Helen Morton

Helen is an experienced lawyer with an established practice spanning the full range of commercial disputes. She acts as both sole and junior counsel and regularly appears in the Business and Property Courts and in arbitration.

Helen is particularly experienced in heavy commercial litigation, civil fraud, private international law, shipping, insurance and data protection. She acts in both the advisory and contentious contexts at all stages of the dispute resolution process, from initial advice to trial and enforcement actions.

She is currently acting in the notable s.69 arbitration appeal, Fimbank Plc v KCH Shipping Co, in which the Commercial Court determined in September 2022 that the Article III Rule 6 time-bar in the Hague-Visby Rules applies to misdelivery of cargo post-discharge. The position was previously undecided with debate in the caselaw, commentaries and international community going both ways. As the point arises frequently across the industry, the decision has considerable commercial significance and is currently being appealed to the Court of Appeal.

Other recent work highlights include acting:

  • For the defendants in US$ 2 billion fraud proceedings (Suppipat & Ors v Nop Narongdej & Ors), a multi-party conspiracy claim concerning the shares of Thailand’s largest renewable energy company;
  • For the claimant in one of the high-profile proceedings against the SFO (ENRC v The Director of the SFO, Gibson & Puddick) which includes claims for breach of confidence, misfeasance in public office and unlawful means conspiracy;
  • For the claimant in a major class action in relation to largescale data breaches by a global social media platform (SMO (A child) v TikTok); and
  • On behalf of the UK Government in a long running multi-billion pound damages dispute (Bank Mellat v Her Majesty’s Treasury) in which the Court of Appeal issued an important judgment on disclosure where there is an alleged risk of foreign prosecution.

Helen is co-author of the forthcoming edition of ‘The Common Law Jurisprudence of the Conflict of Laws, Hart’ which is due to be published in May 2023. Her chapter, ‘The Mixed Blessing of Vita Food Products: The Impact and Influence of the Privy Council’s Decision’, addresses issues in the conflict of laws and shipping.

Freddie Onslow

Freddie has a broad commercial practice and is developing expertise in shipping and employment disputes.

She has appeared unled in the High Court (QBD and Chancery Division) seeking urgent injunctive relief; in applications in the Chancery Division; in week-long trials in the employment tribunal; in an LCIA arbitration and in applications in the Circuit Commercial Court.

As part of a team of counsel, she has appeared in the Commercial Court, the Chancery Division, arbitrations (LMAA and LCIA), including in lengthy trials. Her recent work includes:

  • Representing the Man Group in Public Institution for Social Security of Kuwait v Man Group, featured in The Lawyer’s “Top 20 Cases of 2020”, concerning allegations of large-scale bribery.
  • Acting in a multi-phase LMAA arbitration claim for damages of c. US$250m following the shipment of a dangerous cargo.
  • Acting on behalf of an insurer defending claims relating to the alleged detention of aircraft in Russia.
  • Acting in a 2-week LCIA arbitration arising out of the decommissioning of oil wells.
  • Representing a global consulting firm in an ongoing LCIA arbitration against a former employee.
  • Krishna v Gowrie and others – a 6-week trial, in which Freddie acted for the petitioners / claimants in an unfair prejudice petition involving allegations of asset stripping from a joint venture.
  • Acting for the respondent in a multi-week employment tribunal hearing, successfully defending allegations of discrimination on the grounds of race, sex and perceived disability.

Freddie has a particular interest in scientific and technical disputes given her background in materials science.

Freddie is a co-author of The Encyclopaedia of International Commercial Litigation, Anthony Coleman & Simon Bryan (Ed) and has contributed to Supperstone, Goudie and Walker (ed), Judicial Review (6th edition, 2018), Chapter 15: European Union Law.

Naomi Hart

Naomi has a diverse practice in international, commercial, public and human rights law. She was identified as one of the Hot 100 by The Lawyer in 2023. She has appeared in the major directories for several years, with listings in Public International Law, International Arbitration, and International Human Rights Law.

Naomi’s commercial practice encompasses civil fraud, conflict of laws, shipping and general commercial disputes. She acts as junior and sole counsel, having recently appeared in the Court of Appeal, the Commercial Court, the Chancery Division and the King’s Bench Division (including the Administrative Court). She has also been involved in cases before the courts of the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Mauritius, Sweden, Türkiye, Norway, Australia and Malaysia (among others). Her commercial arbitration experience includes proceedings under the DIFC, LCIA, ICC, PCA, SCC, ICSID, UNCITRAL and LMAA Rules.

Naomi has an extensive practice in public international law. She has acted in six cases before the International Court of Justice as well as in proceedings before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization. She is routinely involved in cases before English and foreign domestic courts which involve questions of public international law as well as in investor-State disputes. Across this range of cases, she has advised and acted for governments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and private parties on matters relating to territorial delimitation, self-determination, the law of the sea, occupation of territory, war crimes, genocide, privileges and immunities, climate change, international administrative law, sanctions, international trade law, the act of State doctrine, and inter-State espionage. She also has a wide human rights practice before English, international and foreign domestic courts, much of which is pro bono.

Naomi attained a doctorate from the University of Cambridge on the topic of espionage and public international law, for which she was awarded the Faculty of Law’s Yorke Prize for a thesis “of exceptional quality, which makes a substantial contribution to its relevant field of legal knowledge”. She has published widely on human rights, international refugee law, investor-State arbitration and general international law.

In 2020, Naomi was appointed to both the Public International Law C Panel of Junior Counsel and the Attorney General’s London C Panel of Civil Counsel. She is also a Trustee of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and a member of the Bar Council’s International Committee.

Naomi is admitted as a solicitor in New South Wales. At the University of Sydney, she received First Class Honours in her Law degree (ranking second in her year) and the University Medal and First Class Honours in History (ranking first in her year).

Benedict Tompkins

Benedict is described in the 2024 edition of the Legal 500 as an “up-and-coming arbitrator” and is actively building his tribunal practice alongside his work as counsel in substantial commercial and Investor–State arbitrations.

Benedict has sat as a sole arbitrator and as a party-appointed arbitrator in disputes worth up to c. $6 million, seated in London (ICC Rules) and Paris (UNCITRAL Rules / PCA).

As counsel, he has experience of disputes arising under the ICSID, ICC, LCIA, HKIAC, SIAC, LMAA, ICDR, DIAC and UNCITRAL Rules, and at all levels of the English courts. Prior to his call to the bar in England and Wales, Benedict gained substantial experience as a tribunal assistant / secretary in proceedings under all major institutional rules.

He prides himself on working efficiently and is able to provide substantial availability for tribunal appointments, including in particular delivery of awards within agreed (and, if necessary, urgent) timeframes.

He graduated first in his year from the Universities of Auckland and Cambridge.

Paul Key KC

Paul Key is recognised as one of the leading silks at the Commercial Bar, specializing in complex, cross-border and high-value disputes.

He wins praise from clients for combining strong analytical skills (“intellect of an Einstein“, “you bring him in when you have a case which needs a lot of the grey matter to be applied to it“, “incredibly bright and hard-working“, “incisive and insightful“, “supremely intelligent“) with powerful advocacy (“astonishingly good advocate“, “the go-to advocate for important cases“, “amazing ability to get the most difficult tribunal on his side“) and a teamwork ethic (“a definite inclusion when compiling a dream team for a case“, “approachable and responsive“, “seamlessly slots into the wider team and provides spot-on insights“, “a team player who is very switched-on, very good with clients, and user-friendly“).

As well as appearing as sole counsel in Courts and in arbitrations, Paul also acts as a member of larger teams in heavyweight disputes, including 14 separate cases in recent years valued at over US$1billion. In addition to acting for and against high net-worth individuals  regularly acts for and against States and State-entities (e.g. China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Russia, Singapore and the USA).

Paul’s litigation work has seen him win complex and very substantial cases for his clients at all levels of the English Court system, including the Supreme Court (“secured a huge victory for us in a very difficult case“, “superb courtroom advocate“, “having an extremely high-profile year“, “his knowledge of English law is phenomenal“, “clear, concise, confident and easy to work with“).

Paul has been widely recognized for his specialism in arbitration, both international commercial arbitration (including ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL, SCC and ARIAS) and investment treaty arbitration (including ICSID). He has been ranked in the top-tier (band 1) rankings for arbitration for over 10 years and has consistently been identified as one of the leading figures in that field (“a real arbitration expert“, “few can rival his expertise, ability and knowledge in the field of investment arbitration“, “he has established an impressive case portfolio“, “the first port of call for important arbitration disputes“, “an arbitration guru“, “when working on a huge international arbitration, he seamlessly slots into the wider team and provides spot-on insights“). He has appeared as advocate in over 300 major international arbitrations worldwide, as well as appearing regularly before the English Courts (at all levels) and foreign Courts on arbitration matters. In addition to his extensive experience in international commercial arbitration, he is one of the very few English Silks to have real expertise in investment arbitration. He has been lead counsel in a very large number of BIT / investment arbitrations, acting both for and against States.

He is Visiting Professor in international arbitration law at King’s College, London, and has lectured and published widely in this field. He has been a long-standing representative of the UK on the ILA International Commercial Arbitration Committee and is also a delegate for the UNCITRAL Working Group on Arbitration.

His practice spans a vast array of fields in international and domestic law, including very substantial experience in each of the following subject-matter areas: foreign investment; international trade; civil fraud; energy; joint ventures; power and other large scale infrastructure projects; offshore disputes; oil & gas; telecommunications; shipping; agency and distribution (including commercial agency); conflict of laws; and public international law (largely in the investment context).

Prior to taking Silk, Paul won the Chambers & Partners Award for “International Arbitration Junior Barrister of the Year” and was also nominated for this award in commercial dispute resolution. He was recently nominated (as one of three) for Silk of the Year in Projects and Energy.

Jeffrey Gruder KC

Jeffrey Gruder KC, having graduated at Cambridge with a First Class with Distinction in law, has developed a high-profile arbitration practice both as advocate and arbitrator. He has vast experience of acting as Chairman, Sole and Party Appointed Arbitrator in a large variety of commercial arbitrations including LCIA, ICC, Swiss Chamber, UNCITRAL, SIAC, HKIAC, LMAA, DIAC and ad hoc arbitrations. He is a sought after and well-regarded arbitrator. Jeffrey Gruder is consistently recommended as a leading arbitrator in both Legal 500 and Chambers Directories. Recent comments include:

Chambers UK Bar Guide

“Distinguished for his expertise in acting as an arbitrator in a number of high-value international disputes.”

Strengths: “Extremely impartial, efficient, on the ball and very well prepared.”

“Leading observers hold Gruder’s talents in the highest esteem, praising his “astounding intellect and great mastery of technical matters.”

“… Extremely able and thorough … with an extraordinary knowledge of the law.

“Very experienced and very bright.”

“”A very able and well-respected arbitrator who is very clever and hard-working.” “Very efficient at dealing with everything and a delight to work with.”

Legal 500

“First Class” “Strong attention to detail; incredibly responsive; collegiate and very easy to deal with

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd

Lord (John) Thomas, who retired in 2017 as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, is an international arbitrator and President of the Qatar International Court. He practiced for 24 years as a barrister at the Commercial Bar, 12 as a QC, and was a Judge of the Commercial Court from 1996-2003. He has given important appellate judgments in arbitration cases including the 2021 decision in Betamax v State Trading Corporation (public policy in the enforcement/setting aside of awards), Sucafina v Rottenberg (partial awards) and Emmott v Wilson (confidentiality).

Before joining the bench and during his 24 year career as a barrister his practice focused on international commercial disputes, finance, banking, insurance and reinsurance, shipping, shipbuilding, professional negligence and regulation.