Benjamin Coffer

Called: 2008

Practice Overview

Ben has a broad international commercial practice, with a particular emphasis on commodities, insurance / reinsurance and shipping.  He is recommended as a leading junior by Legal 500 (Commodities) and Chambers & Partners (Shipping & Commodities).

Ben regularly appears as sole and junior counsel in the Commercial Court and the London Mercantile Court, and before arbitral tribunals. He has experience of arbitration under the rules of many different international organisations including the LMAA, the LCIA, the ICC, the SIAC, the HKIAC, the Swiss Chambers' Arbitration Insitution, FOSFA and GAFTA.

Ben’s commodities work covers a wide range of hard and soft commodities disputes with particular experience of oil and gas, coal and steel, rice, sugar, grains, and oils and fats. Much of his work involves working closely with solicitors and trade representatives to assist in the presentation of cases in trade association arbitrations.

In the insurance context, Ben acts in a full range of marine and non-marine claims. He has a particular interest in reinsurance, and appeared with Poonam Melwani QC in Beazley Underwriting v. Al Ahleia Insurance Company [2013] 1 Lloyd's Rep IR 561, a leading case on the operation of claims control clauses where a reinsurance market is divided, and with Guy Blackwood QC in an arbitration arising out of the purported avoidance of a quota share energy treaty on the basis of an allegation that risks ceded to the treaty had been compressed by the use of facultative excess of loss reinsurance.

Ben’s shipping practice includes all forms of charterparty and bill of lading claims, as well as shipbuilding and ship finance disputes. His significant recent shipping cases include The Aqasia [2016] 2 Lloyd's Rep 510, holding that Article IV Rule 5 of the Hague Rules does not apply to bulk cargoes, The Sea Miror [2015] 2 Lloyd's Rep 395, the first case to consider the meaning of a term that cargo is to be loaded and discharged "at the expenses and risk of Shippers/Charterers" and Volcafe Limited v. CSAV [2016] EWCA Civ 1103, which addresses the burden of proof in cargo claims under the Hague Rules.

  • What the directories sayView More

    • "…A standout shipping and commodities junior highly praised as a "star of the future"…."

      (Chambers & Partners, 2017)
    • "A rising star..."

      (The Legal 500, 2017)
    • "He is the best junior I have come across in my career - he can get to grips with every legal question we have thrown at him."

      (Chambers & Partners, 2017)
    • "... user-friendly, extremely intelligent and always able to find a way through the knottiest of problems"

      (The Legal 500, 2017)
    • "I go to him because he can do everything."

      (Chambers & Partners, 2017)
    • "….A "real rising star" with a flourishing practice in hard and soft commodity disputes and all types of charter party and bill of lading disputes. …."

      (Chambers & Partners, 2016)
    • "... Very intelligent - someone who will go far..."

      (Chambers & Partners, 2016)
    • "... Very responsive and always willing to take responsibility..."

      (Chambers & Partners, 2016)
  • International Trade & Commodities K View More

    Ben has a specialism in international trade and commodities. He acts in a wide range of hard and soft commodities disputes with particular experience of oil and gas, coal and steel, rice, sugar, grains, and oils and fats. He regularly provides assistance and advice to solicitors and in-house counsel in connection with trade association arbitrations, and has experience of working closely in conjunction with trade representatives where direct legal representation is excluded by the relevant trade association rules.

    Most of the cases in which Ben acts are confidential, but some illustrative cases include:

    • A Commercial Court claim for damage to a cargo of reformate said to have been caused by on-board blending;
    • A claim in GAFTA arbitration for US$8 million arising out of the presence of dioxins in a cargo of rapeseeds;
    • A SIAC arbitration as to the application of the "force majeure" provisions in a contract for the sale of coal where shipment was said to have been prevented by flooding at the sellers' mine;
    • A dispute as to what constitutes a "claim on quality and/or condition" for the purposes of the time-bar in the FOSFA Rules of Arbitration;
    • A FOSFA arbitration concerning the measure of damages for failure to deliver a cargo purchased on FOB terms within the contractual shipment period. 
  • Shipping & Maritime K View More

    Dry Shipping

    Ben's shipping work encompasses all types of charterparty and bill of lading dispute in the High Court and in maritime arbitration, as well as shipbuilding and ship finance disputes. 

    Illustrative cases include:

    • The Aqasia [2016] EWHC 2514 (Comm), holding that Article IV Rule 5 of the Hague Rules does not apply to bulk cargo.
    • Volcafe Limited v. CSAV [2015] 1 Lloyd's Rep 639, [2016] EWCA Civ 1103. Ben appeared as sole counsel at the trial of a claim for damage to containerised cargoes carried on LCL / FCL terms, and with John Russell QC in the Court of Appeal.
    • The Sea Miror [2015] 2 Lloyd's Rep 395, the first case to consider the meaning of a term that cargo is to be loaded and discharged "at the expenses and risk of Shippers/Charterers" (with Robert Thomas QC).
    • Beijing Jianlong Heavy Industry Group v. Golden Ocean Group [2013] 2 Lloyd's Rep 61, a widely cited judgment which considers when an arbitration agreement in an illegal contract will be valid and enforceable (with Simon Rainey QC).
    • Univeg Direct Fruit Marketing DFM GMBH v. MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. ("THE MSC STELLA") [2013] All ER (D) 99 (Oct), a Commercial Court trial arising out of damage to a cargo of clementines during carriage by sea (as sole counsel).
    • Samsung Electronics Co Ltd v. Norasia Container Lines Ltd ("THE CSAV PYRENEES"), a trial in the Mercantile Court concerning the application of the Hague Rules time-bar to a multimodal bill of lading (as sole counsel).

    Wet Shipping

    Ben acts in claims concerning all aspects of the Admiralty jurisdiction, and is able to provide drafting and advisory assistance in relation to the law and practice of the Admiralty Court including limitation, arrest, orders for appraisement and sale and priorities.

    Illustrative cases include:

    The SAMCO EUROPE and MSC PRESTIGE [2011] 2 Lloyd's Rep 579, the trial of a claim arising out of a collision between a container vessel and a VLCC in the Gulf of Aden. Ben appeared with Jeremy Russell QC. Teare J's decision as to the apportionment of costs (The SAMCO EUROPE and MSC PRESTIGE (Costs) [2011] EWHC 1656 (Admlty)) is also a significant decision on the effect of withdrawing an offer to settle prior to trial.

    The sale pendente lite of the ship "MOST SKY".

    The constitution of a limitation fund for the fishing vessel "B462 VIDAR".

    In addition, Ben has been instructed as sole counsel in several claims arising out of yacht casualties, including the fatal capsizing of the "HOOLIGAN V" on 3 February 2007, a collision between two yachts racing under the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing during Cowes Week in 2009, and a collision inside a marina in Minorca.

  • Insurance & Reinsurance K View More

    Ben's practice includes all aspects of marine and non-marine insurance, and reinsurance (where Ben has a particular interest).  

    Illustrative cases include:

    • Beazley Underwriting v. Al Ahleia Insurance Company [2013] 1 Lloyd's Rep IR 561, a leading case on the operation of claims control clauses where a reinsurance market is divided (with Poonam Melwani QC).
    • San Evans Maritime v. Aigaion Insurance [2014] 1 Lloyd's Rep IR 462, a leading insurance case  which resolves the uncertainty as to whether 'follow the leader' clauses operate by a 'trigger' mechanism or by way of agency (with Luke Parsons QC).
    • Appearing with Guy Blackwood QC in an arbitration arising out of the purported avoidance of a quota share energy treaty on the basis of an allegation that risks ceded to the treaty had been compressed by the use of facultative excess of loss reinsurance.
    • Acting for London market reinsurers in a dispute over aggregation of losses arising out of exposure to asbestos.
    • Representing the insurers of a collapsed inland drilling rig in a claim for a constructive total loss.
    • Acting for the goods in transit insurers of a cargo of iron ore fines on board a ship which sank with the loss of all her cargo, in a dispute over whether the assured had a sufficient insurable interest at the time of the loss.
  • International Arbitration K View More

    Many of the cases in which Ben is instructed are before international arbitral tribunals, and he is able to advise on all aspects of arbitration law and procedure. 

    Ben has experience of arbitration under the rules of a number of different international organisations including the LMAA, the LCIA, the ICC, the SIAC, FOSFA and GAFTA. He has recently acted in a number of cases concerning the jurisdiction of arbitral tribunals.

    Illustrative cases include:

    • A challenge before the tribunal (under s. 30 of the 1996 Act) considering whether a bailee can be bound by an arbitration agreement to which he is not a party, by virtue of a sub-bailment on terms (with Robert Thomas QC).
    • Beijing Jianlong Heavy Industry Group v1. Golden Ocean Group Limited [2013] 2 Lloyd's Rep 61 an application to the Commercial Court challenging the jurisdiction of an arbitral tribunal on the basis that the arbitration agreement was void for illegality under the principle in Foster v. Driscoll [1929] 1 KB 470 (with Simon Rainey QC).
    • X v Y An arbitration considering whether a sub-bailment on terms should be treated as contractual or tortious for the purposes of determining the applicable law (with Robert Thomas QC).
    • An arbitration considering the correct approach to be taken where the parties have entered into several different contracts containing different dispute resolution provisions.
    • A challenge to the jurisdiction of a tribunal appointed by reference to an arbitration clause in a bill of lading which has subsequently been replaced by a substitute bill.
  • Commercial Dispute Resolution K View More

    Ben is instructed to appear in commercial disputes of all shapes and sizes. He has acted in disputes concerning the rights and duties of fiduciaries, warranty claims arising under share purchase agreements, and claims arising out of invoice factoring and the negotiation of bills of exchange. Examples include:

    Talos Capital Limited v. JCS Investment Holding XIV Ltd [2014] EWHC 3977, where Ben and Guy Blackwood QC appeared for the successful claimants in their application for an anti-suit injunction to restrain foreign proceedings on the ground that they were vexatious and oppressive.

    LNOC Ltd v. Watford Association Football Club Limited [2013] EWHC 3615 (Comm), a dispute as to the authority of a director to bind a Championship football club. The judgment contains an in-depth analysis of the circumstances in which an individual director will have authority to bind a company, and a detailed analysis of the application of s. 44 of the Companies Act 2006. Ben appeared with Jonathan Davies-Jones QC

  • Sports Law K View More

    Ben has been instructed in several cases within this growing area of Chambers' practice. He has recently acted for a professional football played in relation to the enforcement of a claim for wages against transfer funds held by a premier league football club, and in LNOC Ltd v. Watford Association Football Club Limited [2013] EWHC 3615 (Comm), a claim against Watford FC arising out of the transfer of Danny Graham from Watford to Swansea City (also reported at http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/25042944).


"A rising star - user-friendly, extremely intelligent and always able to find a way through the knottiest of problems"

(Legal 500 2017)

Academic


B.A. in English Literature, St John’s College, Oxford (First Class)

Graduate Diploma in Law, College of Law (Distinction)

Bar Vocational Course, Inns of Court School of Law (Outstanding)

Awards


Middle Temple Queen Mother Scholarship, Harmsworth Exhibition and Certificate of Honour

Memberships


LMAA Supporting Member

COMBAR

LCIA Young International Arbitration Group 

Publications


"Slicing the reinsurance pizza", L.L.I.D. 2013, May 30, 7 

“Mystery solved on follow the settlements", L.L.I.D. 2014, Aug 14, 4

Languages


French

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