Essex Court Chambers

Shipping & Commodities Department

London (Bar)
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Adept across wet and dry shipping matters, members of Essex Court Chambers are regularly sought out by shipbuilders, ship owners, shipyards and insurers for their expert knowledge. Its tenants have acted in high-profile court cases and arbitrations including 'The Panamax Trader' and 'MSC Flamina'. A commentator endorses members' "extremely helpful knowledge of the Chinese market."

Client service: "The clerking team at Essex Court Chambers is well integrated. You can get information quickly about any barrister regardless of which clerk you contact." "It has brilliant clerking. They are really responsive, approachable and know how to deal with local clients in Asia." Joe Ferrigno is the senior clerk.

Christopher Smith QC

A commercial silk with a reputable wet and dry shipping practice. He has expertise in shipbuilding, collisions, towage, charter party and bill of lading disputes. His knowledge also extends to safe port and berth matters.
Strengths: "He provides prompt, efficient and practical advice." "He works phenomenally hard, is on top of all the material and deals with matters at the drop of a hat."
Recent work: Instructed by Arauco Navigation in the 'CCNI Arauco'. He represented the owners of a vessel in claims against the time charterers over substantial damage as a result of a fire and explosion on board.

Claire Blanchard QC

A highly regarded practitioner with experience in a range of shipping and international trade matters. She acts as an advocate and also accepts appointments as an arbitrator.
Strengths: "She is brilliant. She is direct, straightforward and gets to the heart of matters."

David Walsh

Acts on a range of dry shipping cases and is recommended for his advocacy in court and arbitrations. His practice includes charter parties, demurrage disputes and marine insurance matters.
Strengths: "He is richly deserving of his leading reputation and practice. He is approachable, responsive, has an organised mind and works hard." "An excellent performer."
Recent work: Acted in a General Average dispute resulting from a piratical attack on the vessel 'GEMINI'. The case concerns whether the payment of a ransom is illegal under the anti-terror laws of Singapore.

Graham Dunning QC

A highly respected silk well known for his distinguished advocacy. He has extensive experience across a broad spectrum of shipping and commodities matters including charter party and bill of lading disputes. He is often called upon to act as an advocate or an arbitrator in maritime arbitrations.
Strengths: "He is absolutely superb. He is tenacious, has a wonderful advocacy style and is laser-focused on the detail."
Recent work: Represented a group of claimants made up of 27,000 Nigerian citizens seeking to sue Shell for compensation. The claim was brought over a leakage from a tanker during a loading exercise in Shell's Bonga oilfield.

Jeffrey Gruder QC

A well-known barrister with a broad commercial law practice. He has recently been involved in several high-profile shipping disputes, including both international and London-based arbitrations.
Strengths: "He is both clever and commercial in his approach and extremely quick to respond." "He is very experienced and bright."

Jeremy Brier

A noteworthy junior with considerable ability across wet and dry shipping matters including shipbuilding and marine insurance disputes. He has experience of jurisdiction and fraud issues. He is sought out by solicitors to act both unled and as a junior counsel.
Strengths: "A safe pair of hands."
Recent work: Continued to act for the claimants in an insurance dispute over the alleged scuttling of 'Panamax Trader'. The case was settled during the trial though an LMAA arbitration concerning the cargo damages claim related to the sinking is ongoing.

Nathan Pillow QC

Has a practice covering bareboat, time and voyage charter party disputes as well as other shipping industry contract disputes. He has particular ability in cases containing allegations of fraud.
Strengths: "He is personable and produces high-quality and succinct advice quickly." "He is willing to think outside the box and work around challenging issues and challenging client demands." "He is an excellent communicator and has a great manner with clients."
Recent work: Acted for the claimant in Palmali Shipping v Litasco, a USD1.9 million breach of contract dispute. The contract relates to oil affreightment and transhipment in and around the Black Sea.

Nigel Eaton QC

A knowledgeable and technically capable silk with a broad-based shipping and commodities practice. He tackles charter party, contract of affreightment and shipbuilding actions, as well as disputes relating to the full range of hard and soft commodities. His workload includes both litigated cases and arbitrations.
Strengths: "He is extremely thorough and an excellent advocate; he is very good at driving home points."
Recent work: Acted for the defendant in Forum Services v OOS, a case centred on whether the defendant owes the claimant USD13 million under an agency contract under which the claimant was to help the defendant to charter ships to Petrobras.

Philippa Hopkins QC

An impressive barrister with a wide commercial dispute resolution practice that has a particular focus on shipping matters. She regularly acts as an advocate in court as well as in arbitration forums. Her practice includes marine insurance, dry shipping, shipbuilding and commodities cases.
Strengths: "She is incisive, quick and good with clients."
Recent work: Acted for the claimant in Griffin Underwriting v Varouxakis, a claim for breach of a settlement agreement. The claim was originally brought against the owner of a vessel detained by pirates and then against the individual behind the owning company.

Steven Berry QC

A renowned barrister with a leading dry shipping practice. He is recognised for his significant expertise in charter party, marine insurance and bill of lading disputes.
Strengths: "He is not just a phenomenal legal brain but a highly astute tactician who always has the commercial points in mind when giving advice." "He is more than superb."
Recent work: Led on the 'Panamax Trader' case, which centred on whether the ship owners deliberately sank the vessel to claim insurance.