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

Chambers of Gavin Kealey QC
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 > Commercial litigation

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 4

Alistair Schaff QC7 King’s Bench WalkA very clever barrister and a superb advocate.

London Bar > Energy

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 3

Alistair Schaff QC7 King’s Bench WalkA very clever barrister and superb advocate, who is recommended complex international disputes.

7 King’s Bench Walk is ‘strong in major commercial disputes’, making it ‘a destination chambers, providing excellent quality barristers across key work areas including shipping, commodities, general commercial litigation and international arbitration’. The set approaches energy cases principally from the perspective of insurance and shipping, which has seen it involved in high-profile matters such as the high-value PetroSaudi v PDVSA energy arbitration, in which Jonathan Gaisman QC, David Allen QC, Simon Kerr, Jason Robinson and Michael Ryan were instructed for PetroSaudi. Alistair Schaff QC is another key member involved in energy matters, bringing his extensive experience in international commercial law to bear on, among others, a case for SBM Offshore involving damage to the legs and topside of a North Sea rig.

London Bar > International arbitration: arbitrators

(Leading counsel as arbitrators)Ranked: Tier 2

Alistair Schaff QC7 King’s Bench WalkRelaxed style, accompanied by incisive analysis of difficult legal problems. Efficient, sensible chair of a tribunal, handling procedural issues very effectively.

7 King’s Bench Walk has several top quality part-time and full-time arbitrators. The former, such as Alistair Schaff QC and Gavin Kealey QC, also hold distinguished reputations as arbitration counsel, which has carried over into their roles sitting on the tribunal. The set also fields several highly-rated full-time arbitrators, several having come from high profile roles on the bench. Former deputy president of the United Kingdom Supreme Court Lord Jonathan Mance is highly sought after, and has recently arbitrated on several high profile ICSID and ICC disputes. In addition to broader commercial and investment treaty claims, the set’s members are especially well versed in arbitrating insurance and shipping disputes.

London Bar > International arbitration: counsel

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 2

Alistair Schaff QC7 King’s Bench WalkA very clever barrister involved in many large commercial cases.

London Bar > Insurance and reinsurance

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Alistair Schaff QC7 King’s Bench WalkExtremely bright and extremely pleasant.

London Bar > Shipping

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Alistair Schaff QC7 King’s Bench WalkVery knowledgeable, bright and incisive. Almost always our first choice when it comes to insurance coverage issues.

London Bar > Commodities

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 2

Alistair Schaff QC7 King’s Bench WalkIndustrious and helpful, he is extremely bright and is very good at testing arguments put by opponents.