William Willson > South Square > London, England > Lawyer Profile

South Square


William specialises in insolvency and restructuring, banking and finance and commercial litigation. His busy practice also includes civil fraud, company law, financial services, professional negligence, shipping, insurance and real property. Many of his cases have an international element, and he is particularly interested/experienced in cases involving Russia/the CIS. In the last 12 months he has been instructed in relation to many of the major insolvencies/restructurings, including Virgin, Debenhams, Arcadia, British Steel and Lehman Brothers.

In recent years William has appeared successfully in several high-profile trials, both at home and abroad, including the ongoing dispute about the ranking/priority of $10 billion of Lehman Brothers’ subordinated debt, and the $2 billion professional negligence claim by Primeo (a Madoff ‘feeder fund’) against HSBC. In the next 12 months he is instructed to appear in the Privy Council and the Court of Appeal, as well as trials in both the Commercial Court and the Chancery Division.

William has appeared as sole Counsel in the Court of Appeal, the Court of Appeal of the Cayman Islands and the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. He has been called to the Bar of Gibraltar (2013), the Cayman Islands (2014) and the British Virgin Islands (2016).

Before practicing at the Bar, William was a journalist/documentary producer, specialising in the former Soviet Union, terrorism and the intelligence services. His credits include the triple-BAFTA winning The Government Inspector.


Called 2006: called to the Bar of Gibraltar 2013: called to the Bar of the Cayman Islands 2014.


Chancery Bar Association, Commercial Bar Association, Insolvency Lawyers’ Association, INSOL International.


Oxford University (2000 MA Classics, First Class); City University (2005 CPE, Distinction); Inns Court School of Law (2006 BVC).

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Insolvency

(Leading Juniors)Ranked: Tier 2

William WillsonSouth Square ‘William is hard working, approachable and exceptionally bright.’

London Bar > Banking and finance (including consumer credit)

(Leading Juniors)Ranked: Tier 2

William WillsonSouth Square ‘Astute, commercial, very clever and excellent drafting. Gets across the issues very quickly so great on urgent matters.’

South Square is ‘undeniably the leading set of barristers for restructuring and insolvency and is very strong in banking and finance‘. The restructuring work has led it onto some of the largest banking cases in the market, typically with significant cross-border and civil fraud elements. High profile examples include Primeo Fund v HSBC in which members, including Tom Smith KC,  appeared before the Privy Council, for Primeo, in relation to a US$2bn claim against HSBC arising out of the Madoff fraud, with William Willson  acting for the defendant bank. Daniel Bayfield KC  and David Allison KC are also appearing on opposing sides of Emerald Pasture DAC v Cassini SAS, a dispute concerning lender entitlement to financial information relating to the borrower group under a Senior Facilities Agreement.

London Bar > Company

(Leading Juniors)Ranked: Tier 5

William WillsonSouth Square ‘Astute, commercial, very clever and excellent drafting.’

London Bar > Commercial litigation

(Leading Juniors)Ranked: Tier 5

William Willson  – South Square ‘William is a star junior barrister and very responsive – great to work with.’

London Bar > Fraud: civil

(Leading Juniors)Ranked: Tier 4

William WillsonSouth SquareHe is very client-friendly, responsive, thoughtful, proactive and reassuring. He knows his law and has a very good commercial approach.’

South Square is ‘the go-to set with many good lawyers and advocates‘, particularly when it comes to insolvency-related fraud disputes. The administration, in the Abu Dhabi Global Market courts, of the NMC Group, the Middle East’s largest healthcare company, and related fraud claims against its founder, BR Shetty, have involved several members on behalf of the administrators, including Tom Smith KC and Felicity Toube KC. Smith also led Robert Amey on behalf of Primeo Fund, a Madoff feeder fund, in Primeo Fund v HSBC, a US$2bn claim against its former administrator and custodian, HSBC. Senior juniors such as William Willson often act alone, as in Vneshprombank v Bedzhamov where he represented the defendant’s bankruptcy manager, as part of a fraud claim against Georgy Bedzhamov, the brother of Vneshprombank’s founder, Larisa Markus.

The English Bar Offshore > The English Bar Offshore

(Leading Juniors)Ranked: Tier 1

William WillsonSouth SquareWilliam is a prolific draftsman who is able to craft a compelling argument extraordinarily quickly. He is a pragmatist and team player.’ 

South Square is a leading chambers offering offshore financial services, insolvency, company and fraud-related work, with a strong presence in regions such as the Cayman Islands, BVI, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. Various members of chambers including Felicity Toube KC, Richard Fisher KC, Robert Amey , William Willson  and others were involved in the Primeo Fund (in liquidation) v HSBC case before the Privy Council, on appeal from the courts in the Cayman Islands, a significant commercial claim concerning a high-quantum claim by the liquidators of a feeder fund into the Madoff Ponzi scheme against HSBC for breach of duty as administrator and custodian of the fund in which Primeo was investing. Glen Davis KC is noted for his specialist knowledge in Guernsey and Gibraltar, where he has acted for and against the Financial Services Commission. Felicity Toube KC is an expert in international proceedings and acts in relation to all major corporate restructurings and litigation. Cayman winding-up petitions are another particular area of expertise for the set’s members.