Alistair Schaff KC > Chambers of Gavin Kealey KC > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Chambers of Gavin Kealey KC
7 King's Bench Walk
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Barrister and Arbitrator specialising in all aspects of international commercial law, including international arbitration (in the UK and abroad, both as advocate and arbitrator), insurance and reinsurance, conflict of laws/jurisdiction disputes, shipping, international sale of goods, oil disputes, professional and commercial negligence. He was named the Chambers Bar Awards Insurance Silk of the Year for 2009 and has been regularly shortlisted ever since. He was named the Legal 500 Awards Shipping Silk of the Year for 2015 and the Chambers Bar Awards Shipping Silk of the Year for 2018.

Significant cases as a barrister include: Equitas v Municipal Mutual [2019] EWCA Civ 718 – the application of principles of good faith to a claim under a reinsurance in respect of mesothelioma liabilities; Atlas Navios v Navigators [2018] UKSC 26 – a war risks insurance case in which a vessel was detained when cocaine was discovered strapped to her hull; Clarks v In Focus [2014] EWCA Civ 118 – a financial services case in which res judicata principles precluded subsequent court proceedings for claims in excess of the maximum amount awardable under the FOS jurisdiction; Helmot v Simon [2012] UKPC 5 – a personal injury case upholding the use of a negative discount rate for lump sum awards of damages; Standard Life v Ace [2012] EWHC 104 (Comm), [2012] EWCA Civ 1713 – a pension fund mis-selling case involving a claim for ‘mitigation costs’ under a professional liability policy; Aioi v Heraldglen [2013] EWHC 154 (Comm) – a reinsurance case involving ‘9/11 – one event or two?’; Wasa v Lexington [2009] UKHL 40 – a leading House of Lords case on the nature/scope of ‘back to back’ reinsurance. In addition, he has been involved in countless high-profile international arbitration disputes ranging from Middle East oil concessions, South American political risks and pharmaceutical liabilities to Far Eastern hotels damaged by the Tsunami and banking fraud. Currently involved in Covid-19 insurance and reinsurance disputes.

As an arbitrator, he is regularly appointed in all manner of international commercial arbitrations, both institutional (ICC, UNCITRAL and LCIA) and otherwise, and as sole or party-appointed arbitrator or chair. He has considerable experience as an arbitrator not merely in insurance and shipping matters but in commercial disputes more generally. Recent appointments as arbitrator include disputes relating to alleged banking fraud, bribery in relation to large commercial contracts, product liability, gas pricing, oil pollution and the transfer of shares, as well as insurance and shipping disputes by the dozen.


Called 1983; Queen’s Counsel 1999.


Cambridge University (MA).

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Shipping

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Alistair Schaff KC7 King’s Bench WalkClear advice delivered in a collaborative way and sees points others might not.’

London Bar > Energy

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 2

Alistair Schaff KC7 King’s Bench Walk ‘He is regarded as one of the doyens of the insurance and reinsurance bar with justification, his experience is massive and his tactical knowledge and advocacy skills are second to none.’

7 King’s Bench Walk is ‘by far the leading set for insurance and reinsurance work because of its strength in depth at all levels’. In fact, one client remarks that ‘the strength in depth means that one rarely has to look elsewhere’. Energy is a core strand in the set’s insurance work. Alistair Schaff KC acted for SBM against the insurers of the YME MOUPstor oil rig in one of the largest marine energy cases running through the Commercial Court with an estimated value of over £1bn, in a case involving 25 witnesses and 15 expert disciplines, which settled shortly before trial for a fraction of the sum claimed. Among other key highlights are cases involving PetroSaudi and PDVSA, in which Jonathan Gaisman KC, David Allen KC, Simon Kerr , Jason Robinson and Michael Ryan – all from the set – were instructed for PetroSaudi in arbitration and litigation proceedings, while James Brocklebank KC has advised various underwriters on the consequences of the ongoing multibillion-dollar dispute.

London Bar > International arbitration: arbitrators

(Leading counsel as arbitrators)Ranked: Tier 2

Alistair Schaff KC7 King’s Bench Walk ‘He is a superb lawyer, and a top-notch arbitrator. He is excellent as a chairman, running arbitrations with an apparently relaxed style, but on top of all the key details, and proactive where necessary.’

7 King’s Bench Walk  has a strong bench of high quality full-time and part-time arbitrators. The members have a broad range of expertise, including specialist areas such as insurance, shipping and commodities disputes, as well as broader commercial and investment treaty claims. The set’s former judges are of an extremely high calibre, with reputations that extend to the tribunals. Notable names include Lord Jonathan Mance, the former deputy president of the UK Supreme Court, and Sir Jeremy Cooke. This is in addition to several practicing silks who have established excellent reputations, with Gavin Kealey KC and Alistair Schaff KC both highly sought after.

London Bar > International arbitration: counsel

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 2

Alistair Schaff KC7 King’s Bench Walk ‘He is regarded as one of the doyens of the insurance and reinsurance bar with justification. His experience is massive and his tactical knowledge and advocacy skills are second to none.’

London Bar > Commodities

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 2

Alistair Schaff KC7 King’s Bench Walk ‘Alistair is an excellent lawyer and advocate and a top-notch arbitrator and has an apparently relaxed style.’

London Bar > Commercial litigation

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 4

Alistair Schaff KC7 King’s Bench WalkA brilliant advocate. The best insurance silk around.

London Bar > Insurance and reinsurance

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Alistair Schaff KC7 King’s Bench WalkThe best insurance/reinsurance silk around.