Simon Kverndal QC

Called: 1982 Silk: 2002

Practice Overview

Simon Kverndal QC specialises in all aspects of maritime litigation and arbitration. He is particularly well-known for his experience and expertise in maritime commercial arbitrations (particularly LMAA). Consistently ranked by the leading legal directories, with Chambers UK noting that "he is top flight in arbitration matters”. While his work typically involves detailed consideration of the many and varied technical issues which arise in the field of maritime transport, he is further praised for "his ability to identify key issues and hurdles and give clear guidance on how to overcome them."

Simon is frequently instructed to advise and appear as counsel in shipbuilding and shipsale disputes and on related refund guarantee issues.  He is is a leading specialist in marine casualty claims, under charterparties (unsafe port, fire, cargo damage), LOF salvage and collision actions. Recently he has been particularly involved in offshore disputes, particularly the hire or sale or construction of rigs, support vessels and supply vessels.  Though shipping is his main area of practice he was heavily involved in 2013/2014 defending a leading Russian businessman facing committal for contempt of court.

Simon is an accredited mediator and member of ADR chambers. In November 2006 he joined the panel of Lloyds (LOF) salvage arbitrators (re-appointed 2009 and 2014); and is also frequently appointed as arbitrator in charterparty and shipbuilding/shiprepair cases.

He has also been instructed and appeared in other jurisdictions as an expert in English law and is often brought in by domestic and international law firms when heavyweight knowledge is required on international issues and expert opinions, Simon has also been instructed and appeared in other jurisdictions as an expert in English law and much of his work is by way of direct instruction from abroad.

  • What the directories sayView More

    • ‘Very experienced and knowledgeable.’

      Legal 500, 2019
    • "Affable, courteous, likeable and approachable."

      (Chambers UK, 2019)
    • ‘His knowledge of shipping law is excellent – he provides prompt responses on complex issues.’

      Legal 500, 2019
    • ..."Extremely efficient and very good on his feet. He has a very good manner with clients and his drafting is to a very high standard"...

      (Chambers UK, 2018)
    • ..."Tactically excellent"...

      (Legal 500, 2017)
    • ..."A very attractive style of advocacy and pleasant to work with." "Very thorough, thinks outside the box."...

      (Chambers UK, 2017)
    • ..."He is very technically able in relation to ship construction" … [As arbitrator] "He set the tone of the arbitration very well, striking the right balance between proactivity and permissiveness"...

      (Chambers UK, 2017)
    • ..."Bright, effective and flexible"...

      (The Legal 500, 2016)
    • ...“A sensible and practical arbitrator with a high sense of integrity”...

      (Legal 500, 2016)
    • ..."As well as having in-depth knowledge of the law, he is responsive, reliable and easy to talk to"...

      (Legal 500, 2015)
    • ..."Particularly well-regarded ... natural ability to extricate good points in complex matters ... regularly instructed for his 'solutions-focused' approach"...

      (Who's Who Legal UK Bar 2015)
    • ..."He effortlessly fuses remarkable legal proficiency with commercial mindedness and pragmatism" "He is exceptionally able and knows how to present the case best according to the court in which he has to operate"...

      (Chambers UK, 2015)
    • ...“Really knows his stuff”...

      (The Legal 500, 2014)
    • ..."Thinks outside the box, but in a logical and calm manner"...

      (The Legal 500, 2013)
    • ..."a very approachable silk who has good commercial sense"…"excellent on practical matters of seamanship, and so is a great choice for admiralty matters."...

      (Chambers & Partners, 2013)
    • ...“extremely intelligent, and commercially astute”...

      (The Legal 500, 2012)
  • Shipping & Maritime K View More

    Dry Shipping

    Simon Kverndal is one of the leading advocates in London maritime arbitration and has argued all types of charterparty cases and appeared in many commodities arbitrations.  Illustrative cases include:

    •  In the last eight years following the collapse of the shipping markets in 2008 he has argued many arbitrations involving early termination of time charters and COAs, giving rise to interesting and various damages issues; in the same period he has appeared in a wide variety of shipbuilding disputes.  In 2015/2016 the focus has shifted offshore and he has been heavily involved advising and appearing in arbitration cases involving the hire, sale or construction of rigs, support vessels and supply vessels.
    • He is often instructed in and has appeared recently in several unsafe port cases.  
    • Barco de Vapor v Thanet District Council [2014] EWHC 490 (Ch). Birss J Case involving disputes concerning the extent of a broker’s authority to acting on behalf of Thanet District Council in judicial review proceedings in the Administrative Court following their closure of Ramsgate Port to the export of live sheep.  
    • Aquadiva.’ Acting for Korean charterers Samsun Logix in a US$57m claim arising out of termination of the 10 year time charter of a capesize bulk carrier.  The arbitrators’ (Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Bruce Harris, David Farrington) award on liability after a one week hearing in July 2014  confirmed the  correctness of the controversial High Court decision in the Astra.  Now concluded after several hearings on quantum issues during 2015.
    • The South West Strategic Health Authority v Bay Island Voyages, The Celtic Pioneer [2015] EWCA Civ 708 Acting for the third party carriers in a leading case on the Athens Convention (personal injury to passengers).  The Court of Appeal reversed HHJ Havelock-Allan to hold that the carrier was not as a third party entitled to rely on the two year convention time bar for bringing claims.

    Wet Shipping

    As one of the panel of LOF arbitrators, Simon is one of the leaders in the salvage field and as counsel in major salvage cases; he also has a wealth of experience in collision actions in the High Court.  He was recently instructed in two substantial collision cases both of which occurred in the Far East.

  • International Arbitration K View More

    International Arbitration is Simon’s core area of practice as counsel, particularly in LMAA charterparty arbitrations but also LCIA and ICC. 

    He has been heavily involved recently advising and appearing in arbitration cases on the offshore side involving in particular contract termination, sale or construction of rigs, support vessels and supply vessels (Simon is an expert on Supplytime 2005, having lectured on this charter for many years for BIMCO).

    As arbitrator Simon has been on the LOF salvage arbitrator panel since 2006 (c.100 appointments) and he is also regularly appointed as arbitrator in shipping and offshore disputes, often as sole (in particular under Wreckhire, Wreckfix, Wreckstage and private submissions).  

    Recent illustrative cases as arbitrator include:

    • Flash (LOF – sole) a capesize bulker aground on rocks off the Tunisian coast; refloated following extensive lightening by Smit Salvage B.V.; award c.US$20m.
    • Hansa Brandenburg (LOF – sole): a container ship on fire and abandoned in the Indian Ocean, salved, towed to Mauritius and discharged by joint salvors FOS and Smit. 
    • CIMC Yantai Raffles vs Schahin (5 week rig construction case – Chairman sitting with Jeffrey Gruder QC and Duncan Matthews QC) concerned claims arising out of the construction of two semi-submersible drilling rigs and involved teams of 4/5 counsel on each side (led respectively by Michael Ashcroft QC (instructed by CDG) and Helen Davies QC (Linklaters)).  

    Recent cases include:

    •  A week long hearing in June 2015 as sole under Wreckhire leading to awards totalling some US$17m.
  • Shipbuilding K View More

    Simon has wide experience in shipbuilding disputes, having acted for both yards and buyers; since 2009 he has been particularly active in this field and with related refund guarantee issues.

    Illustrative cases include:

    • Acting as arbitrator in a major oil rig construction arbitration (as Chairman with Jeffrey Gruder QC, Duncan Matthews QC) related to CIMC Raffles Offshore v Schahin Holding SA [2013] EWCA Civ 644 (CA), [2014] EWHC 1742 (Comm) and claims arising out of the construction of two semi-submersible drilling rigs.  This was a very substantial 5 week case involving teams of 4/5 counsel on each side (led respectively by Michael Ashcroft QC (instructed by CDG) and Helen Davies QC (Linklaters)).  
    • In 2015 he appeared in a 5 day LCIA arbitration for a Turkish yard defending claims by Russian buyers; the claim was ultimately dismissed and the yard succeeded in its multi-million dollar counterclaims.  
    • In 2014 he was invited to speak at the Swansea University (IISTL) conference on shipbuilding and ship finance; his paper on 'The Application of the Prevention Principle in the Shipbuilding Context' is published as a chapter in Ship Building, Sale and Finance (ed Tettenborn & Soyer, Informa 2015).
  • Mediation K View More

    Simon Kverndal has a growing following amongst maritime solicitors as a favourite choice to mediate shipping disputes.  He brings to his role as mediator a range of skills and qualities which go well beyond those which have made him a successful shipping and commercial QC.  He combines an unusual degree of commercial acumen and astuteness with a kind and charming personality and his style, though firm and forthright, is relaxed and friendly. 

    Simon is a well-regarded and experienced (some 25 appointments) alternative to the usual mediators and has a high success rate. 

..."A very attractive style of advocacy and pleasant to work with." "Very thorough, thinks outside the box"...

(Chambers UK, 2017)


Haileybury, Sidney Sussex College Cambridge (MA)


Open Scholar, Sidney Sussex College
Astbury Scholar, Middle Temple


Panel Member of Lloyd’s Open Form salvage arbitrators (2006)

Bencher, Middle Temple (2015)

Fifth Warden, Worshipful Company of Shipwrights (2016)


Simon Kverndal is often invited to speak at important conferences, most recently at North Sea Operators Claims Conference 2015, ICMA XIX 2015, BIMCO seminars on the Supplytime 2005 charter (Paris, Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Singapore, Ulsteinvik and Aberdeen), at Swansea University IISTL(Maritime Law Colloquium 2006 and September 2014), at Informa's Salvage Conferences in 2010, 2011 and 2012, at Informa’s Offshore Supply Vessels’ Contract Management seminars in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and at the London Shipping Law Centre ("The Ocean Victory and the test of abnormal occurrence", April 2015, "Spent Bills of Lading" June 2014, "WP privilege and pre-termination communications, April 2014). 


Contributor to Ship Building, Sale and Finance ed Tettenborn & Soyer (Informa 2015)

Contributor to Liability Regimes in Contemporary Maritime Law ed. Prof D. Rhidian Thomas (Informa, 2007)


Worshipful Company of Shipwrights (Fifth Warden), LSLC (Member of Council and active member of the Events sub-committee), LMAA, BMLA, Maritime London, COMBAR, LCLCBA, LCIA, SCMA.

Pro Bono

In 2005 acted for Greenpeace (R v Ayliffe & Ors) and continues to provide Greenpeace with occasional pro bono advice.


Simon Kverndal comes from a family, originally from Norway, which has been involved for many generations in the shipping industry and in particular in maritime claims. He is married with 2 teenage sons.


An enthusiastic sportsman (particularly Real Tennis and Rackets), opera lover and wine taster. Member of the Garrick Club, Queen’s and MCC.

Return to Barristers

Our barristers section has a Shortlist feature. You can use this to gather together the profiles of members that are of interest to you. Look out for the Ksymbol and click this to add to your shortlist. If you see this symbol next to a part of a profile you can click this to add just that part.

To view your shortlist please click the button above.