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Joanna Smith QC

Call: 1990    QC: 2009

+44 (0)20 7306

Practice Overview

Joanna’s broad litigation practice encompasses advice and advocacy in the fields of professional liability, commercial litigation, arbitration (domestic/ international), construction, professional regulation, adjudication, mediation (as a qualified mediator) and insurance. She has extensive experience of acting in high value and complex international and domestic disputes on behalf of multinational companies, public bodies and professional clients. Her advocacy has been complimented at the highest level by Lord Neuberger in Cavendish v Makdessi [2015] UKSC 67 as showing “considerable forensic skill”.

Joanna’s professional liability practice is wide-ranging. She acts on both sides in disputes involving the negligence of a wide range of professionals, including solicitors, barristers, accountants, actuaries, financial advisers, valuers, surveyors and construction professionals. Joanna has recently appeared before the Supreme Court in Tiuta v De Villiers [2017] UKSC 77, a valuer’s negligence claim in which the ‘but for’ test of causation has been put under the spot light in the context of the very particular facts of that case.

In the regulatory sphere, Joanna has experience of acting for the Financial Reporting Council. Joanna is an experienced commercial litigator at home and abroad. She has advised and acted in international disputes governed by ICC, UNCITRAL, LCIA and IBA arbitration rules both in the fields of construction and commercial litigation; she also has experience of sitting as an arbitrator. On the domestic front she regularly appears in the English High Court (Commercial Court, Chancery Division, TCC, Court of Appeal). She successfully led the winning team in the Supreme Court in Cavendish Square Holding BV v Makdessi [2015] UKSC 67, a seminal commercial case which has redefined the doctrine of penalties.

Joanna is ranked as a leading silk in The Legal 500, Chambers UK and Chambers Global for Commercial Chancery, Commercial Litigation, Professional Negligence and Construction.

She was awarded Chancery Silk of the Year at the Chambers UK Bar Awards 2016. In 2017 Joanna was appointed a Deputy High Court Judge.

Joanna is a Director of Bar Mutual, a qualified Mediator and a Supporting Member of the Society of Construction Arbitrators.

Recent directory quotes include:

Chambers UK Bar 2020 (Commercial Chancery): “A great lawyer and a very good advocate in court. She was outstanding in her mastery of legal concepts and delivery as an advocate. She’s incredibly hard-working, but really nice to work with.”

Chambers UK Bar 2020 (Construction): “She has a ferocious intellect, fantastic client skills and is a real team player.”; “She is commercially aware and a great team player and communicator – she is a class act.”

Chambers UK Bar 2020 (Professional Negligence): “She is very formidable and really talks no nonsense; she’s also very clear and very sensible.”; “She is great at handling clients, a very good advocate in court and a master of legal concepts. She is also incredibly hard-working and really nice to work with.”

Chambers UK Bar 2020 (Professional Negligence: Technology and Construction): “She’s a very good advocate and is very quick to get to the heart of the issues.”; “She quickly finds strengths and weaknesses that others haven’t seen.”

The Legal 500 2020 (Commercial Litigation): “An excellent advocate, she is dynamic and inspires confidence.”

The Legal 500 2020 (Professional Negligence): “Extremely sharp and personable.”

Chambers UK Bar 2019 (Commercial Chancery): “A cracking team player who comes to the table without any ego.” “She is excellent and very clear on her feet.”

Chambers UK Bar 2019 (Construction): “Ferociously bright and a great team player. She has an amazing work ethic and a will to win that is unmatched.”

Chambers UK Bar 2019 (Professional Negligence): “Very, very client-savvy and manages expectations extremely well.” “Very commercial and can make the complicated simple.” “One of the best silks around. A fantastic advocate – her written work is top-class, her judgement is excellent, and she’s incredibly good tactically and very astute.”

Chambers UK Bar 2019 (Professional Negligence: Technology and Construction): “The work she does is of extremely high quality.” “She can get the judge eating out of her hands.”

The Legal 500 2019 (Commercial Litigation): “A first-class advocate and has charmed the appellate court judges on numerous occasions.”

The Legal 500 2019 (Construction): “In the construction sphere, she is recommended for professional liability work.”

The Legal 500 2019 (Professional Negligence): “She is very client-friendly and instils a high level of confidence in the advice she gives.”