Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

International arbitration

Arbitration is a core practice area at Fountain Court Chambers. Members have a wide range of experience acting in arbitrations, in litigation concerning arbitrations, and as arbitrators. The high values involved in the arbitral practices of our leading barristers have seen them act on claims valued in the billions, although such quantum varies considerably.

For example, the set was instructed in the case of Dow Chemical Company v Petrochemical Industries Company [2012] EWHC 2739 (Comm.) which related to a multi-billion dollar ICC arbitration arising out of the collapse of a petrochemicals joint venture with the state of Kuwait.

The arbitration raised numerous complex issues of contractual interpretation and damages law, and obtained an award of more than US$2 billion, one of the largest commercial awards ever.

Fountain Court was instructed as part of a team to successfully oppose an application to the Commercial Court under section 68 of the Arbitration Act 1996, further upholding the award.

Members of Chambers have experience of acting in arbitrations in a wide range of fields, including energy, oil & gas, commodities, pharmaceuticals, product liability, telecommunications, asbestos-related liabilities, aviation, insurance and reinsurance, and sport (including cricket, Formula 1, Premiership and Football Association)

To give one cited example, the set’s insurance arbitration practice was tested in a case concerning the insurance liabilities flowing from the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack, in the Commercial Court case of Heraldglen v AIOI [2013] EWHC 154 (Comm.)

The case determined whether the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center constituted one event, or two for the purpose of claims on liability insurance policies. The Commercial Court agreed with the arbitrators, and held there were two separate hijackings and two separate incidences of loss and damage.

Our experience also extends to Bermuda Form arbitrations, including in acting in insurance and reinsurance disputes arising from the run-off of international reinsurance pools.

Members are familiar with the various institutional arbitration regimes, including the International Chamber of Commerce, the London Court of International Arbitration, the UNCITRAL Rules and the City Disputes Panel.  Members are also frequently involved in ad hoc references.

Members regularly act in arbitrations with an international dimension: as well as acting in London arbitrations, many members have experience of acting in arbitrations conducted in foreign jurisdictions; similarly, many members have experience of acting in arbitrations where the subject matter of the dispute is governed by a foreign law.

Individual members have seen multi-jurisdictional cases involve jurisdictions as diverse as Swiss, UAE, Russian, as well as the United Kingdom, whilst the industries concerned – property, aviation, financial services to cover a few, are equally diverse.  Other cases have involved sensitive interplay between parallel US regulatory investigations and English legal proceedings.

The set’s work in the court challenges to the Masri Consolidated Contractors litigation is exemplary in showing how complex and multi-faceted our members’ arbitral practices really are, involving expedited international arbitration proceedings seated in Geneva involving issues and expert evidence of Yemeni, Lebanese and English law, to give but one example.

Members have wide experience of dealing with all types of disputes relating to arbitrations, such as the construction and validity of arbitration agreements, the conduct of arbitrations, the removal of arbitrators, the granting of interim remedies, the enforcement of awards and appeals.

The set was involved in the long-running litigation concerning the appointment of arbitrators in Jivraj v Hashwani, [2011] UKSC 40 in which the courts considered the legality of objections to the appointment of arbitrators on  the grounds of race or religion, ultimately being concluded, with multiple interventions from arbitral institutions, at the Supreme Court level .

Members are regularly instructed to appear in the Commercial Court under the Arbitration Act 1996, e.g. to challenge an arbitral Award or to obtain a stay of court proceedings.

The recent expression of our members’ technical ability in this area can be seen in our work in the Court of Appeal in MRI Trading v. Erdenet [2013] EWCA Civ. 156 about the circumstances in which a court should interfere with a tribunal’s findings on questions of construction, and when remitted to a tribunal for further consideration, rather than setting aside the award.

The set also acted in the appellate case of Sulamerica v Enesa Engenharia [2012] EWCA Civ. 638, in an important precedent set by the Court of Appeal, in which the Court provided welcome guidance in determining the proper law of the arbitration agreement, where none is expressly stated, in a case involving London arbitration but Brazilian law.

The Court confirmed that the law of the arbitration clause is legally distinct from the contract of which it forms a part, and set out a helpful test by which to ascertain the relevant law, in this case, English law.

Members of chambers have often acted in substantial and complex Commercial Court claims relating to arbitration concerning allegations of fraud, dishonesty and forgery, showing the strong overlap between this mode of dispute resolution and other practice areas.

Most senior members of Chambers have accepted appointments as arbitrators, and many of them are highly experienced arbitrators with strong reputations in the market.

Quotes from directories

  • "Sian Huckett in particular is great. She is incredibly responsive, very easy to get on with and very helpful. You can't ask for much more." Senior clerk Alex Taylor leads the team.

    Chambers UK 2017
  • The arbitration experience of its members is all-encompassing, while its global reach includes an outpost in Singapore. 

    Legal 500 2016
  •  ‘top-class commercial set – always available and always accommodating’.

    Legal 500 2016
  • The barristers at Fountain Court Chambers are 'excellent, and exactly what you would expect from a first-rate set'.

    Legal 500 2014
  • Fountain Court Chambers is ‘extremely strong in the area of complex international disputes, and specifically oil and gas’.

    Legal 500 2013
  • "top-drawer, wonderful"

    Chambers UK 2014
  • Fountain Court retains its strong market presence in the international arbitration arena, and is recognised as a heavy-hitting commercial set. The "top-drawer, wonderful" advocates at the set offer expertise in a notably diverse spread of areas, including insurance, shopping and aviation. Their ability to act as counsel, sit as arbitrators or appear in enforcement litigation sees them regularly instructed by leading firms

    Chambers UK 2014