Simon Milnes KC > Twenty Essex > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Twenty Essex

Work Department


Simon is praised by clients for his strategic advocacy in international commercial disputes. He specialises in commercial litigation and arbitration (Chambers & Partners, Leading Juniors, 2020), particularly the fields of energy (The Legal 500, Tier 1 ranking 2019 – 2016), commodities (The Legal 500Leading Juniors, 2020), shipping / shipbuilding and rig-building (The Legal 500, Leading Juniors, 2019, 2017, 2016 and listed as a “Top Ten” maritime lawyer by Lloyd’s List in 2015), infrastructure / engineering / projects and insurance / reinsurance. Simon also has extensive experience in civil fraud disputes and is increasingly instructed in fraud matters involving Russia / CIS, China and elsewhere.

He is very enthusiastic, with Mandarin skills that are helpful when dealing with Chinese parties,” (The Legal 500, 2018), and is regularly instructed by Asian clients, in particular from China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the wider ASEAN region. He acts as a sole or lead counsel in arbitrations under the SIAC, ICC, HKIAC and LCIA rules. He is experienced in dealing with Asian law (Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Philippines, Kazakhstan) in commercial disputes.

Simon’s work comes highly recommended by market sources, who say: ‘He is absolutely spectacular and his drafting is unimpeachably good.’ Another source enthuses: ‘He is just a genius – his analysis is so thorough.’” (Chambers & Partners, 2020). In the commodities field he is known as “a very bright and commercially astute barrister who gets to the point quickly.” (The Legal 500, 2020). With a wealth of experience in unled advocacy work across a range of different arbitration systems rules, he “is good on his feet, thinks off-the-cuff very well, speaks confidently without notes and is dogged and determined in pursuit of the case” (Chambers Asia Pacific, 2015).

Simon’s recent cases include arbitration and court litigation arising from: an alleged fraud and unlawful means conspiracy related to a call option agreement in respect of a shareholding in Vladivostok’s commercial port; a claim by a Chinese company for alleged fraud and breach of fiduciary duty; cancellation of the contract for the world’s largest drillship (US$120 million); an oil rig contract termination dispute; an arbitration over alleged contracts for the sale of heavy fuel oil (over US$12 million); a dispute over shares in valuable ASEAN-based renewable energy companies (over US$100 million); breach of a contract for observation satellite services (US$32 million); a co-investment agreement concerning an Eastern European bank (over €25 million); a long-term electricity off-take agreement and associated commission payments (€50 million); ‘hull swapping’ at Korean shipyards (US$ 40 million); a share option dispute in the offshore services sector; a joint venture dispute over construction of a mine and associated power plant; a complex dispute over a pharmaceutical licence and distributorship agreement in Asia (subject to Indonesian law); cases at the intersection of commercial with public international law, including investment treaty disputes (where he “has notable experience in investment treaty arbitrations”, Chambers & Partners, 2020), law of the sea issues and climate change risks and liability; several reinsurance treaty arbitrations triggered by natural disasters; anti-suit injunctions; freezing injunctions; enforcement and challenge of arbitral awards and foreign judgments; numerous arbitrations relating to international sales of oil, coal, iron ore, steel, cement, chemicals, metals, and soft commodities.

Simon is admitted to the Bar of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, British Virgin Islands. He acted (led by Duncan Matthews QC) in JSC BTA Bank v Mukhtar Ablyazov and others in proceedings in both the BVI and the English High Court.

Simon also regularly sits as arbitrator in London, Singapore and Hong Kong; and is a member of the SIAC reserve panel of arbitrators and the HKIAC and MARC (Mauritius) arbitrator panels.


Working knowledge of Mandarin Chinese (able to read and edit/compose documents). Basic German and Bahasa Indonesia.

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Shipping

(2022 Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Simon Milnes KC – Twenty Essex ‘Combines legal skills such as writing, analysis, deduction, and legal knowledge with pure genius.’

London Bar > Commodities

(2022 Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Simon Milnes KCTwenty Essex ‘An extraordinary lawyer who combines legal skills such as writing and analysis and deduction, and legal knowledge with pure genius.’

Asia Pacific - The English Bar > Construction, energy and infrastructure

(2022 Silks)Ranked: Tier

Simon Milnes KCTwenty Essex

Twenty Essex features a large and strong team of specialised barristers in renewables, energy and natural resources, including case crossing over with civil fraud in this space. The past few years have seen the chambers get instructed on cases involving claims under letters of indemnity, oil trading disputes and sale and purchase of bunker fuel disputes. Michael Ashcroft KC has expertise in areas including energy markets, contracts relating to the exploitation of resources, construction, transportation, sales and insurance.  Simon Milnes KC and Tony Beswetherick KC were both appointed silk this year.

Asia Pacific - The English Bar > Commercial

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 2

Simon Milnes KC – Twenty EssexSimon has great sense of how judge will see the case and a great sense of bringing the various ingredients together. His knowledge of Chinese is useful, and his advocacy is tip-top. It is useful that Simon can handle cross border and multi jurisdictional issues.’ 

Asia Pacific - The English Bar > Shipping and commodities

(2022 Silks)Ranked: Tier

Simon Milnes KCTwenty Essex ‘Simon is very commercial and practical in his advice and is able to understand Mandarin, which is extremely valuable in cases involving Chinese parties, particularly when the personnel and client representatives are more comfortable in Mandarin.’

Twenty Essex is well-regarded in Singapore for the work conducted in shipping and maritime issues such as letters of indemnity, unsafe port claims, enforcement of parent company guarantees, mis-delivery disputes and oil trading disputes. Timothy Young KC and Simon Milnes KC were against David Lewis KC and Alistair Wooder  in an arbitration concerning delay to platform supply vessels which pushed them past the deadline to comply with the new MARPOL standards in 2016.