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Commercial contract disputes

Members of Wilberforce Chambers have extensive experience in dealing with commercial contractual 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.   As many members have wide-ranging offshore expertise, they can also assist with complex conflicts of laws issues.

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 UK 2021: “A supremely sophisticated and well-established set,” Wilberforce Chambers has at its disposal a strong bench of barristers, with particularly impressive capability at silk level. Its members are capable of handling a wide spectrum of commercial matters, including, among others, cases arising out of company law, insolvency and civil fraud. Recent successes have included acting for the respondent in Naftogaz v Gazprom, resisting an application in the Commercial Court for immediate enforcement of an arbitral award of almost USD3 billion. Members also defended RBS in a case which questioned the bank’s ability to terminate a relationship with a customer it suspected of money laundering, regardless of the impact on its client. Wilberforce barristers are well noted for their ability to represent clients in international disputes, and regularly appear in a range of jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

The Legal 500 UK 2021: Clients are ‘spoilt for choice‘ at Wilberforce Chambers, which has ‘an abundance of talent at all levels‘. The ‘excellent set‘ is ‘always responsive and helpful‘, and marries strong practices in trusts, offshore and professional negligence, with broader commercial disputes. The set’s capacity for handling high profile cases was demonstrated with AHAB v SAAD, in which Thomas Lowe QC and John Wardell QC respectively acted for the defendant and claimant. Alan Gourgey QC also successfully represented Gazprom in Naftogaz v Gazprom, by resisting a Commercial Court application for the immediate enforcement of a $3bn arbitral award.

Chambers UK 2020: Noted for its astounding breadth of expertise, Wilberforce Chambers has members who can represent clients in a variety of jurisdictions, including Bermuda, Singapore and Hong Kong. They handle an array of different disputes, from shareholder and company matters to partnership, professional negligence, pensions, insolvency, fraud and conspiracy cases. Recent clients have included oil corporations, banks and even foreign governments. One highlight of the chambers’ latest work has been the Supreme Court case of Frederick v Positive Solutions Financial Service Limited, which examined the law of vicarious liability in the context of fraudulent conduct. Sources remark that Wilberforce Chambers has “a fine range of technically excellent barristers at different levels of call, who can provide superior advice across different areas of law both domestically and internationally.”

The Legal 500 UK 2020: Wilberforce Chambers has ‘excellent strength in depth‘ and is often the ‘first port of call on all Chancery, trust matters‘. The barristers are ‘first-class specialists and masters of their brief‘ who ‘never disappoint‘. Clients note that the set’s ‘expansion in recent years has turned them into a full-service set to deal with any area of law‘. A major highlight has been the significant role several members have had on the AHAB v SAAD dispute.