John Russell QC

Called: 1993 Silk: 2014

Practice Overview

John is an experienced and determined advocate and has acted as lead Counsel in numerous Commercial Court trials, international and marine arbitrations and appellate cases, including in the Supreme Court.

He relishes both detailed legal argument and cross-examination of lay and expert witnesses. He will always ensure that a client's case is presented in the most persuasive manner possible, both in writing and orally.

John provides advice to a wide range of clients. He combines first rate technical legal analysis with a pragmatic, commercial, problem solving approach to cases.

John accepts instructions in many fields of commercial dispute resolution with a particular focus on shipping, commodities, international trade and marine insurance.

He is ranked in the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners in Shipping, Commodities, Aviation and Travel.

  • What the directories sayView More

    • "He’s incredibly impressive, and is someone who always comes up with points that are insightful. He’s incredibly impressive, excellent on his feet and a joy to work with."

      (Chambers UK, 2018)
    • "Super. He is very straightforward and has an appealing way of presenting his cases." "Very friendly and good at what he does."

      (Chambers UK, 2018)
    • "..Known for his work in aviation..."

      (Legal 500, 2017)
    • "...He comes up with the right legal answer in difficult cases and provides commercial advice..."

      (Legal 500, 2017)
    • "...Particularly highly rated, he has a sharp mind and provides clear advice...."

      (Legal 500, 2017)
    • "The kind of barrister you would want to have on your side. He's not afraid to challenge anyone on anything." "He's bright, commercial, user-friendly and he delivers when you need it." 

      (Chambers & Partners UK 2017)
    • "He's commercial, effective and knows how to win." "John is very well known in the aviation field." 

      (Chambers & Partners UK 2017)
    • "...Outstanding..."

      (The Legal 500, 2016)
    • "...A pleasure to work with, he brings a sharp mind to clear and concise advocacy..."

      (The Legal 500, 2016)
    • "He has a down-to-earth, no-nonsense approach, and knows when to settle and when to fight"

      (Chambers UK, 2014)
    • "He is fearsome, as an opponent" ; "He's got bags of charm but a rapier-like intelligence. You've got to watch out because behind the smile..."

      (Chambers UK)
    • "...an excellent commercially astute senior junior whose legal input is always spot-on..."

      (Chambers UK)
    • "...wins plaudits for his "effective" advice..."

      (Chambers UK)
    • "...a tough, capable and level-headed practitioner..."

      (Chambers UK)
    • "...his preparation and case analysis are second to none..."

      (Chambers UK)
    • "...immensely responsive, easy to work with and highly analytical..."

      (Chambers UK)
    • "...knows how to win..."

      (Chambers UK)
    • "...effective and eloquent..."

      (The Legal 500)
    • "...clear precise and unflappable..."

      (The Legal 500)
  • Shipping & Maritime K View More

    Dry shipping

    John is recommended in the Shipping & Commodities section of Chambers & Partners, which praises him for his deep legal and commercial know-how, as well as his keen client service ethic.

    He is also in the Shipping section of the Legal 500.

    John has wide experience of all aspects of dry shipping and related insurance cases dealing with cases arising from bills of lading, time and voyage charters and long term COAs.

    Recent and continuing cases include, by way of example

    • unsafe port/berth claims,
    • general average disputes, 
    • laytime and demurrage claims,
    • off-hire claims,
    • contaminated bunkers disputes,
    • numerous claims arising out of piracy incidents.

    John has a particular specialism in cargo claims.  He was instructed in the large group actions arising out of the “Napoli” and the “Rena” container ship casualties and has handled claims arising out of a very wide range of goods including:  dangerous goods, petroleum products, chemicals, minerals and ores, scrap metals, soft commodities, bananas and other fruit, reefer cargoes and break bulk.

    Yachts
    John is also regularly instructed in yacht claims, including building disputes, charter disputes, insurance disputes (claims and coverage disputes), collisions and injury claims.

    Wet Shipping

    John regularly appears in the Admiralty court dealing with all aspects of in rem claims, arrests, orders for sale and related matters, and limitation claims.

    He has experience of a number of collision claims, particularly involving yachts, and some salvage experience.

  • International Trade & Commodities K View More

    Commodities
    John has developed a very strong commodities practice.  He has extensive experience of FOSFA and GAFTA arbitrations, including appeals from Board of Appeal Awards to court. A recent highlight was securing an award of US$45million in a dispute involving Chilean iron ore.  John has also been involved in numerous GAFTA cases arising out of the prohibition / quota system in respect of grain exports from Ukraine in 2010.  

    He is currently instructed in a dispute arising out of a multi-billion dollar contract for long term supply of cereal products.

    Transport
    John also handles high value freight forwarding, road transport, and warehousing claims, and been involved in numerous cases involving CMR, BIFA, RHA and NAWK / UKWA terms.

    Recent and reported cases include:

    • Fish & Fish Ltd v Sea Shepherd UK - [2012] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 409 (Hamblen J); [2013] 1 WLR 3700 (CA); [2015] UKSC 10 - acting for environmental action group Sea Shepherd in relation to the release of tuna fish during “Operation Blue Rage”. In the Commercial Court successfully argued that Sea Shepherd UK was not liable for actions carried out by Sea Shepherd USA, even though Sea Shepherd was the registered owner of the vessel which was used in “Blue Rage”.  The judge's decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal, but was restored in the Supreme Court.
    • Currently acting in a number of appeals from GAFTA awards arising out of the 2010 Ukrainian grain prohibitions of export.  The cases involve the proper construction and application of the GAFTA Prohibition Clause.
    • The “RENA” (2013) - instructed on behalf of cargo interests following the ship’s stranding on rocks off New Zealand.
    • Quadra Commodities v Ergo Verishigerung (2013) - acting for German underwriters in two large claims on soyabean goods in transit / storage insurance policies.  The cases involved complex issues of construction of the policies and experts issues relating to the heating processes of the soyabeans.
    • The “New Harvest” (2013) - general average dispute turning on technical issues relating to a main engine breakdown.
    • LMAA Arbitration (2013) -  charterparty case - successfully argued that a vessel was unseaworthy at the commencement of the carrying voyage, and the owners had failed to exercise due diligence, where it was the owners’ intention to smuggle drugs (4 tonnes of cocaine) aboard during the course of the voyage, which led to the vessel’s seizure by customs authorities and the interruption of the carrying voyage.
    • ICC Arbitration (2013) - successfully recovered US$45million in a dispute arising out of a contract for the long term supply of iron ore.
    • BP Oil International Ltd v Target Shipping Ltd - [2012] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 245 (Andrew Smith J); [2013] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 561.  Case turning on the proper construction of freight / overage provisions in a charterparty on the BPVOY4 form.
    • Osmium Shipping Corp v Cargill International SA - [2012] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 46 -  case turning on the construction of off-hire clauses and CONWARTIME clauses in the context of a piracy seizure off Somalia.
    • Soeximex SAS v Agrocorp International Pte Ltd - [2012] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 52 - appeal from a GAFTA award turning on the impact of sanctions on Myanmar on a contract of sale for Myanmar rice.
    • CMA CGM Marseille v Petro Broker International - [2011] Arb. L.R. 11 -  whether an arbitration award could be enforced against a sum paid into court as fortification for a cross-undertaking in damages in a freezing order.
    • Geofizika DD v MMB International Ltd - [2010] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 1 - claim analysing the requirements of a CIP sale contract; whether carriage on deck was permitted without the fact of deck carriage being expressly stated on the bill of lading.
    • Habas Sinai Ve Tibbi Gazlar Isthisal Endustri AS v Sometal SAL - [2010] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 661 - scrap metal dispute - incorporation of an arbitration clause from previous contracts between the same parties by way of general words of incorporation, even though there were no specific words incorporating that clause.
    • Papas Olio JSC v Grains & Fourrages SA - [2010] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 152 - case as to the proper construction of the FOSFA rules of arbitration / appeal.
    • Instructed by cargo interests in the “NAPOLI” group litigation.

    Older reported cases include:

    • Hornsby v James Fisher - [2008] Lloyd's Rep. Plus 97
    • The “Sea Success”  - [2005] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 692
    • Davis v Stena Line - [2005] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 13
    • The “Irbenskiy Proliv” - [2005] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 383
    • The “Mosel” - [2004] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 331
    • Eurocellular v Danzas - [2004] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 521
    • Torch Offshore v Cable Shipping - [2004] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 446
  • Shipbuilding K View More

    John has wide experience of shipbuilding and energy disputes.

    Current, recent and reported cases include:

    • (2012) Arbitration claim against Dutch yard in respect of build of Superyacht.  Issues included the correct specification for the propeller shafts and the quantification of the claim.
    • (2012) Arbitration claim defending an Italian yard in respect of build of Superyacht.
    • (2012) Acted for Oyster and Sunseeker in respect of build quality claims.
    • Maersk v Aalborg (2011) - a US$10m + claim arising out of construction of boiler facilities for north sea installations.
    • Major shipbuilding arbitration (2009) in respect of two US$78million new builds where the principal issues were allegations of professional negligence on the part of the surveyors / supervisors engaged to supervise the build at a Chinese yard.
    • The “JORK” case involving collision between vessel and a North Sea installation.
    • The “YOUNG LADY” case involving damage to undersea pipelines in the North Sea.
    • The “MIDNIGHT HUNTER” (Torch Offshore v Cable Shipping)  - [2004] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 446) involved the specifications of an offshore supply vessel
  • International Arbitration K View More

    John appears regularly in LMAA, LCIA and ICC arbitrations involving shipping, commodities and general commercial disputes.  He also advises in relation to GAFTA, FOSFA and other commodities arbitrations.  He has extensive experience of disputes as to arbitral jurisdiction (including the incorporation and scope of arbitration clauses).  John also acts regularly in court on s67/s68/s69 challenges to arbitral awards and has also undertaken court cases concerning the enforceability of awards.

    John has acted as an arbitrator in a number of LCIA references.

    Recent and ongoing cases include (for shipping disputes, please see the shipping section of this CV):

    Currently acting in a dispute arising out of a multi-billion dollar contract for long term supply of cereals.

    Currently acting in a number of appeals from GAFTA awards arising out of the 2010 Ukrainian grain prohibitions of export.  The cases involve the proper construction and application of the GAFTA Prohibition Clause.

    • ICC Arbitration (2013) - successfully recovered US$45million in a dispute arising out of a contract for the long term supply of iron ore.
    • ICC Arbitration (2013)  - €10 million claim arising out of the termination of the contract for the sale / purchase of an Agusta helicopter.
    • (2012) Arbitration claim against Dutch yard in respect of build of Superyacht.  Issues included the correct specification for the propeller shafts and the quantification of the claim.
    • (2012) Arbitration claim Defending Italian yard in respect of build of Superyacht.
    • Soeximex SAS v Agrocorp International Pte Ltd - [2012] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 52 - appeal from a GAFTA award turning on the impact of sanctions on Myanmar on a contract of sale for Myanmar rice.
    • LCIA Arbitration (2012) - large claim arising out of sale contract of shipbuilding cranes. 
    • Habas Sinai Ve Tibbi Gazlar Isthisal Endustri AS v Sometal SAL - [2010] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 661 - scrap metal dispute - incorporation of an arbitration clause from previous contracts between the same parties by way of general words of incorporation,  even though there were no specific words incorporating that clause.
  • Insurance & Reinsurance K View More

    John has wide experience of marine and non-marine insurance claims, advising and appearing regularly in relation to policy wordings, coverage disputes, claims disputes (including fraudulent claims) and claims concerning brokers.

    Reported claims include:

    • Quadra Commodities v Ergo Verishigerung (2013) - acting for German underwriters in two large claims on soyabean goods in transit / storage insurance policies.  The cases involved complex issues of construction of the policies and experts issues relating to the heating processes of the soyabeans.
    • The “Delphine” - [2001] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 542
    • Kazakstan Wool Processors v NCM - [2000] 1 All ER (Comm) 708 (Court of Appeal - construction of terms in a trade credit indemnity policy)
    • The Zeus V  - [2000] 2 Lloyd`s Rep 587 (Court of Appeal - construction of terms in a yacht policy).
    • Gunns v Par Insurance Brokers - [1997] 1 Lloyd`s Rep 173 (QBD - household insurance policy, non-disclosure and misrepresentation, breach of condition.
  • Commercial Dispute Resolution K View More

    John handles many domestic and international sale of goods cases, claims arising out of letters of credit, and related banking and financing matters.

    Recent cases include:

    • Icer Brands v Beyond Productions (ongoing) - large claim arising out of the termination of a distributorship agreement for Beyonce’s branded clothing line.
    • Sharda v Hockley (2013) - claim arising out of the supply of wrongly labelled insecticides which caused widespread damage to South African crops.
    • Re Goldsmith Cottages (2013 and ongoing) - advising administrators of a property development company in respect of claim against surveyors and building contractors following the collapse of a building due to inadequate support.
    • Daeyang v Pioneer Freight Futures  - US$40million claim arising out of freight futures contracts.
    • Dispute involving international sale of shipyard cranes.
    • Claim for US$5million concerning sale of lily bulbs from Netherlands to Kenya.
  • Aviation & Travel K View More

    John was originally a tenant at 5 Bell Yard, the then leading aviation set.  He is regularly instructed in all aspects of aviation work, including carriers’ liability, fatal accidents, aircraft leases and financing. 

    John is also instructed by the leading tour operators and cruise ship owners/ operators and their insurers, in particular in relation to large scale group litigation and recovery/ indemnity claims against hoteliers.  He has particular experience of costs capping and other costs issues arising in such case. Recent and reports cases include:

    Aviation

    • Olympic v Monarch [2013] EWHC 2561 (Comm) – acted for Olympic arguing that a long term commitment contract was to be implied from a course of dealing.
    • ICC Arbitration (2013)  €10 million claim arising out of the termination of the contract for the sale/ purchase of an Agusta helicopter.
    • Instructed in relation to the Biggin Hill crash
    • Fujitsu Computer Products Corporation v Bax Global - [2006] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 367
    • GKN Westland Helicopters v Korean Air - [2003] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 629
    • Laura Leasing v Advanced Braking Systems - Commercial Court 2002

    Travel

    • Hotel Bahia Principe - Very large group claim. Tour operators commenced proceedings to obtain early costs capping orders.
    • Hotel Soviva (Dawson) - acting for First Choice in relation to food poisoning in Tunisia.  Obtained landmark costs capping order in relation to claimants’ costs.
    • Hotel Aguamar (Giambrone) - [2004] EWCA Civ 158- large group food poisoning claim. The Court of Appeal gave important guidance on the quantum of gratuitous care claims.
    • “AURORA”; Norovirus Claims - successfully fended off a group action following highly publicized outbreak of norovirus on cruise ship. 
  • Personal Injury K View More

    John has a personal injury/ fatal accident practice arising out of his aviation, travel and shipping practices.  Recent and reported cases include:

    • (2013) Acting for shipowners following severe burns injury to superintendent during new build sea trials
    • Instructions arising out of Biggin Hill crash
    • Hornsby v James Fisher - [2008] Lloyd's Rep. Plus 97
    • Davis v Stena Line - [2005] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 13
    • Several serious head injury / brain damage claims and other injuries arising from yachting accidents including Goode v Martin Court of Appeal [2001] 3 All ER
    • Hotel Aguamar (Giambrone) - [2004] EWCA Civ 158 - large group food poisoning claim. The Court of Appeal gave important guidance on the quantum of gratuitous care claims.
    • “AURORA” Norovirus Claims - successfully fended off a group action following highly publicised outbreak of norovirus on cruise ship. 

"The kind of barrister you would want to have on your side. He's not afraid to challenge anyone on anything." "He's bright, commercial, user-friendly and he delivers when you need it." 

(Chambers & Partners UK 2017)

Academic


Campbell College, Belfast;
St John's College, Oxford (Law)

Awards


Middle Temple Scholarship

Presentations


Numerous papers and lectures on issues relating to carriage of goods, shipping, litigation and arbitration.

Languages


French (written)

Memberships


COMBAR

Interests


Sailing, sport, food, wine

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