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Chambers of Michael Furness QC

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John Wardell QC

Work 020 7306 0102
Wilberforce Chambers (Chambers of Michael Furness QC)


John has a very broad and varied commercial litigation practice. Most of his cases are heard in the High Court although he also does international arbitration work and regularly appears in offshore jurisdictions. Much of his time is taken up dealing with complex frauds. He also has a substantial professional indemnity practice. He is widely regarded as a leading silk. 'His advice has real clarity and strategic vision, and he always displays a strong tactical grip'. He is an 'outstanding advocate who is highly skilled at cross-examination. He is able to digest large volumes of information quickly and impresses clients with his commercial knowledge'. 'He has a great eye for detail, is incredibly numerate and user-friendly'. As well as applauding his strategic thinking and cross-examination skills, solicitors welcome his willingness to back his judgment. 'He gives bold advice and sticks to it. He is very calm, good on his feet, clever and has a nice touch with clients'.


Qualified 1979; Silk 2002.


Chancery Bar Association; Commercial Bar Association; Professional Negligence Bar Association.


Exeter University (LLB Hons); Cambridge (MPhil).

London Bar

Commercial litigation

Within: Leading Silks

John Wardell QC - Wilberforce ChambersAn excellent advocate, both at first instance in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal.

Within: Commercial litigation

Wilberforce Chambers has 'excellent strength in depth' and is often the 'first port of call on all Chancery, trust matters'. The barristers are 'first-class specialists and masters of their brief' who 'never disappoint'. Clients note that the set's 'expansion in recent years has turned them into a full-service set to deal with any area of law'. A major highlight has been the significant role several members have had on the AHAB v SAAD dispute, including Tom Lowe QC and John Wardell QC who are on opposing sides. Joanna Smith QC was also instructed to represent the apellants before the Supreme Court in Frederick v Positive Solutions Financial Services Limited.

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Company and partnership

Within: Company - Leading Silks

John Wardell QC - Wilberforce ChambersHe has a very lucid mind and is extremely good on his feet.

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Fraud: civil

Within: Leading Silks

John Wardell QC - Wilberforce ChambersSharp, relentless and fierce, John has a frightening ability to recall incredible levels of detail.

Within: Fraud: civil

Clients praise Wilberforce Chambers for providing 'excellent support' and 'communication which is honest and proactive so that any capacity issues can be properly managed'. The set is becoming 'one of the leading sets in the civil fraud arena' and is also noted for its expertise in overlapping areas, such as offshore disputes. Recently, Tom Lowe QC and John Wardell QC were on opposing sides of AHAB v SAAD, while Alan Gourgey QC and Anna Littler are representing Walid Ghiami, one of the defendants in Libyan Investment Authority v JP Morgan & Ors.

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Within: Leading Silks

John Wardell QC - Wilberforce ChambersUnflappable, impressive and with the ability to really engage with senior judges on their level.

Within: Offshore

Wilberforce Chambers continues to be 'a go-to set for trust disputes', with members instructed in all manner of Chancery matters across the Caribbean and in other common law-based jurisdictions. Numerous members of chambers were involved in the  high-profile AHAB v SAAD case in the Cayman Islands: Tom Lowe QC and Jack Watson represented SIFCO 4, one of the defendant companies; John Wardell QC is instructed to represent AHAB in appeals. In another Cayman highlight, Graeme Halkerston secured the jurisdiction's first statutory ex-parte global freezing order for investors in a collapsed commodity company; the investors alleged fraud by the company's manager, Eike Batista, a Brazilian ex-billionaire who was sentenced to prison in 2018 for a separate bribery matter. Moving to the Channel Islands, Gilead Cooper QC is advising the defendants in the long-running CMC Holdings v Forster case in the Jersey Royal Courts, a case in which the claimants allege the local directors (who include high-profile Kenyan political figures) of a business importing cars to eastern Africa operated a Jersey trust as a slush fund.

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Professional negligence

Within: Leading Silks

John Wardell QC - Wilberforce ChambersHe is very experienced.

Within: Professional negligence

Wilberforce Chambers is commended for its 'enormous strength-in-depth' and although it is the 'market leader in the pensions field', it is 'starting to become the pre-eminent set for property disputes' and is therefore well placed to deal with professional negligence claims in the pensions and property space. The set handles claims against solicitors, barristers, accountants, auditors, actuaries, construction professionals, pensions professionals, finance practitioners, company directors, and insurance brokers. John Wardell QC is acting for the defendant bank in N v RBS, which examines duties owed by bankers when money laundering is suspected. Elsewhere, Jonathan Seitler QC acted for the defendant solicitors in Barker v Baxendale Walker, a claim relating to a £40m trust.

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