Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Michael Crane QCCall Date: 1975 | Silk Date: 1994

Michael Crane has over fifteen years’ experience as an international arbitrator. As well as ad hoc references, he has been appointed under most of the world’s leading institutional rules including those of the ICC, LCIA, LMAA, UNCITRAL, AAA, SIAC and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. Michael’s experience to date divides roughly equally between party appointments and appointments as sole or presiding third arbitrator. Michael is currently ranked by Chambers & Partners (UK Bar) as an international arbitrator with a Band 1 listing. Until recently he combined his arbitration practice with that as a leading silk at the Commercial Bar. In his final year of full-time practice at the Bar Michael was ranked by Chambers & Partners as the Star Individual in Aviation and achieved Band 1 rankings in Commercial Dispute Resolution, Insurance, International Arbitration (Commercial) and Transport law.  In addition to the practice areas mentioned, Michael has particular expertise in disputes involving interpretation of complex commercial instruments and issues of jurisdiction and conflicts of law. He has considerable experience in, and is comfortable in applying, foreign as well as English law. Michael has also provided expert evidence on English law for courts in the USA, Italy, Denmark, Ireland and Australia. Since November 2016 Michael has been Chairman of the UK Takeover Panel.

Areas of Expertise

  • Commercial dispute resolution
  • Aviation
  • Insurance and reinsurance
  • International arbitration
  • Product liability
  • Travel
  • Energy & natural resources

Recent practice

Michael has a wide-ranging commercial litigation and international arbitration practice. Recent experience includes acting for:

  • Respondents in the Supreme Court in the leading English case on apparent bias and obligations of disclosure in international arbitration.
  •  UK airport slots authority in judicial review proceedings brought by Monarch’s administrators following the refusal of their application for slots.
  •  A US oil and gas company in a five months Commercial Court trial arising out of the grant of concessions for exploring petroleum blocks in Iraqi Kurdistan
  • The Czech Republic in successfully resisting enforcement of an arbitration award under the New York Convention on the ground of issue estoppel
  • Brazilian insurers in an appeal to the Court of Appeal in which the court comprehensively reviewed the authorities on conflict of laws and arbitration agreements
  • The insurers of property owners sustaining damage in the London riots of August 2011 in appeals to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in which the scope of liability under the Riot Damages Act 1886 was determined. The case involved a detailed analysis of the historical development in English law of communal liability for riot damage
  • A music TV channel operator in its successful appeal to the Court of Appeal over the royalties fixed for its copyright licence
  • A major aircraft manufacturer in an international arbitration arising out of a mid-air collision over the Amazon jungle
  • Various London, US and European insurers and reinsurers on a variety of first and third party coverage and other disputes. Such cases arise under third party legal liability, D&O and first party property policies and under political, war and credit risk insurance
  • A major avionics manufacturer in its defence of a Commercial Court action arising out of a fire on a battery fire to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner at London Heathrow.
  • A major airline in a jurisdiction dispute following anti-suit proceedings in the courts of Australia


Currently recommended in Chambers & Partners as an international arbitrator (Band 1). While in practice as an advocate ranked as a leading silk by Chambers & Partners, the Legal 500, Chambers Global, the Guide to the World’s Leading Aviation Lawyers and Legal Experts. Citations as barrister included:

“The pre-eminent specialist aviation silk whose outstanding practice takes in the market’s more sophisticated and visible disputes”

“Terrific.” “A great advocate and a great thinker who is nice to work with”.

“A premier league barrister”

“A senior silk who is fantastic in the appeal courts”

“A highly regarded cross-examiner who is very good with clients”

“Highly regarded insurance and reinsurance silk who is known for being “a top intellect” “

Recommendations in legal directories in previous years include:

‘Undoubtedly number one for aviation law.’  (Legal 500 2016 – Aviation)

‘An excellent advocate.’ (Legal 500 2016 – Commercial Litigation)

‘An excellent advocate, who relates well to arbitrators.’ (Legal 500 2016 – Insurance and Reinsurance)

‘An excellent advocate, who relates well to arbitrators, and is very good with clients.’  (Legal 500 2016 – International Arbitration)

“one of the most formidable silks at the Bar. He is an outstanding advocate”

“simply a quite brilliant advocate and cross examiner”

“a prodigious intellect”

“a wonderful advocate; he is no courtroom bully but gets judges to see it his way”

“He appeals equally to solicitors and clients due to his knack of delivering extremely insightful advice on complex issues”

“He is truly a big noise at the Commercial Bar generally and aviation is the jewel in his crown”.

Michael Crane QC is regarded as ‘the king of aviation’, and ‘combines charm and humour with a gimlet eye for detail and a devastating line in cross-examination’. (Legal 500 2013 – Aviation)

“The leading name at the Aviation Bar, with unrivalled knowledge and experience.” (Chambers and Partners, 2014 – Aviation)

“A very effective and subtle advocate. He doesn’t panic, and always gets the ear of the court. An intellectual force, who is sharp witted and deeply focused.” (Chambers and Partners, 2014 – Commercial Dispute Resolution)

‘an exceptional all-round barrister – technically excellent, articulate, strategically astute, and brilliant at dissecting the opponent’s case’. (Legal 500 2013 – Commercial Litigation)

“Absolutely superb and the most delightful man. A brilliant arbitrator and a brilliant advocate, with a lovely understated manner.” “He’s incredibly mellifluous, and charms the birds from the trees.” (Chambers and Partners, 2014, Insurance)

“A lawyer with “a first class analytical mind,” who is an excellent cross-examiner and advocate. “Polished, thoughtful, articulate and strategic in his thinking”” (Chambers and Partners, 2013 – Commercial Dispute Resolution)

“He is brilliant, as he’s very, very efficient and has a light touch.” “He has genuine charm and ease of manner.”  (Chambers and Partners, 2014 – International Arbitration)

‘an excellent all-round barrister’, with ‘a wonderfully conversational style with the tribunal’. (Legal 500 2013 – International Arbitration)

“An apparently effortlessly great all-round barrister” (Legal 500 2011 – International Arbitration)

“Very personable, clever and fantastic on his feet” (Chambers & Partners 2013 Insurance & Reinsurance)

“Brilliantly intelligent and very easy to work with” (Legal 500 2011 – Insurance & Reinsurance)

“A personable and non-stuffy barrister” “he has the dream combination of being very bright, very analytical and highly commercial” (Chambers UK, 2011 – Commercial Dispute Resolution)

“Technically excellent, personable, easy to work with and great on his feet” (Legal 500 2011 – Aviation)

“the undisputed number-one aviation silk, he combines huge charm with a daunting intellect.” (Legal 500 2012)

“an incisive and formidable cross-examiner”. This most approachable of barristers is praised for “his intellectual prowess and fluency” as well as “his phenomenal knowledge.” (Chambers and Partners, 2013 Aviation)


Oxford University, Balliol College – MA in English Literature, BA in Law.


2002 – Authorised to sit as a Deputy Judge of the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Commercial Court

2002 – Elected Bencher of the Middle Temple

2016 to date  – Chairman of the UK Takeover Panel.

Reported cases include

  • Halliburton v Chubb [2018] 1 W.L.R. 3361 (CA)
  • Mitsui Sumitomo & Ors. v Mayor’s Office for Policing & Crime [2016] A.C. 1488 (SC)
  • Rogers v Hoyle [2014] 3 WLR 148 (CA)
  • Diag Human SE v The Czech Republic [2014] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 283 (Comm.)
  •  Sulamerica v Enesa Engenharia [2013] 1 WLR 102 (CA)
  • Air Transworld Ltd v Bombardier Inc. [2012] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 349
  • Excalibur Ventures LLC v Texas Keystone Inc. [2012] All ER (Comm.) 933
  • CSC Media Group Ltd v Video Performance Ltd [2011] All ER (D) 273 (CA)
  • Durham Tees Valley Airport Ltd v bmibaby Ltd [2011] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 68 (CA)
  • R (on the Application of the Association of British Travel Agents Ltd.) v Civil Aviation Authority [2007] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 249 (CA)
  • HSBC Rail (UK) Ltd v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd (Formerly Railtrack plc) [2006] 1 WLR 643 (CA)
  • Amiri Flight Authority v BAE Systems Plc [2004] 1 A.E.R. (Comm.) (CA)
  • European International Reinsurance Co. v Curzon Insurance [2003] Lloyds Rep. I.R. 793 (CA)
  • Cable & Wireless Plc v IBM United Kingdom Ltd [2002] 2 A.E.R. (Comm.)
  • Agnew v Lansforsakringsbolagens AB [2001] 1 A.C. 223 (HL)
  • Western Digital Corp v British Airways Plc [2001] Q.B. 733 (CA)
  • R. (on the application of Jet Services Ltd) v Civil Aviation Authority [2001] 2 All E.R. (Comm.) 769 (CA)
  • Clef Aquitane Sarl v Laporte Materials (Barrow) Ltd [2001] Q.B 488 (CA)
  • Deutsche Ruckversicherung AG v La Fondaria Assicurazioni SpA (formerly Societa Italia di Assicurazioni SpA) [2001] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 621
  • Hertfordshire Investments Ltd v Bubb [2000] W.L.R. 2318 (CA)
  • R. v Airport Coordination Ltd Ex p. Aravco Ltd [1999] Eu. L.R. 939 (CA)
  • R. v Airport Coordination Ltd Ex p. States of Guernsey Transport Board [1999] Eu. L.R. 745 (CA)
  • Airbus Industrie GIE v Patel [1999] 1 A.C. 119 (HL)

BSB Barristers' Register