Commercial disputes

Members of Wilberforce Chambers have extensive experience in dealing with commercial disputes, in court, in arbitrations and in mediations, both in the UK and internationally.   From questions of interpretation to the assessment of damages, the set offers first-rate representation and advice.   As a commercial chancery set, Wilberforce Chambers offers particular expertise in commercial contract disputes involving equitable issues, such as estoppel, rectification and trusts.

Our strength is having the combined expertise in the different areas of law that are often present in complex business and commercial situations. This together with genuine international and offshore experience, if the dispute has multi-jurisdictional aspects, helps to meet client demand for specialist assistance in resolving commercial disputes.

Members can assist with issues such as:

  • The interpretation of complex contractual documentation and the implication of terms therein;
  • Questions of misrepresentation, mistake and deceit;
  • Issues of breach and repudiation;
  • Frustration and force majeure;
  • Capacity;
  • Illegality;
  • Estoppel and rectification; and
  • Matters relating to losses, damages and restitution.

Rankings and recognition

Wilberforce is ranked as a leading set for commercial dispute resolution in both Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500.

Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2024: An impressive set, noted for its expertise in complex commercial chancery litigation arising in the UK and across several international and offshore jurisdictions. The team is regularly instructed in company, insolvency and civil fraud disputes, and offers considerable strength when undertaking complex commercial litigation involving elements of pensions, trusts and property law. One instructing solicitor notes: “The set is always my first port of call. It has a large stable of barristers so there’s always someone at the right level whether I need a silk or junior.” Members are instructed in high-profile matters of the greatest complexity including Tulip LLP v Bitcoin Association, a multibillion-pound cryptocurrency claim, and Suppipat & others v Narondej & 16 others, a matter concerning an alleged fraud arising out of the sale of Thaland’s largest wind energy company. ‘One of the top sets for offshore counsel.’

The Legal 500 UK 2024: One of the largest commercial Chancery chambers in London, Wilberforce Chambers houses ‘a lot of good people for commercial disputes‘. Recent highlights include Alan Gourgey KC, in Arma Partners Limited v Wejo Limited, defending approximately £16m claims over a SPAC transaction, a relatively rare incident of litigation over special purposes acquisition companies. In Suppipat & others v Narongdej & 16 othersTim Penny KC was leading counsel for the main defendant (as well as the 17th defendant) in a $2bn claim, which arose from an alleged fraud involving a Thai wind farm company. In a boost to the set’s silk ranks, Thomas Grant KC, who has particular experience in heavyweight, multi-party disputes, joined from Maitland Chambers in October 2022.

Chambers Bar Awards 2023: Wilberforce wins Set of the Year and Chancery Set of the Year

Chambers Bar Awards 2023Tim Penny KC wins Chancery Silk of the Year

The Legal 500 Bar Awards 2022: Wilberforce wins Chancery Set of the Year

Chambers Bar Awards 2022Clare Stanley KC wins Chancery Silk of the Year

Chambers Bar Awards 2021Thomas Grant KC wins Chancery Silk of the Year

Notable cases

Kirtanlal International DMCC v State Bank Of India (DIFC Branch) [2023]

Judgment has been handed down in the Court of First Instance of the DIFC by Justice Sir Jeremy Cooke.

Kirtanlal International DMCC, a steel trading company, brought a claim for damages of USD 18.51m in relation to what it said was the unlawful termination of its facility agreement with the Defendant bank. Kirtanlal claimed that the Bank acted in breach of a duty of good faith and/or a Braganza duty, alleging malice on the part of the Bank. Kirtanlal also alleged that there were breaches of tortious, fiduciary and regulatory duties by the Bank.

The Court rejected the $18.5 million damages claim.

Read the Kirtanlal International DMCC v State Bank Of India (DIFC Branch) judgment here.

FamilyMart Holding v Ting Chuan [2023]

A Privy Council judgment delivered simultaneously with the Supreme Court decision in Republic of Mozambique v Credit Suisse International. Lord Hodge delivered two important judgments on how to define and identify the “matters” which give rise to stay of legal proceedings in favour of arbitration (in England under Section 9 Arbitration Act 1996) and certain other related issues. In doing so, these Courts have dropped the overly “granular” approach adopted by English Courts recently and opted for a more nuanced and analytical approach favoured by the Australian courts. The legal analysis in the two decisions is more or less identical.

Read the FamilyMart Holding v Ting Chuan judgment here.

Invest Bank v El-Husseini [2023]

In a judgment handed down on 20 September 2023 following the trial of preliminary issues, the Deputy Judge of the Commercial Court held that it is not a rule of private international law that a final and binding foreign judgment on the merits must be enforceable in the foreign jurisdiction before it could be the subject of an application to ‘enforce’ the foreign judgment in this jurisdiction by a claim at common law, and dismissed the sixth defendant’s application to set aside a default judgment the claimant had obtained against the first defendant, as (i) there was accordingly no arguable defence, and (ii) the sixth defendant had not satisfied the Denton criteria.

Read Invest Bank v El-Husseini judgment here.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC v Shetty & others [2022]

A US$1 Billion damages claim, which arose out of the collapse of NMC PLC, a former FTSE 100 company, and its operating subsidiaries in the UAE, all of which are now in administration in England and Wales and the UAE. The claimant is an Abu Dhabi-based bank, and the first to third defendants are the former private shareholders in NMC PLC. The Bank alleged that the defendants are responsible, with others, for a serious fraud that appears to have taken place within the NMC Group of companies. The defendants all deny involvement in the fraud.

Read Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC v Shetty & others judgment here.


Steenbok Newco and another v Formal Holdings and others [2022]

South Africa’s largest ever private sector accounting fraud scandal. Alleged payments totalling approximately €95 million are said to have been made fraudulently. The case raises issues of German, Austrian, Swiss and BVI law.

AHAB v SAAD [2021]

One of the largest frauds ever perpetrated involving some 118 banks which together lent a total of $126 billion over two decades.


Meridian Trust v Eike Batista [2020]

A case involving the first statutory free-standing worldwide freezing order in Cayman. The first common law case in which a freezing injunction was granted over claims for American treble damages under RICO. Fraud resulted in losses of $5bn, with the lead claim being for $60m.

Read Meridian Trust v Eike Batista judgment here.

Grupo Mexico v Registrar of Companies [2020]

Court of Appeal case concerning the question of the Court’s power to order rectification of the register to reverse the administrative restoration of an LLP where the restoration had been obtained through the provision of fraudulent material.

Read Grupo Mexico v Registrar of Companies judgment here.


Lemos v Blue Diamond Corporation and Stegasis Corporation [2020]

A complex multi-jurisdictional case involving one of Greece’s largest shipping families and their ownership of shares in two Liberian Corporations, which raises multiple conflicts of law issues and matters relating to fraudulent misappropriation of shares.

Read Lemos v Blue Diamond Corporation and Stegasis Corporation judgment here.

Takhar v Gracefield Developments Limited [2019]

Supreme Court case establishing that a person who applies to set aside an earlier judgment on the basis of fraud does not have to demonstrate that the evidence of this fraud could not have been obtained with reasonable diligence before the earlier trial.

Read Takhar v Gracefield Developments Limited [2019] judgment here.

Naftogaz v Gazprom [2019]

Resisting an application in the Commercial Court for immediate enforcement of an arbitral award of almost $3 billion granted in an SCC arbitration.

KeyMed Ltd v Michael Woodford and Paul Hillman [2018]

One of The Lawyer’s “Top 20 Cases of 2018”. Claims against the former Managing Director and Finance Director of the Claimant company for breach of duty and conspiracy, in connection with benefits provided to the directors from the Claimant company’s pension scheme.

Read KeyMed Ltd v Michael Woodford and Paul Hillman judgment here.


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    Four wins for Wilberforce at Chambers UK Bar Awards 2023

    We are absolutely delighted to have picked up four awards at last night’s Chambers UK Bar Awards! We are proud to announce that Wilberforce Chambers won the highly coveted ‘Set of the Year‘ award, as well as ‘Chancery Set of... Read more

    Friday 1 December 2023

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    Recent Cases

    DIFC Court rejects $18.5 million damages claim in Kirtanlal International DMCC v State Bank Of India (DIFC Branch)

    Banking and financial services, Commercial disputes, International / offshore

    Bobby Friedman
    Tuesday 17 October 2023

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    Recent Cases

    Supreme Court and Privy Council simultaneously deliver important judgments on arbitration stays

    Commercial disputes, International / offshore, International arbitration

    Thomas Lowe KC
    Monday 25 September 2023

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    Recent Cases

    Judgment handed down: Invest Bank v El Husseini

    Commercial disputes, Banking and financial services, International / offshore

    Tim Penny KC
    Friday 22 September 2023

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Upcoming events View all events

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    External Conferences

    TL4 Disputes ESG Litigation 2nd Annual Summit 2024

    Tuesday 12th March 2024
    Central London

    £499 +VAT (Members) / £599 + VAT (Non-Members)

    Jessica Brooke

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Past events View all past events

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    External Conferences

    TL4 – KC Surgery: Asset Recovery

    Tuesday 28th November 2023
    Central London

    Thomas Grant KC | Tim Penny KC | Jessica Brooke | Elizabeth Houghton

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    Events / Webinars

    Wilberforce Fraud, Trusts & Asset Recovery Conference 2023

    Wednesday 8th November 2023 | 12.45pm - 5.30pm, followed by drinks
    Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch, London

    £120 + VAT | 3.5 CPD

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    Events / Webinars

    Wilberforce Guernsey Conference 2023

    Thursday 19th October 2023 | 3.30pm- 6.20pm, followed by a drinks reception
    The Old Government House Hotel & Spa, St Peter Port

    Free to attend | 2.0 CPD

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    Events / Webinars

    Wilberforce Jersey Conference 2023

    Wednesday 18th October 2023 | 3.30pm - 6.20pm, followed by a drinks reception
    Grand Jersey Hotel & Spa, St. Helier

    Free to attend | 2.0 CPD

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