Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Akhil Shah QCCall Date: 1990 | Silk Date: 2010

 “real stature as a courtroom and arbitration operator” (Chambers & Partners)

Akhil is an experienced trial and appellate advocate specialising in commercial and other high quality civil law. His practice as Queen’s Counsel has spanned a wide range of disputes involving commercial litigation, appellate advocacy, arbitration and regulatory hearings. His work often involves international and multi-jurisdictional elements.  Akhil also undertakes advisory work.

Notable cases in silk have included acting for GECAS in a  dispute concerning enforcement of security over  six aircraft, for the insured in a claim against insurers and brokers for non-disclosure of an over-valued super-yacht, for Novo Banco SA in a letter of credit dispute; for Manchester Airport in judicial review proceedings concerning the allocation of slots following the administration of Monarch Airlines, for the CAA in R (TUI) v CAA, for a leading telecoms group in an ICC arbitration arising out of an international supply contract, for the Republic of Cyprus relating to the right to fly from England to Cyprus, for easyJet in its successful application for the right to fly between London and Moscow, and for DVB Group Merchant Bank, Barclays Bank, BNP Paribas and HSH Nordbank in relation to various securitised lending disputes.

Akhil regularly provides expert evidence on English law to foreign courts or tribunals and has done so recently in proceedings in the People’s Republic of China, Malaysia, Russia and France. He has also appeared in the Caribbean and has been admitted to the British Virgin Islands Bar.

Akhil accepts appointments as arbitrator.

Areas of Expertise

  • Banking & finance
  • Commercial dispute resolution
  • Energy & natural resources
  • Insurance and reinsurance
  • International arbitration
  • Media, entertainment & sport
  • Product liability
  • Professional negligence
  • Travel
  • Administrative & public law
  • Aviation

Recommendations

Recommended as a leading silk in aviation (Legal 500, and Chambers & Partners), international arbitration (Legal 500), banking & finance (Legal 500), commercial litigation (Legal 500), product liability (Chambers & Partners) and travel (Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners). Akhil is also listed in the current editions of the Guide to the World’s Leading Aviation Lawyers and Legal Experts. He is described in the legal directories as:

“He is thoughtful, brilliant with clients, and superb intellectually. You couldn’t have a nicer opponent but he doesn’t hold back. He has a steely charm.” (Chambers & Partners)

“He is a details man who takes a considered approach and is especially formidable on his paperwork.” “He is very bright, client-friendly, judges like him and his advisory work is very strong. He is also good in court. He never over-eggs the case and his paperwork is first-rate. He addresses the issues concisely and persuasively.” (Chambers & Partners)

“He is incredibly calm, relaxed and methodical.” “He has a thoughtful and understated approach to advocacy” and is “usefully succinct in his submissions.” (Chambers & Partners)

 “Bright, meticulous and tenacious” (Legal 500)

“A complete star of the aviation Bar” (Legal 500)

The epitome of a modern leader, nothing is too much trouble for him” (Legal 500)

Demonstrates superb judgment, meticulous preparation and second to none in advocacy” (Legal 500)

Extremely user-friendly; he is good with clients and keeps their commercial perspective in mind” (Legal 500)

He is the man to go to if you want someone with a sound understanding of the technicalities of a case, whether they be scientific or legal.”  (Chambers & Partners)

Clear, meticulous, unflustered and responsive.” (Chambers & Partners)

Meticulous, technically excellent and a charming personality. (Chambers & Partners)

Recent practice

Examples of recent practice in Akhil’s main practice areas include the following:

Aviation

“A star of the aviation Bar” (Legal 500)

 “Counsel of choice on many aviation disputes over the years, he couples an unrivalled eye for forensic detail with a pragmatic commercial approach” (Chambers and Partners)

“He is very cerebral, and has an understated, calm and measured style, which plays well with clients and judges” (Legal 500)

‘Bright, meticulous and tenacious’ (Legal 500)

Akhil Shah QC is “an excellent technical lawyer who knows aviation like the back of his hand.” (Chambers and Partners)

Akhil has acted in a broad spectrum of aviation related disputes. He has extensive experience with the legal, commercial and regulatory framework of the aviation industry. He has acted in and advised on disputes concerning aircraft leases, financing of aircraft, sale of aircraft, design and manufacture of aircraft, aviation insurance, air accidents often with a multi-jurisdictional considerations, carriage of passengers and of cargo under the Warsaw and Montreal Convention regimes, UK regulation, EU competition law and international regulation. He also his significant experience of public law disputes within the regulatory framework of the aviation industry.

Examples include:

  • R (on Application of Monarch Airlines (in administration)) v Airport Coordination Ltd [2017] EWHC 2896, acted for Manchester Airport in its intervention in judicial review proceedings brought by the administrators of Monarch Airlines against Airport Coordination for its refusal to allocate slots at Manchester and other UK airports.
  • Alpstream (and others) v PK and GECAS:  acting for GECAS at trial and in the court of appeal in a dispute arising out of the collapse of a German airline and the resulting sale by mortgagee of repossessed aircraft; successfully defeating on appeal claims in economic torts.
  • Vauxhall Helicopter Crash (16.1.13) appearing for interested party in 3 week coroner’s inquest;
  • Rogers v Hoyle [2015] QB 265: admissibility of air accident investigation reports in civil proceedings.
  • Dawson v Thomson Airways [2015] 1 WLR 883: limitation period for EU Regulation 261/2004 claims.
  • Jet 2.Com v Huzar [2014] 4 All ER 581: whether technical fault amounts extraordinary circumstance under EU Regulation 261/2004.
  • R(TUI and others ) v CAA: [2013] 1 All ER (Comm) 385: Acting for the CAA in judicial review proceedings in which the CJEU affirmed the right of passengers to claim compensation for delay under EU Regulation 261/2004.
  • Acting for easyJet (CAA decision SCAC1/12) in its successful application to the CAA for the allocation of a scarce capacity certificate to fly between London and Moscow.
  • Pindell v Air Asia [2011] 2 All ER (Comm) 296: Acting for airline in successfully resisting a claim by aircraft lessor to recover as damages the value of a lost future sale of the aircraft following late redelivery and the collapse in asset prices after the “credit crunch”.
  • R(Kibris Turk Hava Hollari) v SS Transport and Republic of Cyprus [2011] 1 Lloyds 274: Representing the Republic of Cyprus as interveners in support of the UK Secretary of State’s defence of judicial review challenge by a Turkish airline to operate schedule and charter flights to northern Cyprus. The case considered the right to fly in airspace and to land in territory of a sovereign state which did not consent to the flights.
  • DTVA v bmibaby [2011] 1 Lloyds 68: Acting for low-cost airline in a dispute concerning the economic operation of low cost airlines and their contractual relationships with regional airports.
  • HSH Nordbank v Air Astra:  Representing lenders, owners and lessors of a fleet of 5 Airbus passenger aircraft in a claim which recovered the aircraft from insolvent Spanish airline.
  • Acting for the CAA in judicial review proceedings relating to a takeover dispute between leading European airlines.
  • AerCap v Avia Asset Management [2010] 2 CLC 578: Acting for seller of two Boeing 757 aircraft against defaulting buyer, where default arose out of the “credit crunch” and aircraft prices were depressed by economic down turn.
  • Acting for aircraft lessors in numerous disputes concerning recovery of commercial aircraft from defaulting airlines.
  • Sunrock v SAS [2007] 2 Lloyds 612: Representing lessors in aircraft leasing disputes arising out breach of redelivery condition of aircraft.
  • Acting for the CAA in connection with judicial review challenges relating to proposed redeign of controlled airspace over southern England.
  • Advising as to regulatory implications of trans-European acquisition of one airline by another airline.
  • Advising in relation to the economic regulation of airlines and airports.
  • IHRC v CAA (2007) ACD 5: Acting for CAA in connection with judicial review proceedings relating to carriage of weapons from the UK to Lebanon.
  • Acting for manufacturer of aircraft in relation to a claim relating to the design of landing gear following crash landing of aircraft at Heathrow.
  • Amiri v BAE [2003] 2 Lloyds 767: Acting for Abu Dhabi state in a claim against BAE relating to the design of aircraft fuel tanks and their protection against corrosion.
  • Protea Leasing v RAC and MAS [2002] All ER (D) 224: acting for lessor in a multi-million Dollar leasing dispute with the Cambodian state airline, and advising on recovery of possession of 3 aircraft from Singapore.
  • Airbus v Patel [1999] 1 AC 119: Acting for Airbus in anti-suit injunction proceedings arising out of fatal crash landing of airline in Bangalore.
  • Acting in various passenger and cargo disputes arising out of carriage by air, including claims under the Montreal and Warsaw Convention liability regimes.
  • Western Digital v British Airways [2001] QB 733: Acting in claim concerning title to sue under Warsaw Convention of consignee named in an air waybill.

Banking & finance

The epitome of the modern leader, nothing is too much trouble for him” (Legal 500)

Extremely responsive and willing to get his hands dirty in cases” (Legal 500)

Akhil regularly acts in a broad range of banking and finance disputes. He has experience in disputes concerning asset finance, securitisation, ISDA Swaps, mis-selling of swaps, letters of credit, bills of exchange, syndicated loans, mortgages, pledges and recovering secured assets from insolvent counter-parties. Examples include:

  • Petrosaudi Oil Services (Venezuela) Ltd v Novo Banco SA and PDVSA [2017] EWCA 9, acting for Novo Banco in expedited trial and expedited appeal in letter of credit dispute where applicant raised defence of fraud on part of beneficiary.
  • Acting in structured finance disputes advising lenders, investors and export credit agencies as to enforcement and recovery of secured assets.
  • Advising in respect of enforcement of mortgage over floating production vessel in Brazil.
  • Acting for bank in letter of credit dispute concerning a leading sports event in India.
  • Acting for bank in relation to claims made under POCA 2002.
  • Advising in disputes under Payment Services Regulations 2009 arising out of cyber fraud on bank accounts.
  • Acting in complex multi-party proceedings concerning duties of mortgagee when selling mortgaged asset.
  • Acting in dispute concerning a credit card affinity agreement between bank and commercial counter-party.
  • Acting in swaps disputes (interest rates and futures) between banks and commercial counter-parties.
  • Advising security trustees, investment managers and insurers as to management of investments.
  • Acting for lender in a dispute where borrower falsely represented it had title to asset offered as security.
  • HSH Nordbank v Air Astra: representing the bank in proceedings for the recovery from the Spanish airline (Air Astra) of aircraft in Spain provided as security for a loan.
  • Deutsche Bank v Volare: Acting for Deutsche Bank in proceedings for the recovery of aircraft from an insolvent Italian airline – Volare.
  • Acting for and advising banks in connection with personal and proprietary remedies in England and abroad (including injunctive relief) against defaulting customers and third parties.
  • Acting for and advising both banks and others in relation to claims on bills of exchange, and promissory notes.
  • Acting for and advising banks in relation to letters of credit.
  • Acting in a dispute concerning enforcement of documentary credits.
  • Acting in a dispute between two banks in a civil fraud claim concerning performance bonds.
  • Cardinal Finance v Central Bank of Yemen [2001] LRBR 1: Representing the central bank of Yemen in a dispute arising out of the purchase by an investment fund of promissory notes issued by the bank to the Czech Republic.

Commercial dispute resolution

Excellent attention to detail and exceptionally user-friendly” (Legal 500)

Akhil has extensive experience in commercial litigation, including key areas of contractual disputes, joint venture disputes, share purchase agreements, trading disputes, claims against professional advisors, civil and commercial fraud, asset recovery, freezing injunctions and enforcement of judgments. Recent examples include acting in:

  • Latin American Investments and another v Maroil and another [2017] EWHC 1254, joint venture / shareholder dispute, with alleged misappropriation of funds by shareholder, raising issue of reflective loss and ability of shareholder to obtain injunctive relief to freeze assets of wrongdoer on behalf of company.
  • an asset finance dispute involving claims of conspiracy and procuring breach of duty
  • an international sale of goods dispute involving allegations of bribery, conspiracy and procuring breach of contract
  • joint venture disputes in transport and telecommunications industries
  • disputes relating to share purchase agreements and warranty claims
  • a dispute to recover assets of irreplaceable historical value
  • disputes to recover assets in the control of a company alleged by the United States SEC to be operating a “Ponzi scheme”
  • disputes to enforce judgment against assets of judgment debtor, including freezing injunctions and contempt proceedings

International arbitration

Akhil Shah QC “demonstrates superb judgment, meticulous preparation and second-to-none advocacy.” (Legal 500)

Akhil Shah QC is ‘particularly strong on high-value, complex international arbitration’ (Legal 500)

Extremely user-friendly; he is good with clients and keeps their commercial perspective in mind” (Legal 500)

Akhil regularly acts in commercial and international arbitrations in a wide range of disputes. Selected examples include acting for:

  • international airline in ICC arbitration concerning redelivery of commercial passenger aircraft.
  • a telecoms company in a successful ICC arbitration relating to the supply of telecommunications infrastructure in Kosovo.
  • a counter-party to an international sales contract in LCIA arbitration proceedings relating to software applications in the automobile industry in Saudi Arabia.
  • a state in a joint venture dispute relating to the design of a transport project (ad hoc arbitration).
  • a counter-party in international supply contract to Libya in ICC arbitration proceedings, including jurisdiction challenge as to application of arbitration agreement to third party respondents.
  • a party to a joint venture in Saudi Arabia in LCIA arbitration proceedings.
  • a party to a joint venture investment in the cellular telecoms industry in India in ICC arbitration proceedings.
  • a counter-party to an international sale of goods contract to India in LCIA arbitration proceedings.
  • a syndicate of investors and owners of a fleet of passenger aircraft in international arbitration proceedings against insurers arising out of the theft of the aircraft in Mexico.
  • the insured in ARIAS arbitration proceedings in a dispute arising out of the insurance into Lloyds of viatical policies issued in the US.
  • in international arbitration on the Bermuda Form on liability and property insurance policies.
  • national airline in international arbitration proceedings arising out of an agreement to establish and support commercial airline services in Afghanistan.
  • an appellant in arbitration proceedings brought under International Cotton Trade Association, in relation to sale of cotton to the People’s Republic of China.
  • a major oil company in LCIA arbitration proceedings in a dispute arising out of the take-over of a major oil company and its effect on a joint venture agreement for the oil exploration in Kuwait.

Akhil has also sat as a party appointed arbitrator in LCIA arbitrations involving contracts for the supply of services in Columbia.

Insurance

Akhil regularly acts in insurance / reinsurance disputes in the Commercial Court and in arbitration. He has acted for and advised insureds / insurers / reinsurers in connection with construction and coverage issues under different insurance policies, including all risks, business interruption, aviation, theft, liability, product, Bermuda Form, property, war risk, political risk, trade credit, export credit, viatical and professional indemnity policies. Examples of recent practice include:

  • Involnert v Aprilgrange and AIS Insurance and OAMPS Special Risks [2015] 2 Lloyds Rep 289: acting for insured in proceedings against insurer and brokers concerning total loss of a vessel: issues of moral hazard, innocent non-disclosure and broker’s negligence.
  • Acting for insured in property insurance dispute on hybrid Bermuda Form, including proceedings for anti-suit injunction.
  • Advising insurers in relation to cyber fraud effected on bank accounts of policy holders.
  • Blue Sky v Chartis and 17 others –representing the insured owner of three Boeing 747 aircraft in a dispute for US$150 million against eighteen insurers in connection with the theft and removal of the aircraft to Iran. The claim raised issues of the effect of US sanctions against Iran on imports of assets into Iran and insurance of those assets in the international insurance market.
  • Acting for a syndicate of investors and owners of a fleet of fourteen passenger aircraft in proceedings against insurers arising out of the theft of the aircraft in Mexico. The claim raised issues about the ability of one co-insured to recover under a composite policy for loss caused by wrongful conduct of another co-insured.
  • Acting for the insured in ARIAS arbitration proceedings in a dispute concerning viatical and contingent cost insurance.
  • Representing Excess Insurers in international arbitration on the Bermuda Form in relation to liability policies including in liability for fuel contamination in the US, and liability for pharmaceutical claims arising in the US.
  • Acting in disputes concerning political risk insurance, including claims of appropriation of assets by governments in Venezuela, Iran and Sudan.
  • Acting in disputes concerning export credit insurance, trade insurance and credit insurance.
  • Acting in arbitration proceedings between all risk and war risk reinsurers relating to hi-jacking in Columbia.
  • Acting in property insurance disputes arising out of the loss of “The MV  Reina 1”
  • Acting for professional indemnity insurers in a dispute arising out of fraudulent conduct in a partnership.
  • Acting in disputes concerning coverage under professional indemnity insurance.
  • Acting in disputes arising out business interruption insurance.

Jurisdiction and Conflicts of Law

Akhil regularly acts in cases involving disputes over jurisdiction involving Brussels Regulation and non-EU jurisdictions. His experience includes anti suit injunctions, forum shopping, state immunity, and interim relief in support of foreign proceedings. Selected examples include:

  • Castle v First Nation Airways [2016] EWHC 3488 and [2017] EWHC 2069: acting for lessor of aircraft obtaining interim and final mandatory antisuit injunctive relief to restrain proceedings brought in Nigeria in breach of exclusive jurisdiction agreement as well as interim and final declaratory relief.
  • Acted for leading UK bank in jurisdiction dispute concerning letter of credits, with proceedings brought in India in breach of jurisdiction agreement.
  • Acting for lender to restrain debtor from proceeding in Brazil in breach English exclusive jurisdiction clause.
  • Acting for insured against whom anti-suit injunction granted for commencing proceedings in non-EU jurisdiction in alleged breach of arbitration agreement.
  • Acting in jurisdiction dispute concerning liability of English parent company for acts of subsidiary in non-EU jurisdiction.
  • Acting in dispute for anti-suit injunction against trustees alleged to have commenced proceedings in United States in breach of exclusive jurisdiction clause.
  • acting in disputes for interim relief from English court in support of substantive proceedings in EU and non-EU jurisdictions.
  • First Security Bank v Air Gabon; Acting in proceedings resisting anti-suit injunction against proceedings commenced in breach of exclusive jurisdiction clause.
  • Knauf v British Gypsum (No 2) [2002] 2 Lloyds 416: Acting in dispute concerning jurisdiction under Brussels Convention of contribution claim when main action dismissed.
  • Airbus v Patel [1999] 1 AC 119: Acting for Airbus in proceedings arising out of fatal crash landing of airline in Bangalore. Anti-suit injunction sought to restrain proceedings brought in Texas applying “long arm” jurisdiction.
  • Acting in proceedings governed by foreign law and in particular, Mexican, Cambodian, Libyan, Iranian, Saudi and French law.

Product Liability

“He is the man to go to if you want someone with a sound understanding of the technicalities of a case, whether they be scientific or legal.”  (Chambers & Partners)

He is an extremely good team player who is of great comfort to those who instruct him.” (Chambers & Partners)

Akhil has extensive experience in product liability disputes concerning the design and manufacture of civil aircraft, aircraft components as well as other industries. He relishes disputes with a technical element and is familiar with jurisdictional and choice of law problems that feature in product liability claims. Selected examples include:

  • Acting in relation to alleged design and manufacturing defects in commercial helicopters.
  • Acting in relation to design and manufacture of hip replacement systems.
  • Advising in respect of European regulatory requirements for the design, manufacture and certification of automotive parts.
  • Acting against manufacturer of plastic seals in a dispute concerning the chemical contamination of a well known brand of alcohol.
  • Acting for the manufacturer of aircraft in disputes concerning the design and manufacture of aircraft landing gear following separate failures of landing gear on aircraft at Heathrow and Brussels.
  • Acting for supplier in a dispute concerning the delamination of plasterboard.
  • Acting in a dispute concerning the design and manufacture of jet engines following engine failure on landing at Munich airport.
  • Acting for the manufacturer of aircraft windows in a dispute concerning the spontaneous failure of toughened glass caused by the alleged presence of sulphide impurities.
  • Amiri v BAE and Crossair [2003] 2 Lloyds 767: Acting for Abu Dhabi state in a claim against BAE relating to the design of aircraft fuel tanks and their protection against corrosion.

Education

  • St John’s College Cambridge (MA)

Appointments, memberships, prizes

  • Admitted to the British Virgin Islands Bar
  • Commercial Bar Association
  • London Court of International Arbitration
  • British Insurance Law Association

Publications

  • Co-author of “Carriage by Air” (2000) (Butterworths)
  • Author of chapter on “Carriage by Air” in “Bullen & Leake & Jacob’s  Precedent of Pleading”, Blair J, Brennan QC, Jacob LJ and Langstaff J, Sweet & Maxwell 18th ed (2016).
  • Specialist editor of Halsbury’s Laws of England (Vol 2 on Aviation), Fifth edition (2017).
  • Joint editor of “Commercial Court Procedure” (Sweet & Maxwell)

Languages

Reasonable French