Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Simon AtrillCall Date: 2005

Simon is “a star of the future … very clever” (Legal 500).  He has been shortlisted three times in the past four years as Banking and Finance Junior of the Year in the Chambers and Partners Bar Awards and was named “Star of the Bar” by Legal Week.  He has been involved in some of the largest scale commercial litigation in recent years, both domestically and overseas.  For example, in the last six months alone he has been instructed in the Financial List hearing of a US$3billion claim against Ukraine arising from a loan arrangement with the Russian Federation (one of The Lawyer’s top cases of 2017), a three-month civil fraud trial in the Chancery Division arising from misappropriation of 100 million and involving allegations against solicitors, accountants and Swiss bankers and the Commercial Court trial of a claim against Mike Ashley for £14 million arising from an alleged oral agreement reached in a pub.

During the past few years, he was instructed in the four-month Commercial Court trial of JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov and others, the three-month trial of Group Seven v Sultana (plus appeal), by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago in the three-year Commission of Enquiry into the collapse of a multi-billion dollar banking and insurance conglomerate, in a series of interest rate swap and derivative disputes (including litigation arising from alleged manipulation of LIBOR), a major dispute arising from pollution of a river in Wisconsin (listed for a two-month trial) and the allocation of responsibility for the clean-up costs totalling hundreds of millions of dollars and acted for Barclays Bank (led by Iain Milligan QC/Jonathan Sumption QC and Andrew Mitchell) in the OFT bank charges litigation.  In addition to High Court litigation and arbitrations in the UK, he has recently been instructed in cases in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dubai, Hong Kong and Trinidad and Tobago.

Simon’s wider commercial practice has included instructions in relation to numerous large-scale commercial cases, including a substantial fraud claim involving multi-jurisdictional freezing orders (Intercontinental Bank v Akingbola, led by Michael Bloch QC), Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi AFJ v Ferrero Group and others [2009] EWHC 1276 (Ch) (appellate stage), a $1bn Russian oil and gas dispute, a significant telecommunications dispute involving two of the world’s richest men and several large insurance disputes.

Areas of Expertise

  • Banking & finance
  • Commercial dispute resolution
  • Energy & natural resources
  • Financial services
  • Fraud: civil
  • Insurance and reinsurance
  • International arbitration
  • Media, entertainment & sport
  • Professional negligence
  • Aviation

Recommendations

Simon is “a star of the future … very clever” (Legal 500); he has been shortlisted three times in the past four years as Banking and Finance Junior of the Year in the Chambers and Partners Bar Awards and was named as a “Star of the Bar” by Legal Week. He has a broad commercial practice in line with Chambers’ profile and is consistently ranked as a leading junior in Commercial Litigation, Banking and Finance and Civil Fraud in Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500. Other recent comments from the directories include the following:

“An absolute star; he is thorough, incredibly bright and drafts beautifully.”

“very clever, very thorough and tremendously smooth. A very high-class operator.”

“His advocacy is phenomenal; it’s clear, concise and gets to the heart of the issue very quickly. He has an eye for detail and doesn’t miss anything in the documentation.”

“One of the cleverest juniors I’ve come across. He’s got a very unassuming manner.”

“Extremely reliable and responsive, he’s able to provide confident, first-class advice.”

“He knows how to work with solicitors, support them and make sure that they run a happy ship.”

“incredibly hard-working, super-able and very user-friendly”

“Exceptionally articulate and utterly unflappable; clients are relieved to have him on their side.’

His advocacy is remarkable; he is exceptionally articulate and utterly unflappable.”

“excellent, user friendly and robust”

“combines a pragmatic and commercial approach with impressive drafting skills.”

“a particularly capable junior … calm, considered and clever”

“offers what an instructing solicitor is looking for.” “Pragmatic and thorough in his approach,” he comes at his cases from a commercial angle and is able to quickly strike up a rapport with clients.”

“incredibly quick and very strategic, and has an amazing eye for detail. He seems to recall details absolutely down to the minutiae and never drops the ball.”

“fantastic ability to communicate”; “praised for his commerciality, practicality and forward thinking.”

“His attention to detail was very impressive, as was the speed of his turnaround of papers.”

“Incredibly diligent, thorough and technically capable beyond his years of call”

“well capable of tackling matters of varying sizes and degrees of complexity”

“works well both on his own and as part of a larger team.”

“a strong advocate with great client-handling skills.”

“He is very good on paper and cuts through the documents

“He provides good, incisive analysis.”

Education

  • BA Law, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge (Double First)
  • BCL, St John’s College, Oxford (Distinction)
  • LLM, University of Pennsylvania (Summa cum laude) (First Class equivalent)
  • BVC, Inns of Court School of Law (Very Competent)

Recent practice

Banking & finance

  • Law Debenture Trust Corp plc v Ukraine [2017] EWHC 655 (Comm) Acting for Ukraine (led by Bankim Thanki QC) in defending a claim for more than US$3 billion, brought by Law Debenture on behalf of the Russian Federation arising from a Eurobond issue in 2013.  The case raises novel issues as to the conflict of laws rules concerning the capacity of sovereign states, duress and countermeasures under public international law, and associated issues of justiciability.  Court of Appeal hearing due January 2018.
  • FSCS v Firstplus and others Acting for Firstplus (led by Tim Dutton QC) in relation to multi-million pound claims brought by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme arising from the purported assignment of consumer claims arising from PPI sold by Firstplus.
  • JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov and others [2013] EWHC 510 (Comm) Acting for Mr Khazhaev (led by Jeffrey Chapman QC) in this four-month trial of allegations of fraudulent misappropriation of hundreds of millions of dollars by Mr Ablyazov and others from BTA Bank in Kazakhstan, allegedly achieved with assistance of multiple parties and through a complex web of companies.
  • Commission of Enquiry into the failure of CL Financial Ltd Instructed by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (led by Bankim Thanki QC with Henry King) in relation to an Enquiry, led by Sir Anthony Colman, into the collapse of and subsequent State intervention in, the CLF Group resulting in billions of dollars in losses.  Simon has been instructed in relation to multiple evidential hearings in Port of Spain during 2011 and 2012.
  • Credit Suisse Asset Management v Titan Europe 2006-1 [2016] EWHC 969 (Ch); [2016] EWCA Civ 1293 Acting for Credit Suisse in relation to a dispute arising from Notes issues with a value of €1 billion (led by Tim Howe QC)
  • Acting for a well-known investment bank in defending close-out methodology adopted in relation to emerging market derivatives in the context of the financial crisis (led by Richard Handyside QC)
  • Acting for Nationwide Building Society (led by Patrick Goodall QC) in claims brought against it arising from a contractual dispute
  • Molton Street Capital LLP v Shooters Hill Capital Partners LLP [2015] EWHC 3419 (Comm) Acting as sole counsel for the Claimant in the Commercial Court trial of a contractual dispute arising from the sale of bonds, giving rise to numerous issues of US securities law and regulation
  • Acting for Barclays Bank, HBOS, Lloyds Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland in connection with interest rate swap mis-selling claims, including claims arising from alleged LIBOR manipulation
  • Acting for an investment fund in relation to litigation concerning the enforcement of distressed property-related debt in Ireland (led by Robin Dicker QC with Ben Valentin)
  • QOGT Inc v International Oil & Gas Technology Fund Limited Instructed by QOGT (led by Alain Choo Choy QC and Lance Ashworth QC) in relation to claims by a Canadian Investment Manager against a Fund relating to management fees, and counterclaims regarding investment performance.
  • Commerzbank v Credit Agricole Instructed by Commerzbank (led by David Railton QC and Adam Zellick) in Commercial Court litigation relating to the proper construction of credit default swaps arising from the financial crisis in Ecuador.
  • K/S Preston Street v Santander (UK) Plc [2012] EWHC 1633 (Ch) Instructed by Santander in relation to a dispute regarding the proper construction of indemnity provisions in a loan agreement.
  • OFT v Barclays Bank and seven other financial institutions
    [2009] EWCA Civ 116; [2009] 2 W.L.R. 1286
    [2008] EWHC 2325 (Comm); [2009] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 717
    [2008] EWHC 875 (Comm); [2008] 2 All E.R. (Comm) 625

Acted for Barclays Bank plc (led by Iain Milligan QC/Jonathan Sumption QC and Andrew Mitchell) in the high-profile test case brought by the OFT against eight financial institutions in respect of the legality of current account charges.  That has included acting for Barclays Bank in relation to the various trials in the Commercial Court and the appellate stage, as well as in the mercantile and county courts.

  • Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) and interest rate swaps/derivatives litigation
    Acting for Barclays Bank plc in the High Court and county courts, and advising in relation to issues arising from claims relating to sale of PPI, interest rate swaps and derivatives.
  • Instructed (led by Ray Cox QC) in relation to an arbitration involving claims concerning derivative products totalling $150 million.
  • ICB v Akingbola Simon was instructed (led by Michael Bloch QC) in relation to the defence of various claims in excess of £80m with associated multi-jurisdictional freezing orders, arising from the alleged misappropriation of assets from a major Nigerian bank.
  • Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi AFJ v Ferrero Group and others [2009] EWHC 1276 (Ch). Simon acted (led by Anthony Boswood QC) in relation to the appellate stage in this substantial case (86 Court days at trial), relating to claims based on conspiracy to injure by unlawful means.
  • Dhanani v Crasnianski [2011] EWHC 926; [2011] 2 All ER (Comm) 799.  Simon acted (led by Marcus Smith QC/Robert Miles QC) in this two-week Commercial Court trial and subsequent appeal concerning a multi-million pound dispute about the establishment of a private equity fund.
  • National Westminster Bank plc v Rabobank Nederland 
    [2007] EWHC 3163 (Comm); [2008] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 266; [2008] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 16
    [2007] EWHC 1742 (Comm); [2008] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 243
    [2007] EWHC 1056 (Comm);
    [2006] EWHC 2959 (Comm); [2007] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 975

During 2006-07, Simon acted for Rabobank Nederland (in a team led by Ali Malek QC and including Jeffrey Chapman) in the interlocutory, trial and appellate stages of this international commercial litigation.  Rabobank’s claims for misrepresentation (including fraud) and breach of fiduciary duty, amounting to more than US$200m, were tried in the Commercial Court before Colman J for twelve weeks in the autumn of 2006. (Described as one of the top ten trials of 2006 in The Lawyer 9/1/06, see also The Lawyer 4/9/06).

Simon is frequently instructed on banking cases of varying sizes and degrees of complexity, recently including:

  • Acting on behalf of banks in relation to claims arising from various Islamic finance products
  • Advising (with Michael Brindle QC) in relation to a substantial ‘credit crunch’-related dispute involving derivatives
  • Acting in relation to several multi-million dollar test cases in Hong Kong relating to alleged misselling of investments and derivatives
  • Acting in relation to the administration of a Middle Eastern bank and issues arising from unwinding of complex financial instruments (led by Marcus Smith QC)
  • Acting for a lender in connection with alleged fraud relating to sub-prime mortgage lending (led by Michael Brindle QC and with Nik Yeo).
  • Acting for a prominent Middle Eastern company in relation to multiple claims in the High Court concerning various credit facilities (including jurisdictional and substantive issues)
  • Acting for a high street bank in relation to a multi-million pound claim brought against it
  • Advising in relation to multi-million pound claims against an investment advisor involving breaches of fiduciary duty and negligence
  • Acting (with Richard Handyside QC) in relation to a multi-million pound arbitration
  • Acting for a high street bank in relation to a negligence claim brought against it
  • Acting for an American bank in relation to claims brought against it in the English High Court
  • Acting in a claim brought by receivers of Heritable Bank plc after the credit crunch
  • Acting for the Royal Bank of Scotland in relation to the recovery of losses arising from an alleged fraudulent moneylaundering scheme
  • Acting for a customer in a claim against a major high street bank involving issues of misrepresentation, negligence and undue influence
  • Advising major retail banks in connection with compliance with freezing orders and ancillary orders, including their international effect
  • Various claims in relation to the enforcement of loans and their security (in particular, mortgages and guarantees)
  • Numerous cases involving Consumer Credit Act issues (including PPI and other products)

Civil fraud

  • Group Seven v Nasir and others Acting for the Claimant (led by Jeff Chapman QC) in a three-month trial claims in dishonest assistance against accountants, solicitors and Swiss bankers alleged to have facilitated an elaborate multi-jurisdiction fraud (awaiting judgment)
  • Group Seven v Sultana and others [2013] EWHC 1509 (Ch); [2014] 1 W.L.R. 735 (now the leading case on the effect of freezing injunctions against one-man companies) and [2014] EWHC 2046 (Ch) (three-month trial).  Instructed in various interlocutory applications and a three-month trial (led by Jeffrey Chapman QC) of claims arising from an international fraud totalling €100 million.
  • JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov and others;
  • National Westminster Bank plc v Rabobank Nederland;
  • ICB v Akingbola;
  • Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi AFJ v Ferrero Group and others.
  • Acting for a lender in connection with alleged fraud relating to sub-prime mortgage lending (led by Michael Brindle QC and with Nik Yeo).
  • Acting for an investor in relation to claims of fraudulent misrepresentation arising from the sale of shares in a Canadian resources company investing in Kazakh natural resources (led by Michael Brindle QC and with Chloe Carpenter).
  • Acting for a Maltese company in relation to claims of fraudulent misrepresentation concerning sale of investments totalling €100 million (led by Jeffrey Chapman QC).
  • Acting for a major publisher in relation to claims of fraudulent misrepresentation arising in the context of Share Purchase Agreements (led by Ian Gatt QC).

Commercial dispute resolution/Contractual disputes

  • Jeffrey Blue v Mike Ashley Acting for Mr Blue in the trial of his claim for £14m against Mike Ashley arising from an alleged oral agreement reached in a pub.
  • Molton Street Capital LLP v Shooters Hill Capital Partners LLP [2015] EWHC 3419 (see Banking and finance above)
  • Credit Suisse Asset Management v Titan Europe 2006-1 [2016] EWHC 969 (Ch); [2016] EWCA Civ 1293 (see Banking and finance above)
  • BAT v Windward Prospects Limited [2014] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 559 (jurisdiction) and [2013] EWHC 3612 (Comm) (receivers) Acting (led by Robert Miles QC and Stuart Ritchie QC) in relation to indemnity claims in the Commercial Court arising out of pollution of a river in Wisconsin.  The litigation forms a part of wider ongoing litigation in the USA involving regulatory and commercial proceedings between numerous parties concerning the clean-up costs that total hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Acting (led by Bankim Thanki QC and with Andrew Kinnier) for an African mining company concerning claims arising from mining operations in Africa.
  • Acting (led by Bankim Thanki QC) in relation to a major dispute between Russian oligarchs concerning ownership of valuable Russian energy assets.
  • Acting (led by Tim Howe QC and Nik Yeo) in relation to a US$1bn Russian oil and gas dispute.
  • Acting (led by Michael Brindle QC) for one of the world’s richest men in a claim in the Cayman Islands for more than US$200m concerning a shareholder dispute regarding a mobile telecommunications project in the Middle East.
  • Internet Broadcasting Ltd v Managed Accounts Reports LLC [2009] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 295 Led by Anthony Boswood QC  defending a claim for £6m arising from a dispute arising from an internet TV channel; case settled before CA hearing.
  • OFT v Barclays Bank plc and seven others (see Banking and finance above)
  • Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi AFJ v Ferrero Group and others
  • ICB v Akingbola.
  • National Westminster Bank plc v Rabobank Nederland;
  • Advising (led by Brian Doctor QC and Jeffrey Chapman QC) in relation to shareholder disputes concerning two FTSE 100 companies.
  • Acting in relation to a substantial contractual dispute worth £1m relating to antique motorcycles (7-day High Court trial settled immediately before trial)
  • Frequently instructed in relation to seeking, resisting or advising on the effects of injunctive relief in the High Court (both freezing orders and other forms of injunction); acting (as appellant and respondent respectively) in several appeals in relation to decisions of High Court Masters.
  • Instructed as an expert witness in proceedings in the Netherlands concerning various disputes arising from shareholder agreements.

International arbitration

Simon has been instructed in a number of high-value commercial arbitrations including:

  • A reinsurance arbitration (led by Michael Crane QC) and associated dispute regarding stay of US proceedings for arbitration
  • A mining dispute (led by Marcus Smith QC)
  • A derivatives dispute (led by Ray Cox QC)
  • A reinsurance arbitration (led by Michael Crane QC and Marcus Smith) with a value of approximately $100m that settled shortly before the ten-week trial;
  • A substantial LCIA arbitration (led by Richard Handyside QC);
  • An aviation dispute (led by Bankim Thanki QC)

Insurance and reinsurance

Simon has extensive experience of insurance and reinsurance disputes of varying sizes and complexity, both on his own account and also as part of a counsel team. For example:

  • Simon was instructed in relation to a very substantial reinsurance arbitration (led by Michael Crane QC and Marcus Smith), with a value of approximately $100m, that settled shortly before the ten-week trial.
  • Instructed (led by Michael Crane QC) in relation to substantial reinsurance arbitration
  • Instructed as sole counsel in relation to insurance dispute relating to duties of placing brokers regarding retention of documents (trial February 2016)
  • Instructed as sole counsel in relation to a Commercial Court reinsurance dispute
  • Instructed by insurers in relation to a coverage dispute in Trinidad and Tobago regarding cover for failure of major electrical plant
  • Regularly instructed in connection with professional indemnity insurance disputes.  In the last few years, he was led in several multi-million pound disputes of that kind, in particular relating to professional indemnity insurers for solicitors (including the insurers of a leading City law firm; led by Stephen Rubin QC) and accountants (led by Patricia Robertson QC),
  • Instructed in relation to various insurance disputes relating to coverage and non-disclosure;
  • Instructed in a multi-million pound claim raising issues of double insurance and coverage issues (led by Mark Simpson QC);
  • Instructed by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (led by Bankim Thanki QC with Henry King) in relation to an Enquiry, led by Sir Anthony Colman, into the collapse of and subsequent State intervention in, the CLF Group and its insurance companies resulting in billions of dollars in losses, raising various insurance issues and questions of regulatory supervision of insurance products.  Simon has been instructed in relation to multiple evidential hearings in Port of Spain.
  • In addition to work in connection with such larger disputes, he is frequently involved as sole counsel in relation to smaller scale disputes, across a range of insurance products and for a range of insurers (including being regularly and frequently instructed by Barclays Bank plc in relation to certain retail insurance products), and both in the provision of advice and as an advocate.

Conflict of laws and jurisdiction

  • Law Debenture Trust Corp v Ukraine [2017] EWHC 655 (Comm)
  • BAT Industries plc v Windward Prospects Ltd [2013] EWHC 4087 (Comm); [2014] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 559.
  • Instructed (as sole Counsel) in relation to two-day jurisdiction challenge.
  • Acting for a prominent Middle Eastern company in relation to multiple claims in relation to various credit facilities (including jurisdictional and substantive issues).
  • Acting (led by Michael Brindle QC) for one of the world’s richest men in a claim in the Cayman Islands for more than US$200m concerning a shareholder dispute regarding a mobile telecommunications project in the Middle East.
  • Acting for a Texan company concerning issues relating to the enforcement of a Texan judgment in England.
  • Simon frequently advises in relation to questions relating to jurisdiction (including under the Judgments Regulation) and choice of law.

Professional negligence

  • Acting (with Mark Simpson QC) in defending a professional negligence claim against a prominent firm of offshore solicitors for £100 million
  • Acting (with Richard Handyside QC) in relation to a multi-million pound arbitration
  • Acting in relation to several multi-million dollar test cases in Hong Kong relating to alleged misselling of investments
  • Advising (with Patricia Robertson QC) in relation to a substantial accountant’s professional negligence case
  • Advising in relation to multi-million pound claims against an investment advisor involving breaches of fiduciary duty and negligence

Publications

Civil Procedure:

  • Legal Privilege and Mandatory Disclosure under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 [2005] LMCLQ (co-authored with Alex Barden)
  • International Commercial Litigation/Conflict of Laws:
  • Sole Author, UK Government / Dept of Constitutional Affairs Summary of English Conflict of Laws rules for EU Project: http://ec.europa.eu/civiljustice/applicable_law/applicable_law_gen_en.htm
  • “Choice of Law in Contract: The missing Pieces of the Article 4 Jigsaw?” (2004) 54 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 559
  • “The Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Canada” (2004) 63 Cambridge Law Journal 574
  • Book review: Adrian Briggs’, The Conflict of Laws [2004] LMCLQ 265

Regulatory / Public Law / Human Rights:

  • The Law of Habeas Corpus, Sharpe, Farbey and Atrill (3rd ed, 2011 OUP).  The leading text on habeas corpus; previous editions were cited in the House of Lords, US Supreme Court and Canadian Supreme Court.
  • “The End of Estoppel in Public Law?” (2003) 62 Cambridge Law Journal 3
  • “Keeping the Executive in the Picture: a reply to Professor Leigh” [2003] Public Law 41
  • “Who is the ‘fair-minded and informed observer’? Bias after Magill” (2003) 62 Cambridge Law Journal 272
  • Nulla Poena Sine Lege in Comparative Perspective: Retrospectivity under the ECHR and US Constitution.” [2005] Public Law 107
  • Book review: Conor Gearty, Principles of Human Rights Adjudication (2005) 64 Cambridge Law Journal

Other experience

  • Supervisor in Conflict of Laws and Administrative Law, University of Cambridge (2004-05)
  • Internship with Jamaican Council for Human Rights, Kingston, Jamaica (working on Death Row appeals to the Privy Council) (June – September 2000)

Languages

Working knowledge of French and Spanish