Stephen specialises in litigation and arbitration in the fields of commercial, company, trusts and business law. Clients refer to him as “as astute as they come, excellent with clients and has a reassuring manner” (Chambers & Partners).
With a background of high profile work for the DTI and Inland Revenue as junior counsel to the Crown (Chancery) prior to taking silk in 2002, Stephen has developed an extensive practice in the fields of hostile corporate and trust litigation, insolvency, civil fraud and joint venture disputes (in both a corporate and partnership context), often for private clients.
Stephen has practiced in the regulatory field for many years and was appointed a Joint Inspector by the DTI (now BERR) to investigate allegations of market abuse. His on-going regulatory work includes cases is in the area of collective Investment schemes and land banking.
Stephen has an extensive off-shore practice, particularly in the British Virgin Islands (since 1995) and Cayman Islands. He is regularly involved in multi-jurisdictional disputes, advising on global strategy, interim remedies, conflicts of law and asset recovery and appearing before courts and arbitral tribunals in a wide variety of jurisdictions.
Recent notable cases include acting for the successful claimants in Papadimitriou v Credit Agricole, a seminal decision of the Privy Council establishing a new test for constructive notice of beneficial interests; Re: China Shanshui, acting for the majority shareholders in successfully challenging the ability of directors to institute winding up proceedings without shareholder approval; Re Fairfield Sentry, acting for members seeking to establish distribution entitlements in the liquidation of Madoff’s largest investor; TMSF v Merrill Lynch, a ground breaking decision of the Privy Council that a judgment creditor, for whom Stephen acted, could obtain the appointment of receivers over a power of revocation of a Cayman trust and for the Moscow patriachate in a dispute as to the ownership of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in London.
Areas of experience
Legal 500 2020 recommends Stephen in the fields of Banking and Finance, Commercial Litigation, Company and Partnership, Civil Fraud, Insolvency, Offshore and Private Client: Trusts and Probate. It notes that clients have described him as having ‘as an excellent manner with clients and is very good at general commercial work’ and ‘a master tactician, who guides clients through incredibly difficult cases.’ They praise him for ‘the ability to find a successful strategy in even the most hopeless of cases’, describing him as ‘excellent and innovative, he is able to come up with novel and creative arguments that can transform cases.’ Instructing solicitors say he ‘Guided the case through the Commercial Court with astonishing aplomb’.
Chambers & Partners 2020 recommends Stephen in the fields of Restructuring and Insolvency, Commercial Chancery, Civil Fraud, Offshore and Commercial Dispute Resolution. It notes that ‘he is regularly instructed in high profile company matters, particularly those with an international flavour. He is considered a silk of choice for many corporations and liquidators, and has a strong track record in shareholder claims and joint venture disputes’. It records that clients have described him as ‘engaging, persuasive and forceful – a lively advocate who captures the attention of the judge’ and that he is ‘very creative and can find arguments that no one else will – he finds little technical ways through otherwise difficult cases’. Others have commented that he is ‘personable, efficient and grounded. He gives very solid advice and is absolutely top-drawer on his feet’ and that he is ‘exceptionally easy to work with and extraordinarily creative’.
Chambers Global 2020 describes him as ‘a persuasive and hard-working QC with a particular reputation for offshore work, who wins praise for his strategic vision and notes that impressed commentators affirm his position at the forefront of BVI and Cayman Island litigation’ with clients commenting that he is‘a disarmingly smooth character who is very popular in the Cayman and BVI.’; describing him as ‘An excellent advocate who can think on his feet very quickly and respond to off-the-cuff questions really convincingly. He has excellent courtcraft and is very imaginative’.
Citywealth Leaders 2019 recommend Stephen for contentious trusts, recording that he is ‘bright, user-friendly and exceptionally creative, he seems able to find ways through issues that others simply cannot’.
- Pembroke College Oxford (MA)
- Editorial Board, Tolley’s Offshore Service
- Bar of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court
- Bar of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Chancery Bar Association
- European Circuit
- Insolvency Lawyers Association