Commodities disputes in London
Clyde & Co LLP acts for clients across the entire commodities supply chain on a global basis, with the practice in London playing a pivotal role in the firm's international network. Its experienced partners have extensive experience in United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), London Maritime Arbitrators Association (LMAA), London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), and International Court of Arbitration (ICC) arbitrations, both in London and overseas. They also handle matters before trade association boards and exchanges including Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA), Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats Associations (FOSFA), the Refined Sugar Association, British Coffee Board, International Cotton Association and The London Metal Exchange. They frequently advise the world's largest trading, banking and logistics companies on complex, cross-border arbitrations before major trade association boards, and have specialist knowledge of the regulation of international commodity markets. The firm also has a market-leading practice for advice on international sanctions.
Marko Kraljevic; Michael Swangard
Other key lawyers:
Clare Hatcher; Hatty Sumption; Eurof Lloyd-Lewis; Tara Smith; Emma Skakle
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
- Representing Hummingbird Resources in a dispute around the funding of a gold mine in Mali.
- Represented Moorgate against Mr Pramod Mittal, Global Steel Holdings Limited (GSHL) and Global Ispat Koksna Industrija d.o.o. in High Court proceedings brought by Moorgate (formerly Stemcor).
- Represented Transgrain Shipping in a dispute arising from damage of a cargo of soyabeans shipped to Iran.
HFW is recognised as a strong player in the physical commodities market and handles the full spectrum of work concerning the international sale of goods, including soft commodities, oil and gas, coal and steel, and non-ferrous and precious metals. Among its clients are multinational energy and chemical companies, coal and metal traders, soft commodity trading houses, trade finance banks, governments and their agencies, brokers, insurers and trade associations. Practice head Alistair Feeney is a leading specialist in energy commodities, particularly crude oil, petroleum products, LNG and biomass. Brian Perrott has more than 30 years' experience in commodities, derivatives and shipping disputes. Damian Honey advises commodity traders, producers, financiers and insurers on physical and financial trading agreements and disputes. Sarah Taylor and Judith Prior are also recommended for contentious matters.
Hill Dickinson LLP handles a vast array of commodities cases and, though it is best known as a prominent player in the soft commodities markets, the practice in London also has a strong caseload in the energy and metals sectors. In disputes involving grains, seeds, pulses, edible oils, fertilisers and cocoa, the firm is highly active both in the major trade association arbitral forums - The Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA), Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats Associations (FOSFA) and The Federation of Cocoa Commerce (FCC) - and before the High Court. The firm has the premier sugar practice, thanks to the long track record of Jeff Isaacs, who is a long-standing adviser to, inter alia, the raw and refined sugar associations. Fred Konynenburg and Darren Wall are among the other key lawyers for sugar market disputes. Paul Taylor leads the firm’s oil trading practice and the firm also acts for clients in the fuels, coal and renewable energy sectors. The London team also handles LME arbitrations and High Court litigation relating to ferrous and non-ferrous metals, ores and concentrates. The arrival in 2019 of Paul Sinnott and Mark Aspinall from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP added extensive experience in high-value claims in the trading, financing and shipping markets.
MS Amlin / RaetsAmlin
Tate & Lyle
The International Cotton Association
The Sugar Association of London
Alliance Grain Traders SA
- Defending an appeal to the High Court from a partial award in LME arbitration in client’s favour for US$28m.
- Acting for Gunvor in an $18m case in Yemen.
- A non-performance case for Gunvor in the Yemen regarding the sale of 55,307mt of gasoline to Keystone Trade Oil & Gas Group.
Reed Smith LLP
Reed Smith LLP has a pre-eminent market offering in the physical commodities sector, with a great number of lawyers specialising in the area and acting for an enviable range of clients across the full range of commodities markets. In recent years, the firm has invested heavily in creating a deep bench of talent at both senior and junior level. Former practice head Diane Galloway left the firm to become an independent consultant and arbitrator, leaving the vastly experienced Richard Swinburn to lead the practice. He frequently advises energy and natural resources companies on large disputes arising from the financing, trading and transportation of bulk commodities. Also recommended are international trade specialist Andrew Meads, who acts for multinational producers, miners, trading houses and oil majors, Vassia Payiataki, Paul Skeet, Elizabeth Farrell and counsel Karen Ellison.
Stephenson Harwood's commodities practice has considerable expertise in both transactional and contentious matters. Practice head Haris Zografakis and partners Peter Bennett, Paolo Ghirardani and Jonathan Spearing are among the most highly respected names in the London commodities market, and they handle the full range of advisory, transactional and contentious issues across the entire supply chain for physical commodities. This includes acting for clients in English Court proceedings from the High Court to the Supreme Court; arbitrations under all of the major international rules including International Court of Arbitration, London Maritime Arbitrators Association, London Court of International Arbitration, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, Singapore International Arbitration Centre, and China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission; and commodity trade tribunals before the London Metal Exchange, The Grain and Feed Trade Association and the Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats Associations. These matters cover a vast range of underlying commodities - coal, crude oil, petrochemicals, LNG, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, ores and concentrates.
Vedanta Resources and subsidiaries/related companies
E.ON and Uniper (various divisions)
- Acted for Petróleos de Venezuela, in a major dispute with Sovcomflot.
- Acted for Natixis in relation to claims arising out of a major warehousing fraud.
- Acting for a Singapore-based banking corporation in a claim for damages of approximately US$14.5m plus interest against a Dutch bank.
- Represented a major oil trader in Commercial Court proceedings against Credit Suisse, another oil trader and its beneficial owner resulting in an US$18m judgment.
Watson Farley & Williams LLP
Watson Farley & Williams LLP acts for a broad range of clients in the commodities market and its dedicated team handles not only disputes, but also commodities and trade finance. The firm has in-depth expertise in specialist sectors including energy and natural resources, which brings in contentious matters concerning mining, metals, soft commodities, oil and gas and other energy products. The firm's banking client base continues to grow, both for finance matters including reserves-based lending and for contentious matters. Practice heads Joe Levin, who advises lenders and sponsors on structured financings in the commodities and trade finance sectors, and Andrew Hutcheon, who focuses on commercial and financial litigation and international arbitration in the offshore oil and gas, energy, natural resources and shipping sectors, are highly recommended.
Joe Levin; Andrew Hutcheon
African Import-Export Bank (“Afrexim”)
BMO Capital Markets (“BMO”)
BNP Paribas (“BNPP”)
Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“EBRD”)
FBN Bank (UK) Ltd (“FBN”)
Petroleum Authority of Thailand (“PTT”)
Standard Chartered Bank (“SCB”)
Union Bank UK plc
- Acting on behalf of PTT Public Company Limited, the Thai state-owned SET-listed oil and gas company, in relation to a multi-million dollar dispute in respect of claims and counterclaims arising out of the failed design, supply and implementation of an integrated Commodities Trading Risk Management system procured from a major US-based global IT systems and software supplier.
Ince 's core sector expertise was strengthened by the 2018 merger of legacy Ince & Co and Gordon Dadds, adding to its litigation capability as well as boosting its corporate and employment law presence. Legacy Ince & Co has a long-established presence in the London commodities market and it handles logistics, sale of goods, shipping, hedging and letter of credit disputes, as well as a broad range of other commercial litigation. The London group acts for large independent trading companies including Trafigura and Glencore, as well as metals traders and several Chinese state trading companies and Japanese trading conglomerates. Under the leadership of global head of trade Will Marshall , the practice continues to focus on LNG trading, in which it advises some of the most active market participants. The firm boosted the London practice with the transfer of partners Rory Macfarlane and William Blagbrough from its Hong Kong office.
Invicta Food Group
China United International Petroleum & Chemicals Co Ltd (UNIPEC)
- Representing Trafigura Trading LLC in a $6m dispute against Shell Western Supply and Trading Ltd.
- A commercial contractual dispute between Glencore and Springfield Energy Limited in respect of contracts for the sale of gasoil and gasoline.
At Linklaters LLP, the commodities practice spans the firm's global network and handles regulatory, transactional and contentious matters. The firm's standing in the energy market stems from its highly regarded energy, natural resource and mining practices, which bring together expertise in London, New York and Singapore, as well as in other key financial centres such as Beijing, Dubai, Germany, Madrid, Moscow, Paris, Tokyo and Sao Paulo. From London, the focus is on commodity trading and related disputes in energy, precious and base metals. Practice co-heads Jeremy Gewirtz, who counts Essar Oil and Mercuria among his clients, and Chris Staples, who advises corporates, banks, funds and governments on strategic commodity matters, are the main contacts.
Jeremy Gewirtz; Chris Staples
London Metal Exchange
Essar Oil (UK) Limited
RWE Trading GmbH
- Advised Natixis SA on potential litigation arising from its commodities intermediation business and its role as finance intermediator in a sensitive transaction involving stranded metal following US sanctions against Rusal.
Mills & Co in Newcastle upon Tyne is a specialist trade and shipping firm that has more than 25 years' experience in the market and frequently competes with larger London-based firms for a role in Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA) and Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats Associations (FOSFA) arbitrations. It acts for multinational trading houses, as well as for smaller market participants. Neville Hopper is the key contact and he is often present in shipping and commodity arbitrations under London Maritime Arbitrators Association, GAFTA, FOSFA, Sugar, London Court of International Arbitration and International Court of Arbitration rules, as well as in High Court proceedings. Key partner Jonathan Green has a similar practice due to his focus on charterparty, international sale contract and bill of lading matters. Simon Williams, who focuses predominantly on ship construction, conversion and repair disputes, is also a key figure in the firm's commodities disputes practice.
Other key lawyers:
Norton Rose Fulbright handles the full range of matters arising from the production, shipping, transportation, warehousing, collateral management, financing and hedging of physical commodities, and it frequently has a role in complex trading and regulatory disputes. Among its clients are banks, national and international development finance institutions, traders, producers and exporters in both emerging and developed markets. Global head of trade finance Nicholas (Nick) Grandage is now based in New York, but the London office retains significant expertise and a diverse client base comprising international commodity and agricultural producers, traders, banks and financial institutions. Andrew Wood, who specialises in structured finance transactions in the commodities sector, is now the key contact in London. Litigators Neil Miller, whose practice focuses on the energy, trading and shipping industries, Holly Stebbing, and regulatory specialist Jonathan Herbst, who is global head of financial services, are highly recommended.
Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP was formed in summer 2019 when legacy Penningtons Manches combined with shipping specialist Thomas Cooper. As a result, its international trade and commodities group is well known for its sector expertise and its diverse client base. The firm has long-standing relationships with the key trade associations and frequently handles Grain and Feed Trade Association and Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats Associations arbitrations. It is also now legal adviser to the Refined Sugar Association. Practice heads George Mingay, who joined in late 2018 from Clyde & Co LLP, Mark Sachs and Lisa Hillary work closely with the firm's shipping and trade finance practices, as well as teams in Singapore and Brazil, which are key hubs for the commodities industry. Mingay focuses predominantly on matters in the sugar market, while Sachs frequently handles arbitrations involving Chinese entities and commodity derivatives.
George Mingay; Mark Sachs; Lisa Hillary
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP is a specialist litigation boutique that has developed a strong standing in the commodities arena under the guidance of Ted Greeno, who is chair of the firm's energy litigation practice as well as co-managing partner of the London office. The firm has built its standing in the market over the last four years with a growing caseload for trading houses and extraction companies, and is highly regarded for undertaking complex and business-critical cases, often against established industry players. Partner Jenni Lajzerowicz is a highly experienced oil, gas and commodities disputes specialist, whose recent work includes matters relating to upstream projects, downstream trading and the transport of oil. She also advises on cases involving gas, LNG and soft commodities. James Bremen not only leads the construction and engineering practice, but also handles oil and metals trading and offtake disputes, and partner Nick Marsh is also recommended.
Since his arrival at RPC in 2016, Stuart Shepherd has significantly boosted the firm's capability in commodities disputes. The commercial disputes practice already had a track record in this area, but Shepherd's 28 years' experience acting for commodity traders and handling a wide range of contentious physical trading and shipping matters, has helped the firm leverage its global offering through London, working closely with its offices in Singapore and Hong Kong. Shepherd is a vastly experienced international trade lawyer who handles matters related to both soft and hard commodities, including oil and gas, metals and ores.
Dukkar SA N
Holt Global Group Limited
Raizen Trading LLP
Sberbank (Switzerland) AG
- Acting for Sberbank in relation to recovery – which included proceedings in the Singapore Courts – relating to the disappearance of a cargo of nickel the bank had financed.
Ashurst has a global practice that encompasses lawyers in London, Frankfurt, Dubai, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Australia and the US who have expertise in physical commodities and commodity derivatives trading and financing. Dispute resolution is a key element of this practice, which acts for producers, traders and investment banks. In London, the team handles contentious matters arising from commodities trading, structured finance transactions, project and acquisition financings, and M&A deals in the energy sector. Key to this practice is work for investment banks and trading houses on bespoke, long-term physical trading arrangements, which can also lead to litigation or arbitration. Oil and gas expert Philip Thomson leads the practice and specialises in the development and financing of LNG plants, pipelines and petrochemical facilities, as well as commodity trading transactions.
DWF handles large disputes with instructions from international traders, charterers and shipowners, as well as marine insurers. Its matters often involve piracy, theft or detention of cargo. Although its focus is primarily on shipping and insurance, the firm also handles significant cases in the commodities sphere, notably for large trading houses such as Trafigura. The firm is also known for its innovative products and cost-effective case handling methodologies, including a case-handling software product that enables traders, ship managers and insurers to contest smaller cases and track the evolution and development of each claim at every stage. The London practice, which works closely with the commodities group in Paris, frequently handles international commercial arbitrations and litigation, in both English and French, in many jurisdictions. The firm has been involved in cases stemming from high-profile incidents in Sierra Leone, Guinea, South Africa, Singapore and Malaysia.
Other key lawyers:
Antony Woodhouse; John Groome; Iftikhar Ali; Elliott Bromley; Peter Olymbios
Trafigura Beheer BV
HDI Gerling Verzekeringen NV
Tonkolili Iron Ore (SL) Ltd
MS Amlin Marine
Willis Marine International Trade & Logistics
Cronimet Eesti Metall
Van Dalen Metals Recycling & Trading
Vallis Group Limited
American Bureau of Shipping
- Successfully represented Tonkolili Iron Ore (SL) Ltd, owned by parent company, Shandong Steel in a large, high profile action brought by villagers in the Tonkolili region of Sierra Leone.
- Representing Dual Australia in an action against another insurer involving double insurance.
- Representing a large commodities company in a claim involving the theft of a large amount of metal from a warehouse in Morocco, North Africa.
- Acting for Fusion Insurance Services Ltd in a subrogated recovery action.
- Acting in a dispute which involves long standing litigation between the Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto and Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz.
Gateley Plc frequently handles Grain and Feed Trade Association and Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats Associations arbitrations and has extensive experience in disputes under other arbitration rules including the Refined Sugar Association, London Metal Exchange, International Court of Arbitration and London Court of International Arbitration. Practice head Nicholas Walser has more than 35 years’ experience in this field, and also advises commodity inspection and certification companies. He is often consulted by French commodity trading houses, either directly or by referrals from French maritime lawyers. Commodities disputes are handled by the firm's shipping and transport practice, which covers matters relating to contracts of sale, insurance issues, demurrage or other charterparty issues. The team’s experience covers a wide range of commodities including wheat, maize, barley, soybeans, palm oil, rice, sunflower seeds, raw and refined sugar, petroleum products, coal and steel.
Other key lawyers:
Paul Dickie; Brian Taylor
- Advising an oil company on a $6m dispute under a crude oil sale contract.
- Handling a GAFTA arbitration relating to non-delivery of cargo at Russian port.
- Pursuing proceedings in Ukraine for enforcement of GAFTA arbitration award.
McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP acts for leading investment banks that play an active role in the commodities markets, as well as for energy trading houses and agribusiness groups. Its work encompasses corporate and regulatory advice on large-scale commodities transactions, contracts and trading agreements, as well as litigation. Counsel David Birchall leads the practice and has more than 25 years' experience in energy transactions in the mid- and downstream fields. To bolster its litigation capability, the firm hired Andrew Savage from Watson Farley & Williams LLP, who focuses on commercial and finance disputes and international arbitration across a range of industry sectors including shipping, commodities and energy.
Other key lawyers:
Wikborg Rein is best known for its work in the offshore and maritime sector, which stems from its expertise in commodities, energy, cargo claims and chartering. The firm joins the ranking this year, having made significant hires at partner and associate level to strengthen and complement its specialist expertise, notably in the LNG sector. Among these are partner Jonathan Goldfarb, formerly of Ince, associates Nikhil Datta from Reed Smith LLP and Sebastian Lea from Clifford Chance LLP. Senior lawyer Eleanor Midwinter plays a key role in contentious matters involving oil, biofuels, coal and metals. Among these are various quality, quantity, force majeure and other contractual disputes in international arbitration, including a hedging dispute between a French shipping company and a US trader, and international arbitration matters including long-term pricing disputes concerning gas sales and purchases.
Höegh LNG Ltd
North of England P&I
- High-value cross-border enforcement of London Maritime Arbitrators Association arbitration involving multiple freezing injunctions over shares of a commodities trading company.
- Advising trading company on quality and quantity disputes under a long-term pipeline oil supply agreement.
- Advising trading company on force majeure issues under a pipeline supply agreement.
- Large-scale disputes concerning delays to oil production project.