Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Ben Valentin QCCall Date: 1995 | Silk Date: 2016

Email: bv@fountaincourt.co.uk

Ben was appointed Queen’s Counsel in February 2016.

His practice covers all aspects of commercial dispute resolution, with a particular emphasis on cases concerning banking and finance, civil fraud, corporate transactions, energy, insolvency, international trade and professional negligence.

Ben has extensive experience as both a trial and appellate advocate. He regularly appears before the higher English courts, and is an acknowledged specialist in arbitration, both domestic and international.

In common with many at Fountain Court, much of Ben’s practice is international in nature. In addition to his English practice, he also has significant experience as an advocate in complex offshore litigation (notably in the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands).

Ben’s current or recent clients include: Arcadia, Blackstone, Bridgepoint, Capital Partners, Cath Kidston, Digital Realty, DMS, Donetsksteel, Estera, Goldman Sachs, Grainger, Hellenic Petroleum, HSBC, MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas, Ocensa, Phoenix Equity Partners, PwC, 3i, Sequana, the SFO and Telia Company.

Ben is known above all else for the high quality and robustness of his advocacy, for his clear and client-focused commercial advice and for his calm, collaborative and responsive approach.

Recent practice

Banking & finance

  • Acting for the senior management of a European bank in a claim to recover incentive payments due to them on the acquisition of the bank (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for an international investment bank in connection with a close out dispute
  • Acting for an international investment bank in connection with a dispute concerning foreign exchange trades
  • Acting for a Ukrainian industrial business in connection with a syndicated lending dispute
  • Advising a leading investment firm in connection with its substantial property portfolio loan facilities in Ireland and the UK
  • Acting for a substantial lender holding first charges over properties in defending an application by a second chargeholder to reverse the order of priority of the charges on the basis of alleged “further advances” (under s.49 of the Land Registration Act 2002) (Companies Court)
  • Acting (with Bankim Thanki QC) for an international investment bank in relation to various claims concerned with on demand loan facilities extended to private wealth clients in Singapore (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for a South American soya bean processer defending a landmark case confirming the legality of “consent payments” in the restructuring of a US$100 million corporate bond issue (Commercial Court, Court of Appeal)
  • Acting for the London branch of a New York bank in connection with a dispute concerning the amendment of a payment waterfall in syndicated loan documentation (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for three UK ports in connection with a negligence claim against a retail bank arising from fraudulent payment transactions (Commercial Court)
  • Advising a leading retail bank in relation to a substantial commercial claim for damages for breach of warranty in connection with claims arising from the mis-selling of financial products
  • Acting (with Bankim Thanki QC) for a corporate borrower in a claim against Kaupthing Bank arising from lending and swap agreements giving rise to a landmark jurisdictional decision (Commercial Court)
  • Advising an English bank in relation to proceedings against Lehman Brothers over cross-currency swap transactions governed by ISDA Master terms (Commercial Court)
  • Advising an American bank in connection with a multi-party custodial services dispute
  • Acting for RBS in defending a substantial commercial banking dispute involving a claim in deceit and misrepresentation arising out of £140 million syndicated loan in connection with Enron Teesside Operations Ltd (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for NatWest in a workout banking dispute with Rabobank involving US$200 million counterclaim and allegations of deceit, misrepresentation and inducing breach of contract (Commercial Court; Court of Appeal)

Civil procedure

  • Acting for a bank respondent to an application by a former customer for pre-action disclosure under CPR 31.16 of trading information
  • Acting for a litigation funder in connection with an application seeking privileged information under a letter of request issued by a US court
  • Acting for a respondent to an application by a former shareholder for pre-action disclosure under CPR 31.16 of financial information provided confidentially to the Board of Directors
  • Acting for applicants under the Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Act 1975, in respect of letters of request issued by a US court (QBD)
  • Acting for a Greek telecommunications entity in relation to an application under s.236 of the Insolvency Act 1986 against foreign lawyers to produce client documents (Chancery Division)
  • Acting for the Bar Council in Prudential v HMRC, a landmark decision on whether legal advice privilege extends beyond communications between a client and his/her lawyer (Court of Appeal, Supreme Court)
  • Acting for the Liquidators of MG Rover in relation to complex disclosure applications made by various companies in the Phoenix group (Companies Court)
  • Acting for NatWest in an application for privileged documents in connection with a workout banking dispute (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for the Bank of England in Three Rivers (No.6), the leading decision on the scope of legal advice privilege (Court of Appeal, House of Lords)
  • Acting for the Bank of England in Three Rivers (No.4), in relation to an application for third party disclosure (Court of Appeal)
  • Acting for the Bank of England in Three Rivers (No.3), a leading decision on the test for summary judgment under CPR Part 24 (Court of Appeal, House of Lords)
  • Acting in relation to an appeal relating to the limitation period applicable to the enforcement of a judgment (Court of Appeal)

Commercial dispute resolution

  • Acting for the claimants in various proceedings relating to the completion of the settlement of the RBS Rights Issue litigation (Chancery Division)
  • Acting for a private equity investor and its directors in connection with proceedings relating to the sale of a leading fashion retailer (Chancery Division)
  • Acting for a commercial property developer in proceedings relating to a substantial retail and residential development (Chancery Division)
  • Acting for a licensed offshore electricity owner in proceedings relating to undersea cable failures (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for a leading fashion retailer in connection with proceedings relating to the sale of a business in the Far East (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for an investor in disputes arising from the acquisition of a global fiduciary services business
  • Acting for Digital Realty in defending proceedings brought by Deutsche Bank concerning the release of a guarantee (Chancery Division)
  • Advising the counter-party to a forward purchase agreement in relation to contractual issues concerning a substantial Russian retail complex
  • Acting for the former directors of a property development group in connection with claims brought by a liquidator in respect of alleged breaches of duty (Companies Court)
  • Acting for a major Greek energy group in overturning an arbitral award, under s.67 of the Arbitration Act 1996, in a case involving the alleged long-term charterparty of an LPG tanker (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for a publicly listed French company, and for former directors, in defending two claims to reverse substantial dividends paid by its subsidiary (Chancery Division)
  • Acting for a manufacturer of networked gaming systems in a claim for indemnification and breach of warranty under a share purchase agreement (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for a Scandinavian telecommunications provider in proceedings against a Turkish conglomerate to enforce a US$932 million arbitration award, and related New York Convention, freezing and anti-suit injunction applications (Privy Council, Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, BVI High Court)
  • Acting for a paper mill in defending a claim in respect of payments allegedly due under an energy consultancy contract (Court of Appeal)
  • Acting for a multinational oil company in connection with environmental breach of warranty claims arising from the sale of a German oil refinery (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for the directors of a collapsed Cayman hedge fund in a landmark case concerning the duties of non-executive directors in a collapsed hedge fund and the scope of a director’s liability for “wilful neglect or default” (Cayman Islands Court of Appeal, Cayman Islands Grand Court)
  • Acting for the administrators of a UK export manufacturer in relation to a dispute as to whether performance of a commercial contract would breach European and UK sanctions against trade with Iran (Chancery Division)
  • Advising a European bank in connection with a cross-border dispute with a London auction house relating to disputed pledge rights over a valuable collection of manuscripts and incunabula (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for an investor in relation to litigation in connection with the ownership of carbon emissions allowances and the Eggborough power station (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for an international investment bank in relation to a contractual dispute relating to the sale of a portfolio of hotels (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for a Scandinavian telecommunications provider in a claim against a Russian entity arising from a dispute over the ownership of a substantial European mobile telephone network (Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal)
  • Acting for the Bank of England in the BCCI litigation (Three Rivers) in the Commercial Court, Court of Appeal and House of Lords, in which over 40 officials of the Bank were accused of acting dishonestly in the supervision of BCCI SA; including a 256-day trial and various landmark decisions on misfeasance in public office, legal professional privilege, third party disclosure and indemnity costs

Fraud: civil

  • Acting for the AwalCo Respondents in the AHAB/Saad proceedings (Court of Appeal of the Cayman Islands)
  • Acting for an investor in connection with a freezing injunction obtained by the Liquidators of BTA Bank
  • Acting for Liongate in proceedings against its former directors for breach of fiduciary duty (Cayman Islands Grand Court)
  • Advising office-holder in connection with proceedings arising from a £150 million fraud against a substantial property group
  • Acting for a commercial bank to obtain a freezing injunction in respect of auction proceeds in aid of civil fraud proceedings in Portugal (Chancery Division)
  • Acting for a German bank defending claims by the liquidators of companies in the Saad Group, following its collapse, to reverse payments totalling US$8 million made under aircraft finance facilities (Chancery Division)
  • Acting for three UK ports in connection with a negligence claim against a retail bank arising from fraudulent payment transactions (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for the directors of a collapsed Cayman hedge fund in relation to claims for breach of duty and wilful neglect (Cayman Islands Court of Appeal; Cayman Islands Grand Court)
  • Acting for a nominee director in connection with proceedings arising from the alleged multi-billion dollar fraud committed against BTA Bank (Chancery Division)
  • Acting for RBS in defending a commercial banking dispute involving a claim in deceit and misrepresentation arising out of £140 million syndicated loan in connection with Enron Teesside (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for a Malaysian bank in relation to claims in deceit and conspiracy arising out of a fraudulent promissory note transaction (Chancery Division)
  • Acting for NatWest in a workout banking dispute involving US$200 million counterclaim and allegations of deceit, misrepresentation and inducing breach of contract (Commercial Court)

International arbitration

  • Acting for an oil and gas company in relation to a substantial shareholder dispute (LCIA arbitration)
  • Acting for a Ukrainian business in connection with a syndicated lending dispute (LCIA arbitration)
  • Acting for an international investment bank in connection with a close out dispute (LCIA arbitration)
  • Acting for the investors in a food processing group in relation to claims made under a sale purchase agreement and in fraudulent misrepresentation (LCIA arbitration)
  • Acting for a major Greek energy group in overturning an arbitral award, under s.67 of the Arbitration Act 1996, in a case involving the alleged long-term charterparty of an LPG tanker (Commercial Court)
  • Acting for an investor in relation to claims in connection with a new luxury hotel (LCIA arbitration)
  • Acting for an insurer in defending claims by an insured under a patent infringement excess policy (ad hoc arbitration)
  • Acting for a Scandinavian telecommunications group in relation to the enforcement of an ICC award, pursuant to the New York Convention, in England and the British Virgin Islands (Privy Council, Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, BVI Commercial Division; Commercial Court)
  • Acting for a corporate shareholder in connection with an international dispute relating to the management of a Russian retailer and related arbitration and litigation in England and the British Virgin Islands (LCIA arbitration; Commercial Court; BVI Commercial Division)
  • Acting for a shareholder in an Ukrainian airline in a contractual dispute between its shareholders (LCIA arbitration)
  • Acting for an investment bank in relation to an insurance claim arising from the Enron collapse (LCIA arbitration)
  • Advising in connection with a claim to recover a US$30 million payment made by mistake at completion of a sale and purchase agreement (LCIA arbitration)
  • Advising an Indian telecommunications company in connection with a commercial dispute arising from a joint venture with Vodafone (ad hoc arbitration)
  • Acting for a Canadian mining company in relation to a claim to recover its initial investment in a gold mine in the Republic of Kazakhstan (UNCITRAL arbitration)

Offshore

  • Acting for the AwalCo Respondents in the AHAB/Saad proceedings (Court of Appeal of the Cayman Islands)
  • Acting for Liongate in proceedings against its former directors for breach of fiduciary duty (Cayman Islands Grand Court)
  • Acting for DMS and a former director in proceedings relating to the collapse of a fund (Cayman Islands Grand Court)
  • Acting (with Bankim Thanki QC) for a Scandinavian telecommunications provider in proceedings against a Turkish conglomerate to enforce a US$932 million arbitration award, and related New York Convention, freezing and anti-suit injunction applications (Privy Council, Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, BVI Commercial Division)
  • Acting for a BVI company defending a claim brought by a former employee of a major Russian retailer, including in respect of a contested forum non conveniens application (BVI High Court)
  • Acting for the directors of a collapsed Cayman hedge fund in relation to claims for breach of duty and wilful neglect (Cayman Islands Court of Appeal; Cayman Islands Grand Court)
  • Acting (with Bankim Thanki QC) for a Scandinavian telecommunications provider in a claim against a Russian entity arising from a dispute over the ownership of a substantial European mobile telephone network (Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal)

Restructuring/insolvency

  • Acting for former administrators in defending proceedings relating to the sale of a substantial City of London property portfolio
  • Advising Arcadia in connection with a claim by a liquidator arising from the BHS collapse
  • Acting for former directors in defending proceedings by a liquidator relating to the insolvency of a property development business
  • Acting for a German bank defending claims by the liquidators of companies in the Saad Group, following its collapse, to reverse alleged transactions at an undervalue and preferences in respect of payments totalling US$8 million made under aircraft finance facilities
  • Acting for the US debtors of Nortel in relation to applications to give effect to letters of request for evidence in bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware
  • Acting for the US officeholder of Overseas Shipholding Group Inc (and related companies) in respect of multiple applications to recognise US Chapter 11 proceedings under the Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations
  • Acting for the Liquidators of MG Rover in relation to complex disclosure applications made by various companies in the Phoenix group
  • Acting (with Bankim Thanki QC) for a commercial customer of Kaupthing Bank in relation to complex issues under the Credit Institutions (Reorganisation and Winding Up) Regulations 2004
  • Acting for the Liquidators of MG Rover in connection with claims against the former Phoenix directors

Directory Rankings

Ben is consistently ranked among the foremost practitioners at the Commercial Bar in his principal practice areas – Banking and Finance, Commercial Dispute Resolution, Civil Fraud and Insolvency – as well as for his International Arbitration and Offshore practice.

Recent market commentary includes:

His attention to detail is superb, he’s forceful on his feet, and he has an extremely high capacity for work.” “He’s very pragmatic, provides really good service and is great with clients.” (Chambers & Partners, 2019)

He’s very highly thought of. Whether he’s on the same side as you or not, you know he’s going to be fair as he’s always honourable and measured in his approach.” “A thoughtful and strategic advocate.” (Chambers & Partners, 2019)

A really excellent advocate who has very good judgement.” “Very personable and a very good team player.” (Chambers & Partners, 2019)

“He works seamlessly as part of a team and inspires confidence in judges” (Legal 500, 2019)

“a very fine advocate known for the quality of his preparation

“robust, tough and very charming”

very clever, immensely likeable, works easily in a team, and has no pomposity whatsoever

“exceptionally hard-working, methodical and completely unflappable“

“an incredibly responsive and calm barrister who has great commercial judgement”

“very cool and very measured. Good on strategy and tactics and a very careful thinker”

“one of the most impressive silks at the Bar”

Education

  • Worcester College, Oxford

BA (Oxon) (1992); BCL (1993)

  • Cornell Law School, New York

LLM (1994)

Appointments, memberships, prizes

  • Called to New York State Bar (1998)
  • Called to British Virgin Islands Bar (2007)
  • Commercial Bar Association
  • Chancery Bar Association
  • New York State Bar Association
  • LCIA
  • CEDR Accredited Mediator

Reported cases

Goodman v Cummings and DMS Governance Limited (Cayman Islands Grand Court, 13 September 2018)

Aras v National Bank of Greece SA [2018] EWHC 1389 (Comm) (Commercial Court)

AM Holdings v Batten [2018] EWHC 934 (Ch) (Chancery Division)

ECU Group Plc v HSBC Bank Plc [2017] EWHC 3011 (Comm); [2018] Lloyd’s Rep. F.C. 44 (Commercial Court)

Co-operative Bank Plc v Hayes Freehold; Deutsche Bank v Sentrum Holdings [2017] EWHC 1820 (Ch) (Chancery Division)

Sonera Holding B.V. v Cukurova Holding A.S. (Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, 14 June 2017); (British Virgin Islands Commercial Division, 23 February 2016) (share sale order)

BAT Industries PLC v Sequana S.A. [2016] EWHC 1686 (Ch); [2017] 1 BCLC 453 (Chancery Division)

Sonera Holding B.V. Cukurova Holding A.S. (Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, 23 June 2016) (anti-arbitration injunction)

Urban Ventures Limited v (1) Thomas and O’Reilly, and (2) Dunbar Assets plc [2016] EWCA Civ 30; [2016] 2 P. & C.R. DG2 (Court of Appeal); [2014] EWHC 1161 (Ch); [2014] 2 E.G.L.R. 179 (Companies Court)

Hellenic Petroleum Cyprus Limited v Premier Maritime Limited [2015] EWHC 1894 (Comm)

Quah Su-Ling v Goldman Sachs International [2015] EWHC 759 (Comm)

Peterson and Ekstrom v Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund Limited [2015 (1) CILR 45] (Cayman Islands Court of Appeal); [2011 (2) CILR 203] (Grand Court, Financial Services Division)

Serious Fraud Office v Evans [2014] EWHC 3803 (QB); [2015] 1 WLR 3526

Global Draw Ltd v IGT-UK Group Ltd [2014] EWHC 2973 (Comm)

Cukurova Holding A.S. v  Sonera Holding B.V. [2014] UKPC 15; [2015] 2 All ER 1061; BVIHCVAP 2012/0029 (Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, 9 May 2013)

Parvalorem v Ricardo Oliveira & others [2013] EWHC 4195 (Ch)

Re Hellas Telecommunications [2013] BPIR 756

Sonera Holding BV v Cukurova Holding AS BVIHCMAP 2013/0001 (Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, 11 July 2013)

M&C Energy v St Cuthberts Mill [2013] EWCA Civ 935; [2013] EWHC 571 (Admin)

Azevedo v Imcopa Importacao [2015] QB 1; [2014] 3 WLR 1124 (Court of Appeal); [2012] EWHC 1849 (Comm)

Bank of New York Mellon v Truvo NV [2013] EWHC 136 (Comm)

R. (on the application of Prudential PLC) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax [2013] UKSC 1; [2013] 2 AC 185 (Supreme Court); [2010] EWCA Civ. 1094; [2011] QB 669 (Court of Appeal)

MG Rover Dealer Properties Ltd v Hunt [2013] BCC 698 (Chancery Division, Companies Court)

Raiffeisen Zentralbank Osterreich AG (“RZB”) v The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC [2010] EWHC 1392 (Comm); [2011] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 123

HHR Pascal B.V. v W2005 Puppet II B.V. [2009] EWHC 2771 (Comm); [2010] 1 All ER (Comm) 399 (Commercial Court)

TeliaSonera Finland OYJ v Alfa Telecom Turkey Limited (Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal; 28 September 2009)

National Westminster Bank PLC v Rabobank Nederland [2007] EWHC 1056 (Comm) (trial); [2007] EWHC 1742 (Comm); [2008] 1 All ER (Comm) 243 (banking; misrepresentation; indemnity costs)

National Westminster Bank PLC v Rabobank Nederland [2006] EWHC 2959 (Comm); [2007] 1 All ER (Comm) 975 (striking out; no case to answer); [2006] EWCA Civ. 1578 (permission to amend to add new cause of action during trial); [2006] EWHC 1744 (Comm) (striking out; estoppel; res judicata); [2006] EWHC 2108 (Comm) (evidence; hearsay); [2006] EWHC 2332 (Comm) (disclosure; privilege)

Three Rivers DC v Bank of England

  • Indemnity Costs: [2006] EWHC 816 (Comm); [2006] 5 Costs LR 714 (following claimants’ discontinuance after 256-day trial)
  • Restriction on cross-examination (Three Rivers (No.7)): [2005] EWCA Civ. 889; [2005] C.P. Rep. 46; [2005] EWCA Civ. 933
  • Legal professional privilege (Three Rivers (No.6)): [2004] UKHL 48; [2005] 1 AC 610 (House of Lords); [2004] EWCA Civ. 218; [2004] QB 916 (Court of Appeal); [2003] EWHC 2565 (Comm) (Commercial Court)
  • Third party disclosure: (Three Rivers (No.4)): [2002] EWCA 1182; [2003] 1 WLR 210 (Court of Appeal); [2002] EWHC 1118 (Comm) (Commercial Court)
  • Summary judgment/misfeasance in public office (Three Rivers (No.3)): [2001] UKHL 16; [2003] 2 AC 1 (House of Lords); [2000] 2 WLR 15 (Court of Appeal)

JSF Finance & Currency Exchange Co Ltd v Akma Solutions Inc [2001] 2 BCLC 307 (Chancery Division)

Renshaw Birch v Marquet [1998] BPIR 399 (Chancery Division)

ED&F Man (Sugar) Ltd v Haryanto (No.3) The Times, 9 August 1996 (Court of Appeal)

 

Other experience

Formerly a member of South Square Chambers (1996-2014)

Foreign intern in international arbitration group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, New York (1996-1997)


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