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Twenty Essex

Work 020 7842 1200
Fax 020 7842 1270
London, Singapore

Duncan Matthews QC

Work 020 7842 1200
Twenty Essex (Twenty Essex)

Work Department

  • Banking and financial services
  • Civil fraud and asset recovery
  • Commercial dispute resolution
  • Energy and natural resources
  • Insurance and reinsurance
  • International arbitration and related court applications
  • Mediation
  • Private international law
  • Shipping and commodities


Duncan is joint Head of Chambers. He is a leading trial advocate with a broad practice in international and domestic commercial dispute resolution.

He helps clients in English higher court proceedings and overseas. He also has a large international arbitration practice, with experience of a wide range of arbitral institutions including the HKIAC, ICC, JCAA, LCIA, LMAA, UNCITRAL and SIAC (ad hoc).

Duncan accepts arbitral appointments and has been appointed sole arbitrator and as chairman of three-member tribunals.

He is a registered foreign lawyer with the Singapore International Commercial Court. He is also admitted to the Bars of the Turks and Caicos Islands (ad hoc), British Virgin Islands, St Kitts and Nevis (ad hoc), and East Caribbean Supreme Court.

Duncan is ranked in the leading legal directories for civil fraud, commercial dispute resolution, energy and natural resources, international arbitration, shipping and commodities, and as an arbitrator.


Called 1986, Gray’s Inn (Bencher 2004); QC 2002.


French (proficient); Italian (proficient); German (conversational)


  • Anglo-Russian Law Association
  • British German Jurists Association
  • British Italian Law Association
  • Civil Mediation Council
  • Council of the Inns of Court Trustee
  • Commercial Bar Association
  • Commercial Fraud Lawyers Association
  • Franco British Lawyers Society
  • Gray’s Inn: Bencher and member of Management Committee
  • London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association
  • LCIA: Director on Board
  • LMAA: Chairman, Supporting Members Liaison Committee
  • LMAA: Supporting Member
  • Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration


  • University of Oxford, Magdalen College: MA (1996)
  • University of Oxford, Magdalen College: BA Hons (1984)

London Bar

Commercial litigation

Within: Leading Silks

Duncan Matthews QC - Twenty Essex ‘ One of the most sought after silks, he has a big brain, has great attention to detail, and is a persuasive advocate. ’

Within: Commercial litigation

Twenty Essex has 'an impressive bunch' of versatile silks and juniors. Members are especially experienced in major international disputes, often with a fraud or trade component, and they are especially noted for their private international law expertise. Highlight cases include CMOC Sales & Marketing Limited v Persons Unknown & 30 others, which involved the first-ever persons unknown injunction, and was led by Paul Lowenstein QC and also involved Philip Riches and two other members on behalf of CMOC. Another highlight was Deutsche Bank AG v (1) Sebastian Holdings Inc. (2) Mr Alexander Vik in which Duncan Matthews QC and Charlotte Tan successfully represented Alexander Vik in a related offshore claim before the Court of Apeal of the Turks & Caicos Islands.

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Within: Leading Silks

Duncan Matthews QC - Twenty Essex ‘ 'An excellent seasoned advocate with a wealth of experience. ’

Within: Commodities

Twenty Essex is ‘still the standout set for commodities matters’ and clients note that is has 'some real quality among its members, both silks and juniors'. One remarks that 'the clerks are helpful, commercially flexible and responsive'. The set combines great depth in shipping matters with in-depth knowledge of commodities trading across a broad range of soft commodities, oil, coal, gas, and metals. Co-head of chambers Duncan Matthews QC has more than 30 years' experience in this field and he successfully appeared for the claimant in Euro-Asian Oil SA v Credit Suisse AG, in which the Court of Appeal upheld a $15m award arising from a dispute concerning a contract to buy oil. Highly regarded senior-junior Henry Byam-Cook defended oil and gas company OMV in claims brought in the Commercial Court by Glencore.

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Within: Leading Silks

Duncan Matthews QC - Twenty Essex ‘ A strong silk for shipping and energy matters. ’

Within: Energy

A standout set for shipping and commodities work, Twenty Essex also has a strong practice in energy disputes, notably in the offshore construction and energy trading arenas. One client notes how the set has 'a strong practice for the largest and most commercial disputes'. Timothy Hill QC acted in Glencore Energy UK Limited v Springfield Energy Limited, which concerned the storage and importation of gasoil and gasoline into Ghana for the domestic market. Michael Ashcroft QC advised Repsol on a $1.3bn Commercial Court claim brought by SBM on contractors all risks policies relating to the YME Mopustor Project in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. Co-head of chambers Duncan Matthews QC is active in several high-value disputes, including an UNCITRAL matter on behalf of the claimant that concerns a long-term drilling contract and the performance of a drilling vessel. Junior Malcolm Jarvis handled a substantial claim concerning the termination of contract for the supply and sale of subsea equipment for an offshore oilfield in Africa.

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Fraud: civil

Within: Leading Silks

Duncan Matthews QC - Twenty Essex ‘ At the absolute top of his game. ’

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International arbitration: arbitrators

Within: Leading arbitrators

Duncan Matthews QC - Twenty Essex ‘ Has a powerful intellect and is able to lend his experience as an advocate to the deliberations of a commercial arbitration tribunal. ’

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International arbitration: counsel

Within: Leading Silks

Duncan Matthews QC - Twenty Essex ‘ An impressive advocate whose delivery commands the attention of the tribunal. ’

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Within: Leading Silks

Duncan Matthews QC - Twenty Essex ‘ He is very impressive. ’

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