Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Stephen Moriarty QCCall Date: 1986 | Silk Date: 1999

Stephen has a very broad commercial litigation, arbitration and advisory practice.

After spending eight years teaching a wide range of subjects, both at undergraduate and graduate level, in the law faculty of the University of Oxford, Stephen commenced practise as a barrister in 1987. He was called to the Bar in 1986, and took silk in 1999.

Areas of Expertise

  • Banking & finance
  • Commercial dispute resolution
  • Financial services
  • Fraud: civil
  • Insurance and reinsurance
  • International arbitration
  • Offshore
  • Professional negligence
  • Aviation

Recent practice

On leaving academic life at Oxford University in favour of private practice in London, Stephen found himself being instructed in cases in a variety of areas raising important points of law which resulted in appeals to the House of Lords.  He was instructed by the State of Norway in Re State of Norways’s Application (Nos. 1 & 2) [1990] 1 AC 723 (concerned with what counts as a “civil or commercial matter” for the purposes of obtaining evidence abroad); by the successful appellant in the landmark duty of care case of Caparo Industries v Dickman [1990] 2 AC 605 (recently voted one of the fifteen most significant cases of the past 150 years); by the Outhwaite Names in Lord Napier & Ettrick v Hunter [1993] AC 713 (concerned with the nature and extent of an insurer’s right of subrogation); and by the Merrett and Feltrim Names in Henderson v Merrett Syndicates Ltd; Feltrim Underwriting Agencies Ltd v Arbuthnot [1995] 2 AC 145 (establishing the existence of a duty of care owed by underwriters).  He was also instructed as amicus curiae in the House of Lords in the undue influence case of Barclay’s Bank v Boulter [1999] 1 WLR 1919; and appeared for the appellant in the Privy Council case of AEGIS Ltd v European Re [2003] 1 WLR 1041 (concerned with the duty of confidentiality in arbitrations). More recently, he appeared in the Supreme Court in Angove’s v Bailey [2016] 1 WLR 3179 (concerned with principles of agency and constructive trusts), and in Investment Trust Companies (In Liquidation) v Revenue and Customs Commissioners [2018] AC 275 (concerned with the law of unjust enrichment).

Stephen likes to keep his commercial practice as wide as possible and, particularly given his academic background, especially enjoys cases which involve developing a new area of law from first principles, or by reference to case law in different areas of the law.  Areas in which he has had particular expertise over the years, however, are banking and finance disputes, insurance and reinsurance disputes, international arbitration, professional negligence cases, and commercial dispute resolution more generally.

As regards banking and finance, Stephen has had experience of a broad area of work, including domestic and investment banking; futures and derivatives trading; securitisations; tracing actions; and regulatory and other proceedings involving financial intermediaries.  Recent reported appearances include acting for the successful appellant aviation finance house in Alpstream AG v PK Airfinance Sarl [2016] CLC 135 (dealing with the duties owed by a secured lender in non-recourse financing), and acting for the appellant in a nine-day court of appeal hearing in the case of UBS v Kommunale Wasserwerke Leipzig GMBH [2017] 2 CLC 584 (concerning the enforceability of a series of single tranche collateralised debt obligations).

In the area of insurance and reinsurance, Stephen has advised and acted for (re)insurers, (re)insurers and brokers in all manner of disputes, and dealt with almost all fields of marine and non-marine insurance and reinsurance, including comprehensive general liability insurance, credit insurance, aviation insurance, war risks insurance, D&O insurance, insurance on the Bermuda form, LMX reinsurance, and alternative risk transfer products.  His work in the specialist area of war risks insurance has involved him dealing with claims ranging from the alleged actions of terrorists in sinking a ferry (The Grecia Express [2002] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 88), to Tamil Tigers blowing up a vessel in Sri Lankan waters (The Athena [2007] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 280), and the Egyptian Courts seizing a vessel in Port Suez on the basis of trumped up allegations (The Silva [2011] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 141).

In the field of international arbitration, Stephen has extensive experience of appearing as counsel in arbitration proceedings, both ad hoc and institutional (including ICC, LCIA, SIAC and AAA) in a whole range of different areas.  Insurance and reinsurance disputes figure prominently in this aspect of his practice, but other areas include defence-related disputes, joint venture disputes, aviation disputes, and disputes arising out of sale and purchase agreements  He also regularly accepts arbitral appointments, and has sat as an arbitrator in as wide a variety of cases as those in which he has acted as Counsel, including insurance and reinsurance disputes, joint venture and company-related disputes, and claims in relation to the alleged mis-selling of derivatives.

The breadth of Stephen’s experience in the commercial field, combined with his academic background before coming to the Bar, means that he has also been instructed in a wide range of large commercial disputes, often of a technical nature, and raising the application of difficult points of law.  He is equally at home undertaking large and complex commercial trials involving heavy amounts of cross-examination, or arguing difficult points of law in the appellate courts.

The international nature of Stephen’s work means that he also frequently has to deal with issues of private international law, as well as cases where foreign law issues (both common law and civil law) are an important aspect of the dispute.  Over the years, he has had to argue cases involving questions of US law, Indian law, French law, German law, Italian law, Greek Law, Egyptian law, Iranian law and Mexican Law.

In the area of professional negligence, Stephen has extensive experience of claims in a wide range of professional disciplines, including those against accountants, banks, solicitors, brokers and other financial intermediaries.  He has acted for a number of well-known law firms in defence of proceedings brought against them for professional negligence.


Stephen Moriarty QC is recognised in the legal directories as a leading silk in Commercial Litigation/Dispute Resolution (Legal 500 and Chambers), Professional Negligence (Legal 500 and Chambers), Insurance and Reinsurance (Legal 500 and Chambers), Commercial Litigation (Legal 500), International Arbitration: counsel (Legal 500) and Aviation (Legal 500 and Chambers).

Recent comments and recommendations in the directories on his professional qualities as a barrister include:

‘Bright, incisive and someone who gets to the heart of the matter very quickly.’ ‘He instils confidence from the get go.’ (Chambers & Partners 2019, Aviation)

‘He’s brilliant on his feet.” “He does a lot of insurance work of the highest calibre.’ ‘Extremely bright and incredibly hard-working.’ (Chambers & Partners 2019, Insurance)

‘An utterly charming man who is able to bring other areas of the law to bear on the issue at hand and engage in excellent lateral thinking.’ ‘Stephen Moriarty is extraordinary; he’s so inventive and energetic.’ (Chambers & Partners 2019, Commercial Dispute Resolution)

Unbelievably clever, able and a great advocate.’ (Legal 500 2019, Aviation)

As impressive as it gets – knows everything there is to know about the workings of the Commercial Court’ (Legal 500 2019, Commercial Litigation)

Unbelievably clever, able and a great advocate. ’ (Legal 500 2019, Insurance & Reinsurance)

Impressive cross-examination skills, and makes submissions that are lucid and easily understood.’ (Legal 500 2019, International Arbitration)

‘He is exceptionally clever.’ (Legal 500 2019, Professional Negligence)

A top-tier advocate who provides a 360-degree view of the legal issues.’ (Legal 500 2019, Commercial)

A well-established expert.’ (Legal 500 2016, Aviation)

He has frightening intelligence and is an obvious choice for the most challenging cases.’ (Legal 500 2016,  Commercial Litigation)

His experience spans from marine through to war risk insurance claims.’ – (Legal 500 2016, Insurance and Reinsurance)

One of the cleverest people at the Bar.’ – (Legal 500 2016, International Arbitration)

Fantastic.’ – (Legal 500 2016,  Professional Negligence)

‘Able to balance commercial realities and voluminous case law.’ – (Legal 500 2016, Commercial)

“He is a genius, a brain with a suit on.” “He is intellectually strong and manages to communicate that intellect to both the court and clients in a very effective way.” (Chambers & Partners 2016, Aviation)

“Absolutely first-rate. He is intellectually incredibly strong and manages to communicate that intellect to both the court and clients in a very effective way.” “He’s very quick to grasp complex issues and identify commercial solutions. He has outstanding attention to detail and provides practical advice.”  (Chambers & Partners 2016,  Commercial Dispute Resolution)

“He goes right to the main issues and provides succinct and effective advice.” (Chambers & Partners 2016,  Insurance)

“Intellectually incredibly strong and manages to communicate that intellect to both the court and clients in a very effective way. Very user-friendly and proactive and a creative thinker.” (Chambers & Partners 2016,  Professional Negligence)

“Stellar in terms of his strategic case planning” (Legal 500 2014, International Arbitration)

“An exceptionally bright and very creative thinker” (Legal 500 2014, Professional negligence)

“He has a tremendous brain, making him perfect for complex insurance disputes.” (Chambers and Partners 2014, Insurance)

“Excellent written and oral advocacy” (Legal 500 2014, Insurance)

“He can get to the bottom of technical points and explain them to clients in an accessible way – he is very user-friendly and is a good team player.” (Chambers and Partners 2014, Insurance)

“He’s incredibly clever, and has a very good understanding of insurance.” (Chambers and Partners 2014, Insurance)

“He can make the most complex issues seem straightforward.” (Legal 500 2014, Aviation)

“His background is a very strong academic one and even amongst silks he comes across as being a real intellectual heavyweight. But at the same time he’s very hands-on – he doesn’t delegate the work and really does roll his sleeves up. Very user-friendly and easy to deal with, he always keeps the commercial and strategic landscape in view.” (Chambers and Partners 2014, Aviation)

“An excellent grasp of restitution and always extremely well prepared” (Legal 500 2014, Commercial)

“He is extremely able and capable of dealing with complex legal issues.” (Chambers and Partners 2014, Commercial)

Stephen Moriarty QC is noted for his ‘excellent written and oral advocacy’.  (Legal 500 UK 2013, Aviation)

Stephen Moriarty QC is ‘exceptionally bright’, and ‘gives 100%’. (Legal 500 UK 2013, Insurance)

Stephen Moriarty QC’s ‘aptitude and experience really come to the fore in difficult cases, where he spots all the points’. (Legal 500 UK 2013 International arbitration)

“a first-rate lawyer, who is erudite yet understated.” (Chambers and Partners 2013, Aviation)

“highly impressive” Stephen Moriarty QC instils “great confidence” in clients, according to instructing solicitors. As one interviewee says, “within a short space of time he has a complete mastery of the factual intricacies of a case, which, coupled with his legal acumen, makes him a formidable asset on any case.” (Chambers and Partners 2013, Commercial)

“impressive legal brain,” and is highly esteemed for his work advising war risk underwriters. Clients regard him as being dedicated and diligent.” (Chambers and Partners 2013, Insurance)

“extraordinarily knowledgeable and clever” (Chambers UK, 2010, Commercial)

“tremendously able, efficient and effective silk who provides stellar advice.” (Chambers UK, 2010, Insurance)

“outstanding … combines a compendious knowledge of the law with considerable originality in his thinking”

“extraordinarily gifted”

“wonderful advocate”

“known for his academic mind … his powers of analysis allow him to penetrate right through to the core of a case”

“recommended for his intellectual prowess”

“can be guaranteed to do a fantastic job on any case”.

excellent in both his written and oral advocacy”


  • BA in Jurisprudence (First class), Brasenose College, Oxford (1977)
  • B.C.L. (First class), Brasenose College, Oxford (1978)

Appointments, memberships, prizes

  • Vinerian Scholarship (best result in BCL at University of Oxford), 1978
  • Fellow and Tutor in Law, Exeter College, Oxford, and University Lecturer in Law in the University of Oxford, 1979-1986
  • Bencher, Middle Temple, 2009-
  • Chairman, Commercial Bar Association, 2011-2013
  • Head of Chambers, 2013-
  • Registered Foreign Lawyer, Singapore International Commercial Court, 2015-
  • Member, Panel of Advisors to the Attorney-General of Singapore, 2015-



  • Editor of Insurance Chapter in Chitty on Contracts 26th edition (1989) and 27th edition (1994)
  • Contributor to Laundering and Tracing O.U.P. 1995 (Chapter entitled Tracing, Mixing and Laundering dealing with the tracing of laundered monies through bank account)
  • General Editor (with Raymond Cox) Commercial Court Procedure (Sweet & Maxwell)
  • Member of Advisory Group to Professor Andrew Burrows QC (Hon): Burrows, A Restatement of the English Law of Unjust Enrichment (OUP, 2012); Burrows, A Restatement of the English Law of Contract (OUP, 2016).

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