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Simon Milnes

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Clerks' direct contact:
+44 (0)20 7842 1200
Clerks [at] 20essexst [dot] com

Simon specializes in advocacy in international arbitration, both private commercial and international investment law disputes.

In public international law, Simon acted as junior counsel in the ImageSat N.V. v Republic of Serbia arbitration, and in related English High Court proceedings in which Serbia sought to challenge the arbitration award by arguing that it had undergone a change of international legal personality when Montenegro seceded from the former State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. He has advised clients on a range of disputes involving public international law issues, including sanctions, the legal effects of decisions of international organisations, international fisheries management agreements and the responsibilities of project finance banks under the Equator Principles.

In the field of private commercial disputes, Simon has acted as lead or sole counsel in numerous international arbitrations concerning energy, mining, infrastructure development, engineering, joint ventures and post-M&A disputes. His practice has a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific region, having been based at Maxwell Chambers in Singapore since 2010.

Simon also has a successful practice in the field of insurance and reinsurance, having acted as lead or sole counsel in arbitrations (seated in Thailand and the Philippines) under reinsurance treaties. Simon previously co-edited the leading practitioners’ textbook MacGillivray on Insurance Law from 2010 to 2015 (12th and 13th editions).

Simon speaks and reads Chinese (Mandarin), and delivered a paper (orally) in Chinese at the 8th International Conference on Maritime Law, Dalian, October 2015.

In recent years, Simon has been recognized as a leading arbitration junior by Chambers Asia-Pacific, and as a leading energy junior by Legal 500. Client feedback recorded in published directories include the following:

  • "Extremely intelligent and simply brilliant." Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2016, Energy
  • "simply outstanding, a very bright, very sensible and very commercial junior counsel who's years beyond his call." Chambers Asia Pacific 2014, Singapore: Arbitration: The English Bar
  • "He is good on his feet, thinks off-the-cuff very well, speaks confidently without notes and is dogged and determined in pursuit of the case." Chambers Asia Pacific 2015, Singapore: Arbitration: The English Bar
  • "His Mandarin skills are useful when dealing with cases involving Chinese parties." Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2016, Shipping

In 2016-17, Simon obtained an LL.M. at Georgetown University law school in Washington D.C. (ranked #2 law school in the United States for international law), specializing in public international law, international environmental law and investor-state arbitration. He graduated top in his section. Whilst enrolled at Georgetown, Simon represented the Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute in making written and oral amicus curiae submissions to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in a case concerning the human rights impacts of infrastructure mega-projects in the Wider Caribbean Region. 

Principal Cases: 

Public International Law

Republic of Serbia v ImageSat International NV [2009] EWHC 2853 - dispute between a sovereign state (Serbia) and a Netherlands Antilles corporation owned by Israeli space technology interests arising out of a contract for the supply of intelligence equipment (claim of over 44 million euros). The main dispute in the English High Court proceedings concerned whether Serbia was the same international legal person as the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.

International Commercial Arbitration

  • ICC arbitration arising out of a co-investment in a Bulgarian bank (claim of over 30 million Euros), which also proceeded to the final award stage.
  • ICC arbitration concerning non-performance and alleged fraud in relation to a long term contract for the sale of Venezuelan iron ore to a Chinese steel group (claim of c. USD 40 million).
  • ICC arbitration relating to a long term electricity supply contract between German and Romanian entities (claim of c. 50 million Euros).
  • LCIA arbitration arising from cancellation of a construction contract for a combined drillship and floating production, storage and offloading vessel (claim of c. USD 120 million).
  • SIAC arbitration arising out of dispute under shareholders’ agreement relating to a joint venture to develop a coal mine and mine-mouth power plant in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
  • SIAC arbitration concerning contract for the sale of coal, raising issues of the tribunal’s jurisdiction based on a clash between the SIAC’s Expedited Procedure rules and the terms of the arbitration clause agreed by the parties, subsequently appealed to the Singapore High Court and reported as AQZ v ARA [2015] SGCH 49.

Insurance & Reinsurance

  • Arbitration seated in Manila between a major Philippines reinsurer/retrocedant and a U.S.-based reinsurer/retrocessionaire under an excess of loss reinsurance treaty in respect of claims arising out of the catastrophic losses caused by flooding in Thailand in 2011.
  • Five arbitration claims (arbitrations seated in Bangkok, Thailand) between Singapore- and Malaysia-based insurers against a major Malaysian reinsurer concerning claims arising from the Thai floods losses in 2011.
  • Munich Re Capital and others v Mareb Yemen Insurance Co. 2009 Folio 703 – reinsurance dispute featuring complex jurisdictional and conflicts of laws issues.
  • Advised on constructive total loss under war risks insurance policy resulting from seizure of vessel by authorities in an African jurisdiction for suspected smuggling.

Civil Fraud

  • Second chair (to Duncan Matthews QC) in the Ablyazov litigation in the British Virgin Islands (JSC BTA Bank v Muhktar Ablyazov and ors).

Education and Career: 

Simon was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford (BA, History, First Class) and the London School of Economics (MSc, International Relations, Distinction) before being awarded the Postgraduate Diploma in Law from City University London.

He was awarded the David Karmel Scholarship (2004) and the Bedingfield Scholarship (2005) by Grays Inn.

Before being called to the Bar, Simon spent two years in the UK civil service, as a policy adviser and later as speechwriter to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury.

Appointments and Society Memberships: 

  • Adjunct Fellow of National University of Singapore
  • American Bar Association (ABA), Section of International Law, steering group member for international environmental law
  • Member of reserve panel of arbitrators at Singapore International Arbitration Centre

Quotes: 

"He is very enthusiastic, with Mandarin skills that are helpful when dealing with Chinese parties." Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2018, Energy

"A source of well-thought-through pragmatic advice on marine insurance cases." Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2018, Shipping

"His Mandarin skills are useful when dealing with cases involving Chinese parties." Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2016, Shipping

"Extremely intelligent and simply brilliant." Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2016, Energy

"He punches above his weight; his written work is just terrific and he has a very nice way of putting things in pleadings." "He is good on his feet, thinks off-the-cuff very well, speaks confidently without notes and is dogged and determined in pursuit of the case." Chambers Asia Pacific 2015, Singapore: Arbitration: The English Bar

"simply outstanding, a very bright, very sensible and very commercial junior counsel who's years beyond his call." Chambers Asia Pacific 2014, Singapore: Arbitration: The English Bar