Professional practice

human rightsJohn has a broad commercial law practice. He specialises in banking and finance, civil fraud and shipping, and also has a practice in judicial review and public law. John is ranked by Legal 500 as a leading junior for shipping, and was listed in 2018 as one of ten leading juniors under eight years’ call for commercial litigation.

John frequently appears as sole counsel, and has lectured and taught on advocacy. He has acted as junior counsel in heavy cases such as Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton and Tchenguiz v Serious Fraud Office, and has appeared in the Court of Appeal (led and unled), the Supreme Court (unled, intervening) and in the Privy Council (led). He has considerable experience of interlocutory and procedural law, including freezing injunctions, jurisdiction disputes and disclosure-related applications.

John is co-author of the next (8th) edition of Andrews & Millett on Guarantees, and was contributing author with Richard Millett QC of the Guarantee and Indemnity title of Atkin’s Court Forms (2015 issue). He is co‑author of articles on Charterparties and Bills of Lading for Westlaw Insight, together with Sir Bernard Eder, and contributed to the 6th edition of Supperstone on Judicial Review.

 

What others say

John is recommended by The Legal 500 UK for Shipping and was named one of the top 10 juniors for Commercial Litigation under eight years’ call in 2018.

He has been described as:

  • Fantastic” (2016)
  • Very client-focused” (2017)
  • a force to reckon with” (2018)
  • Fought our client’s corner ferociously, getting an excellent result” (2018)
  • “Has an ability to quickly grasp technical issues” (2019).
Examples of recent cases

E D & F Man Capital Markets Limited v Come Harvest Holdings Ltd & ors. Acting for the claimant, led by Huw Davies QC, in Commercial Court proceedings resulting from a fraud involving false warehouse receipts. Successfully defended a jurisdiction challenge in the High Court [2019] EWHC 1661 (Comm). Court of Appeal judgment awaited.

Rubicon Vantage International Pte Ltd v KrisEnergy Ltd [2019] EWHC 2012 (Comm). Led by Nigel Eaton QC in a 2-day Commercial Court trial in July 2019, defending a claim brought under a parent company guarantee.

R (oao Newby Foods Ltd) v Food Standards Agency [2019] UKSC 18, [2019] 3 CMLR 19. Acted as sole counsel for the National Farmers Union, intervening in support of an appeal to the Supreme Court concerning the interpretation of ‘Mechanically Separated Meat’ under European Union law, and the respective roles of national courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union where a question of law is referred to the CJEU.

Inter Export LLC v Townley [2018] EWCA Civ 2068. Acted as sole counsel in an appeal to the Court of Appeal against a finding of liability in deceit, in a case raising issues about the measure of damages where false representations are found to have been ‘continuing’.

Edgeworth Capital (Luxembourg) S.A.R.L v Aabar Investments PJS [2018] EWHC 1627. Led by Alain Choo Choy QC at the 3-week trial of a claim against a sovereign wealth fund for an injunction to restrain the exercise of security rights, based on an alleged oral agreement.

Robert Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton UK LLP. Acted between August 2015 and June 2018 as junior counsel (led by Alain Choo Choy QC) in the interlocutory stages of a Commercial Court claim for damages for malicious prosecution, unlawful act conspiracy and unlawful interference, arising out of the defendants’ involvement in the Serious Fraud Office’s investigation of Robert Tchenguiz during 2009-2012.

Investec Trust (Guernsey) Limited v Glenalla Properties Limited [2018] UKPC 7, [2019] AC 271. Led by Lord Goldsmith QC and Kathryn Purkis in a set of appeals from Guernsey. The case concerned the respective rights of trustees, beneficiaries and creditors of the Tchenguiz Discretionary Trust after claims in the total sum of approx. £180m were brought against the former trustees under intercompany loans by the liquidators of SPVs formerly owned by the TDT trustees.

Union Marine Classification Services LLC v The Government of the Union of Comoros [2017] EWHC 2364 (Comm), [2018] 2 All E.R. (Comm) 174; [2017] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 608. Acted as sole counsel for the respondent government in arbitration proceedings and in successfully opposing a challenge under s.68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 to the tribunal’s award. Acted (led by Richard Jacobs QC) in earlier related proceedings reported at [2015] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 49 (Eder J) and [2016] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 193 (Court of Appeal), a leading case on the scope of arbitrators’ powers to correct an award and on the relationship between s.67 and s.68 of the Arbitration Act where a tribunal is alleged to have exceeded its powers.

Sumati Shipping & Chartering Pte Ltd v TMNP Repairs Ltd & ors (2017). Acted as sole counsel in a series of applications in the Chancery Division for freezing orders and Norwich Pharmacal relief on behalf of the victim of a fraud. Freezing injunctions obtained against more than 50 respondents.

The Queen (o.a.o. Stody Estate Limited) v The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [2018] EWHC 378 (Admin), [2018] Env. L.R. 27. Acted as sole counsel for the National Farmers Union as intervenor in a challenge to the Secretary of State’s imposition of a subsidy-reduction penalty. The decision clarifies when a farmer’s SPS payment can (and cannot) be reduced owing to the criminal acts of an employee.

Arbitration & related court applications

John is regularly instructed in LMAA arbitrations, and has also acted in LCIA, SIAC and SCMA arbitrations. John appeared as sole counsel in a 3-day LMAA arbitration hearing in July 2014, successfully defending a substantial breach of contract claim against a government. He has acted in challenges to arbitration awards under s.67, s.68 and s.69 of the Arbitration Act 1996.

Union Marine Classification Services LLC v The Government of the Union of Comoros [2017] EWHC 2364 (Comm), [2018] 2 All E.R. (Comm) 174; [2017] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 608. Acted (as sole counsel) for the respondent government, successfully opposing a challenge to the arbitrator’s award under s.68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 and a related application under s.24 of the Arbitration Act 1996 to remove the arbitrator.

Union Marine Classification Society LLC v Government of the Union of Comoros [2015] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 49 (Eder J), [2016] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 193 (Court of Appeal). Led by Richard Jacobs QC, successfully resisting a challenge under s.67 of the Arbitration Act 1996 to an arbitrator’s correction of an award. Leading case on the scope of arbitrators’ powers to correct an award, and on the relationship between s.67 and s.68 of the Arbitration Act where a tribunal is alleged to have exceeded its powers.

Banking & financial services

John is a co-author of the 8th edition of Andrews & Millett on Guarantees (forthcoming), and contributing author with Richard Millett QC of Atkins Court Forms on Guarantees (2015 issue). He has written on finance-related topics for Practical Law Company and for the Butterworths Journal of International Banking and Financial Law.

Rubicon Vantage International Pte Ltd v KrisEnergy Ltd [2019] EWHC 2012 (Comm). Led by Nigel Eaton QC in a 2-day Commercial Court trial in July 2019, defending a claim brought under a parent company guarantee.

Frohnsdorff v Saerimnir & anor. Acted for claimant in a claim for repayment of £500,000 loan and enforcement of security, in connection with a share purchase transaction. Claim settled following CCMC in London Circuit Commercial Court (2019).

Edgeworth Capital (Luxembourg) S.A.R.L v Aabar Investments PJS [2018] EWHC 1627. Led by Alain Choo Choy QC at the trial of a claim against a sovereign wealth fund for an injunction to restrain the exercise of security rights, based on an alleged oral agreement.

Investec Trust (Guernsey) Limited v Glenalla Properties Limited [2018] UKPC 7, [2019] AC 271. Led by Lord Goldsmith QC and Kathryn Purkis in 7 appeals to the Privy Council from proceedings in Guernsey concerning the respective rights of trustees, beneficiaries and creditors of the Tchenguiz Discretionary Trust after claims in the total sum of approx. £180m were brought against the former trustees under intercompany loans by former subsidiaries of the TDT.

Robert Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton UK LLP. Acted between August 2015 and June 2018 as junior counsel (led by Alain Choo Choy QC) in the interlocutory stages of a Commercial Court claim for damages for malicious prosecution, unlawful act conspiracy and unlawful interference, arising out of the defendants’ involvement in the Serious Fraud Office’s investigation of Robert Tchenguiz during 2009-2012.

Article, “Of loans and limitations: limitation and the enforcement of syndicated credit agreements”, published in 2017 32(2) Butterworths Journal of International Banking and Financial Law, pp 75-79.

Civil fraud & asset recovery

Much of John’s recent work has been in the area of civil fraud, including claims for deceit, conspiracy, unjust enrichment, knowing receipt and dishonest assistance. John has experience of applications for freezing orders, disclosure (including Norwich Pharmacal relief) and committal for contempt.

E D & F Man Capital Markets Limited v Come Harvest Holdings Limited & ors. Currently acting as junior counsel (led by Huw Davies QC) in Commercial Court proceedings arising out of a £300 million fraud involving the provision of forged warehouse receipts in a “repo” transaction for the sale and repurchase of nickel.

Inter Export LLC v Townley [2018] EWCA Civ 2068. Acted as sole counsel in an appeal to the Court of Appeal against a finding of liability in deceit, in a case raising issues about the measure of damages where false representations are found to have been ‘continuing’.

Sumati Shipping & Chartering Pte Ltd v TMNP Repairs Ltd & ors. Acted as sole counsel in a series of applications in the Chancery Division during 2017-2018 for freezing orders and Norwich Pharmacal relief on behalf of the victim of a fraud.

Robert Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton UK LLP (2015-2018). Acted between August 2015 and June 2018 as junior counsel (led by Alain Choo Choy QC) in the interlocutory stages of a Commercial Court claim for damages for malicious prosecution, unlawful act conspiracy and unlawful interference, arising out of the defendants’ involvement in the Serious Fraud Office’s investigation of Robert Tchenguiz during 2009-2012. Listed by The Lawyer as one of the top 20 cases of 2018.

Tchenguiz v Serious Fraud Office (2014). Acted as junior counsel with Joe Smouha QC, Alex Bailin QC and Anton Dudnikov on behalf of Robert Tchenguiz in damages proceedings against the Serious Fraud Office, listed as one of The Lawyer’s top 20 cases of 2014. The case settled in July 2014, shortly before a 12-week Commercial Court trial.

Commercial chancery disputes

Investec Trust (Guernsey) Limited v Glenalla Properties Limited [2018] UKPC 7, [2019] AC 271. Led by Lord Goldsmith QC and Kathryn Purkis in 7 appeals to the Privy Council from proceedings in Guernsey concerning the respective rights of trustees, beneficiaries and creditors of the Tchenguiz Discretionary Trust after claims in the total sum of approx. £180m were brought against the former trustees under intercompany loans by former subsidiaries of the TDT. Leading case on trustees’ rights to indemnity, creditors’ subrogated rights against trust assets and choice of law treatment of statutory limitations of trustees’ liability.

BTI 2014 LLC v Sequana SA [2016] EWHC 1686 (Ch). Assisted a team of counsel led by Joe Smouha QC and Andrew Thompson QC at the 31-day trial of claims against the directors and parent company of an English company exposed to US environmental law liabilities. Held (by Rose J) that a €135m dividend paid by the company had been a transaction at an undervalue contrary to s.423 of the Insolvency Act 1986; but that the defendants were not liable for breach of fiduciary duty or for non-compliance with Companies Act rules for payment of dividends.

Recent commercial chancery experience as sole counsel includes:

  • Acting for the defendants in Chancery Division proceedings for an account and declaratory relief, based on allegations of breach of trust in connection with a transaction for the purchase and resale of a property.
  • 2-day trial (June 2019) in the Central London County Court (Chancery List), successfully defending a claim for disclosure of documents brought by one alleged trustee / partner / joint venture partner against another.
  • Acting as sole counsel in the Commercial Circuit Court in a shareholder dispute between former business partners.
Commercial dispute resolution

John was named one of 10 leading junior barristers under eight years’ call for Commercial Litigation by The Legal 500 UK in 2018. He is described as having “fought our client’s corner ferociously, getting an excellent result”.

E D & F Man Capital Markets Limited v Come Harvest Holdings Limited. Acting for the claimant, led by Huw Davies QC, in Commercial Court proceedings resulting from a fraud involving false warehouse receipts. Successfully resisted jurisdiction challenge by 10th Defendant: judgment at [2019] EWHC 1661 (Comm); judgment of Court of Appeal awaited.

Robert Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton UK LLP. Acted between August 2015 and June 2018 as junior counsel (led by Alain Choo Choy QC) in the interlocutory stages of a Commercial Court claim for damages for malicious prosecution, unlawful act conspiracy and unlawful interference, arising out of the defendants’ involvement in the Serious Fraud Office’s investigation of Robert Tchenguiz during 2009-2012. Listed by The Lawyer as one of the top 20 cases of 2018.

Edgeworth Capital (Luxembourg) S.A.R.L v Aabar Investments PJS [2018] EWHC 1627. Led by Alain Choo Choy QC at the 3-week trial of a claim against a sovereign wealth fund for an injunction to restrain the exercise of security rights, based on an alleged oral agreement.

Blue Tropic Limited v Chkhartishvili [2015] EWHC 3640 (Ch). Assisted Joe Smouha QC and Watson Pringle at the trial of two companies’ claims for damages under the Georgian law of delict. The companies successfully argued that the Defendant had misappropriated their valuable real estate assets in Georgia.

Tchenguiz v Serious Fraud Office. Acted as junior counsel with Joe Smouha QC, Alex Bailin QC and Anton Dudnikov on behalf of Robert Tchenguiz in damages proceedings against the Serious Fraud Office, listed as one of The Lawyer’s top 20 cases of 2014. The case settled, after numerous interlocutory disputes, in July 2014, shortly before a 12-week Commercial Court trial.

John has experience in the Commercial Court of interlocutory disputes concerning jurisdiction, disclosure, security for costs, striking out and summary judgment, unless orders and other case management and procedural issues. He also has experience of applying for interim injunctions including freezing injunctions, and has been involved in proceedings in other jurisdictions including Singapore, Hong Kong and Guernsey.

Much of John’s work involves jurisdictional and conflict-of-laws issues. His article, ‘Personhood and status of legal persons in private international law’ was published in the Journal of Private International Law in 2019.

Company law

John has worked on a variety of company and insolvency law issues involving both UK and non‑UK companies. Cases have involved unfair prejudice petitions, derivative actions, directors’ duties, share purchase agreements, shareholder disputes and takeovers/acquisitions.

BTI 2014 LLC v Sequana SA [2016] EWHC 1686 (Ch). Assisted a team of counsel led by Joe Smouha QC and Andrew Thompson QC at the 31-day trial of claims against the directors and parent company of an English company exposed to US environmental law liabilities. Held (by Rose J) that a €135m dividend paid by the company had been a transaction at an undervalue contrary to s.423 of the Insolvency Act 1986; but that the defendants were not liable for breach of fiduciary duty or for non-compliance with Companies Act rules for payment of dividends.

 

 

Conflict of laws & private international law

E D & F Man Capital Markets Limited v Come Harvest Holdings Ltd & ors [2019] EWHC 1661 (Comm). Led by Huw Davies QC, successfully resisted a jurisdiction challenge by the 10th Defendant. Issues included scope and application of Articles 4 and 10 of the Rome II Regulation to claims for unlawful means conspiracy and knowing receipt.

Investec Trust (Guernsey) Limited v Glenalla Properties Limited [2018] UKPC 7, [2019] AC 271. Led by Lord Goldsmith QC and Kathryn Purkis. Leading case on the conflict of laws treatment of article 32(1)(a) of the Trusts (Jersey) Law 1984, which limits the liability of a trustee to a third party. Held (by a majority) that article 32(1)(a) was a rule about ‘status’, with the result that it should be applied to limit the liability of trustees under contracts governed by a law other than Jersey law.

Article entitled “Personhood and status of legal persons in private international law” published in (2019) 15:2 Journal of Private International Law, pp. 288-314.

European law & competition

John contributed to the EU Law chapter of the 6th edition of Supperstone on Judicial Review (2017). Many of his cases involve issues of EU law, particularly in the field of agricultural law. These include:

Bayer Cropscience AG and Bayer AG. Assisting Hugh Mercer QC (representing the National Farmers’ Union, intervening) in an appeal to the European Court of Justice concerning the circumstances in which approval for an ‘active substance’ used to produce plant protection products can be reviewed and withdrawn or restricted, under the Plant Protection Products Regulation (Reg 1107/2009).

R (oao Newby Foods Ltd) v Food Standards Agency [2019] UKSC 18, [2019] 3 CMLR 19. Acted as sole counsel for the National Farmers Union, intervening in support of an appeal to the Supreme Court concerning the interpretation of ‘Mechanically Separated Meat’ under European Union law, and the respective roles of national courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union where a question of law is referred to the CJEU.

The Queen (o.a.o. Stody Estate Limited) v The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [2018] EWHC 378 (Admin), [2018] Env. L.R. 27. Acted as sole counsel for the NFU (intervening), in a case concerning the construction of a Regulation requiring reduction of subsidy payments for non-compliance with environmental law standards.

R (Friends of the Earth Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [2015] EWHC 3283 (Admin). Led by Hugh Mercer QC, acting for the NFU (intervening), in a case concerning the construction of a Regulation authorising limited emergency derogations by Member States from EU prohibitions on the use of pesticides.

International trade, transport & commodities

John is regularly instructed in charterparty disputes and other shipping-related matters, and is co-author, with Sir Bernard Eder, of Westlaw Insight articles on Charterparties and Bills of Lading. For further detail, please see under “Shipping & Admiralty”.

John has advised in several sale of goods / commodities matters (involving conflict of laws & retention of title issues among others).

Offshore litigation

Investec Trust (Guernsey) Limited v Glenalla Properties Limited [2018] UKPC 7, [2019] AC 271. Led by Lord Goldsmith QC and Kathryn Purkis in 7 appeals to the Privy Council from proceedings in Guernsey concerning the respective rights of trustees, beneficiaries and creditors of the Tchenguiz Discretionary Trust after claims in the total sum of approx. £180m were brought against the former trustees under intercompany loans by former subsidiaries of the TDT. Issues included construction of Article 32 of the Trusts (Jersey) Law 1984 and the Guernsey customary law of restitution.

Public & administrative law

R (oao Newby Foods Ltd) v Food Standards Agency [2019] UKSC 18, [2019] 3 CMLR 19. Acted as sole counsel for the National Farmers Union, intervening in support of an appeal to the Supreme Court concerning the interpretation of ‘Mechanically Separated Meat’ under European Union law, and the respective roles of national courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union where a question of law is referred to the CJEU.

The Queen (o.a.o. Stody Estate Limited) v The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [2018] EWHC 378 (Admin), [2018] Env. L.R. 27. Acted as sole counsel for the National Farmers Union as intervenor in a challenge to the Secretary of State’s imposition of a subsidy-reduction penalty. The decision clarifies when a farmer’s SPS payment can (and cannot) be reduced owing to the criminal acts of an employee

R (Friends of the Earth Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [2015] EWHC 3283 (Admin). Acted (with Hugh Mercer QC) for the National Farmers Union as interested party, resisting a judicial review challenge to the authorisation of temporary and limited use of two neonicotinoid pesticides.

Shipping & admiralty

John is listed as a leading junior (band 3) for Shipping by The Legal 500 UK, which describes him as being “Fantastic” (2016), “Very client-focused” (2017), “a force to be reckoned with” (2018) and able “to quickly grasp technical issues” (2019). He is regularly instructed in charterparty disputes and other shipping-related matters, including shipbuilding and ship sale-and-purchase disputes. John is co-author, with Sir Bernard Eder, of Westlaw Insight articles on Charterparties and Bills of Lading.

Rubicon Vantage International Pte Ltd v KrisEnergy Ltd [2012] EWHC 2012 (Comm). Led by Nigel Eaton QC, acting for the guarantor of a bareboat charterer of a floating storage and offloading vessel (“FSO”), defending a claim for sums found to be due under a parent company guarantee as a result of engineering work carried out on the FSO prior to mobilisation.

“Amalie Essberger” Tankreederei GmbH & Co. KG v Marubeni Corporation. Acting (as sole counsel) for Charterers defending a demurrage claim in the London Circuit Commercial Court.

Fortunate Shipping Ltd & anor v RINA Services SpA. Acting (as sole counsel) in the London Circuit Commercial Court for claimant Owners in a contractual dispute against the defendant classification society. 4-day trial listed for April 2020.

LMAA Arbitration. Led by Philippa Hopkins QC at the 3-day trial (in November 2018) of a claim for lost chartering profits of $1.5 million, under a contractual indemnity in a ship sale agreement, following the vessel’s arrest in Nigeria

LMAA Arbitration. Acted (as sole counsel) for Owners in a claim against Charterers for an indemnity under the BIMCO Ship to Ship Transfer Clause for Time Charter Parties, following injury to the vessel’s Second Officer during ship-to-ship transhipment of iron ore. Claim settled by mediation prior to hearing.

Union Marine Classification Services LLC v The Government of the Union of Comoros [2017] EWHC 2364 (Comm), [2018] 2 All E.R. (Comm) 174; [2017] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 608. Dispute over termination by the Government of Comoros of a contract for the operation of a ship’s registry. Acted as sole counsel for the Government in a successful claim for an arbitration award finding that the contract had been validly terminated, then defended the award against a challenge under s.68 of the Arbitration Act 1996.

LMAA Arbitration. Led by Sara Cockerill QC in a 2-week shipbuilding dispute over the construction of a superyacht (October 2016).

LMAA Arbitration. Acted (as sole counsel) for Owners in a time charterparty balance-of-hire dispute concerning bunker contamination, engine damage and allegations of tampering with vessel logs. Dispute settled after a mediation in November 2015.

Ad-hoc arbitration (May 2015). Acted (with Sara Cockerill QC) in a dispute over the implementation of a settlement agreement, arising out of a longstanding joint venture chartering agreement.

Union Marine Classification Society LLC v Government of the Union of Comoros (3 day LMAA arbitration, July 2014). As sole counsel, defended a very substantial breach of contract claim for alleged wrongful termination of a concession agreement to operate the Comoros Open Registry.

SCMA Arbitrations. Acted (with James Collins QC) in 2 related shipbuilding arbitrations under the rules of the Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration. Proceedings settled shortly before trial in September 2013.

John has been instructed as sole counsel in numerous other disputes under time and voyage charterparties, involving e.g. off-hire, speed and performance claims, demurrage, late redelivery, unsafe ports, alleged bad bunkers, cargo claims, ice and tank-cleaning.

Career

2012 Tenant at Essex Court Chambers, following completion of pupillage with James Collins QC

2011 Called to the Bar (Inner Temple)

2010 Law Clerk at Chang, Pistilli & Simmons (now Clifford Chance) in Sydney

Education

2010-2011 BPTC, City Law School (Outstanding)

2008-2009 BCL, Exeter College Oxford (Distinction)

2006-2008 BA (Hons) Law, King’s College Cambridge (First)

2004-2006 Classics ‘Part I’ (the first two years of a Cambridge BA). Starred First, ranked first in the year

Awards

2011 Winner of the Blackstone Mooting Competition (City Law School)

2010 Princess Royal Scholarship (Inner Temple)

2009 Joint winner of Holdsworth Society mooting competition (Oxford)

2009 HLA Hart prize for Jurisprudence and Political Theory (BCL)

2009 Arts and Humanities Research Council award to fund BCL studies

2008 Hurst Prize for Law (King’s College, Cambridge)

2007 Lovells Prize for Law (King’s College, Cambridge)

Publications
  • Co-author of the next (8th) edition of Andrews & Millett on Guarantees
  • Atkin’s Court Forms, GUARANTEE AND INDEMNITY — ACF 21(1) (2015 Issue) – co-editor with Richard Millett QC
  • Practical Law Company, author of practice note on “Co-Guarantors” (see attached)
  • Co-author of Westlaw Insight series of articles on Charterparties and Bills of Lading, with Sir Bernard Eder
  • Assistant Contributor to Supperstone, Goudie and Walker: Judicial Review (6th edition, 2018), Chapter 14: European Union Law
  • “Personhood and status of legal persons in private international law”, (2019) 15(2) Journal of Private International Law, pp.288-314