Michael Ashcroft KC > Twenty Essex > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Twenty Essex

Work Department

  • Civil fraud
  • Commercial arbitration
  • Commodities
  • Financial derivatives
  • General commercial litigation
  • Insurance/reinsurance
  • International trade
  • Investment disputes
  • Jurisdictional disputes
  • Mining
  • Offshore/energy
  • Oil rig/drilling disputes
  • Ship sale contracts
  • Shipbuilding contracts and other construction contracts
  • Shipping
  • Super yacht disputes


Michael is an experienced silk with a broad commercial practice, specialising in high value and complex (often highly technical) commercial contractual disputes. He took silk in 2011, at only 38 years of age. He is very well set-up to work remotely in these challenging times, and successfully represented Trafigura in one of the first applications (for a mandatory injunction requiring payment of US$76m security) dealt with under the Covid-19 Protocol in the Commercial Court.

He was awarded the prestigious “International Arbitration Silk of the Year” by Chambers & Partners in 2016 and also won Chambers “Shipping Silk of the Year” in 2019. He has been shortlisted multiple times for other awards by Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500.

Over recent years, he has been ranked as a leading silk by Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500 in the following practice areas: shipping, commodities, energy, civil fraud and international arbitration.

Michael has vast experience of jurisdictional disputes, having appeared in several of the leading cases. He is also regularly involved in applications for injunctions and for the enforcement of judgments and arbitration awards. His most recent ongoing work includes advising in relation to offshore decommissioning contracts, acting for a Gulf based bank in a very substantial ICC arbitration concerning bonds, acting for Sunderland FC in a professional negligence dispute in the Commercial Court and advising in relation to multiple mortgage contracts.

He appears regularly in the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court. Michael also has a wide range of experience of cases before, and on appeal from, arbitration tribunals in various jurisdictions (including Singapore, Hong Kong, Sweden, Malaysia, Paris and New York) and he has been admitted to the Bar of St Kitts and Nevis (on an ad hoc basis). He is a team player and has led large teams of counsel in significant cases; he works frequently as co-counsel with lawyers qualified in other jurisdictions. Michael also has significant experience of mediation.

Michael accepts appointments as an arbitrator both in London and abroad. He is a member of the MOOGAS panel of international arbitrators and mediators. Michael also acts as an expert on English law in foreign proceedings.


Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Shipping

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Michael Ashcroft KCTwenty Essex ‘Very well-regarded by clients and opponents alike for his incisive analysis and appealing court manner. Industrious in his legal research, Michael thinks every point through – often further than his opposition.’

London Bar > Construction

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 5

Michael Ashcroft KCTwenty Essex ‘Michael has fantastic advocacy skills and has a rare manner about him – he is a joy to watch. He is completely unflappable and is always wonderful to work with.’

London Bar > Insurance and reinsurance

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 5

Michael Ashcroft KCTwenty EssexIncredibly bright and hardworking silk with excellent judgement. A very effective advocate who has the confidence of judges.

London Bar > Energy

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 3

Michael Ashcroft KCTwenty Essex ‘He is incredibly meticulous, calm and organised, and remains polite and yet immovable in his advocacy, unaffected by any opposing barristers’ antics.’

Twenty Essex is ‘a go-to set for substantial commercial disputes, particularly with an international angle’ and it provides ‘excellent silks and juniors who are very accessible and approachable’. One client remarks that ‘it has become the best set as a whole for shipping and commodities disputes’, which brings its members firmly into the energy arena. Duncan Matthews KC is a leading trial advocate with a broad practice in international and domestic commercial dispute resolution, and Michael Ashcroft KC frequently handles cases concerning contracts for the exploitation of resources, construction, transportation, sales and insurance. Ashcroft acted for BP Oil International in a case concerning the return of advance payments for shipments of crude oil. Andrew Fulton KC handled a US$16m Commercial Court dispute arising out of insolvent collapse of Singapore oil trader. Junior Malcolm Jarvis has significant expertise in complex high stakes arbitration and litigation on the broad span of upstream, midstream and downstream disputes. The clerks, led by Anthony Carroll, provide ‘an excellent support service at all levels and are very helpful and fair in negotiations on fees and briefs’.

London Bar > International arbitration: counsel

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 2

Michael Ashcroft KCTwenty Essex ‘He is a first rate advocate. He is able to understand complex factual issues in a short space of time and present them in the most favourable way for the client. He is also very user-friendly and skilled at communicating with non-native English speaking clients who may be unfamiliar with the English adversarial system.’

London Bar > Commodities

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Michael Ashcroft KCTwenty Essex ‘A superb strategist and a very clever, clear advocate who is good on his feet and knows how to argue a case.’

Undoubtedly the strongest commodities set’, Twenty Essex  has ‘some outstanding practitioners and the widest selection of very talented lawyers in the commodities area’. One market source remarks that it is ‘the premier set for commodities work with multiple options at every level of seniority’. Michael Ashcroft KC, Michael Collett KC and Timothy Young KC are among the most prominent silks in this area of law. Ashcroft KC acted for the seller, Tintrade Inc., in Septo Trading Inc v Tintrade Inc, a fuel oil dispute concerning where title passed, who bore the risk of off-specification cargo in context of blending and supply from multiple shore tanks through pipelines, and whether cargo was, in fact, off-spec. Among the juniors, Daniel Bovensiepen, who acted as sole counsel defending a Commercial Court claim totalling about $765,000 for alleged contamination of a cargo of gasoil, and Oliver Caplin, who acted as sole counsel in a five-day oil trading dispute in the Commercial Court, are among many who are considered to be at the top of their game.

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

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 2

Michael Ashcroft 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 3

Michael Ashcroft KCTwenty Essex

The ‘utterly brilliantTwenty Essex has grown significantly with its increased investment into the Asia Pacific region, where its members undertake practice areas such as commercial arbitration. The set continues to have Michael Ashcroft KC has vast experience within numerous jurisdictions such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea, with cases involving commercial contract disputes. Timothy Hill KC and David Lewis KC are other key names in the set for Asian work.

Asia Pacific - The English Bar > Shipping and commodities

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Michael Ashcroft KCTwenty Essex