John A. Kimbell QC

Called: 1995 Silk: 2015

Practice Overview

John Kimbell specialises in aviation and maritime law.  He represents a wide range of international clients in these two areas as well as in general commercial litigation and arbitration (in particular ICC, LCIA and LMAA arbitrations). Since 2001 he has been qualified to practice as a lawyer ('Rechtsanwalt') in Germany. He uses his knowledge of German law to provide a specialist service not only to German, Austrian and Swiss clients but more generally to clients from civil law countries.

In the aviation field he has handled a wide range of disputes from aircraft financing and security disputes to fatal accidents (in the UK and abroad). John specialises in advising clients on jurisdictional, private international law and foreign law aspects to aviation disputes. He recently successfully represented Thomas Cook in the Court of Appeal and in the Supreme Court in Stott v Thomas Cook [2014] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 207 on the exclusivity of the Montreal Convention. In January 2014 he appeared in the Court of Appeal in Rogers v Hoyle [2014] 3 WLR 148 - a case concerning the admissibility of air accident reports in civil proceedings. 

His shipping work encompasses both 'wet' collision and other Admiralty Court matters and 'dry' bill of lading and charterparty disputes. He regularly appears in the Commercial and Admiralty Court as well as in maritime (LMAA) arbitrations in London and in Hamburg (GMAA).  He has recently been involved in the first West-African piracy case to be litigated in the High Court (“CAPE BIRD”) and has advised and acted for Owners and Charterers in relation to claims and interpleader proceedings arising from the insolvency of OW Bunkers - Stena Bulk AB v Copley [2015] Lloyd’s Rep Plus 5. He is the joint editor (with Nigel Meeson QC) of Admiralty Jurisdiction & Practice (4th edition, 2011) Informa.

John is fluent in German and accepts instructions in German.

John is recommended in the current editions of The Legal 500 and Chambers UK as a 'Leading Junior' in the fields of Shipping and Commodities, Aviation, and Travel.

  • What the directories sayView More

    • "Intelligent, fearless and a superlative tactician in court"

      (Legal 500, 2016)
    • "A very clever, tough and tactically shrewd advocate" “Absolutely brilliant, he is a very robust litigator. Wonderful with clients”. “Has the drive to deliver successful strategies." “A commanding presence and precise intellect when it comes to complex, multi-jurisdictional matters"

      (Chambers UK, 2016)
    • a 'top-flight lawyer who comes with the whole kit'; "Peers were quick to praise his 'diligence, persuasiveness in court and excellent eye for detail'" ; 'he brings much added value to all of his instructions'; 'a very capable court performer'

      (Chambers UK 2014)
    • “Absolutely brilliant, he is a very robust litigator. Wonderful with clients, he will not get browbeaten when people bring in formidable barristers against him”

      Chambers 2014)
    • "John Kimbell has a 'commanding presence and precise intellect when it comes to complex, multi-jurisdictional matters'; 'smooth and polished'; 'a very tenacious, forthright litigator'"

      (Chambers UK, 2011)
  • Aviation & Travel K View More

    Band 1 (Chambers UK, 2015)

    Tier 1 (Legal 500, 2014)

    John is recommended by the legal directories as a leading junior in the fields of Aviation and Travel. He is instructed in a broad range of disputes especially those involving jurisdictional points, foreign law and the application of international conventions. John has recently been instructed in, amongst others, the following matters:

    • Stott v Thomas Cook [2014] UK SC 15 [2014] AC 1347 [2014] 2 WLR 521; [2014] 2 Lloyd's Rep 207: on appeal from Hook & Stott v. British Airways & Thomas Cook [2012] [EWCA] Civ 66, [2012] 1 Lloyd's Rep 386 – The first case in which the Supreme Court has considered the Montreal Convention 1999. The issue was the relationship between EC Regulation 1107/2006 and the Montreal Convention 1999. The Supreme Court upheld the airline’s case that the Montreal Convention is the exclusive source of damages claims for claims arising out of carriage by air and refused to refer this issue to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
    • Rogers v Hoyle [2014] EWCA Civ 257 [2014] 3 WLR 148 : [2014] 3 All ER 550  – a test case in which the Court of Appeal held that air accident investigation reports produced the Department of Transport are admissible in civil proceedings outside of the provisions of CPR Part 35.
    • Donkers v Storm Aviation and Lufthansa Cityline [2015] 1 All ER (Comm) 282 – a High Court claim arising out of an accident during ground handling at Manchester Airport involving issues of German law, EU social security law and the law applicable to IATA ground handling agreements.
    • Lansdale v Rutty [2013] QB (settled at mediation) – a case arising out of a helicopter crash in France.
    • Graham v Thomas Cook [2012] EWCA Civ 1355. A Court of Appeal case on the remedies available under EU Regulation 261/2004.
    • Petrou v Bertencello [2012] EWHC 2286 (QB) – a case arising out of a paragliding accident in England.
    • Coakley v. Air France SA [2012] QBD - A claim arising out of the loss of AF447 on 1 June 2009 in the Atlantic Ocean en route to Paris from Brazil.
    • An ICC arbitration (2011-2012) concerning a long term supply contract to a major European aircraft manufacturer.
    • Blue Sky One Limited and Others v. Mahan Air and Others [2011] EWCA Civ 544 & 771; [2009] EWHC 3314 (Comm) ("Phase 1") and [2010] EWHC 631 (Comm) ("Phase 2"): Heavy Commercial Court dispute concerning ownership and aircraft mortgage rights in three 747 aircraft being operated in Iran involving issues of US sanctions laws, private international law, Iranian and Dutch property law.
    • Howe-Jones v. Flight Ambulance International Rent-a-Jet AG [2010] EWHC 686 (Tomlinson J.): Dispute concerning the applicability of the Montreal Convention to international air-ambulance flights.
    • Youell and Others v. La Reunion Aerienne [2009] 1 Lloyd's Rep 586: aviation insurance dispute between co-insurers concerning the proper jurisdiction of a claim for a declaration of non-liability under Regulation 44/2001.
    • Celestial Aviation Trading 71 Limited v. Paramount Airways Private Ltd [2009] EWHC (Comm) 3142. Aircraft lease dispute.
  • Shipping & Maritime K View More

    Dry Shipping

    John Kimbell is a popular choice for shipping solicitors in London. He has appeared in a wide range of cases including charterparty and bill of lading disputes both in court and in arbitrations.  He has appeared in the following litigation:

    • CAPE BIRD (2013) Com Court (ongoing). Vessel seized by pirates off West Africa. Loss of cargo.
    • Stena Bulk v Copley & Others [2015] Lloyd’s Rep Plus 5 – a claim for interpleader relief and negative declarations arising out of the insolvency of OW Bunkers.
    • A LMAA arbitration (2012) arising out of a loss of containers in heavy seas blamed on the twist locks used to secure them.
    • A LMAA (2011) concerting a claim for US$3.5 million arising out of the repudiation of charterparty on grounds of misrepresentation.
    • A LMAA (2011) a multiparty arbitration arising out of alleged bunker oil contamination.
    • A LMAA arbitration (2008) concerning US$18 million off hire / damages claim arising out of a time charter of an OBO carrier arrested in Australia.
    • Ease Faith Marine v. Leonis Maritime and Others (2007) (Comm Ct). Mareva Injunction variation and discharge arising out of earlier litigation in a tug-tow dispute.
    • MV "MINERVA" (2007). Loss of a barge in Belgium during heavy lifting operation.
    • A judicial review (2007) concerning fishing rights in the Falkland Islands. A LMAA arbitration (2007) concerning an indemnity for alleged stevedore damage, involving issues of fraud.
    • A LMAA arbitration (2007) concerning a Shelltime 4 Chaterparty and the carriage of an allegedly unlawful chemical cargo.
    • A LMAA arbitration (2007) concerning the cancellation of a charterparty, estoppel and waiver.
    • A LMAA arbitration (2007) concerning an unsafe port claim arising out of serious damage to a vessel in Mexico.
    • The Flintermar [2005] 1 Lloyd's Rep 409 (CA); [2005] 1 All ER (Comm) 497. Allocation of responsibility under an adapted Baltime charterparty for damages paid to a member of the crew injured as a result of an accident during hatch-closing operations.

    Wet Shipping

    'Leading Junior' (Chambers UK, 2013) 

    'Leading Junior' (Legal 500, 2012)

    John regularly appears in the Admiralty Court and marine arbitrations in London and Hamburg. He has particular experience in collision cases. He is the joint editor (with Nigel Meeson QC) of Admiralty Jurisdiction & Practice (4th ed. 2011) Informa. He has recently appeared in:

    • DAHAB v MAERSK TEXAS (2014) Admiralty Court (ongoing)
    • TOMBARRA [2014] Admiralty Court – a fatal accident on a car carrier in port involving issues of foreign law pursuant to the Rome II Regulation.
    • MIOM 1 LTD v SEA ECHO ENE (No.2) [2011] EWHC 2715 - a case on the 'single liability principle' in collision cases and the application of s.190 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 to counterclaims.
    • MIOM 1 LTD v SEA ECHO ENE (No. 1) [2010] EWHC 3180 - collision between two vessels in the river Mersey.
    • A LMAA arbitration (2009-2010) - Collision between two cruise vessels in Norway.
    • McNulty Group v DFDS (2008) - Cruise vessel colliding with dock side warehouse in bad weather.
    • A LMAA arbitration (2008). Vessel running aground and salved.
    • "MINERVA" (2008). Loss of a barge resulting from heavy cargo operation leading to claims in Belgium, Holland and England.
    • The "Ben My Chre" (2008) Admiralty Court . Collision in Mersey Docks.
    • Owners of the ship "Bulk Atalanta" v. Owners of the ship "Forest Pioneer" [2007] EWHC 84 (Admlty); [2007] Lloyd's Rep Plus 26; Collision in the approaches to Gibraltar. Consideration of the application of reduced visibility.
    • "KRONOS 1" icw "CSAV PERU" (2007). Loss of a barge in a collision with a tanker.
  • International Arbitration K View More

    A large proportion of John's wide ranging arbitration practice features an international element. He regularly appears before a variety of institutional arbitral tribunals such as the ICC and LCIA as well as a variety of ad hoc panels.

    John has extensive experience in dealing with arbitrations outside London including significant involvement in arbitrations with their seats in Hamburg, New York, Frankfurt and Zurich. He has acted as an arbitrator in London and Hamburg.

    • An ICC Arbitration (2011 - 2012) with arbitral seat in Frankfurt concerning a contractual dispute between a German nuclear engineering company and an English nuclear engineering company.
    • An ICC Arbitration (2011 - 2012) with arbitral seat in Zurich concerning a long term supply contract with a major European aircraft manufacturer.
    • An ad hoc arbitration (2008) in New York concerning the loss of diamonds in the course of carriage by air.
  • Insurance & Reinsurance K View More

    John is regularly instructed in a variety of Insurance and Reinsurance disputes, especially in respect of cross-border transactions, jurisdictional and coverage disputes.

    • Youell & Others v. La Reunion Aerienne & Others [2009] Lloyd's Rep IR Plus 5 (Comm) and 33 (CA). A leading case on the placing of insurance in the context of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Regulation (EC 44/2001).
    • ATI Servicews v Pacific Helicopters (2008). Dispute concerning coverage for operations in Afghanistan.
    • Kamidan v. Holt et al [2009] 1 Lloyd's Rep. IR 242 (Comm Ct). Misrepresentation of the provenance of a "Fabergé egg" clock.
    • Hatzl v. XL Insurance [2009] Lloyd's Rep. Plus 37, [2009] EWCA Civ 223. Whether an insurer who had been assigned a claim by the assured was a "defendant" for the purposes of the jurisdictional provisions of the CMR.
  • Shipbuilding K View More

    John advises in relation to Shipbuilding disputes concerning both the market standard vessel sale and purchase forms (such as Saleform) and also custom drafted MOAs.

    John is also instructed to advise on non-contentious matters relating to the drafting of MOAs and other commercial agreements. He has recently been instructed in the following related matters:

    • A LCIA arbitration (2013) concerning major structural errors in the construction of a car carrier.
    • A LMAA arbitration (2012) arising out of the sale of cargo vessel in which owners claimed US2 million in damages.
    • An LMAA arbitration [2011] concerning the construction of a series of vessels in China and rights of cancellation for delay in construction and the enforceability of supporting bank guarantees.
    • An ICC arbitration [2010] concerning a contract for the supply of pumping equipment in Libya.
    • A LMAA arbitration [2010] concerning a contract for a supply vessel to the oil industry off the West African coast.
    • RMA v Fusion Provida [2011] TCC concerning the supply of valves for the gas industry in Algeria.


B.A. (Hons.) (Cantab); M.Phil (Cantab); BCL (Oxon)


Princess Royal Scholarship (Inner Temple)

Other Qualifications

Rechtsanwalt (Hamburg, Germany) since 2001 -  quallified to practice as a lawyer in Germany.


German fluent.


Combar; LMAA (supporting member); GMAA (German Maritime Arbitration Association); DVIS (German Association for International Sea Law); BGJA (British-German Jurists Association).

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