Chris Smith

Called: 1999

Practice Overview

Chris has a broad practice encompassing all areas of commercial law, with a particular focus on dry shipping, commodities, energy, and insurance disputes. He has appeared extensively in the Commercial Court, representing clients at all stages of proceedings, from urgent pre-action interlocutory applications all the way through to trial. Chris also appears regularly in both domestic and international arbitrations, and has undertaken cases before tribunals in London, Zurich and Hong Kong.

In 2015, Chris was nominated for Junior Shipping Barrister of the Year in the Chambers UK Bar Awards. He has also been recommended as a 'Leading Junior' in the field of Shipping law in both Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 for several years. Comments have included: “a star of the future and is a fierce advocate”; “he is thoroughly commercial and has sound judgment as to what points to fight”; "...he is very quick, responsive and user-friendly..."; "...a particularly tenacious and effective advocate; exactly the man you want in tight situations..."; "...diligent and accessible..."; "... decent, efficient and business like ..."; "... practical and with good attention to detail ..."; "... has a natural style of advocacy that goes down well in the commercial court ..."; ".... an ability to absorb enormous amounts of information and advise on a case clearly and concisely ..."

  • What the directories sayView More

    • "...He has a razor-sharp mind and is very thorough. He comes up with brilliant arguments and gets great results."... "A good strategist..."

      (Chambers UK, 2018 - Shipping & Commodities - leading junior)
    • "...He is very personable and delivers quick response times..."

      (Legal 500, 2017 - Shipping - Leading junior)
    • ‘An excellent user-friendly advocate, who has a great command of the detail.’

      (The Legal 500 - Shipping - Leading junior)
    • An "extremely good" junior with a wide practice that incorporates dry shipping, insurance and commodities work. "Personable and commercially minded." "He never gets stressed, always seems to have everything under control and does a great job for his clients."

      (Chambers UK 2016 - Shipping & Commodities [Band 1])
    • "...particularly good commodities and offshore credentials..."

      (The Legal 500 2015 – Energy)
    • "...he is very client-friendly and a real street fighter..."

      (The Legal 500 2015 – Shipping [Tier 2])
    • "...personable, good with clients and a pleasure to work with..."

      (The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2015 - Shipping: international arbitration)
    • "...Recommended for offshore disputes and oil trading..."

      (The Legal 500, 2016 - Energy – Leading juniors)
  • Shipping & Maritime K View More

    ‘Leading Junior' Band 1 (Chambers UK, 2015)

    'Leading Junior' Tier 2 (The Legal 500, 2014)

    Chris regularly acts in a broad range of maritime related disputes. Recent and/or notable cases include the following:

    • LMAA Arbitration (2015 – 5 days). Representing successful shipowners in a claim for the repudiation of a long term period charter. The issues arising included whether or not the owners had waived the right to terminate the charter and how damages are to be assessed in the absence of an available market for a replacement charter. The final hearing took place in April 2015 and an award was published in September 2015.
    • LMAA Arbitration (2015 – 2 days). Arbitration and related application to the High Court for an order for the sale of 4 vessels. This was a dispute about sums due and owing under 4 separate ship lay-up agreements. The final arbitration hearing took place in September 2015. The application for the order for sale is listed for hearing in October 2015.
    • Advising and drafting proceedings in relation to the collapse of OW Bunkers. In particular, providing advice to shipowners faced with competing claims from both the contractual and physical suppliers of the bunkers, and/or drafting inter-pleader proceedings.
    • Harms Bergung Transport und Heavy Lift GmbH & Co KG v Harms Offshore AHT “Uranus” GmbH & Co KG [2015] EWHC 1269. Dispute concerning whether or not it was permissible to commence in rem proceedings in England for the purposes of obtaining security in support of foreign arbitration provisions and whether, in such circumstances, the arresting party can be forced to litigate its claim in England.
    • Assisting the Serious Fraud Office with an ongoing investigation.
    • LMAA Arbitration (2015 – 2 days). Dispute concerning liability for delays under a voyage charter. The issues arising relate to the obligations of a shipowner where disputing claims over the cargo are advanced and the original bills of lading are not available. The final hearing took place in the first week of October 2015.
    • Aria Inc v Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank [2014] EWHC 872 (Comm). This was a return date on an injunction seeking to prevent payment being made out under an on-demand guarantee. The issues arising concerned whether or not a fraudulent demand had been made under the guarantee, whether the balance of convenience favoured the granting of an injunction, and whether or not an injunction should be granted under the EU Insolvency Regulation.
    • Set Select Energy v F&M Bunkering [2014] EWHC 192 (Comm). This was an application challenging the jurisdiction of the Court pursuant to Articles 27 & 28 of the Judgment Regulation. The issues arising involved the time limits for applications to dispute the Court’s jurisdiction, and the relationship between proceedings in England under a contract to supply bunkers and proceedings in Cyprus under an on-demand guarantee which was related to the bunker-supply contract.
    • Med Marine v Castillo Schiffahrts GMBH & Co. KG [2014] EWHC 1064 (Comm). This was an application challenging the jurisdiction of the Court on the basis that the dispute between the parties was the subject of a jurisdiction clause in favour of the Istanbul Courts and/or proceedings already before the Istanbul Courts. The issues arising related to the construction of the relevant terms and the effect to be given to two competing jurisdiction clauses contained in the same contract.
    • Enquest Producer. Case in the High Court concerning the arrest of a FPSO. The dispute related to liability under a contract for repair and upgrade works performed to the FPSO and the issues arising related to the construction of the contract, the identification of the parties to the contract and/or whether or not the contract had been concluded on behalf of an undisclosed principal.
    • Sibex Oil Limited v Saicatenergy SA – Commercial court trial relating to an international contract for the sale of coal. The issues arising related to the effect of certain acts of the Russian government, the applicability of a force majeure clause, and the right to recover damages for the detention of the railway cars carrying the coal.
    • XIN FA HAI – HKIAC arbitration relating to a dispute under an international contract for the sale of a consignment of coal. The issues arising related to compliance with the documentary requirements under a letter of credit and whether or not settlement negotiations had resulted in a formally binding compromise.
    • Lisnave Estaleiros Navais SA v Chemikalien Seetransport GmbH [2013] EWHC 338 (Comm) – application pursuant to section 67 of the Arbitration Act 1996 considering whether or not an arbitration agreement had been incorporated into the parties’ agreement pursuant to a prior course of dealing.
    • Lyme Bay Shellfish Ltd v Owners and/or Demise Charterers of MV WESTWIND II [2013] EWHC 1060 (Comm) – application for summary judgment and/or interim payment considering liability for a casualty where a vessel had negligently collided with an oyster and mussel farm.
    • MV Rising Star - Application in the Commercial Court considering the Court’s jurisdiction to award security for costs to the Respondent to an application pursuant to section 32 of the Arbitration Act 1996.
    • Yilport Kontenyer Terminali Ve Liman Isletmeleri v Buxcliff KG [2012] EWHC 3289 (Comm) - four day Commercial Court Trial relating to the reasonable cost of services provided by a container port to a distressed vessel.
    • Andros Warrior – Commercial Court dispute relating to the reasonable cost and time of repairs following a collision.
    • Hebei Lion – LMAA three day arbitration relating to the time for redelivery of a vessel under a time charter involving issues relating to the construction and rectification of the charter.
    • Sunrise – LMAA two day arbitration concerning whether an admitted repudiatory breach had, in fact, been accepted by the other party.
    • BLUE and PINK – LMAA one week arbitration involving the true subject-matter of a charter for a vessel under construction which was identified only by a hull number.
    • Flame SA v Primera Maritime (Hellas) Ltd [2009] EWHC 1973 (Comm) – application in the Commercial Court for a judgment under a FFA raising issues as to the true construction of the ISDA Master Agreement.
    • Bandwith Shipping Corp v Intaari (A Firm) (The Magdalena Oldendorff) [2008] 1 Lloyd’s Rep.7 – hearing before the Court of Appeal decision on an application to set aside an arbitration award for serious irregularity.
    • Assimina Maritime Ltd v Pakistan National Shipping Corp [2005] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 525 – application in the Commercial Court for a disclosure order against a non-party in support of arbitration proceedings
    • Granville Oils & Chemicals v Davies Turner & Co Ltd [2003] 2 Lloyd’s Rep.356 – hearing before the Court of Appeal relating to the reasonableness of the 9 month BIFA time bar.
       

    Commodities

    Chris has advised on and dealt with a variety of commodities disputes. These include:

    • Representing a major Singaporean oil trader in an arbitration dispute raising issues about allegedly fraudulent nomination of cargoes and the recoverability of hedging losses as a matter of law.
    • HKIAC arbitration under the 1976 UNCITRAL RULES (2015/2016). Representing the sellers in a claim arising under a contract for the supply of crystalline solar wafers over a period of 9 years. The buyers purported to terminate the contract and retained an advance payment made by the sellers. The issues arising concern whether or not the buyers had the right to terminate the contract on the true construction of the provisions thereof and, in particular, whether or not the sellers were in breach of an obligation to supply a bank guarantee to the buyers. A 5 day final hearing is listed for January 2016.
    • Advising and drafting proceedings in relation to the collapse of OW Bunkers. In particular, providing advice to shipowners faced with competing claims from both the contractual and physical suppliers of the bunkers, and/or drafting inter-pleader proceedings.
    • Various FFA disputes including Flame SA v Primera Maritime (Hellas) Ltd [2009] EWHC 1973 (Comm).
    • Various coal trading disputes involving issues in relation to failure by the party to take delivery of the contractual amount, force majeure preventing cargo from reaching its destination, liability for demurrage for unreturned rail cars.
    • Webster Thompson Limited v JG Pears (Newark) Limited – Commercial Court dispute in relation to the sale of a consignment of tallow and the conformity of the same with EU regulations.
    • Sugar arbitration considering whether or not the parties agreed to wash-out a particular contract.
    • Sibex Oil Limited v Saicatenergy SA – Commercial court trial relating to an international contract for the sale of coal. The issues arising related to the effect of certain acts of the Russian government, the applicability of a force majeure clause, and the right to recover damages for the detention of the railway cars carrying the coal.
  • Shipbuilding K View More

    Chris has considerable experience of shipbuilding disputes and has acted for both shipyards and buyers in cases involving issues about the right to terminate the contract for delay in the delivery of the vessels under construction, for expiry of the refund guarantee, and/or liability for defects discovered by the buyers post-delivery.

  • Commercial Dispute Resolution K View More

    Chris undertakes a wide range of general commercial work, with a particular emphasis on contractual disputes. His recent and/or notable cases include:

    • Aria Inc v Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank [2014] EWHC 872 (Comm). This was a return date on an injunction seeking to prevent payment being made out under an on-demand guarantee. The issues arising concerned whether or not a fraudulent demand had been made under the guarantee, whether the balance of convenience favoured the granting of an injunction, and whether or not an injunction should be granted under the EU Insolvency Regulation.
    • Set Select Energy v F&M Bunkering [2014] EWHC 192 (Comm). This was an application challenging the jurisdiction of the Court pursuant to Articles 27 & 28 of the Judgment Regulation. The issues arising involved the time limits for applications to dispute the Court’s jurisdiction, and the relationship between proceedings in England under a contract to supply bunkers and proceedings in Cyprus under an on-demand guarantee which was related to the bunker-supply contract.
    • Med Marine v Castillo Schiffahrts GMBH & Co. KG [2014] EWHC 1064 (Comm). This was an application challenging the jurisdiction of the Court on the basis that the dispute between the parties was the subject of a jurisdiction clause in favour of the Istanbul Courts and/or proceedings already before the Istanbul Courts. The issues arising related to the construction of the relevant terms and the effect to be given to two competing jurisdiction clauses contained in the same contract.
    • Aerotransleasing LLC v CJSC Aviakompaniya Polet [2014] EWHC 1318 (Comm). An application for an injunction prohibiting the removal of an aircraft from the jurisdiction. The injunction had been granted in support of a Russian injunction. The issues to be considered included the strength of the Respondent’s defence to the claim as a matter of Russian law and/or whether or not there was a real risk that the Respondent would seek to abscond with the aircraft if the injunction was released.
    • Imperial Tobacco v Exel, Lynx & Others – trial relating to theft of cigarettes from warehouse, relating to issues about good security practice.
    • Watermans v Bradshaw & Son Ltd – dispute about cause of and responsibility for warehouse fire.
    • Dawkins v Grand Union Management Limited – commission dispute under the management agreement for a musical group.
    • Containerships – ICC arbitration relating to liability under a share purchase agreement for old liabilities of the company.
    • Top Layer Interiors Ltd v Azure Maritime Holdings SA [2007] EWHC 2844 – dispute about non-payment of refurbishment contract in relation to a super-yacht.
    • Numerous disputes arising out of the course of carriage by road, including cases about under the CMR convention.
  • Energy & Natural Resources K View More

    “Leading Junior” (The Legal 500 2015)

    Chris has extensive experience in energy related disputes. Notable case include:

    • Uncitral Arbitration relating to a dispute between an international commodities’ trader and a coal mine in Colombia under a contract of sale. The dispute related to an alleged obligation to deliver cargoes of coal to a particular port and the question of whether or not the mine was relieved of that obligation in circumstances where construction of the necessary railway line to enable the deliveries to be made had not been completed.
    • ICC Arbitration 2017/2018. Dispute under a contract for the construction of a deep sea drill ship. The dispute concerns the alleged right of the buyer to terminate the contract for a delay in delivery and/or issues as to whether or not the drill ship was in fact ready for delivery on the required state and, if not, whether that was because the buyer’s conduct had prevented the drill ship from being completed by the required date.
    • LCIA Arbitration 2017/2018. A dispute concerning a contract for the sale of shares in a company owning and/or controlling certain oil and gas exploration licences in Russia. The claim relates to an allegation that various warranties in the agreement were breached by the seller, and the issues include a consideration as to whether or not the seller had complied with the terms of the licences in question at the date the contract was concluded, and/or whether those licences were liable to be terminated.
    • LCIA Arbitration 2017/2018. A dispute under a contract for the refurbishment and upgrade of a FPSO. The dispute involves the precise scope of the contractual work, the contractor’s right to request variations to the scope of work, and the obligation of the purchaser to respond to requests for variations and/or to pay for legitimate variations to the contractual scope of work.
    • LMAA Arbitration 2017/2018. A dispute concerning two contracts for the construction of two offshore jack up drill rigs. The issues arising relate to the Yard’s ability to construct the rigs in accordance with the contractual specification and by the contractual delivery date, and whether or not the purchaser was entitled to terminate the contracts on account of such matters.
    • LMAA Arbitration 2017. A dispute under a contract for the sale of a cargo of coal. The dispute concerns the quality of the coal on delivery and the accuracy of the quality certificates produced in relation thereto. An application to the Commercial Court for an order against a third party for the preservation of evidence relating to this dispute was recently considered by the Court at [2017] EWHC 94 (Comm).
    • Sibex Oil Limited v Saicatenergy SA (Commercial Court trial). A claim under a contract for the sale of 30,000mt of fuel oil with the cargo to be delivered via rail at the Baltiysk export terminal at the port of Kaliningrad. Delays were experienced in the delivery of the cargo at Kaliningrad, allegedly due to a directive of the Russian government which redrew the boundaries of that port, and the dispute concerned liability for the expenses incurred as a result of the ensuing delays.
    • Hashwani v OMV Maurice Energy Ltd [2015] EWCA Civ 177 & [2015] EWHC 1811. ICC arbitration and related Court proceedings. Dispute before the ICC relating to sums due under a joint operating agreement arising out of an oil and gas exploration licence in Pakistan. The main issues concern whether or not the operator of the licence is guilty of wilful misconduct and/or has wrongfully divested itself of its interest in the licence. The jurisdiction of the ICC tribunal was challenged by the Respondent which led to an application being made before the High Court and then the Court of Appeal in relation thereto.
    • Enquest Producer. Case in the High Court concerning the arrest of a FPSO. The dispute related to liability under a contract for repair and upgrade works performed to the FPSO and the issues arising related to the construction of the contract, the identification of the parties to the contract and/or whether or not the contract had been concluded on behalf of an undisclosed principal.
    • LCIA arbitration 2015/2016. A dispute about the construction and supply of flotels to an offshore oil field. The completion and delivery of the flotels was delayed considerably and the primary issue in the case concerns responsibility for that delay under the contract. The other main issue concerns whether or not the contractor is entitled to claim for various alleged variations to the contractual specification. A 3 week final hearing in the case is listed for April 2016.
    • ICC arbitration 2014/2015. This was a dispute under a share purchase agreement relating to the entire share capital of an oil gas producing company, for the purpose of obtaining that company’s interest in various oil and gas production licenses. The issues arising involved the true construction of the contract and whether or not the purchase price was to be adjusted on account of certain non-operative expenses. The dispute was submitted to the ICC for resolution and the hearing took place in November 2014 and a final award published in March 2015.
    • Advising an oil and gas major as to whether or not they are entitled to withdraw as the operator of an oil and gas exploration licence on account of the geographical area where the drilling was to take place having become a warzone.
    • Advising and drafting proceedings in relation to a dispute under a contract relating to the purchase of certain oil and gas assets located within the Republic of Tunisia. The contract was executed and title to the asset was transferred. However, the purchaser, pursuant to an express contractual right, decided to unwind the agreement and the dispute relates to the sums due to it as a result of the unwind.
    • Advising in relation to a dispute about the supply of a submerged turret loading system to an offshore liquefied natural gas deepwater import terminal off the coast of the USA.
    • Representing Vitol in a dispute in the Commercial Court concerning allegations of unlawful interference and conspiracy to injure in relation to the Romanian crude oil trade.
    • Advising in relation to performance bonds issued in support of an international construction project.
  • Insurance & Reinsurance K View More

    Chris has broad insurance and reinsurance experience in both marine and non-marine matters. His experience includes:

    • Advising in relation to a dispute under an in-transit insurance policy as to whether or not software licences and/or certificates of authenticity constitute “goods”.
    • Advising in relation to the enforceability of a Nicaraguan Court judgment granted against all-risk and war-risk insurers in relation to the hijacking and destruction of an aircraft.
    • Advising in relation to a dispute about a following underwriters’ obligations under a “follow the leader” clause.
    • Kenwood v HCCI – Commercial Court dispute in relation to professional indemnity cover involving allegations about the scope of cover, non-disclosure of previous claims or circumstances, and breach of warranty.
    • Representing insurers in a high value insurance arbitration and appeal under an all risks’ aviation policy in relation to the total loss of 14 aircraft
    • Representing all risk reinsurers in a high value reinsurance arbitration as to liability between all-risk and war-risk reinsurers for the total loss of 14 aircraft
    • Advising a Lloyd’s syndicate in relation to the effect of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 in the context of facultative reinsurance for Middle Eastern interests.
  • International Arbitration K View More

    Chris increasingly advises and appears as a party advocate in international arbitrations. Recent work includes:

    • Hashwani v OMV Maurice Energy Ltd [2015] EWCA Civ 177 & [2015] EWHC 1811. Dispute before the ICC relating to sums due under a joint operating agreement arising out of an oil and gas exploration licence in Pakistan. The main issues concern whether or not the operator of the licence is guilty of wilful misconduct and/or has wrongfully divested itself of its interest in the licence. The jurisdiction of the ICC tribunal was challenged by the Respondent which led to an application being made before the High Court and then the Court of Appeal in relation thereto.
    • LCIA arbitration 2015/2016. A dispute about the construction and supply of flotels to an offshore oil field. The completion and delivery of the flotels was delayed considerably and the primary issue in the case concerns responsibility for that delay under the contract. The other main issue concerns whether or not the contractor is entitled to claim for various alleged variations to the contractual specification. A 3 week final hearing in the case is listed for April 2016.
    • ICC arbitration 2014/2015. This was a dispute under a share purchase agreement relating to the entire share capital of an oil gas producing company, for the purpose of obtaining that company’s interest in various oil and gas production licenses. The issues arising involved the true construction of the contract and whether or not the purchase price was to be adjusted on account of certain non-operative expenses. The dispute was submitted to the ICC for resolution and the hearing took place in November 2014 and a final award published in March 2015.
    • HKIAC arbitration under the 1976 UNCITRAL RULES (2015/2016). Representing the sellers in a claim arising under a contract for the supply of crystalline solar wafers over a period of 9 years. The buyers purported to terminate the contract and retained an advance payment made by the sellers. The issues arising concern whether or not the buyers had the right to terminate the contract on the true construction of the provisions thereof and, in particular, whether or not the sellers were in breach of an obligation to supply a bank guarantee to the buyers. A 5 day final hearing is listed for January 2016.
    • ICC (2013) – arbitration relating to claims under a share purchase agreement concerning allocation of risk for old liabilities of the company being sold.
    • HKIAC (2013) – arbitration relating to a dispute under an international contract for the sale of a consignment of coal. The issues arising related to compliance with the documentary requirements under a letter of credit and whether or not settlement negotiations had resulted in a formally binding compromise.
  • Aviation & Travel K View More

    Chris has represented and advised clients in relation to all aspects of aviation and travel law, including claims under the Warsaw Convention, Montreal Convention, aviation insurance and reinsurance disputes, and general travel litigation, including in particular:

    • Aerotransleasing LLC v CJSC Aviakompaniya Polet [2014] EWHC 1318 (Comm). An application for an injunction prohibiting the removal of an aircraft from the jurisdiction. The injunction had been granted in support of a Russian injunction. The issues to be considered included the strength of the Respondent’s defence to the claim as a matter of Russian law and/or whether or not there was a real risk that the Respondent would seek to abscond with the aircraft if the injunction was released.
    • Various disputes arising out of contracts for the carriage of passengers and cargo by air.
    • High value reinsurance dispute between all risk reinsurers and war risk reinsurers as to liability for the total loss of 14 aircraft
    • Aircraft Holdings Ltd v Global Flight Solutions Ltd – Commercial Court dispute involving allegations of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of an aircraft leasing agreement.
    • Rolls Royce PLC v Pakistan International Airlines Corporation – Commercial Court dispute about services provided under an engine maintenance contract.

An "extremely good" junior with a wide practice that incorporates dry shipping, insurance and commodities work. "Personable and commercially minded." "He never gets stressed, always seems to have everything under control and does a great job for his clients."

(Chambers UK 2016 - Shipping & Commodities [Band 1])

Academic


M.A. (Cantab) 1st class honours.

Awards


Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge: Senior scholar, Sir William MacNair Law prize.

Publications


Contributor to “Butterworths: Commercial Court and Arbitration Pleadings”

Memberships


LCLCBA, COMBAR

Personal


Married

Interests


Sport, music, food & wine.

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