Ben Gardner
Called: 2010
"He's fast, accurate and has an exceptional understanding of both the business and legal aspects of a case."
(Chambers UK, 2020)
"An excellent barrister – commercial, practical, precise and always quick to respond."
(Legal 500 2019)
..."A super-bright guy who is very accessible and easy to work with."... "Very clever and a very good advocate. He’s mature beyond his years."...
(Chambers UK, 2018)

Ben Gardner

Academic
B.A. in Law, Cambridge (Double First, ranked 1st in Part I of Tripos); LL.M., Cambridge (First Class, ranked 2nd in the University); LL.M., Harvard Law School; B.V.C., BPP Law School (Outstanding).
Awards
Prizes
Vaughan Bevan Prize Emmanuel College Cambridge 2006 ; Clifford Chance David Gottlieb Prize Cambridge University 2006 ; Rodwell Prize Emmanuel College Cambridge 2007 ; Mancini Prize Harvard Law School 2009 ; Certificate of Honour Middle Temple 2010

Scholarships
Porter Scholarship Emmanuel College Cambridge 2006-2007 ; Bachelor Scholarship Emmanuel College Cambridge 2007-2008 ; Rebecca Flower Scholarship Cambridge University Cambridge 2007-2008 ; Research Scholarship A.H.R.C. 2007-2008 ; Herchel Smith Harvard Scholarship Emmanuel College Cambridge 2008-2009 ; Queen Mother Scholarship Middle Temple 2009-2010
Publications
Curaçao, the Netherlands Antilles and the Kingdom: A look through the Constitutional Prism, Ben Gardner and Jeremias Prassl
Submitted as a paper at Harvard Law School under the supervision of Professor Gráinne de Burca (2009)
Published by VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne, Willemstad, Curaçao (2009)
Delivered as a paper at the University of Groningen (2009)
Memberships
COMBAR; Chancery Bar Association; TECBAR; ICC Young Arbitrators Forum, LCIA Young International Arbitration Group.

Ben has a busy commercial practice, focussing on shipping, commodities and international trade, energy, insurance and conflict of laws.  He was shortlisted for 'Shipping Junior of the Year' at the 2018 Chambers Bar Awards and he is consistently ranked as a leading junior by Chambers UK and the Legal 500 for his shipping and commodities work.  He is also recognised for his Energy work in the Legal 500. Recent comments include "very clever and a very good advocate""has an exceptional understanding of both the business and legal aspects of a case""quickly processes a high level of technical detail and works extremely hard", "very smart and focuses immediately on the issues""an excellent barrister, who is precise, commercial and practical in his focus and forceful and effective in his arguments""thorough, diligent and very personable""easy to work with and respected by clients" and "mature beyond his years" .

Ben often appears in Court at all levels, both as sole counsel and as part of a counsel team.  Recent cases include:

  • Clearlake Chartering USA Inc v Petroleo Brasileiro SA [2020] EWHC 805 (Comm): Ben acted with Robert Thomas QC for the successful applicants in an urgent application for a mandatory injunction requiring Petrobras to put up security of US$76m to secure release of a vessel from arrest in Singapore.

  • Clearlake Chartering USA Inc v Petroleo Brasileiro SA [2020] EWHC 805 (Comm): Ben acted with Robert Thomas QC for the successful applicants in an urgent application for a mandatory injunction requiring Petrobras to put up security of UK$76M to secure release of a vessel from arrest in Singapore.
  • Natixis SA v Marex Financial [2019] EWHC 2549 (Comm): Ben appeared with Luke Parsons QC for the cargo underwriters in a multi-party, US$30m dispute relating to metal trading fraud.  The claim against underwriters focused principally on the non-disclosure defence under the Insurance Act 2015.  The claim against the underwriters settled on day 9 of the 16 day trial, with judgment handed down on the surviving claims in October 2019.
  • Engelhart v Lloyd's Syndicate 1221 [2018] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 24 (Comm): Ben appeared with Luke Parsons QC for the successful underwriters in a cargo insurance claim, where the assured claimed losses resulting from a fraud relating to the sale of copper ingots.  The judgment is important in affirming the rule that an insurance policy on goods will not cover paper losses without express wording to that effect.
  • Seatrade v Hakan (The Aconcagua Bay) [2018] EWHC 654 (Comm), with Nevil Phillips: Ben acted for the shipowners in a successful arbitration appeal on the meaning of the words "always accessible" in a charterparty.  The Court determined that the clause required a vessel to be able both to enter and leave the port.
  • Stemcor UK v Global Steel Holdings (Commercial Court, 2018): Ben acted for the successful claimant creditors in their claim for US$165m against the guarantors of a coke manufacturer.
  • Fulton v Globalia (The New Flamenco) [2017] 1 WLR 2581 (SC), with Simon Croall QC: Ben acted for the Respondents on the appeal to the Supreme Court an important judgment on the scope of mitigation in the law of damages, relating to whether the benefit of selling a cruise ship two years early is an act of mitigation.
  • Containerships Denizcilik v Shipowners' Mutual (The Yusuf Cepnioglu) (SC) (2017), with Chriag Karia QC: Ben acted for the insurers in an appeal to the Supreme Court which settled in October 2017 relating to the availability of anti-suit injunctions in support of an arbitration agreement against a direct action claimant.
  • Versloot Dredging v HDI Gerling (The DC Merwestone) [2017] AC 1 (SC)with Colin Edelman QC: an important insurance case in which the Supreme Court overturned settled authority and held that there is no defence of fraudulent device in an insurance policy.  Ben also acted in the trial and in the Court of Appeal. 
  • Yemgas v Superior Pescadores (The Superior Pescadores) [2016] All ER (Comm) 104 (CA), with David Goldstone QC: the leading authority on the interpretation of paramount clauses and the meaning of ‘Hague Rules as enacted’ in bills of lading and charterparties.
  • South West SHA v Bay Island Voyages (The Celtic Pioneer) [2015] Lloyd’s Rep. 652 (CA), with Simon Kverndal QC: an key recent decision by the Court of Appeal on the scope of the Athens Convention on Carriage of Passengers by Sea and the nature of the limitation defence.
  • MOL v Salgaocar [2015] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 518 (Commercial Court): Ben was successful at trial in obtaining judgment for US$14m in a claim under a guarantee that raised issues of enforceability of guarantees, the interaction between claims against a debtor and guarantor, and the calculation of damages for repudiation of a long-term time charter.

Much of Ben's practice takes place under the auspices of international arbitration and he is regularly instructed as sole and junior counsel in arbitration. Ben’s commodities work includes arbitrations under LMAA, LCIA, HKIAC, SIAC, UNCITRAL and ICC Rules, and commodities trade bodies including GAFTA and FOSFA in particular, and also the RSA, the BCA and the FCC.  Examples of recent and current arbitration work are:

  • An ongoing multi-billion dollar ICC gas supply dispute in the Hague, with Simon Rainey QC.
  • A HKIAC LNG supply dispute that settled shortly before a final hearing in November 2019, with Simon Rainey QC.
  • A 3-day LCIA commodities arbitration in September 2019 as sole counsel relating to the sale of steel.
  • Two very high value rig construction disputes.
  • A dispute relating to the operation of a coal and coke supply contract worth over US$300 million in May 2017, with Simon Rainey QC.
  • A one-week LMAA arbitration as sole counsel in July 2017 relating to an agency agreement, worth US$17 million.
  • A one-week SIAC commodities arbitration in Singapore in February 2018 as sole counsel relating to the sale of steel, settled shortly before trial.

Ben regularly deals with urgent injunctions in the High Court, including successfully obtaining freezing injunctions, anti-suit injunctions and other forms of interim relief.    

What the directories say
  • "He's fast, accurate and has an exceptional understanding of both the business and legal aspects of a case." (Chambers UK, 2020)

  • "Very user-friendly, bright and prompt to respond." (Chambers UK, 2020)

  • "He's easy to work with and respected by clients." (Chambers UK, 2020)

  • "A very capable junior with an exceptional understanding of both the commercial and legal aspects of a case." (Legal 500, 2020)

  • "Quickly processes a high level of technical detail and works extremely hard." (Legal 500, 2020)

  • "He provides prompt, concise, practical advice." (Legal 500, 2020)

  • "He is very smart and focuses immediately on the issues." (Legal 500, 2019)

  • "An excellent barrister – commercial, practical, precise and always quick to respond." (Legal 500, 2019)

  •  "He is incredibly fast at turning work around and the work is without fail of the highest standard." (Chambers UK, 2019)

  • "Thorough, diligent and very personable. He has a great eye for detail." (Chambers UK, 2019)

  • "Very bright and easy to work with." (Chambers UK, 2019)

  • ..."A super-bright guy who is very accessible and easy to work with."... "Very clever and a very good advocate. He’s mature beyond his years."... (Chambers UK, 2018)

  • ..."An excellent barrister, who is precise, commercial and practical in his focus and forceful and effective in his arguments"... (Legal 500, 2017)

  • ..."A "very impressive" junior with a broad practice covering commodities, shipping matters as well as insurance and conflict of laws."... (Chambers UK, 2017)

  • ..."Very helpful, sensible and willing to get stuck in as much as required."... (Chambers UK, 2017)

  • ..."He is a great junior counsel and very user-friendly. He is solution driven, helps you make a decision and is very personable."... (Chambers UK, 2017)

Commercial Dispute Resolution

Ben undertakes a wide range of commercial litigation in Court and arbitration.  He has particular experience with freezing injunctions, anti-suit injunctions and applications to put up security, and has recently worked with Simon Rainey QC on an anti-suit injunction appeal to the Court of Appeal, with Chirag Karia QC on an anti-suit injunction appeal to the Supreme Court and with Robert Thomas QC on an application to put up security under an LOI for US$76m.

Most of Ben’s cases have a cross-border element, and he deals with jurisdiction and applicable law disputes on a regular basis, including providing advice to foreign courts on English law issues.

Ben’s general commercial practice includes banking and guarantees, fraud, professional negligence, share purchase agreements, the sale of goods and the supply of services, breach of trust/equitable wrongs. 

Illustrative cases include:

  • The New Flamenco [2017] 1 WLR 2581 (SC). Ben appeared with Simon Croall QC on an important Supreme Court appeal on the nature of mitigation in the law of damages.
  • Versloot Dredging v HDI Gerling [2017] AC 1 (SC).  Ben appeared with Colin Edelman QC in a Supreme Court appeal on the fraudulent device defence in insurance contracts.
  • Mitsui OSK Lines v Salgaocar Mining Industries Pte Ltd [2015] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 518 (Eder J). Ben acted for the claimant shipowner in a Commercial Court trial of its claim for US$14m under a guarantee of a long-term time charter.
  • Evergreen Marine v Fast Shipping [2014] EWHC 4893 (Leggatt J): Ben acted for the successful applicant for an anti-suit injunction.  The Judge held that interim proceedings in support of an arbitration agreement must be brought in the English Court if the application could sensibly be in this jurisdiction
  • Bikam OOD v Adria Cable Sarl [2013] EWHC 1985 (Popplewell J) (with Chirag Karia QC): a three-week Commercial Court trial of a claim for the purchase price of a satellite television company, focussing on the alleged breach of the sellers' subscriber warranty. Ben acted for the successful sellers.
  • Bank of Baroda v Sandhu Successfully represented the claimant bank in a Commercial Court trial of its claim to enforce a US$1.4m Hong Kong judgment based on a director's guarantee.
  • Bankhaus Wolborn v China Construction Bank [2012] EWHC 3285 (Comm) (with David Goldstone QC): a jurisdiction challenge raising issues of illegality under foreign law.
Shipping

Dry Shipping

Dry shipping is one of Ben's core practice areas.  Much of his work involves bill of lading and charterparty disputes.

Ben is familiar with charterparty cases of all stripes.  Currently, he acts for the charterers in The New Flamenco [2017] 1 WLR 2581 (SC), with Simon Croall QC, both in the Supreme Court and in the on-going arbitration in relation to the assessment of damages following repudiation of a time charter.  He advises on repudiation issues and obtained judgment for US$14m under a guarantee in respect of a charterer's repudiation of a long-term time charter in Mitsui OSK Lines v Salgaocar Mining Industries Pte Ltd [2015] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 518 (Eder J).  The claim raised issues relating to the enforceability of guarantees and the proper assessment of damages where a long-term time charter is wrongfully repudiated.

Ben works regularly in bill of lading cases, from initial advices through to final hearings.  He is currently representing Clearlake in several related indemnity proceedings arising out of the alleged misdelivery of crude oil, worth US$76m, including in an application requiring Petrobras to put up security: Clearlake Chartering USA Inc v Petroleo Brasileiro SA [2020] EWHC 805 (Comm).  He has recently acted for the successfully respondent in a US$7m arbitration relating to cargo liquefaction and has particular experience of container instability and fire cases.  He acted for the defendant in a Commercial Court trial of a cargo claim in JP Klausen v MSC (The Sky Jupiter) [2013] EWHC 3254 (Comm).

Ben works regularly in bills of lading cases,from initial advices through to final hearings.  He is currently representing Clearlake in several related indemnity proceedings arising out of the alleged mis-delivery of crude oil, worth US$76m, including an application requiring Petrobras to put up security: Clearlake Chartering USA Inc v Petroleo Brasileiro SA [2020] EWHC 805 (Comm). He has recently acted for the successfully respondent in a US$7m arbitration relating to cargo liquefaction and has particular experience of container instability and fire cases.  He acted for the defendant in a Commercial Court trial of a cargo claim in JP Klausen v MSC (The Sky Jupiter) [2013] EWHC 3254 (Comm).

Wet Shipping

Ben's practice encompasses general average, arrest, collision and salvage matters.  He acted for salvors in proceedings against a vessel and her P&I insurers in the Admiralty Court, including claims under the Bunkers Convention.

He is currently instructed as sole counsel in a variety of collision, GA and salvage cases worth several million dollars.  Ben frequently advises on arrests and conflict of law issues in this area and has experience of limitation claims and constituting limitation funds.

In South West SHA v Bay Island Voyages [2015] EWCA Civ 708 (CA). Ben acted with Simon Kverndal QC for the shipowners in relation to a claim for personal injury under the Athens Convention on Carriage of Passengers by Sea. This is the leading authority on the scope of the Convention.

Commodities & International Trade

Commodities and international trade is a core practice area for Ben. Ben does a lot of soft commodities work including particularly arbitrations under the auspices of commodities trade bodies including GAFTA, FOSFA, RSA, BCA and the FCC.  He has a particular focus on GAFTA and FOSFA work and has acted on more than 50 GAFTA and FOSFA arbitrations, and increasingly works on sugar arbitrations as well..

Ben also regularly handles sale of goods disputes relating to other commodities including particularly steel and its raw materials and oil and gas.  He is acting in a variety of on-going Court and arbitration cases (including under LCIA, SIAC, HKIAC and LMAA rules) relating to international trade disputes, including a 3-day arbitration in 2019 and a one-week LCIA arbitration in 2017 about sale of steel cargoes as sole counsel and a US$300m LCIA commodities arbitration relating to coke (with Simon Rainey QC) in May 2017, and multi-million dollar steel sale disputes in London in December 2017 under LCIA Rules and in Singapore in February 2018 under SIAC Rules. Ben currently acts on a number of other natural resource cases, including a dispute relating to the sale of an aluminium smelter.

Energy

Ben has a busy energy practice encompassing a wide range of upstream, downstream and offshore construction disputes. His recent work includes:

  • A long-running ICC arbitration in Paris and the Hague with Simon Rainey QC worth over US$15 billion relating to a Middle Eastern gas supply contract for a 25-year period, scheduled for further hearings later in 2020, Covid-19 permitting.
  • A very high value Hong Kong arbitration in 2019 on behalf of several Oil Majors relating to a long-term LNG supply contract, with Simon Rainey QC, which settled shrtly before the hearing
  • Several arbitrations relating to the construction of 6th generation semi-submersible drilling rigs with Caroline Pounds
  • An ongoing arbitration dispute relating to drilling in the Alaskan Kitchen Lights Unit and changes to the Alaskan tax regime for drilling projects.
  • A High Court claim for over £10 million relating to the supply of into-plane refuelling services across UK airports, which settled in 2020
Insurance

Ben is regularly instructed to advise and act in insurance and reinsurance matters in his own right and with leading counsel.  

Illustrative cases include:

  • Versloot Dredging v HDI Gerling, The DC Merwestone [2016] 3 W.L.R. 543 (SC) (with Nigel Jacobs Q.C. and Colin Edelment Q.C.): A claim by shipowners on their hull and machinery policy following the partial flooding of the "DC Merwestone".  The underwriters raised defences relating to insured perils, fortuity and peril of seas as well as fraudulent presentation of the claim, on which they were ultimately successful at trial.  Ben acted for the underwriters at trial, on appeal to the Court of Appeal and to the Supreme Court.  Ultimately, the Supreme Court rejected the existence of the fraudulent device defence, in a groundbreaking judgment.
  • Natixis SA v Marex Financial [2019] 2 Lloyds Rep 431: Ben appeared with Luke Parsons QC for the cargo underwriters in a multi-party, US$30m dispute relating to metal trading fraud. The claim against underwriters focused principally on the non-disclosure defence under the Insurance Act 2015.The claim against the underwriters focused principally on the non-dsclosure defence under the Insurance Act 2015. The claim against the underwriters settled on day 9 of the 16 day trail, with judgment handed down on the surviving claims in October 2019. 
  • Engelhart v Lloyd's Syndicate 1221 [2018] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 24 (Comm): Ben appeared with Luke Parsons QC for the successful underwriters in a cargo insurance claim, where the assured claimed losses resulting from a fraud relating to the sale of copper ingots.  The judgment is important in affirming the rule that an insurance policy on goods will not cover paper losses without express wording to that effect.
  • Engelhart v Lloyd's Syndicate 1221 [2018] 2 Lloyd's Rep 24 (Comm): Ben appeared with Luke Parson QC for the successful underwriters in a cargo claim, where the assured claimed losses resulting  
  • An arbitration relating to the construction of a hull and machinery policy excluding 'machinery damage', led by Luke Parsons Q.C.
  • A claim against the P&I insurers of a salved vessel under the Bunkers Convention.
  • A dispute relating to a fraudulent payment authority under an H&M policy.
International Arbitration

Much of Ben's practice takes place under the auspices of international arbitration and he is regularly instructed as sole and junior counsel in arbitration. Illustrative cases include: 

An ICC arbitration in Paris and the Hague with Simon Rainey QC relating to the sale of gas worth over US$10 billion.

A US$460m LCIA commodities arbitration with Simon Rainey QC relating to a long-term coke sales contract.

LMAA arbitrations, including a recent successful defence in a claim based on dangerously liquefying cargo, with Robert Thomas QC.

GAFTA and FOSFA and other trade body arbitration disputes relating to quality, detention, sanctions and other matters.

Court proceedings in support of arbitration, including an anti-suit injunction appeal with Simon Rainey Q.C. and Evergreen Marine v Fast Shipping [2014] EWHC 4893 (Leggatt J): Ben acted for the successful applicant for an anti-suit injunction.  The Judge held that interim proceedings in support of an arbitration agreement must be brought in the English Court if the application could sensibly be in this jurisdiction.

Jurisdictional Disputes and Conflicts of Laws

Much of Ben's practice involves foreign parties and often raises questions of applicable law and jurisdiction.  Ben has a strong academic interest in the area, having studied conflict of laws at Harvard.  He regularly advises on conflicts of laws and is currently instructed on conflicts issues in charterparty, bill of lading, guarantee, CMR and insurance disputes.  He is very familiar with anti-suit injunction issues, having obtained a number of these injunctions and worked on appeals to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court on anti-suit injunction cases (The Kishore and The Yusuf Cepnioglu, both of which settled shortly before the hearing).

Bankhaus Wolbern & Vision 93 v China Construction Bank [2012] EWHC 3285 (Comm) Appearing with David Goldstone QC for the successful respondents in a dispute about the scope of forum non conveniens and case management stays where performance is said to be illegal pursuant to a foreign law.

CMR

Ben is regularly instructed to act in CMR and other road carriage and multi-modal transport matters at the drafting, advisory and trial stages. He obtained judgment for the claimant in Philip Morris Products SA v Smidl SRO [2017] 11 WLUK 430 on the question of whether Buchanan v Babco remains good law.