Professional practice

Legal 500 Rising Star

Stephen is a versatile junior whose practice encompasses commercial and chancery disputes and cases raising issues of public international law in international and domestic courts. He has appeared as sole counsel at all levels, including in the Privy Council, and is regularly instructed in heavy cases before courts and arbitral tribunals. The Legal 500 describes him as, ‘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.

Some of Stephen’s recent cases include the following:

  • Crane Bank Ltd v DFCU Bank Ltd: claim by a Ugandan bank alleging breach of trust and fiduciary duty by the Bank of Uganda and a conspiracy by the defendants, raising issues of foreign act of state (led by Ricky Diwan QC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP)
  • An interstate boundary dispute (led by Vaughan Lowe QC and Mathias Forteau)
  • Gem Management Ltd v Firefox Ltd [2022] UKPC 17: appeal from Mauritius to the Privy Council in a commercial claim for payment of sums in connexion with the sale of a shareholding (sole counsel, instructed by Berkeley Rowe)
  • Heathrow Airport Ltd v HM Treasury [2021] EWCA Civ 783: judicial review of the withdrawal of VAT-free schemes, alleging breaches of WTO law (one of The Lawyer’s ‘Top 20 cases of 2021’, led by Eleni Mitrophanous QC, Naina Patel, and Raj Desai, instructed by HMRC)
  • An ICC arbitration arising out of alleged breaches of contracts for the supply of oil (sole counsel, instructed by Withers LLP)
  • 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 (led Christopher Smith QC, instructed by Reed Smith LLP)

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

He is also a practising advocate in Scotland, and is a Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Government.

Stephen is an author of the forthcoming edition of Company Directors (OUP), has had articles on international law and on human rights published in leading journals, and is an assistant editor of the European Human Rights Reports.

Before coming to the bar, Stephen was judicial assistant to Lord Kerr in the Supreme Court and Privy Council, and taught public international law at the University of Edinburgh and King’s College London. He studied law at Glasgow, Oxford, and Yale (as a Fulbright scholar and board member of the Yale Journal of International Law).

Stephen is fluent in French and has a working knowledge of several other languages

 

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

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)

Arbitration between shareholders of an online retail business alleging unfair prejudice in its management (led by David Davies QC, instructed by Hogan Lovells)

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

LCIA arbitration under a $300m facility agreement

4-week 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)

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)

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 v DFCU Bank Ltd: claim by a Ugandan bank alleging breach of trust and fiduciary duty by the Bank of Uganda and a conspiracy by the defendants, raising issues of foreign act of state (led by Ricky Diwan QC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP)

Derine v The Family Officer Ltd: Commercial Court claim for damages for breach of an alleged investment agreement (sole counsel, instructed by Withers LLP)

Urincha v Libra: 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)

London Partners Capital Management LLP v Utkan [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)

De Cristofaro v Cerri: Commercial Court claim for damages for breach of an alleged loan agreement, said by the defendant to be a forgery (sole counsel, instructed by Withers LLP)

LCIA arbitration under a $300m facility agreement

JAMS arbitration under a contract for financial services (sole counsel)

Civil fraud & asset recovery

Crane Bank Ltd v DFCU Bank Ltd: claim by a Ugandan bank alleging breach of trust and fiduciary duty by the Bank of Uganda and a conspiracy by the defendants, raising issues of foreign act of state (led by Ricky Diwan QC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP)

Urincha v Libra: 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)

London Partners Capital Management LLP v Utkan [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)

Yukos v Georgiades [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)

Yukos v Merinson [2020] QB 336 (Court of Appeal): 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)

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 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: 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,)

Arbitration between shareholders of an online retail business alleging unfair prejudice in its management (led by David Davies QC, instructed by Hogan Lovells)

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)

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)

Chancery Division claim against a former director for breach of director’s duties and of an alleged resulting trust (sole counsel, instructed by Janes Solicitors)

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)

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 sole counsel on the interim applications list and in the Insolvency and Companies Court.

Commercial dispute resolution

Gem Management Ltd v Firefox Ltd [2022] UKPC 17: appeal from Mauritius to the Privy Council in a commercial claim for payment of sums in connexion with the sale of a shareholding (sole counsel, instructed by Berkeley Rowe)

Crane Bank Ltd v DFCU Bank Ltd: claim by a Ugandan bank alleging breach of trust and fiduciary duty by the Bank of Uganda and a conspiracy by the defendants, raising issues of foreign act of state (led by Ricky Diwan QC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP)

Export Credits Guarantee Dept v BAE Systems plc: 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)

Derine v The Family Officer Ltd: Commercial Court claim for damages for breach of an alleged investment agreement (sole counsel, instructed by Withers LLP)

Urincha v Libra: 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 [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)

De Cristofaro v Cerri: Commercial Court claim for damages for breach of an alleged loan agreement, said by the defendant to be a forgery (sole counsel, instructed by Withers LLP)

Yukos v Georgiades [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 Appeal): 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)

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)

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)

Appeared sole counsel at the return dates of various freezing and proprietary injunctions in the Chancery Division

Investment treaty disputes

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)

Advising an investor as to jurisdictional bases for an investment treaty claim following a change of regime in the host state (led by Sam Wordsworth QC, instructed by Fenwick Elliott)

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 (led by Ben Juratowitch QC)

As part of a team of counsel, advised a Government department on various aspects of international law concerning the protection of investments (led by Jess Wells)

Public international law

Before international courts and tribunals

An interstate boundary dispute (led by Vaughan Lowe QC and Mathias Forteau)

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 v HM Treasury [2021] EWCA Civ 783: judicial review of the withdrawal of VAT-free schemes, alleging breaches of WTO law (one of The Lawyer’s ‘Top 20 cases of 2021’, led by Eleni Mitrophanous QC, Naina Patel, and Raj Desai, instructed by HMRC)

Crane Bank Ltd v DFCU Bank Ltd: claim by a Ugandan bank alleging breach of trust and fiduciary duty by the Bank of Uganda and a conspiracy by the defendants, raising issues of foreign act of state (led by Ricky Diwan QC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP)

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)

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)

Large technology company: ongoing advice on cross-border VAT issues (led by Roderick Cordara QC, instructed by Baker McKenzie)

R (Tenconi) v Upper Tribunal: Upper Tribunal appeal against denial of entrepreneur’s relief (sole counsel, instructed by HMRC)

Tenconi v Revenue & Customs Comrs: Upper Tribunal appeal against denial of entrepreneur’s relief (sole counsel, instructed by HMRC)

R (Claims Advisory Group) v Revenue & Customs Comrs: judicial review of HMRC’s decision as to the scope of a legitimate expectation as to exempt treatment (led by Roderick Cordara QC, instructed by Reid & Co.)

R (Leventhal) v Revenue & Customs Comrs: judicial review of HMRC’s refusal to refund higher-rate Stamp Duty Land Tax (sole counsel, instructed by HMRC)

R (Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust) v Revenue & Customs Comrs: ongoing judicial review of HMRC’s decision not to allow recovery of input tax (led by David Scorey QC, instructed by Hempsons)

Heathrow Airport Ltd v HM Treasury [2021] EWCA Civ 783: judicial review of the withdrawal of VAT-free schemes, alleging breaches of WTO law (one of The Lawyer’s ‘Top 20 cases of 2021’, led by Eleni Mitrophanous QC, Naina Patel, and Raj Desai, instructed by HMRC)

Claims Advisory Group v Revenue & Customs Comrs [2021] STC 1726: Upper Tribunal appeal concerning the scope of the insurance exemption from VAT (led by Roderick Cordara QC, instructed by Rosetta Tax)

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)

Urincha v Libra: 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)

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.)

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 (led Christopher Smith QC, instructed by Reed Smith LLP)

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 (sole counsel)

Advised in a claim for late delivery charges under a shipbuilding contract (led by Roderick Cordara QC)

Career, Education and Awards

Career

  • 2021 Attorney General’s London ‘B’ Panel of Junior Counsel
  • 2020 Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Government
  • 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

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
Publications

Chapter in Company Directors: Duties, Liabilities, and Remedies (4th edn, OUP, 2022)

‘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