitions. He has recently finished acting in a number of cross-border insolvency cases in the maritime field arising out of the rehabilitation of KLC in Korea, as well as other charterers and owners.

    He has more recently been heavily involved in numerous insolvency issues arising out of the global insolvency of the O.W. Bunker Group in various jurisdictions, and in relation to Hanjin.

    Recent illustrations include:

    • Re Stobart Energy v Western BioEnergy [2016 and continuing]: administration. Conduct of secured creditors. Probity of appointment.
    • Re O.W. Bunkers [2016]: acting on behalf of various ship owners and cahrterers arising out of the global insolvency of the O.W. Bunker Group, including in the Supreme Court.
    • Re Sanko [2015]: various cases arising out of the collapse of Sanko and its rehabilitation.
    • Re ICP (various investment funds) [2014]: on behalf of a body of creditors in a representative action against liquidators and holders of redemption shares in the Cayman Court of Appeal.
    • Re Probiz and ors [2013]: a current 944 petition and related proceedings involving allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and diversion of corporate opportunities.
  • Insurance & Reinsurance

    Along with Banking and Finance this area features prominently in Stephen’s practice – usually, though not exclusively, for the insured.

    Typical illustrations include:

    • Ted Baker v Axa (No 3) [2016]: listed for three day CA hearing in spring 2017.
    • Starlight Shipping Co v Allainz Marine & Aviation Versicherungs AG [2014] EWHC 3068 (Comm): Marine Insurance; Indemnities; Foreign Proceedings; Settlements and Specific Performance; Third party Rights.
    • Various Owners in respect of P&I cover in respect of alleged breach of US Sanctions.
    • National Iranian Tanker Corporation, in respect of allegations that it was in breach of its $1.6B credit facility due to its insurers refusing to renew cover.
    • Ted Baker v Axa and ors (No 2) [2013]: current claim following on from No 1.
    • Re Paris Casino [2013]: current Total loss/coverage dispute involving destruction of gaming casino.
    • Ted Baker v Axa and ors (No 1) [2012]: On behalf of fashion retailer Ted Baker in its coverage dispute with Axa and co insurers concerning BI claims consequent upon non-violent employee theft over a number of years.
  • Shipping & Maritime

    Stephen’s work in these areas has a particular emphasis on financial instruments/Letters of Credit connected with the international sale of goods as well as mainstream commodity and sale disputes as well as Oil and Gas. He is the co-author, and author, of the chapters in Butterworths Commercial Court & Arbitration Pleadings on International Sale of Goods, and Documentary Credits. He is often involved in jurisdiction challenges, arbitrations and Freezing injunctions in relation to charter party and commodity disputes.

    Typical illustrations are:

    • PST Energy 7 Shipping LLC v OW Bunker and ING (The “Res Cogitans”) [2016] 1 Lloyd’s Rep.228 (CA): currently awaiting judgment from the Supreme Court: Shipping; Bailment; Bunkers; Retention of Title; property in Goods.
    • Integral Petroleum SA v Melars Group Ltd [2015] EWHC 1893 (Comm): Arbitration agreements; Aribtration awards; Cancellation; jurisdiction; Petrochemicals; Energy.
    • Starlight Shipping Co v Allianz Marine & Aviation Vesicherungs AG (The “Alexandros T”) [2014] EWHC 3068 (Comm): Shipping; Total Loss; Insurance; Settlement; Specific Performance.
    • Lakatamia Shipping Co Ltd v Su and ors [2014] EWHC 275 (Comm): Freight Forward Agreements; Relief from Sanctions; Solicitors; Disclosure.
    • RBS v FAL OIL Co Ltd [2012] EWHC 3628 (Comm): leading case on Freezing Injunctions in aid of foreign proceedings; Fraud.
    • Transpetrol Maritime Services Ltd v SJB (Marine Energy) BV (The “Rowan”) [2012] EWCA (Civ) 198: Certificates of Inspection; Contract terms; Oil Tankers; Standard terms.
    • WS Tankship II BV v Kwangju Bank Ltd [2011] EWHC 3103 (Comm): Shipbuilding; Refund Guarantees; estoppels; rectification; mistake; variation.
  • Sport

    Best regarded as niche areas, Stephen has and continues to develop his practice in Sports and Media, having entered these fields through his more mainstream work in insurance and general commercial and shareholder disputes (Sports) and his chancery work in respect of confidential information and reputational rights (Media). He has acted for Blackburn Rovers, the SFA, Blackpool FC (in numerous cases), Rugby International Ellery Hanley, and against Manchester United, Leeds United and Scunthorpe FC in cases involving shareholder rights and players contracts as well as insurance claims. He is listed in the directory of Legal Experts as a leader in Sports law. He has also acted for racehorse owners and dealers as well as Morrissey in aspects of his long running dispute with former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce.

    His media practice commenced in 1996 when he was instructed to represent the head of a Faculty of Law in defamation proceedings commenced by a District Judge. He acted on behalf of Royalty magazine in defamation proceedings commenced by Prince Radu of Hohenzollern concerning allegations that his title is bogus, on behalf of Prince Paul of Romania in connected proceedings in Germany commenced by the Hohenzollerns, and on behalf of a shipping magnate Claimant in proceedings for defamation in various newspapers and over the internet in respect of allegations arising out of the a muti-million Euro scandal in Greece concerning the fraudulent sale and purchase of land including the former Olympic village.

    He also acted for Haringey Council in the notorious Baby P case in respect of commercial/reputational issues involving defamation and HRA rights to privacy.