Vasanti Selvaratnam KC > The 36 Group > London, England > Lawyer Profile

The 36 Group
Gray's Inn, 4 Field Court

Work Department

36 Stone


Vasanti Selvaratnam QC is a senior QC practising as Counsel and International Arbitrator within 36 Stone and is joint head of Chambers of The 36 Group.

Her practice embraces all aspects of international commercial litigation and arbitration, including shipping (wet, dry and shipbuilding), commodities, banking and finance, conflict of law and jurisdiction disputes, all forms of interim urgent relief, including freezing orders and anti-suit injunctions, and civil fraud. She is particularly noted for her user friendly hands-on approach to cases and for her ability quickly to get to grips with disputes raising complex factual and technical issues which require a sound grasp of expert evidence and mastery of detail.

As Counsel

Clients include the major P&I clubs, shipowners, charterers and salvors as well as large commercial organisations involved in commercial court litigation or international commercial arbitration in non-shipping matters.

Recent notable cases include; The Alexandra 1 (2021), the leading case in the Supreme Court on the scope of the Crossing Rule in the International Collision Regulations; Rubicon Vantage v KrisEnergy [2019] EWHC 2012 (Comm), the first reported case to consider a hybrid guarantee which is part “on demand” and part “see to it” and the role of the Marubeni principle in relation to construction of the scope of the “on demand” portion of the guarantee; Emirates Trading Agency LLC v PMEPL [2014] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 457, regarding friendly discussions clause a condition precedent to right to commence arbitration; RTI v MUR, pending arbitration appeal raising force majeure issues.

As Arbitrator:

Vasanti Selvaratnam QC has significant experience of dispute resolution in both a judicial and quasi-judicial capacity. She was appointed a Recorder in 1999, is an accredited mediator, and receives regular appointments to act as an arbitrator across a wide range of industry sectors, including but not limited to shipping and international trade disputes.

She accepts appointments under all the major industry rules, including LCIA, ICC, LMAA,  LOF, SCMA, SIAC, HKIAC and UNCITRAL  and has particular expertise in cases raising complex technical issues as well as novel or difficult points on assessment of damages.

Recent arbitrations include; Chair of an LCIA Panel relation to disputes under contract relating to the sale of crude oil.  Chair of an ICC Panel relating to contractual disputes governed by Iraq law concerning removal of unexploded materials at Basrah port. Sole arbitrator in an UNCITRAL governed dispute relating to disputes under a guarantee (appointed by the LCIA). Co-arbitrator in an ICC India law governed and seated matter in the pharmaceutical sector. Numerous LOF appointments by Lloyds Salvage Arbitration Branch, including an ongoing matter which involves the largest LOF fund since records began. Numerous LMAA party appointments, including by well know oil and commodity traders.

Her expertise was acknowledged again when she was announced as the highest ranked member of the UK Bar to feature in ‘All About Shipping’s Top 100 women in shipping for 2019’; a list of remarkable women who have substantially contributed to the international maritime industry over the years.


Called 1983 Middle Temple; Recorder 2000-2018; Queen’s Counsel 2001. Bencher of Middle Temple. Joint Head of The 36 Group 2019.


Working knowledge French.


ICC, LCIA, COMBAR, BMLA, LMAA (supporting), LSLC (head of education sub-committee), ICCA, SIAC Panel Member; SCMA Panel Member; HKIAC Panel Member.


St Augustine’s Priory Ealing; King’s College, London (1982 LLB; 1984 LLM Hons 1st).


Foreign travel

Lawyer Rankings

Asia Pacific - The English Bar > Shipping and commodities

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 2

Vasanti Selvaratnam QC – 36 Stone

Noted for her impressive written work, strategy and analysis.

36 Stone has a ‘long and distinguished history’ in the Asia Pacific region when it comes to shipping and international trade matters. Its members have extensive experience in the full range of shipping disputes relating to contractual documents, as well as regulatory mandates such as collision and environmental issues. Vasanti Selvaratnam QC embraces all aspects of maritime law, including both wet and dry shipping law matters, while Colin Wright maintains a strong reputation in Hong Kong (where he is also a member of Gilt Chambers), appearing in carriage of goods and international trade arbitrations and litigation.

London Bar > Shipping

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 2

Vasanti Selvaratnam KCThe 36 Group ‘An extremely gifted advocate who is tenacious and fights her corner with gusto.’

Shipping and international trade set The 36 Group features extensive experience representing clients involved in maritime matters including bills of lading, charterparties, and contracts of affreightment. The set is also known for its sanctions work as well as issues arising in the offshore and energy sectors. The infamous incident of the Ever Given, a container ship which got stuck in the Suez Canal in March 2021 to much media attention, is present in both the practices of Elizabeth Blackburn KC and Vasanti Selvaratnam KC, the latter who, alongside James Shirley, is also involved in the Evergreen Marine v Nautical Challenge, the first maritime collision liability case to reach the Supreme Court. Elsewhere, Mark Jones represented commodities trader Guvnor and their cargo underwriters in Herculito Maritime Ltd & Ors v. Gunvor International BV & Ors, a case in the wake of the hijacking and holding of a tanker and crew by Somali pirates.

London Bar > International arbitration: counsel

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 4

Vasanti Selvaratnam KCThe 36 Group ‘A fluent advocate with a pleasant, easy-going style which has a persuasive effect on Judges and Tribunals.’

London Bar > Commodities

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 3

Vasanti Selvaratnam KCThe 36 Group ‘An extremely hardworking and powerful advocate – both in writing and orally – and a strong cross-examiner who is at the very top of her field.’

The 36 Group ‘has a good range of counsel and is a strong set with heavyweight barristers’. Within the group, 36 Stone is a dedicated commodities, shipping and international trade set, members of which have extensive experience in shipping and commodities contractual documents including bills of lading, charterparties, contracts of affreightment and commodities issues arising in shipping contexts. Their work spans all manner of commodities cases in the civil courts, arbitrations, inquiries, and other tribunals in the UK and overseas. Vasanti Selvaratnam KC is the set’s most prominent silk and she handled a SIAC arbitration concerning supplies of Russian coal to Korean buyers, raising legal and expert issues as to whether buyers has a contractual right of cancellation. Ravi Aswani, who has extensive experience in GAFTA and FOSFA arbitrations, and Charles Debattista are among the most visible juniors in the commodities area.