Professional practice

Legal 500 Leading Silk

Claire Blanchard QC has a specialist commercial practice. She is known for her robust advocacy, skillful cross examination and pragmatic, forthright approach.  Experienced across a broad range of commercial disputes, both in Court and in arbitration (LCIA, ICC, LMAA, ad hoc), Claire has particular expertise in matters relating to energy  and natural resources, insurance and reinsurance, international trade and shipping. With “a stellar intellect” and an “amazing” ability to “focus and drill down to the issues”, she has a “wonderfully reassuring yet creditable manner with clients”.

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), 18th Ed (2013), 19th Ed (2018) and 20th Ed (2021). She is also an experienced advocacy trainer and former Master of Advocacy at Gray’s Inn.

 

What others say

Chambers and Partners 2022, Energy & Natural Resources:

“She is utterly on top of the technical aspects of difficult cases.”

Legal 500 2022: Energy & Natural Resources:

“A popular silk who has an impressive manner in court.”

Chambers and Partners 2021, Energy & Natural Resources:
Clients are very impressed and give very positive feedback.

Chambers and Partners 2021, Insurance:
She’s a bright, hard-nosed advocate.” “She has a strong insurance practice and is well recognized in the market.” “A very good, strong advocate.

Chambers and Partners 2021, Shipping & Commodities:
She is brilliant. She is direct, straightforward and gets to the heart of matters. 

Legal 500 2021, Shipping 2021:
Marvellous to work with; a tough and effective advocate even in the most difficult cases.

Legal 500 2021, Energy 2021:
A popular silk who has an impressive manner in court.

Legal 500 2021, Commodities 2021:
An experienced advocate, both in court and in international arbitration.

Chambers and Partners 2020:
She is a very forceful opponent.” “She is great – she does a lot of oil and gas work and has a strong collection of clients.

She’s terrific – very user-friendly, very forthright and practical.” “She has great expertise in insurance.” “Claire is not afraid to form a view and go for it, which is invaluable to clients because it provides clarity.

She is extremely bright and quickly understands technical and legal issues.

Legal 500 2020:
Highly recommended.

Highly recommended, impressive on her feet.

A star of the commercial Bar.

Chambers and Partners 2019:
A perspicacious attorney with a penchant for detail. She has excellent cross-examination skills and her pragmatic approach and commitment to resolving complex matters are there for all to see.” “She is extremely good at cutting through the issues and getting to the heart of a problem. Cross-examination is her real forte.

Very bright.

She is extremely good at cutting through the issues and getting to the heart of a problem. Cross-examination is her real forte.” “An immensely practical shipping lawyer.

Legal 500 2019:
Straightforward, clear and incredibly impressive on her feet.

Terrific.

Exceptional, straightforward and clear.

Chambers and Partners 2018:
A lawyer with real tenacity and gravitas, who presents extremely logically and ferociously argues her corner.” “She is rigorous and intellectually outstanding – she has a mind like a steel trap.

Determined and rigorous.” “Very easy to deal with and helpful, she is quick to understand the issues and is able to offer solutions when posed with difficult legal points.

Very straightforward and user-friendly. She has an incredibly sharp mind and is a ferocious advocate.

Legal 500 2018:
A fearsome opponent, who delivers thoroughly considered advice in clear terms.

An outstanding cross-examiner with a stellar intellect.

Absolutely first-rate and a phenomenal advocate.

An expert in marine insurance claims.”

Chambers and Partners 2017:
An exceptional barrister, she delivers thoroughly considered advice in clear terms and offers keen strategic insight at all stages of a dispute.

Very impressive, extremely bright and very quick witted.

She takes a strong position for the client and is a good cross-examiner. Possessed of a formidable command of the detail in a case, her written opinions are clear and concise. She has a wonderfully reassuring yet creditable manner with clients.

Very easy to work with. She’s just very conscientious and likes working on the details.

Legal 500 2017:
A fearsome opponent, who delivers thoroughly considered advice in clear terms.

An outstanding cross-examiner with a stellar intellect.

An expert in marine insurance claims.

Chambers and Partners 2016:
Thorough and technically knowledgeable about the shipping world. She is responsive and easy to work with.

She is excellent; she has a good manner with clients and is a formidable advocate.

She is bright and able. A tough nut to crack and a great cross-examiner.”

Claire has exceptional advocacy skills and delves into the detail of a case. She is very practical and deploys a case strategy in line with the commercial objectives of the client. She is a tough nut and a great cross-examiner.

Legal 500 2016:
An approachable silk with a refreshingly straightforward and no-nonsense manner.

An outstanding cross-examiner with a stellar intellect.

Enormously talented.

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); arbitrations and Commercial Court actions 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 and international arbitration

Instructions include disputes relating to anti-suit injunctions, conflicts, jurisdiction, applications under the Arbitration Act 1996, LCIA, ICC, LMAA and ad hoc references, warranties in sales of businesses, professional negligence, guarantees, sale of aircraft, damage to and sale of fine art, product liability and supply of goods and services.

Cases include:

P v A (Dubai arbitration): parent company guarantee of purchase price of fashion industry goods – issues of KSA company law

P v A (Commercial Court): sale of fashion industry goods – authority to contract

E v B (Arbitration): long-term contract for the sale of (defective) consumables for use in the mining industry

T v T (Singapore – advisory): injunction to restrain dealing with shares of disputed ownership

HC Trading v Tradeland Commodities [2016] EWHC 1279 (Comm), [2016] 1 WLR 3120: dismissal of claim for declaration of validity of arbitration agreement – 1996 Act ss.30 & 32

P v X (Commercial Court): asset purchase agreement – breach of warranty – misrepresentation – negligent misstatement – claim on parent company guarantee

P v V (QBD): guarantee claim – obligations of recipient of services of a racing driver

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

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

Miller v Experience Hendrix LLC [2014] EWHC 2695 (Ch): setting aside judgments obtained by fraud – reverse summary judgment – civil restraint order

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

Bush v Bank Mandiri [2014] 1 WLUK 291 (Commercial Court): guarantee claim – breach of bank’s duty to surety – security for costs

L v M (QBD): obligations of warehouseman

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

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

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

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

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: duty of care of classification society

Renewable Energy Co v Thames Water Utilities: 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

Energy & natural resources

Instructions include disputes relating to offshore construction, long-term supply, industry equipment, MOPU, FPSO and other offshore units, exploration and field development, resource exploitation and marketing and contingency/supply disruption planning.

Cases include:

Y v N (Arbitration): Long-term gas sales agreement – US$60m short supply claim – force majeure – damages in lieu of contract renewal

T v N (Arbitration): Long-term gas sales agreement – US$160m short supply claim – force majeure – claim for contract renewal or US$180m damages in lieu

Re MX (Advisory): Long-term gas sales agreement – short supply – force majeure

Re M (Advisory): Long-term gas sales agreement – short supply – exclusion of loss of profits

 P v N (Arbitration): Long-term gas sales agreement – US$80m short supply claim – force majeure – specific performance – renewal option

C v N (Arbitration): Long-term gas sales agreement – US$100m short supply claim – RTT Protection Against Unfair Competition Act – exemplary damages – force majeure – renewal option

N v N (Arbitration): Long-term gas sales agreement – US$60m short supply claim – RTT Protection Against Unfair Competition Act – exemplary damages – force majeure

Re N (Advisory): Supply issues under suite of long-term gas purchase agreements upstream and long-term gas sale agreements downstream

D&C v R (Arbitration): Multi-billion dollar claim for damages for loss of the chance to develop gas fields in the Middle East, caused in breach of an obligation of confidence – field exploration and development – resource exploitation and marketing

M v N (Arbitration): US$90m offshore construction dispute – pipeline

Buncefield tank farm explosion (Commercial Court): third party claim against equipment manufacturer – high level switch

Insurance & reinsurance

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

Cases include:

Vessel “ST” (Advisory): Charterers’ liability cover – insured’s insolvency – Third Parties (Rights against Insurers) Act 2010

Vessel “CVS” (Commercial Court): War risks Nordic Plan cover – risks insured – CTL

Suez Fortune Investments v Talbot Underwriting, The Brillante Vertuoso [2016] EWHC 1085 (Comm): CTL – three day application for relief from sanctions following strike out

G v X  (Arbitration): ATE policy – applicability of exclusions – Third Parties (Rights against Insurers) Act 1930

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

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

N v C (Commercial Court): 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): claim on cargo policy for cargo seized by pirates

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

R v M (Arbitration): 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: 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 and 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 “OT” (Advisory): Voyage charter in (possible) breach of US sanctions

Vessel “GP” (Arbitration), Vessel “SW” (Arbitration 2018), Vessel “A” (Arbitration 2017-2018), Vessel “BE” (Arbitration 2017-2018): Delivery of cargo without production of original bills of lading

Vessel “TP” (Arbitration): Supplytime 89 charter – disputed extension of hire period

Tug “B” & barge “B” (Singapore – advisory): disputed ship mortgage to the detriment of beneficial owner

Vessel “TR” (Arbitration): 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 and general average – general average security – liens for expenses

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

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

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

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

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

Vessel “R” (Arbitration): new building dispute

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

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

Vessel “S” (Arbitration): demurrage

Vessel “S” (Arbitration & appeal): termination of head charter

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

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

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

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

Vessel “P” (Arbitration), Vessel “G” (Arbitration), Vessel S (Arbitration) &

Vessel “M” (Arbitration): off-hire

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

E v M (Commercial Court): commodity sale

N v S (Commercial Court): 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 and arbitration reference

China Offshore v Giant Shipping “The Posidon” [2001] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 697: charterparty – obligation to load full and 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 of 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

 

Career

2014 : Bencher (Gray’s Inn)

2010 : Silk

1992 : Call: Gray’s Inn

Education

1991:   LLB (Hons), Liverpool Polytechnic

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

Publications

Arnould: Law of Marine Insurance and Average (contributing editor) 17th Ed (2008), 18th Ed (2013), 19th Ed (2018) & 20th Ed (2021)

The Fraudulent Claims Principle: The Mental Element, The Modern Law of Marine Insurance Vol. 4 (2016)

Reform of the pre-contractual duty of disclosure of the agent to insure: evolution or revolution? [2013] LMCLQ 325