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20 Essex Street

Chambers of Christopher Hancock QC and Duncan Matthews QC

Work 020 7842 1200
Fax 020 7842 1270
London, Singapore

Duncan Matthews QC

Work 020 7842 1200
20 Essex Street (Chambers of Christopher Hancock QC and Duncan Matthews QC)

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 advises and acts in English court proceedings, at all higher court levels and overseas. He also has a large international arbitration practice, including the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Japan Commercial Arbitration Association, London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), London Maritime Arbitrators Association (LMAA), Singapore International Arbitration Centre and United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
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 Bar of the Turks and Caicos (ad hoc), the Bar of the East Caribbean Supreme Court, British Virgin Islands and the Bar of Nevis and St Kitts (ad hoc).
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
  • Commercial Bar Association
  • Commercial Fraud Lawyers Association
  • Franco British Lawyers Society
  • London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association
  • LCIA
  • 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: Commercial litigation – Leading silks

Duncan Matthews QC - 20 Essex Street β€˜A very safe pair of hands and a comforting presence as an advocate.’

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Within: Commodities – Leading silks

Duncan Matthews QC - 20 Essex Street β€˜A proper, grown-up silk who is mightily impressive.’

Within: Commodities

β€˜First-rate’ 20 Essex Street is β€˜one of the go-to sets for commodities work as it has great strength both among leading counsel and juniors at several levels; the clerking, too, is excellent’. Among its members are some of the leading lights for commodities cases, such as Timothy Young QC, Philip Edey QC and Duncan Matthews QC. Matthews and Susannah Jones acted in Natixis SA v Marex Financial Limited, in which the bank pursued a claim against a commodities broker for breach of a repurchase agreement relating to nickel stored in Asia.

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Within: Energy – Leading silks

Duncan Matthews QC - 20 Essex Street β€˜A master tactician, and immensely impressive in court.’

Within: Energy

Offshore work and energy trading are particular areas of expertise for 20 Essex Street’s energy practice, which is frequently instructed by clients from China and Korea. Timothy Hill QC acted for the claimant, the owners of the vessel Magellan Spirit, in a commercial dispute regarding a terminated contract for the sale of liquefied natural gas to Korea. Simon Milnes acted in a charter-party dispute between European, Hong Kong and Thai parties. Charles Kimmins QC, David Lewis QC and Duncan Matthews QC are the other key sector experts.

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Fraud: civil

Within: Fraud: civil – Leading silks

Duncan Matthews QC - 20 Essex Street β€˜In a class of his own, a master tactician, and immensely impressive in court.’

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International arbitration: arbitrators

Within: International arbitration: arbitrators – Leading individuals

Duncan Matthews QC - 20 Essex Street β€˜Highly sought after as arbitrator as well as counsel.’

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International arbitration: counsel

Within: International arbitration: counsel – Leading silks

Duncan Matthews QC - 20 Essex Street β€˜Always on my list for the heavy stuff.’

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Within: Shipping – Leading silks

Duncan Matthews QC - 20 Essex Street β€˜He is an excellent advocate.’

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