Charles Debattista > The 36 Group > London, England > Lawyer Profile

The 36 Group
Gray's Inn, 4 Field Court

Work Department

36 Stone


Charles Debattista practises as counsel in the areas of dry shipping law, international trade and international arbitration. He appears in Court and in arbitrations in the UK and abroad, and also regularly provides Expert Opinions on English law for use in Courts and Tribunals abroad.

He has also regularly sat as an Arbitrator over almost two decades under LMAA, ICC, LCIA, SCMA, Swiss Chamber of Arbitration terms or ad hoc, both in this country and abroad. Widely published and cited, he has been closely associated with many of the main instruments used in shipping and trade law, spanning from COGSA 1992 to Incoterms 2020.

Much of Charles’s practice is cross-border and he has particular experience before and on tribunals composed of both common and civil lawyers, a context with which he is very comfortable having first qualified in Malta, a civilian jurisdiction, and then of course in England as a common lawyer.


Charles is Head of 36 Stone, having joined the then Stone Chambers in October 2004 as an associate member and arbitrator, and then in 2013 as a Full Member.

Much published across his areas of expertise, Charles is the main author (with Francis Hornyold-Strickland) of Debattista on Bills of Lading in Commodity Trade (2021).

In an earlier life, Charles was an academic lawyer at the University of Southampton, where he was Professor of Commercial Law until 2011 and Director of the Institute of Maritime Law there for many years.


English, Italian, Maltese.


Middle Temple; Chartered Institute of Arbitrators; London Maritime Arbitrators’ Association; British Maritime Law Association; Singapore Chamber for Maritime Arbitration; Shanghai International Arbitration Centre and The Baltic Exchange.


Leighton Park School, Reading; Royal University of Malta (1977 LLD); St Edmund Hall, Oxford (1979 BA; 1983 MA; Rhodes Scholar).

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Commodities

(Leading Juniors)Ranked: Tier 1

Charles DebattistaThe 36 GroupWise, experienced and approachable, he is a very good barrister and arbitrator and a justifiably popular and respected figure.

The set is simply breathtaking’, says a client of The 36 Group. Another remarks that it has ‘reasonable depth and generally good availability of their barristers’. The set specialises in commodities, shipping and international trade, and its members are highly adept in contractual matters such as bills of lading, contracts of affreightment and commodities transactions in the context of shipping. Members advise on matters in the civil and criminal courts, arbitrations, inquiries and at other tribunals, both in the UK and overseas in matters concerning metals, petroleum products, grain and foodstuffs. Joint head of chambers Vasanti Selvaratnam KC, whose recent work includes matters concerning shipments of silicon carbide and bauxite, is known for the speed of her analysis and her practical approach to complex matters. Among the set’s standout juniors are Ravi Aswani, who has extensive knowledge of arbitration under the rules of numerous specialist trade bodies, and Charles Debattista, who is notable for his Maltese connections.

London Bar > Shipping

(Leading Juniors)Ranked: Tier 2

Charles DebattistaThe 36 GroupHe has extensive academic expertise combined with great commercial acumen. Extremely eloquent and intelligent. A pleasure to work with.

Excellent advocates in dry and wet shipping’, the members at 36 Stone (part of The 36 Group) are involved in some of the most complex and prominent shipping matters to come before the courts. In October 2020, Vasanti Selvaratnam KC and James Shirley acted in the Supreme Court case Nautical Challenge v Evergreen Marine (UK) Ltd, the first vessel collision case to reach the top level of UK courts system since 1976. Elsewhere, Rachel Toney represented a number of Bangladeshi shipbreakers in cases against ship management companies including Begum v Maran UK, a High Court case placing further focus on safety and environmental issues in the ship recycling industry. Charles Debattisti is also active in the High Court, while Elizabeth Blackburn KC and Ravi Aswani continue to handle complex arbitrations.