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His practice spans the full range of Chambers core commercial fiduciary and trade areas ranging from energy, oil and gas, banking and financial services, shipping, aviation and insurance, shareholder and share sale/warranty disputes and specialises in multi-jurisdictional, often cross-border, disputes that span several areas of law. These frequently involve complex legal issues and tough cross-examination of witnesses and experts, through which he has been noted as being “outstanding – it’s a combination of his intellect and oratory ability” (Chambers & Partners 2022 – Energy).
Stephen regularly appears in the Court of Appeal, Commercial Court and Chancery Division as sole and leading counsel, with Legal 500 remarking that he is “creative and very commercial, Stephen is on top of the detail at all times and a pleasure to work with” (2021 – Commercial Litigation).
He also undertakes arbitrations, both domestically and internationally as counsel and as arbitrator, including acting in related High Court litigation to enforce arbitration awards.
Stephen’s reputation is well recognised in both Chambers & Partners and Legal 500:
Stephen was identified as an outstanding QC in The Lawyer Hot 100 for 2015.
Stephen’s commercial clients include airlines, blue chip companies, domestic and global PLCs, individuals and SMEs. He has an established reputation acting for high net worth individuals and their structures in domestic and international commercial disputes. Stephen has also acted for barrister’s chambers, members of the Bar, European Royal Families, football clubs, global companies, insurers, law professors, rock stars, sports personalities, the world’s biggest ship owners and their families, and solicitors in commercial disputes. He also undertakes oil and gas arbitrations for and against large multi-nationals and state entities in various jurisdictions.
Current arbitration with associated part 8 Arbitration claims; 6 arbitrations and proceedings in Russia. Obtained a world-wide freezing injunction worth £225m for a Russian trading house against a Russian oil refinery. [2019 and continuing].
Claim against sellers under share purchase agreement tax covenants. Stobart v Tinkler and Stobart. [2018 and continuing].
Claim by investors against a Bank for failing to open a segregated client account. Now the leading case on the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999. Chudley and ors v Clydesdale Bank  EWCA Civ 344.
Acted on a case concerning the biggest non-party costs order ever made, worth £64m. Deutsche Bank v Sebastien Holdings and Alexander Vik  EWCA Civ 23.
Bailment; Retention of Title; Sale of Goods; Title; Transfer of property in goods. Described by The Lawyer as “the biggest shipping imbroglio so far this century”. PST Energy 7 Shipping LLC v OW Bunker Malta Ltd and ING  I Lloyd’s Rep. 228/  EWCA Civ 1058 (all levels including. Supreme Court).
Acted for Smiths in its long running supply contract dispute with 20th Century – winning at all levels. WH Smith v 20th Century Fox  EWCA Civ 1188.
No lien over database as it was intangible property for purposes of conversion. Your Response v Datateam  EWCA Civ 281.
S49 Sale of Goods Act exclusive remedy for the price in sale contracts. Caterpillar v Holt  EWCA Civ 779.
Stephen’s cases frequently involve allegations of fraud and international wrongdoing, particularly in his commercial and insolvency cases. Stephen thrives in difficult trials involving cross-examination of experts and professionals.
Various proceedings in the Commercial Court and arbitrations involving allegations of fraudulent double selling of oil cargos worth in excess of USD150m. [2019 and continuing].
Fraud claims against several defendants on behalf of an airline, with a world-wide freezing injunction. Involves breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, asset tracing and piercing the corporate veil. Gulf Air v OIL and Ors [2018 and continuing].
Acted against a Bank on a claim worth in excess of £600m, alleging fraudulent sale of portfolio of sub-prime credit card agreements infected with mis-selling. CCUK v Barclays Bank [2012-2018. Settled].
Acted on behalf of billionaire Steve Wynn (of the Bellagio and Oceans 11 fame) in relation to a claim against the skipper of his super yacht and others for fraud. Aquarius v Barber and ors  EWHC 2806.
Claim alleging fraudulent misrepresentation by W to induce M to give up 3% share in Kurdistan Oil Field. Monde Petroleum v WesternZagros .
Acted for city solicitor personally accused of fraud in $12m damages claim. Westwood Shipping v O’Neil and ors .
Stephen has over 17 years of experience working on numerous high-profile and complex shipping and shipbuilding cases across the full range of disputes. Specific experience includes cargo claims, charter-party and COA disputes, commodities (particularly oil and gas), derivatives (in particular freight futures), letters of credit, marine Insurance, rig construction and deployment, sanctions, shareholder/JV cases, ship finance, and a number of associated banking disputes. A significant number of cases in these areas also involved fraud, either as a substantive cause of action or significant part of the background of the dispute. Many of Stephen’s cases start with freezing injunctions and jurisdiction challenges.
Stephen has recently been involved in six arbitrations and associated commercial court cases concerning shipping and oil contracts between Russian entities, including obtaining an award of Euro 208M and an associated Freezing Injunction and resisting numerous discharge applications and jurisdiction challenges: VTB Commodities Trading DAC v Antipinsky Refinery  EWHC 72 and  EWHC 3292]. He has recently been involved in The Tai Prize – which, as a result, is now proceeding to the Court of Appeal.
A V B and C: ICC arbitration concerning JV in relation Oil Rig deployment to South Atlantic. Allegations of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty. Issues concerning suitability and condition of Rig; jurisdiction, conflict of laws .
The Res Cogitans  UKSC 23. Described by the Lawyer as “the biggest shipping imbroglio so far this century” Stephen acted at all stages. He also acted in numerous of the arbitrations involving the same or similar issues (the “OW Bunkers” disputes” with USD billions involved, leading three juniors). This case is extensively referred to in the leading textbooks (see Publications).
The grounding and structural failure of one of the largest cargo vessels built whilst on her maiden voyage.
The Alexandros T  EWHC 3068. Marine insurance. Constructive Total Loss. Fraudulent claims. Construction of settlement deeds.
The Rowan  EWCA 198. Oil Major Approvals. Distressed cargo. Hedging. Now a leading case in this area.
Acted for Iranian Tanker Fleet (NITC) in its dispute with bankers resulting in securing $1.6 billion of financing. Case arose out of US and EU Iranian sanctions.
Established for first time that a breach of contract does not preclude the wrongdoer obtaining a remedy in restitution: Newland Shipping v Toba Trading  EWHC 661; (Oil trading; COA; charter-party/cargo dispute).
Established for the first time that there is no jurisdiction to give permission to serve committal proceedings out of the jurisdiction on a shadow director: Integral v Petrogat and San Trade  EWHC 2686.
Many of Stephen’s cases are subject to arbitration agreements and are thus confidential. Some have nevertheless entered the public domain whether as a result of jurisdiction challenges or appeals, or the sheer scope of the dispute.
This happened in respect of Bentini Spa v Petrodar, (ICC) in which Stephen, instructed by Pinsent Masons, was leading a team of 13 counsel and solicitors (including Rachel Ansel QC from 4 Pump Court) defending a $1.6B claim with a $130M counterclaim in relation to a pipeline and a PSA and transit fees. The background was the recent creation of South Sudan and the ensuing civil war with Sudan, which in turn concerned ownership of oil fields and the pipeline the subject matter of the arbitration. Stephen’s client succeeded in all respects.
He was also involved in a number of the shipping/cargo disputes connected with the arbitration as part of his maritime practise.
Similarly he has recently been involved in 6 connected LCIA arbitrations acting for VTB Trading, securing an award of Euro 208M on its behalf against Russia’s largest oil refinery (Antipinsky Refinery). This became public knowledge as result of Antipinsky’s unsuccessful section 32 jurisdiction challenge and attempts to discharge the Euro 225M Freezing Order that he obtained on VTB’s behalf.
He has recently finished an LCIA arbitration concerning a share sale in relation to a Ukrainian Grain Silo and Grain handling company- securing a substantial award on behalf of his client.
He has undertaken numerous LMAA arbitrations as part of his maritime practise and as many ICC, LCIA and UNCITRAL arbitrations as part of his wider commercial practise.
Stephen also sits as arbitrator, domestically and overseas, and welcomes party appointments.
The Legal 500 describes Stephen in this area as ‘Very easy to work with, tenacious, very commercial and strategically savvy.’
He has been in many significant aviation cases, both in Court and arbitration. He has advised on numerous occasions in relation to aircraft leases (lease, lease-purchase, operating and finance leases, tail-end leases); delivery and re-delivery obligations; and sought and resisted delivery up orders, preservation orders and associated asset freezing orders. In addition he has been involved in fraud cases within the aircraft industry, joint venture disputes and technical disputes concerning engines (and engine leases), and helicopters. He has acted in a case involving a solicitor organising a bribe to secure a Global Sales Agency (Nayyer v Advani); a ticket sector allocation dispute between a major travel agency and Ryanair, and recently on behalf of GulfAir in securing a Wordwide Freezing Order and ultimately judgment in its $19M claim against former key employees who diverted payments for inflight entertainment to shell companies owned by them. He acted for Paramount Airways in its hard fought relief from forfeiture lease disputes with GE Capital, which is still the leading case on the availability of relief from forfeiture in respect of operating leases.
Stephen has acted for and against most of the major banks in both retail and commercial disputes including inter-bank cases. He has acted for investment banks, tertiary lenders, hedge funds and off-shore investment vehicles and 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 and anti-suit injunctions. He has recently been 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.
Advising and acting for VTB in various disputes – concluded and on-going, as well as transactional/trading matters. Re VTB [various 2017-2019].
Acted against a Bank on claim worth in excess £600m, alleging the fraudulent sale of a portfolio of sub-prime credit card agreements infected with mis-selling. CCUK v Barclays Bank .
Advised a “Rich List” entrepreneur in his successful claims against his bankers in mis-selling multi-million pound hedging products. Dudding v RBS .
Claim against RBS and NatWest arising out of serial mis-selling of Target Accrual Redemption Notes. Ghekko v RBS .
The largest non-party costs order ever made (£64 million) against a company director and sole shareholder on the basis of his fraudulent evidence and advancing a multi-billion USD counterclaim against a bank based on that evidence. Deutsche Bank v Vik (Costs Party) .
Stephen’s oil and gas practice includes cases relating to pipe lines, mineral ownership disputes, oil purchase and sale, mid-stream pipe line transit fees, EPSAs, PSCs and options to participate in oil field development. He has acted both in cases heard in the Commercial Court and in arbitrations.
Case involving £225m in relation to an oil refinery dispute, including several satellite cases and arbitrations.
Dispute arising out of SPAs and EPC’s in relation to 19 solar parks across the UK. Toucan v Wirsol and ors .
Involving claims between JV participants in PSA in Ukraine, post Russian annexation. Arbitration .
Domestic enforcement of ICSID Award. Re Venezuela .
Claim alleging fraudulent misrepresentation by W to induce M to give up 3% share in Kurdistan oil field. Monde Petroleum v WesternZagros .
Uncitral arbitration. $1.6B claim against client was defeated with judgment on Counterclaim for excess $120m. Bentini Spa v Petrodar .
Various arbitrations involving oil field concessions in African states. [2014-2016].
Dispute involving power generation in Africa and the sale of power units. Caterpillar v Holt  EWCA Civ 1232.
Stephen has a broad insurance practice, and while he frequently acts for the insured, he has extensive experience acting for the other side.
Acted in relation to Group Litigation Order claims arising out of “diesel emissions scandal”. Re Inchcape (Volkswagen GLO) .
Acted in relation to a claim against brokers by a well-known fashion retailer. Ted Baker v Bluefin .
Acted in each of the two major commercial court trials and three Appeal hearings 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. Now one of the leading cases on rectification of insurer’s standard wordings and insurer’s duty to speak. Ted Baker v Axa (No’s 1,2 and 3) [2013- 2017].
Acted in a case involving the construction of a settlement agreement, including aspects of insurance, shipping and constructive total loss. Acted for Loss Adjusters demonstrating that they had the benefit of three settlement agreements entered into between insurers and ship owners who subsequently were sued for substantial damages arising out of a constructive total loss. Starlight Shipping v Allianz Marine and Ors. “The Alexandros T”  EWHC 3068.
Acted on behalf of NITC in respect of a $1.6B dispute concerning allegations that it had breached insurance covenants as a result of the imposition of US sanctions, and associated claims by its syndicated lenders for accelerated loan repayments. Re NITC. .
Claim brought against solicitors for vicarious liability of fraudulent partner in advising payment of a bribe. Coverage issues. Nayer v DWS and Advani  EWHC 623.
Stephen has also acted in several media and defamation cases, generally as part of a series of wider disputes.
Acting on behalf of Royalty Magazine in defamation proceedings commenced by Prince Radu of Hohenzollern concerning allegations that his title was bogus, and on behalf of Prince Paul of Romania in connected proceedings in Germany commenced by the Hohenzollerns.
Acting 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 a multi-million euro scandal in Greece concerning the fraudulent sale and purchase of the former Olympic village.
Re Baby P. Acted on behalf of Haringey BC in relation to the protection of confidential information, databases and breach of duty.
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