Professional practice

Legal 500 Leading Silk

Ferocious fighter” and “excellent cross examiner” Claire Blanchard QC has a specialist commercial practice and is an experienced advocate, both in Court and in international arbitration, and has appeared at all levels in the English Courts. She has experience across a broad range of commercial disputes, as well as particular expertise in matters relating to energy and natural resources, insurance and reinsurance, international trade and shipping. “Highly commercial” and with “remarkable analytical skills”, Claire is “down-to-earth”, “very good to work with” and “approachable.”

Claire’s clients have included state owned entities, financial institutions and other major commercial corporations and high net-worth individuals. She also accepts appointments as an arbitrator.

Claire is a contributing editor to Arnould : Law of Marine Insurance and General Average 17th Ed (2008) and 18th Ed (2013). She is also an experienced advocacy trainer.


What others say

Claire has consistently been cited in legal directories as a leading practitioner (Chambers UK 2015 : Commercial Dispute Resolution, Energy & Natural Resources, Insurance and Shipping & Commodities; Chambers Global 2014 : Energy & Natural Resources; Legal 500 UK 2014 : Insurance & Reinsurance, Shipping, Energy and Commodities), where the descriptions of her have included that she “takes no prisoners and is incredibly forceful”; fights hard for her clients’ interests and consistently achieves great results”; is “such a ferocious fighter” that peers admit they “dread having her on the other side”; is a “fiery advocateknown for her “robust and effective advocacy” who “puts her opponents under pressure”; is “hardworking and determined and gets her teeth into cross examination”; is a “very feisty advocate”; is “quite a terrier”; is an “immensely strong advocate and a doughty fighter”; is a “forceful and formidable advocate”; is “a skilled cross examiner with a fair and forceful attitude” and that “she really fights the client’s corner and is highly respected by the Bench”. “Sources highlight her ability to formulate irresistible arguments.”

Claire has also been described as “absolutely fantastic”; hardworking and responsive”;known for being very patient but also highly robust when dealing with difficult clients”; combining “first-rate legal analysis with a resolute, no nonsense approach to both her advocacy and her advice”; impressing “with her attention to detail and relentless commitment to clients”; “very fair and very good to work with”; “a top port of call” for insurance coverage and jurisdictional points; “extremely knowledgeable when it comes to marine insurance”;a very good analyst and knows the energy area well”; “quick to grasp the material points and always prepared to go the extra mile” and “recommended for sub-sea pipeline disputes.” “She is prepared to argue over every dollar if the client wants her to, but equally can charm the other side into a settlement.” “She is extremely incisive and easy to deal with, has great command of [insurance law] and is very hard-working. She has a mind like a steel trap.” “She is formidable and incredibly thorough, and her ability to focus and drill down to the issues is amazing.” “She is good at mastering a lot of detail and is tenacious.

In client meetings, Claire is “excellent. She is firm, but willing to consider the clients’ theories and opinions and then express them in an extremely ‘courtly’ fashion.” “In conference, clients appreciate the clarity of her advice, and particularly like the way she is “forthright and tells you as it is.””

Examples of notable cases

Notable cases include Metall Market OOO v Vitorio Shipping, The “Lehmann Timber” (Court of Appeal); Global Process Systems v Syarikat Takaful Malaysia, The “Cendor MOPU” (Supreme Court); Commercial Court actions and arbitrations relating to the petrochemical industry, including offshore construction and the litigation arising from the Buncefield tank farm explosion; shipbuilding, ship finance and ship sale disputes; shipping and commodities cases, raising a diverse range of issues relating to contracts of sale, bills of lading and Charterparties and Arbitration Act 1996 applications.

Commercial litigation, international arbitration and energy & natural resources

Instructions include disputes relating to anti-suit injunctions, conflicts, jurisdiction, applications under Arbitration Act 1996, energy & natural resources, warranties in sales of businesses, professional negligence, guarantees, sale of aircraft, damage to & sale of fine art, product liability and supply of goods & services.

Cases include :

S v H (Singapore 2014) : conspiracy to cause loss by unlawful means

S v J (Arbitration 2014) : supply of services to state owned entity – unjust enrichment

M v E (Chancery Division 2014) : claims to set aside judgments on the ground that they were obtained by fraud

I v I (Commercial Court 2014) : breach of warranty in share sale agreement

B v B (Commercial Court 2013) : guarantee claim – breach of bank’s duty to surety

L v M (QBD 2012) : obligations of warehouseman

Perca Shipping v Cargill Inc [2012] EWHC 3759 (QB) (Commercial Court) : s12 application to extend time to commence arbitration

M v N (Arbitration 2012) : offshore construction dispute

L v R (Commercial Court, 2011) : impact of mitigation effort on measure of loss

R” (Arbitration 2011): rights of minority shareholder & issues as to expert share valuation

K v V (Arbitration 2011) : BOT contract – reconstruction of state owned factory – unjust enrichment

Buncefield tank farm explosion (2008) : claim against equipment manufacturer

WLPS v Total [2008] 2 CLC 258 : extent to which litigation privilege can attach to an investigation into an explosion

WLPS v Total [2008] Lloyd’s Rep IR 688 : jurisdiction of Court to order disclosure of a party’s insurance policy where not relevant to the pleaded issues

Artibell Shipping v Markel [2008] EWHC 811 (Comm) : striking out of proceedings under CPR for delay & abuse of process

Samengo-Turner v Guy Carpenter [2008] ICR 18 (Court of Appeal) : anti-suit injunction to restrain proceedings brought in the USA in breach of EC right of employee to be sued in country of employment

Cadre v Astra [2005] All ER (D) 286 (Nov) : anti-suit injunction to restrain proceedings not brought in breach jurisdiction or arbitration clause

Snow Fox v (1) Lloyd’s Register (2) Others (2004/2005) : duty of care of classification society

Renewable Energy Co v Thames Water Utilities (2001) : dispute as to pricing under long term electricity supply contract

Youell v Kara Mara [2000] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 102 : anti-suit injunction to restrain proceedings under Texas Direct Action statute

SBJ Stephenson v Mandy The Times 21 July 1999 (Court of Appeal) : injunction to restrain breach of restrictive covenants

Insurance & reinsurance

Instructions include disputes relating to marine (hull & cargo) and non-marine policies, P&I cover, reinsurance and Lloyd’s RITC, plus related arbitral and jurisdictional issues.

Cases include :

Vessel “S” (Advisory 2013) : pollution mitigation measures and general average

Vessel “O” (Advisory 2013) : s39(5) MIA 1906

N v C (Commercial Court 2012) : claim on CAR policy

Global Process Systems v Syarikat Takaful Malaysia “The Cendor MOPU” [2009] EWHC 637 (Comm); [2009] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 72, [2010] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 243 (Court of Appeal) & [2011] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 560 (Supreme Court) : relationship between inherent vice and perils of the sea in a marine insurance policy

Vessel “S” (Advisory 2010) : claim on cargo policy for cargo seized by pirates

“G” (Advisory 2010) : loss of high value consignment

R v M (Arbitration 2009) : reinsurance, subrogation expenses

XL London Market v Acott & Tilley Capital [2004] EWHC 1182 (Comm), LTL 8/6/2004 : pre-action disclosure where no explanation given for substantial release from RITC premium

Interpart v Lexington Insurance Co [2004] Lloyd’s Rep IR 690 : cargo policy, duty of utmost good faith/fraudulent claims rule

Agapitos v Agnew (No 2) [2003] Lloyd’s Rep IR 54 : breach of warranty & waiver of breach

Agapitos -v- Agnew “The Aegeon” [2002] Lloyd’s Rep I.R & [2003] QB 556 (Court of Appeal) : total loss of vessel : duty of utmost good faith / fraudulent claims rule

Nima Sarl v Deves Insurance Co “The Prestrioka” [2003] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 327 (Court of Appeal) : total loss of vessel : application of s44 MIA to phantom ship

Matalan v Tokenspire 18 May 2001 : contractors’ negligence policy, meaning of recklessness

Wood v Perfection Travel [1996] LRLR 223 (Court of Appeal) : insurer’s right to intervene in proceedings against insolvent insured

International trade & transport, ship sale, building & finance and shipping & commodities

Instructions include disputes relating to charterparties, bills of lading, ship/yacht building, ship/yacht sale, ship finance (mortgages, guarantees and assignments), ship brokers, shipping pools, casualties, oil pollution, FPSO & other offshore vessels, general average, P&I calls, marine insurance, duties of classification societies, formal investigations and limitation of actions, plus related arbitral and jurisdictional issues.

Cases include :

Vessel “TR” (Arbitration 2014) : bareboat charter – obligations on redelivery

Metall Market OOO v Vitorio Shipping, The “Lehmann Timber” [2012] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 73 (first instance) & [2013] EWCA Civ 650 : piracy & general average, general average security & liens for expenses

K v M (Arbitration 2013) : commodities sale – Sale of Goods Act implied terms

K v P (Arbitration 2013) : commodities sale – exercise of right of rejection

Vessel “T” (Arbitration 2013) : bareboat charter – condition of ship on redelivery

Yacht “P” (Arbitration 2013) : yacht hire – obligations under MYBA standard form

Vessel “E” (Advisory 2013) : shipowners’ lien on cargo

Vessel “R” (Arbitration 2012) : new building dispute

Vessel “W” (Advisory 2012) : shipowners’ lien on sub-freights

Vessel “E” (Advisory 2012) : seller’s obligations under Norwegian Saleform

Vessel “S” (Arbitration 2012) : demurrage

Vessel “S” (Arbitration 2010, Appeal 2011) : termination of head charter

B v C (Commercial Court, 2011) : damage to oil terminal berth

Vessel “J” (Arbitration 2011): responsibility for shipboard fire

Vessel “M” (Arbitration 2011) : responsibility for shipboard explosion

Vessels “O” (Arbitration 2011), Vessel “S” (Arbitration, 2011) & Vessel “I” (Advisory, 2011): sugar charter issues

Vessel “P” (Arbitration 2010), Vessel “G” (Arbitration, 2010), Vessel S (Arbitration, 2009) & Vessel “M” (arbitration, 2009) : off-hire

P v S (Commercial Court 2010) : damage to oil rig

E v M (Commercial Court 2010) : commodity sale

N v S (Commercial Court 2010) : claim on guarantees of shipbuilding instalments

DSND v OSA “The Botnica” [2007] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 37 : effect of absence of signature on validity of charterparty

The Re-Opened Formal Investigation into the Loss of the MV Derbyshire (Final Report 2000) & [2002] CLC 1304 (costs)

Union Trans-Pacific v Orient Shipping [2002] EWHC 1451 (Comm), TLT 17/7/2002 : effect of dissolution of company on arbitration clause & reference

China Offshore v Giant Shipping “The Posidon” [2001] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 697 : charterparty, obligation to load full & complete cargo

Marinplex v Compagnie de Gestion “The Ambor/Once” [2001] CLC 138 : shelltime 4 : illegitimate last voyage

Rank Enterprises v Gerard [1999] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 666 & [2000] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 403 (Court of Appeal) : guarantee in Norwegian Sale Form

BUA International v Hai Hing Shipping “The Hai Hing” [2000] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 300 : setting aside extension writ for non-disclosure

Mahavir Minerals v Cho Yang Shipping “The MC Pearl” [1997] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 566 : restraining proceedings in breach of exclusive jurisdiction clause.


2014 : Bencher (Gray’s Inn)

2010 : Silk

1992 : Call: Gray’s Inn


1991:   LLB (Hons), Liverpool Polytechnic

1992:   Bar Vocational Course, Inns of Court School of Law