Professional practice

Legal 500 Rising Star

Stephen has a broad commercial and chancery practice with particular interests in banking and finance, fraud, claims for breach of trust or fiduciary duty, insolvency, shipping, and VAT.

Stephen’s recent experience in these areas includes trials in the Commercial Court and Chancery Division, appeals, and arbitrations under various rules (including LCIA, ICC, and LMAA). He is often instructed, led or unled, in urgent applications for interim relief, including freezing relief, antisuit injunctions, and injunctions to restrain the misuse of confidential information.

Many of Stephen’s cases involve complex issues of jurisdiction and the application of foreign law, and he is regularly instructed in matters involving challenges to or the enforcement and recognition of foreign judgments or arbitral awards.

Alongside his commercial practice, Stephen specializes in public international law, appearing in cases before domestic and international courts and tribunals. His recent experience includes disputes relating to state succession, international trade, land and maritime delimitation, state immunity, foreign act of state, and diplomatic and consular law. He has taught public international law at the University of Edinburgh and King’s College London, and was on the editorial board of the Yale Journal of International Law. His related experience in investor–State disputes includes advisory work as well as acting both as counsel and as assistant to a tribunal.

In 2020 Stephen was appointed to the Attorney General’s public international law C panel of counsel, and in 2021 was promoted to the London B panel.

Stephen joined Chambers as a tenant in 2016 from the Scottish bar, where he has practised since 2015. Before coming to the bar, he spent a year as judicial assistant to Lord Kerr in the Supreme Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. He studied law at Glasgow, Oxford, and Yale (as a Fulbright scholar). He is fluent in French and has a working knowledge of several other languages.

 

Examples of Recent Cases

Gem Management Ltd v Firefox Ltd: pending appeal from the Supreme Court of Mauritius to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council concerning non-payment of sums in connexion with the sale of a shareholding (sole counsel, instructed by Berkeley Rowe)

A v B: interstate boundary dispute (led by Professor Vaughan Lowe QC)

Crane Bank Ltd & ors v CDC plc & ors: ongoing Commercial Court claim by the shareholders of a Ugandan bank alleging breach of trust and fiduciary duty and other wrongdoing by the Bank of Uganda and a conspiracy by the defendants, raising issues of foreign act of state and the recognition of a foreign insolvency (led by Ricky Diwan QC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP, for CDC plc and Mr Turner)

Export Credits Guarantee Dept v BAE Systems plc & anr: ongoing Commercial Court claim arising out of non-repayment by BAE, following arbitral proceedings against the Iranian Ministry of Defence, of sums paid to it by the Department under various guarantee agreements (led by Roderick Cordara QC, instructed by the Government Legal Department, for the Department)

A v B Ltd: Commercial Court claim alleging breaches of an investment agreement (sole counsel, instructed by Withers LLP, for B Ltd)

A v B: pending application to set aside registration of an ICSID Award, raising issues about the application of state immunity from enforcement in light of the ECJ’s decision in Achmea (led by Huw Davies QC, instructed by Simmons & Simmons, for the investor)

Heathrow Airport Ltd & ors v HM Treasury & anr [2021] EWCA Civ 783: challenging the withdrawal of VAT-free retail schemes, including on the basis of alleged breaches of WTO law (led by Eleni Mitrophanous QC, Naina Patel, and Raj Desai, instructed by HMRC Solicitor’s Office and Legal Services, for HM Treasury and HMRC)

A v B: ICC arbitration arising out of alleged breaches of contracts for the supply of oil (sole counsel, instructed by Withers LLP, for B)

PJSC VTB Bank v Mejlumyan [2021] EWHC 1386 (Comm): claim for an anti-suit injunction arising out of a pledge agreement in support of a facility agreement between VTB and a mining company (led by Vernon Flynn QC, instructed by King & Spalding, for Mr Mejlumyan)

London Partners Capital Management LLP v Utkan & ors [2021] EWHC 1647 (Comm): claim for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, knowing receipt, and dishonest assistance by an investment management firm as assignee of an Albanian bank, involving freezing and search orders and an additional claim by Mr Utkan against the CEO of the bank for an indemnity (led by David Davies QC, instructed by Steptoe & Johnson, for the defendants)

East-West Logistics LLP v Melars Ltd: pending appeal before the Court of Appeal concerning the scope of the presumption that main insolvency proceedings should be opened only by the courts of the Member State where a company has its registered office (led by James Sheehan, instructed by Hogan Lovells LLP, for the company)

A & ors v B & ors: ongoing arbitration between shareholders of an online retail business alleging unfair prejudice in its management (led by David Davies QC, instructed by Hogan Lovells, for B & anr)

Arauco Navigation Ltd v China Navigation Company Pte Ltd (‘CCNI Arauco’): multi-party Commercial Court charterparty dispute arising from an explosion and fire on board a container vessel (settled shortly before trial; led Christopher Smith QC, instructed by Reed Smith LLP, for owners)

Yukos v Georgiades & anr [2020] EWHC 173 (Comm): Commercial Court trial of claims for fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty by a director and for knowing receipt of their proceeds (led by Jamie Goldsmith QC, instructed by CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP, for Yukos)

Yukos v Merinson [2020] QB 336 (Court of Appeals): fraud claim under Dutch law against a former senior employee raising issues of jurisdiction, conflict of laws, and the effect of foreign court settlements (led by James Willan QC, instructed by CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP, for Yukos)

What Others Say

Legal 500 UK Bar 2022, Shipping

“First rate and very hard working. He is also a good team player with the ability to fit in and get on with a wide spread of individuals. Incredible attention to detail, wise beyond his years and an intellectual powerhouse.”

Arbitration & related court applications

Arbitrations

  • A v B: ICC arbitration arising out of alleged breaches of contracts for the supply of oil (sole counsel, instructed by Withers LLP, for B)
  • A & ors v B & ors: ongoing arbitration between shareholders of an online retail business alleging unfair prejudice in its management (led by David Davies QC, instructed by Hogan Lovells, for B & anr)
  • Pair of 3-week LMAA arbitrations for breach of various provisions of charterparties on redelivery of passenger ferries (led by Christopher Smith QC, instructed by Studio Legale Lauro, for owners)
  • LCIA arbitration under a $300m facility agreement
  • 4-week LMAA arbitration between ferry companies under a share-sale agreement governed by both Greek and Italian law, with complex choice-of-law issues arising from the interaction between them (led by Roderick Cordara QC and Christopher Smith QC, instructed by BDM Law LLP, for the respondent)
  • JAMS arbitration under a contract for financial services (sole counsel)
  • Ad hoc arbitration concerning breaches of a contract for the construction of solar panels (led by Hugh Mercer QC and Iain Quirk)
  • Ad hoc arbitration under a shareholders’ agreement of claims of unfair prejudice (led by Paul McGrath QC and James Willan, instructed by Elborne Mitchell LLP)

Related court applications

  • PJSC VTB Bank v Mejlumyan [2021] EWHC 1386 (Comm): claim for an anti-suit injunction arising out of a pledge agreement in support of a facility agreement between VTB and a mining company (led by Vernon Flynn QC, instructed by King & Spalding, for Mr Mejlumyan)
  • Soletanche Bachy France SAS v Aqaba Container Terminal (Pvt) Co. [2019] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 423: challenges under sections 67 and 68 of the Arbitration Act to an award in an ICC arbitration (led by David Foxton QC and Iain Quirk, instructed by Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP)
  • Erdenet Mining Corp. LLC v ICBC Standard Bank plc [2017] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 25: LCIA arbitration and Commercial Court proceedings under a guarantee and an indemnity, arising out of a banking fraud and giving rise to the first successful application under section 70(7) of the Arbitration Act 1996 for security for the amount payable under an arbitral award (led by David Joseph QC and Edward Brown, instructed by Clifford Chance LLP)
  • Advice to award creditor on questions of public international law arising in the enforcement of an arbitral award (led by Malcolm Shaw QC)
  • Advice to award creditor on enforcement of an arbitral award and foreign judgment obtained against a state (led by Hugh Mercer QC, instructed by Fladgate LLP)
Banking & financial services
  • Crane Bank Ltd & ors v CDC plc & ors: ongoing Commercial Court claim by the shareholders of a Ugandan bank alleging breach of trust and fiduciary duty and other wrongdoing by the Bank of Uganda and a conspiracy by the defendants, raising issues of foreign act of state and the recognition of a foreign insolvency (led by Ricky Diwan QC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP, for CDC plc and Mr Turner)
  • Urincha & ors v Libra & anr: Commercial Court claim alleging breaches of derivative contracts for the financing of container ships and related unlawful-means conspiracy (led by Philippa Hopkins QC, instructed by RPC, for the defendants)
  • London Partners Capital Management LLP v Utkan & ors [2021] EWHC 1647 (Comm): claim for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, knowing receipt, and dishonest assistance by an investment management firm as assignee of an Albanian bank, involving freezing and search orders and an additional claim by Mr Utkan against the CEO of the bank for an indemnity (led by David Davies QC, instructed by Steptoe & Johnson, for the defendants)
  • LCIA arbitration under a $300m facility agreement
  • A v B Ltd: Commercial Court claim alleging breaches of an investment agreement (sole counsel, instructed by Withers LLP, for B Ltd)
  • JAMS arbitration under a contract for financial services (sole counsel)
Civil fraud & asset recovery
  • London Partners Capital Management LLP v Utkan & ors [2021] EWHC 1647 (Comm): claim for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, knowing receipt, and dishonest assistance by an investment management firm as assignee of an Albanian bank, involving freezing and search orders and an additional claim by Mr Utkan against the CEO of the bank for an indemnity (led by David Davies QC, instructed by Steptoe & Johnson, for the defendants)
  • Yukos v Georgiades & anr [2020] EWHC 173 (Comm): Commercial Court trial of claims for fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty by a director and for knowing receipt of their proceeds (led by Jamie Goldsmith QC, instructed by CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP, for Yukos)
  • Yukos v Merinson [2020] QB 336 (Court of Appeals): fraud claim under Dutch law against a former senior employee raising issues of jurisdiction, conflict of laws, and the effect of foreign court settlements (led by James Willan QC, instructed by CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP, for Yukos)
  • Bord na Móna Horticulture Ltd v Washington [2017] EWHC 2406 (Ch): fraud claim arising from a share sale and purchase agreement, with applications for freezing relief (led by Huw Davies QC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP)
  • Latin American Investments Ltd v Maroil Trading Inc. [2017] EWHC 1254 (Comm): Commercial Court claims for breach of fiduciary duty and secret profits, with applications for freezing relief (led by David Foxton QC and Louise Hutton, instructed by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP)
  • Appeared as sole counsel at the return dates of various freezing and proprietary injunctions in the Chancery Division
  • Appeared as sole counsel for law enforcement and civil recovery agencies in applications under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
Commercial chancery disputes
  • East-West Logistics LLP v Melars Ltd: pending appeal before the Court of Appeal concerning the scope of the presumption that main insolvency proceedings should be opened only by the courts of the Member State where a company has its registered office (led by James Sheehan, instructed by Hogan Lovells LLP, for the company)
  • A & ors v B & ors: ongoing arbitration between shareholders of an online retail business alleging unfair prejudice in its management (led by David Davies QC, instructed by Hogan Lovells, for B & anr)
  • Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. Ltd v Hollingsworth: settled defence for the defendant journalist in a Chancery Division claim by a large Kazakh natural resources company for alleged breach of confidence relating to the SFO’s investigation of it (sole counsel, instructed by Atkins Thomson, for Mr Hollingsworth (subsequently in person))
  • Fitzherbert v Fawsitt: Part 64 claim by a technology entrepreneur for breach of trust over part of the shareholding in a startup (sole counsel, instructed by Macfarlanes LLP, for Mr Fitzherbert)
  • Chancery Division claim against a former director for breach of director’s duties and of an alleged resulting trust (as sole counsel, instructed by Janes Solicitors, for the defendants)
  • Re Hellas II [2019] 1 WLR 3347: trial in the Chancery Division of a claim under section 423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 arising from the multi-billion-euro refinancing of a Greek telecoms company (led by Joe Smouha QC, Stephen Davies QC, Ciaran Keller, and Tom Ford, instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright)
  • Bord na Móna Horticulture Ltd v Washington [2017] EWHC 2406 (Ch): fraud claim arising from a share sale and purchase agreement, with applications for freezing relief (led by Huw Davies QC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP, for the defendants)
  • IPEC claim by a band against its manager for breach of copyright and of a licensing agreement (sole counsel, instructed by Clintons)
  • Ad hoc arbitration under a shareholders’ agreement of claims of unfair prejudice (led by Paul McGrath QC and James Willan, instructed by Elborne Mitchell LLP)
  • Frequently appearing as sole counsel on the interim applications list and in the Insolvency and Companies Court.
Commercial dispute resolution
  • Gem Management Ltd v Firefox Ltd: pending appeal from the Supreme Court of Mauritius to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council concerning non-payment of sums in connexion with the sale of a shareholding (sole counsel, instructed by Berkeley Rowe)
  • Crane Bank Ltd & ors v CDC plc & ors: ongoing Commercial Court claim by the shareholders of a Ugandan bank alleging breach of trust and fiduciary duty and other wrongdoing by the Bank of Uganda and a conspiracy by the defendants, raising issues of foreign act of state and the recognition of a foreign insolvency (led by Ricky Diwan QC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP, for CDC plc and Mr Turner)
  • Export Credits Guarantee Dept v BAE Systems plc & anr: ongoing Commercial Court claim arising out of non-repayment by BAE, following arbitral proceedings against the Iranian Ministry of Defence, of sums paid to it by the Department under various guarantee agreements (led by Roderick Cordara QC, instructed by the Government Legal Department, for the Department)
  • London Partners Capital Management LLP v Utkan & ors [2021] EWHC 1647 (Comm): claim for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, knowing receipt, and dishonest assistance by an investment management firm as assignee of an Albanian bank, involving freezing and search orders and an additional claim by Mr Utkan against the CEO of the bank for an indemnity (led by David Davies QC, instructed by Steptoe & Johnson, for the defendants)
  • A v B Ltd: Commercial Court claim alleging breaches of an investment agreement (sole counsel, instructed by Withers LLP, for B Ltd)
  • Urincha & ors v Libra & anr: Commercial Court claim alleging breaches of derivative contracts for the financing of container ships and related unlawful-means conspiracy (led by Philippa Hopkins QC, instructed by RPC, for the defendants)
  • Commercial Court claim under a contract recorded in a document which said by the defendant to be a forgery (sole counsel, instructed by Withers LLP, for the defendant)
  • Yukos v Georgiades & anr [2020] EWHC 173 (Comm): Commercial Court trial of claims for fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty by a director and for knowing receipt of their proceeds (led by Jamie Goldsmith QC, instructed by CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP, for Yukos)
  • Yukos v Merinson [2020] QB 336 (Court of Appeals): fraud claim under Dutch law against a former senior employee raising issues of jurisdiction, conflict of laws, and the effect of foreign court settlements (led by James Willan QC, instructed by CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP, for Yukos)
  • Latin American Investments Ltd v Maroil Trading Inc. [2017] EWHC 1254 (Comm): Commercial Court claims for breach of fiduciary duty and secret profits, with applications for freezing relief (led by David Foxton QC and Louise Hutton, instructed by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP)
  • Advising the defendant law firm in a large claim for negligent misrepresentation, currently pending in a foreign jurisdiction and raising novel issues of common-law jurisdiction (led by Joe Smouha QC)
Injunctions
  • PJSC VTB Bank v Mejlumyan [2021] EWHC 1386 (Comm): claim for an anti-suit injunction arising out of a pledge agreement in support of a facility agreement between VTB and a mining company (led by Vernon Flynn QC, instructed by King & Spalding, for Mr Mejlumyan)
  • Latin American Investments Ltd v Maroil Trading Inc. [2017] EWHC 1254 (Comm): Commercial Court claims for breach of fiduciary duty and secret profits, with applications for freezing relief (led by David Foxton QC and Louise Hutton, instructed by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP)
  • Bord na Móna Horticulture Ltd v Washington [2017] EWHC 2406 (Ch): fraud claim arising from a share sale and purchase agreement, with applications for freezing relief (led by Huw Davies QC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP, for the defendants)
  • Appeared as sole counsel at the return dates of various freezing and proprietary injunctions in the Chancery Division
Investment treaty disputes
  • A v B: pending application to set aside registration of an ICSID Award, raising issues about the application of state immunity from enforcement in light of the ECJ’s decision in Achmea (led by Huw Davies QC, instructed by Simmons & Simmons, for the investor)
  • Merck Sharpe & Dohme (IA) LLC v Ecuador PCA Case No 2012-10: assistant to the tribunal (Sir Frank Berman KCMG QC, Judge Stephen Schwebel, and Judge Bruno Simma) in an investor–state arbitration under the UNCITRAL rules at the Permanent Court of Arbitration
  • Before coming to the bar, appeared for the investor in a multi-billion-dollar investor–state arbitration under the UNCITRAL rules concerning the supply of natural gas.
  • As part of a team of counsel, advised a Government department on various aspects of international law concerning the protection of investments
  • Advice to investor on potential claims under bi- and multilateral treaties and local investment law (led by Sam Wordsworth QC)
Public international law

Before international courts and tribunals

  • A v B: interstate boundary dispute (led by Professor Vaughan Lowe QC)
  • Wightman v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union [2019] QB 199: preliminary reference before the Full Court of the CJEU determining the circumstances in which the United Kingdom could withdraw its notification of intention to leave the European Union (led by Gerry Facenna QC, Morag Ross QC, and Anneli Howard, instructed by Bindmans LLP and Harper Macleod LLP)

Before domestic courts

  • Heathrow Airport Ltd & ors v HM Treasury & anr [2021] EWCA Civ 783: challenging the withdrawal of VAT-free retail schemes, including on the basis of alleged breaches of WTO law (led by Eleni Mitrophanous QC, Naina Patel, and Raj Desai, instructed by HMRC Solicitor’s Office and Legal Services, for HM Treasury and HMRC)
  • Crane Bank Ltd & ors v CDC plc & ors: ongoing Commercial Court claim by the shareholders of a Ugandan bank alleging breach of trust and fiduciary duty and other wrongdoing by the Bank of Uganda and a conspiracy by the defendants, raising issues of foreign act of state and the recognition of a foreign insolvency (led by Ricky Diwan QC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP, for CDC plc and Mr Turner)
  • A v B: pending application to set aside registration of an ICSID Award, raising issues about the application of state immunity from enforcement in light of the ECJ’s decision in Achmea (led by Huw Davies QC, instructed by Simmons & Simmons, for the investor)

Advisory

  • Advice on questions of public international law arising in the enforcement of an arbitral award (led by Malcolm Shaw QC)
  • Advice concerning issues of state succession (led by Sir Frank Berman KCMG QC)
Revenue law (including VAT, IPT, duties & excise)
  • Heathrow Airport Ltd & ors v HM Treasury & anr [2021] EWCA Civ 783: challenging the withdrawal of VAT-free retail schemes, including on the basis of alleged breaches of WTO law (led by Eleni Mitrophanous QC, Naina Patel, and Raj Desai, instructed by HMRC Solicitor’s Office and Legal Services, for HM Treasury and HMRC)
  • Large technology company: ongoing advice on cross-border VAT issues (led by Roderick Cordara QC, instructed by Baker McKenzie)
  • Claims Advisory Group v Revenue & Customs Comrs [2021] STC 1726: appeal concerning the scope of the insurance exemption from VAT (led by Roderick Cordara QC, instructed by Rosetta Tax)
  • Judicial review of HMRC’s decision not to allow recovery of input tax (led by David Scorey QC, instructed by Hempsons)
Shipping & admiralty
  • Pair of 3-week LMAA arbitrations for breach of various provisions of charterparties on redelivery of passenger ferries (led by Christopher Smith QC, instructed by Studio Legale Lauro, for owners)
  • Urincha & ors v Libra & anr: Commercial Court claim alleging breaches of derivative contracts for the financing of container ships and related unlawful-means conspiracy (led by Philippa Hopkins QC, instructed by RPC, for the defendants)
  • LMAA arbitration under a time charter where, after her security escort had departed, the vessel was boarded by pirates, following which her crew were detained after being rescued by the coastal state’s navy, who wrongly believed them to be the pirates (sole counsel, instructed by Tatham & Co., for owners)
  • Arauco Navigation Ltd v China Navigation Company Pte Ltd (‘CCNI Arauco’): multi-party Commercial Court charterparty dispute arising from an explosion and fire on board a container vessel (settled shortly before trial; led Christopher Smith QC, instructed by Reed Smith LLP, for owners)
  • Advised buyers on the effect of Covid-19 quarantine measures on sellers’ ability to complete delivery, where her crew could not disembark at the port of delivery nor could the buyer’s own crew safely embark (led by Jern-Fei Ng QC)
  • Advised owners in a demurrage dispute arising from Hurricane Harvey (as sole counsel)
  • Advised in a claim for late delivery charges under a shipbuilding contract (led by Roderick Cordara QC)
Career
  • 2021 Attorney General’s London ‘B’ Panel of Junior Counsel
  • 2020 Attorney General’s Public International Law ‘C’ Panel
  • 2019 Attorney General’s London ‘C’ Panel
  • 2016 Tenant at Essex Court Chambers
  • 2015 Advocate at the Scottish bar
  • 2014–15 tutor in public international law, University of Edinburgh
  • 2014 Juriste in public international law team, Freshfields, Paris
  • 2013–14 Judicial assistant to Lord Kerr, Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; tutor in public international law, King’s College London
  • 2009–11 Trainee solicitor, Simpson & Marwick (now Clyde & Co.)
  • 2009 Intern, Gulf Region Advocacy Center, Houston (through Reprieve)
Education
  • 2013 LL.M., Yale Law School
  • 2012 B.C.L., Lincoln College, Oxford
  • 2011 M.Sc. (philosophy), University of Edinburgh
  • 2008 LL.B., University of Glasgow
Awards
  • 2014 Lord Reid and Faculty of Advocates scholar (for pupillage at the Scottish bar)
  • 2012 Fulbright scholar
  • 2012 Shearman & Sterling mooting trophy, University of Oxford
  • 2011 Runner-up, Times Law Awards
  • 2008 Dean’s Cup, University of Glasgow
  • 2008 Semple Mooting Prize, University of Glasgow
Publications
  • Chapter in Company Directors: Duties, Liabilities, and Remedies (4th edn, OUP, 2021)
  • ‘Conflicting jurisdiction agreements in treaty and contract’ (2020) 69(4) ICLQ 759
  • Chapters on ss 67 and 68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 in Bullen & Leake & Jacob’s Precedents of Pleading (19th edn, Sweet & Maxwell, 2019)
  • ‘No consensus on consensus’ (with L Wildhaber & A Hjartarson) (2013) 33 HRLJ 248