Professional practice

Iain practices in commercial law, international arbitration and entertainment.

He is rated for his “really excellent cross-examination”, his “confident, easy style of oral advocacy” and being “a great advocate”.  He is noted in the directories for being “fantastically clever”, “very sound and very able, smooth and incredibly sharp with great forensic ability” and “equally good in written or oral advocacy”. He is listed as a leading silk in Chambers & Partners / Legal 500 in six areas: International Arbitration, Energy, IT and Telecoms, EU and Competition, Employment Law, and Media & Entertainment.

In the commercial law field, Iain is an “impressive commercial barrister” who is “able to leverage his broad expertise across multiple practice areas”. He appears regularly in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, and in offshore jurisdictions. Iain has particular expertise in multi-party fraud, energy & natural resources, shareholder disputes and banking & finance. He is “incredibly easy to work with, he gets into the detail, is very quick and generally impressive.”, “calm, sound and a very safe pair of hands”. Iain’s current work includes some of the most significant cases in the Business & Property Courts in recent years, including:

  • Krishna v Gowrie – a £150m fraud and unfair prejudice claim in the Chancery Division, listed for a 6-week trial in 2022 (leading Freddie Onslow).
  • Vale v Steinmetz & ors – a US$2bn Commercial Court fraudulent misrepresentation, conspiracy and tracing claim, listed for a 9-week trial in 2022.

In international arbitration, Iain is a “go-to” barrister and “noted arbitration expert”, with a “huge in-depth knowledge of all arbitration matters” in commercial and investment treaty arbitration. He is “respected for providing robust representation in international arbitrations” with the directories noting that “the tribunal really listens to him”. He is frequently appointed as sole and co- arbitrator in LCIA, ICC and SCC disputes, amongst others. Iain was appointed as the ICC UK Arbitration Consultant in 2016, the first barrister to hold that position, and is now Deputy Chair of the ICC UK Arbitration Committee and UK delegate to the ICC Global Arbitration Commission. He taught arbitration on the MA course at Kings College, London for five years.

In the entertainment sector, Iain “acts for a broad range of media clients across a variety of areas including music, television and sport” and “knows the media sector very well”. His experience includes sports arbitration, football, Formula 1, horse racing and media industry disputes. The legal directories rate Iain as “an impressive, plain-speaking and unstuffy barrister”, well suited to media and entertainment cases. Iain recently represented two English football teams in respect of Covid end-of-season arrangements, and acted for the exclusive owner of English football’s live match-data in a significant dispute regarding the provision of betting data. Iain’s sporting clients include Formula 1 teams, principals and sponsors, the FA Premier League, the English Football League, football players, Ascot Racecourse, and QPR.

Iain teaches advocacy to junior barristers at Lincoln’s Inn, provides assistance to aspiring barristers through the Social Mobility Foundation, and provides pro bono advocacy for disadvantaged litigants through the Chancery Division CLIPS scheme. He was on the UK Government Attorney General’s Panel of Counsel for over 10 years.

 

What Others Say

Who’s Who Legal, Arbitration 2021“Rising star” Iain Quirk is “really coming into his own” as arbitrator and counsel in international investment and commercial proceedings, including sports arbitration and media industry disputes.

Legal 500, 2021

  • “Well-known on the arbitration scene and brings his experience to bear, he’s equally good in written or oral advocacy and thinks creatively, too.”
  • “He really knows the law and is very good for detail.”
  • “He has a great brain and a pragmatic approach and he has all the skills to be a silk.”
  • “An impressive, plain-speaking and unstuffy barrister.”
  • “He is able to leverage his broad expertise across multiple practice areas.”

Chambers & Partners Global and UK, 2021

  • “Really astute and clever. He makes himself available, takes a commercial approach and understands the client’s needs.”
  • “A go-to junior for international arbitration. He is deeply knowledgeable and experienced.”
  • “He is very impressive, very good in hearings, sensitive to the client, very responsive and very much a team player as well.”
  • “He is incredibly easy to work with, he gets into the detail, is very quick and generally impressive.”
  • “Respected for providing robust representation in international arbitrations under the remit of the ICC, and has acted in a number of Section 68 applications. His international arbitration experience covers a wide array of industries, and he regularly handles matters concerning the oil and gas and construction sectors. He has particular interest in arbitration-related court applications such as injunctions and award challenges.”
  • “A noted arbitration expert whose practice includes representing clients in renewable energy, oil and gas and mining disputes. He has experience handling disputes in relation to operations in South Asia, Africa and South America.”
  • “Very efficient and very user-friendly.”
  • “Impressive commercial barrister who acts alongside silks and as sole counsel for a broad range of clients in the media and entertainment sphere, including film studios, collecting societies and other media entities. He is particularly adept at handling matters in the advertising and music sectors.”

Chambers and Partners Global and UK, 2020

  • “He is a great lawyer and a great advocate.”
  • “He is a calm, sound and very safe pair of hands.”
  • “He has a deep knowledge of arbitrations and the tribunal really listens to him.”
  • “A noted arbitration expert whose practice includes representing clients in renewable energy, oil and gas and mining disputes. He has experience handling disputes in relation to operations in South Asia, Africa and South America.”
  • “Respected for providing robust representation in international arbitrations under the remit of ICC, and has acted in a number of Section 68 applications. His international arbitration experience covers a wide array of industries, and he regularly handles matters concerning the oil and gas and construction sectors. He has particular interest in arbitration-related court applications such as injunctions and award challenges.”
  • “A very accomplished draftsman.”
  • “Really excellent cross-examination.”
  • “Impressive commercial barrister who acts alongside silks and as sole counsel for a broad range of clients in the media and entertainment sphere, including film studios, collecting societies and other media entities. He is particularly adept at handling matters in the advertising and music sectors.”

Legal 500, 2020

  • “A go-to individual, particularly for investment treaty work.”
  • “His strengths are his knowledge of the law, attention to detail, intelligence and ability to think outside the box.”
  • “Very sound and very able, he is smooth and incredibly sharp with great forensic ability.”
  • “He is able to leverage his broad expertise across multiple practice areas.”
  • “An impressive, plain-speaking and unstuffy barrister.”

Chambers & Partners, 2019

  • “Bright and a very good advocate.”
  • “Very able and user-friendly.”
  • “He’s very dependable and professional.”

Legal 500, 2019

  • “He is very intelligent, collaborative, works well under pressure and is gracious with solicitors and clients alike.”
  • “An excellent technical lawyer and advocate; very good with clients.”
  • “He is hardworking and meticulous.”
  • “He’s not only a good lawyer but has a wealth of experience in arbitration law.”

Chambers & Partners, 2018

  • “His written work is excellent. Very thorough and very precise.”
  • “A really great young barrister.”

Legal 500, 2018

  • “A consummate junior, who marshals facts and the law in an excellent way.”
  • “He has excellent judgement and strategic sense.”
  • “He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of arbitration law and procedure.”

Chambers & Partners, 2017

  • “Efficient, responsive, good with clients, and someone with a huge in-depth knowledge of all arbitration matters – he really is a specialist.”
  • “He has a confident, easy style of oral advocacy and his written advocacy is concise. He picks up the issues very quickly.”
  • “His pleadings are very strong and he is enjoyable to work with.”

Legal 500, 2017

  • “Clear and concise, and a good strategist with an extensive knowledge of arbitration law.”
  • “An excellent technical lawyer and advocate.”
  • “A pleasure to work with even when things are not going entirely to plan.”
  • “He is thorough, meticulous and bright.”

Chambers & Partners, 2016

  • “He is very good. He has clever ideas and has very good advocacy skills. I’m sure he’s a star of the future.”
  • “Iain was very accessible, approachable, friendly and engaged. We were impressed with Iain’s oral presentation of the case, which was delivered succinctly and with a suitable tone.”
  • “Routinely involved in complex high-value arbitrations, acting as counsel and as arbitrator. Areas of expertise include disputes arising the mining and shipping sectors and English court enforcement actions.”
  • “Handles a broad range of commercial litigation and arbitration, and regularly acts for competition law clients from the energy, construction and financial sectors.”
  • “He’s very reliable, he does the job quickly and is a great team player.”
  • “Acts for a broad range of media clients across a variety of areas including music, television and sport. He is able to deal with high-profile and sensitive IP issues and has particular expertise in copyright matters in the music industry.”
  • “He’s great, very approachable, very user-friendly and comes up with good points. His advice is always very clear. He comes to a point of view and communicates it well. He’s quite commercial as well and knows the media sector very well.”

Legal 500, 2016

  • “He is capable of making the most difficult concepts seem simple.”
  • “He is very approachable and very bright, and has a “can-do” attitude.”

Chambers & Partners, 2015

  • “Fantastically clever and not afraid to be brave with his advice. He is also brilliant with the detail and never loses sight of the big picture.”
  • “He has particular expertise within the energy, financial and construction sectors.”
  • “He is incredibly thorough, very hard-working, clever and commercial.”
  • “Has a broad commercial international arbitration practice and has recently handled matters in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Of late he has handled disputes relating to the coffee industry and the healthcare sector.”

Legal 500, 2015

  • “Essex Court Chambers’ Iain Quirk recently represented the six leading Hollywood studios claiming breach of contract against the UK website Newsbin, and acted for the former business partners of the actor Neil Morrissey in proceedings against him.”
  • “Experienced in representing clients in the music industry.”

Chambers & Partners, 2014

  • “He does a fantastic job, he is reliable, a very good drafter and a team player.”
  • “He has strong knowledge of the field and is very pragmatic.”
  • “He is very good with clients and very, very hard-working.”

Legal 500, 2014

  • “Experienced in representing clients in the music industry.”

Legal Week, 2014, Future Stars: “Excellent and reliable junior: good team player, great attitude and first-class draftsman.”

Examples of Recent Cases

Iain’s current and recent work includes:

  • Krishna v Gowrie – £150m fraud and unfair prejudice claim in the Chancery Division, listed for a 6-week trial in 2022 (leading Freddie Onslow).
  • Vale v Steinmetz & ors – US$2bn Commercial Court fraudulent misrepresentation, conspiracy and tracing claim, listed for a 9-week trial in 2022.
  • US$50m ICC arbitration fraud claim arising out of a sovereign wealth fund investment in the Ukraine, following a 2-week trial (leading Peter Webster).
  • Vale v BSGR – US$6bn bribery and corruption claim in LCIA arbitration (leading Patricia Burns), instructed by Mishcon de Reya.
  • RJ & L Ltd v HB – US$100m+ dispute regarding ownership of a Latvian bank in LCIA arbitration and on appeal to the Commercial Court (leading Bibek Mukerjee), instructed by Baker & McKenzie. This was GAR’s “Most Important Arbitration Decision” of 2019.
  • BSGR v Guinea – US$5bn investment treaty arbitration in ICSID.
  • Progas v Pakistan – representing the Government of Pakistan in the Commercial Court, defending an investment treaty arbitral award, with oral evidence from the ex Prime Minister of Pakistan. Instructed by Allen & Overy.
  • Gattaz v Versant Developments & 9 ors – multi-party fraud case arising out of aborted property development, in the Commercial Court (leading Stuart Cribb). Instructed by Wallace LLP.
  • Jahangiri v St George’s NHS Trust (QB) – successful, cutting-edge injunction to lift the suspension of a leading heart surgeon, instructed by Mishcon de Reya.
  • Govia Thameslink v ASLEF – ground-breaking injunction application in the Commercial Court and CA to restrain strike action by a rail workers union on the basis that the industrial action would infringe EU rights, instructed by Eversheds Sutherland.
Commercial dispute resolution

Iain has a broad practice in commercial litigation before the English Courts and offshore, including arbitration-related applications to the Commercial Court. His practice covers all the key areas of contractual litigation, financial services, joint venture and shareholder disputes. Particular areas of practice include oil and gas, construction, commodities trading, banking and finance disputes, private equity and shareholder disputes. Iain has a considerable amount of telecoms experience. He has acted in a number of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty cases. Some examples of his cases are:

  • Anti-suit injunction to restrain continuation of Russian court proceedings brought in breach of an arbitration agreement
  • Acting for an advertising agent in a claim arising out of advertising on the London Underground
  • Acting for an international mining company against its PR agency in relation to termination of a consultancy agreement and conflicts of interest by the chairman of the agency
  • Acting for a joint venture partner seeking emergency interim relief to restrain a breach of a JV agreement relating to exploitation of a North Sea oil field, triggering multi-million decommissioning payments
  • Resisting the enforcement of Russian judgments in England, on the grounds that their enforcement would be contrary to public policy since they perpetuated a Russian banking fraud

Iain’s offshore work includes:

  • Excalibur Almaz Ltd v Takafumie Horie, claim for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, negligence and breach of contract. Appeal against the decision of a Deemster, in the High Court of the Isle of Man. Instructed by Applebys.
  • Clarke & Highland Peaks Holding Limited v RL360 Insurance Company Limited, insurance claim against introducer of business, in the Isle of Man High Court, raising claims under the Financial Services Act 2008. Instructed by Applebys.
  • Acting for the liquidators of Socimer International Bank, a Bahamian registered bank, in proceedings regarding the operation of forward sales transactions for the sale of emerging market assets. Instructed by McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes in The Bahamas.
  • Applications for a freezing and proprietary injunction in the Supreme Court of the Bahamas, in the context of a trust dispute, instructed by Lennox Paton.
  • Challenge to an arbitration award in the Supreme Court of the Bahamas (believed to be the first in the Bahamas), instructed by Lennox Paton.
  • Instructed by Trowers & Hamlins, Dubai, regarding a claim by a financial adviser in respect of the sale of a technology company, in the DIFC.
International Arbitration

Iain is listed in Chambers & Partners UK and Global, and in Legal 500 as a Leading Junior in International Arbitration. He is widely noted for his extensive knowledge of arbitration law and practice.

He has acted in a large number of major international arbitrations under ICC, LCIA, AAA, LMAA and other institutional regimes as well as ad hoc and under the UNCITRAL rules. Iain has been appointed as arbitrator in numerous arbitrations (sole and as a panel of three), including in LCIA, ICC and SCC cases. He was appointed to the inaugural panel of the British Virgin Islands International Arbitration Centre (BVI IAC). Iain’s experience includes cases concerning: Foreign Investment, International Trade, Joint Ventures, Oil & Gas, Construction, Telecommunications, Conflict of laws, and cases which bisect with Bilateral Investment Treaty Claims (including claims arising out of concession contracts). The cases in which he has been involved are confidential and are not reported, but include the following:

  • LCIA arbitration arising out of alleged breach of a pharmaceuticals distribution agreement in Serbia
  • LCIA arbitration regarding coffee trading in the Ivory Coast
  • LMAA arbitration regarding barge sale agreement between Indian and South American parties
  • Dubai-seated arbitration arising out of breach of a placement agent agreement for private equity fundraising
  • LCIA arbitration regarding a multi-billion dollar joint venture for iron ore mining in Africa
  • Netherlands-seated arbitration arising out US / Dutch distribution agreement for sale of packaging products
  • ICC arbitration in Australia, governed by Australian law, regarding breach of an agreement for the purchase of an iron ore mine
  • Ad hoc arbitration arising out of a dispute over copper trading contracts between UK parties
  • ICC arbitration in Qatar, governed by Qatari law, regarding a large scale building construction project in Doha
  • ICC arbitration relating to an aviation dispute in Qatar
  • ICC petroleum pipeline dispute in the Middle East, regarding a long-term pipeline operating agreement
  • Joint venture partners dispute regarding construction of train network and infrastructure in the Middle East Arbitrations (ICC and ICSID) arising out of a bank collapse with losses exceeding US$1 billion
  • LCIA arbitration regarding private equity investments in Mumbai, combined with seeking urgent relief in the English High Court
  • ICC arbitration on the trading of foodstuffs between UK and Ghanaian companies
  • ICC arbitration arising out of the manufacture and supply of aircraft parts in a substantial aircraft programme
  • AAA arbitration on misuse of confidential data, including seeking emergency interim relief

Iain has also acted in a significant number of arbitration appeals to the English Courts (ss.67, 68 and 69), many of which are reported, enforcement actions, as well as seeking interim relief from the English Courts (including anti-suit and anti-arbitration injunctions, and interim relief under s. 44 Arbitration Act 1996 and s.37 of the Senior Courts Act 1981).

Sports & Media

Iain is consistently recommended in the directories as a Leading Junior for Sports and Media work.

Iain has recently acted for two English football teams in respect of end of season arrangements following the Covid pandemic. He has also acted for the exclusive owner of live football data in The Premier League, The English “the Football League and The Scottish Professional Football League, Football DataCo Limited, in its dispute with Sportradar AG, regarding the provision of data to betting shops.

Iain was involved in Jordan Grand Prix v Vodafone, a high-profile Formula 1 dispute involving a raft of team principals, including Flavio Briatore and Jean Todd, and sponsors. Since then, Iain has continued to act for and against various sports figures and organisations, including footballers, Formula 1 teams and principals, Ascot Racecourse and Queens Park Rangers FC.

Iain also advises and represents participants in all areas of the music industry, including artists, managers, record companies and collecting societies. He has been instructed in disputes in relation to recordings of artists such as Katy Perry, The Rolling Stones, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Queen, Stereophonics and Sugababes. Iain acted for the late Michael Jackson in his dispute with Martin Bashir over the contents of a television interview.

Iain also advises and represents broadcasters, theatre producers, actors, agents, and others in contractual and copyright disputes. He has particular experience in the field of online exploitation of rights, including applications under s.97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 for website blocking injunctions.

Iain is a member of the British Association of Sport and Law. He is the author of The Games of the XXX Olympiad in London – The Ad-Hoc Arbitrations (Sport and Law Journal), analysing the CAS arbitrations at the London 2012 Olympics.

Investment treaty disputes

Iain has appeared as counsel in a number of investment treaty disputes within ICSID and under the UNCITRAL rules. He has particular expertise in relation to energy disputes involving oil multi-nationals, media industry disputes (such as satellite television rights holders), construction disputes (with particular experience in the Middle East and Asia) and in relation to commodity and natural resources disputes in Africa. Iain has considerable knowledge and practical experience of issues such as jurisdiction challenges, the use of MFN and umbrella clauses, expropriation claims, fair and equitable treatment claims, and claims arising from bilateral investment treaties, national investment laws and concession agreements.

Iain has extensive experience of cases involving concession contracts, for example, in respect of iron ore in Guinea, oil exploration in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, and motorway construction in Pakistan. He has conducted a number of such cases pursuant to the UNCITRAL Rules.

Some of the recent cases in which Iain has been involved include:

  • Oil pipeline dispute arising out of concession to construct and operate a pipeline system in the Middle East, subject to the UNCITRAL rules
  • Dispute regarding iron ore concession contracts in Guinea; ICSID claim for US$10 billion+ arising out of expropriation of those concessions
  • UNCITRAL arbitration brought against the state, arising out of a substantial investment in a state television station
  • ICSID arbitration arising from a motorway construction concession agreement in Pakistan
  • Dispute (ICSID) arising from concession agreements for the exploration, development and production of oil in West Africa
  • Joint venture dispute regarding a concession agreement for construction of a power plant in West African state (LCIA arbitration)
  • ICSID, multi-billion dollar, arbitration arising out of state nationalisation of the largest bank in a country in the Middle East.
Competition Law

Iain has broad experience of competition and EU cases, both in the English courts and in the General Court and Court of Justice in Luxembourg. He is recommended in the Legal 500 as a Leading Junior, and in Chambers and Partners UK and Global.

Iain has been instructed by parties to both European Commission and English Competition and Market Authority enquiries. Iain co-authored the European Chapter to Competition Law and Practice: A Review of Major Jurisdictions published by Cameron May (with Hugh Mercer QC and Marjorie Holmes). Some examples of his cases include:

  • Acting for a fashion media company in relation to a CMA merger investigation
  • Acting for an airline in relation to the European Commissions’ price fixing investigation, said to be party to an agreement or concerted practice for the fixing of prices in the airline cargo market. Also acted in concurrent English High court proceedings for the same airline.
  • Acted for the respondent to a (then) DTI investigation into price fixing in the milk and cheese industries.
  • Advising a multi-national brewing company regarding competition law claims, in particular relating to potential involvement in price fixing

Allied to this work, Iain has particular experience with sanctions cases in the European courts, having acted on behalf of the persons listed in restrictive measures relating to Zimbabwe and Ukraine. His experience in this area includes applications for annulment and claims for damages arising out of inclusion in the restrictive measures; and in both the General Court and the Court of Justice.

Employment

Iain appears in the High Court in employment cases. His practice in this area focuses on bonus and contractual disputes. Unusually, Iain has conducted a number of employment claims in arbitration, in the context of both bonus claims and claims arising out of breach of partnership agreements.

Examples of the cases in which Iain has been instructed include:

  • Injunction proceedings for breach of confidentiality obligations by an outgoing employee in relation to confidential drawings
  • Acting for a city firm in an arbitration regarding the dismissal of one of its partners and for breach of the Partnership Agreement
  • Appearing in the EAT for the Respondent in an unfair dismissal and disability discrimination claim, including a detailed pension loss hearing.
  • Acting for an employee in a bonus and share dispute in the QB division
  • Advising on breach of restrictive covenants in a confidentiality agreement entered into in relation to a proposed business sale
  • Acting for the Defendant in a bonus claim regarding alleged breach of contractual and fiduciary duties
  • Appearing in the QB division for the Claimant in relation to recovery of overpaid bonuses, claim settled after first morning’s hearing of Claimant’s summary judgment application
Career

2002               

Called to the Bar (Lincoln’s Inn)

2003               

Essex Court Chambers

2007               

Junior Counsel to the Crown (C Panel)

2012               

Junior Counsel to the Crown (B Panel)

2014-2019   

Taught International Commercial Arbitration and Investment Treaty Arbitration on the MA course at King’s College, London

2016               

Appointed ICC UK Arbitration Consultant, the first barrister to hold that position

Appointed to the inaugural panel of arbitrators of the British Virgin Islands International Arbitration Centre (BVI IAC).

2019               

Deputy Chair of the ICC UK Arbitration Committee

UK Delegate to the ICC Global Arbitration Commission

2021               

Appointed Queen’s Counsel

Education

2002               

BVC, College of Law

2001               

LLB, University of Nottingham – First Class Honours

1991-1998       

Rhodesway Upper School, Bradford

Awards

2002               

Inaugural Woolf Scholarship, run by the Daily Telegraph/One Crown Office Row (which paid for Bar School fees)

2002

Hardwicke Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn

2003               

Megarry Pupillage Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn

Other

Teaches advocacy at Lincoln’s Inn.

Mentor for new entrants to the bar, at Lincoln’s Inn.

CLIPS volunteer, providing pro-bono assistance to litigants in person in the Chancery Division.

Mentor for Combar/ChBA/TECBAR Equality & Diversity initiative to encourage applications for pupillage from those from disadvantaged social backgrounds

Conducts interview practice for the Social Mobility Foundation, promoting academically-talented disadvantaged students.

Member of Combar, ChBA, ICC, LCIA and British Association of Sport and Law.