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Simon Milnes

Simon specializes in complex international litigation and arbitration. He enjoys a broad commercial practice, while also specializing in infrastructure, cross-border investment (including investor-state), financial services and fraud disputes.

Simon speaks and reads Chinese (Mandarin) and regularly acts for Chinese clients in major cases, both in the English Courts and in arbitration in Singapore, London and elsewhere.

In recent years, Simon has acted as sole or lead counsel in numerous arbitrations under a range of institutional rules, including ICC, LCIA, SIAC, HKIAC, LMAA, and in ad hoc arbitrations both in London and the ASEAN region. His recent cases involved Joint Venture and Post-M&A disputes, power plant construction, oil rig construction, mining, intra-company / shareholder disputes, banking and commodity trading disputes. He has also been instructed in English court litigation on jurisdictional issues, anti-suit injunctions, enforcement and challenge of arbitral awards and public international law (acting against a sovereign state).

Simon is ranked in the leading directories:

"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

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

Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2017, Energy, ranked Tier 1

“A source of well-thought-through pragmatic advice” Legal 500 Asia-Pacific 2017

Principal Cases: 

Arbitration

Simon has extensive experience of representing clients in arbitration under a range of institutional rules (ICC, LCIA, SIAC, HKIAC, LMAA and ad hoc arbitrations). His recent cases include:

  • An ICC arbitration relating to a co-investment by Icelandic and Bulgarian investors in a Bulgarian bank, including allegations of fraud and dishonesty
  • An LCIA arbitration claim for c. USD 120 million relating to construction of the world’s largest drillship
  • A procedurally complex ICC arbitration on a USD 40 million term contract for the sale of coal from Venezuela
  • A groundbreaking arbitration under the SIAC expedited procedure and the ability of SIAC arbitration rules to prevail over other terms in the parties’ contract (appeal reported as AQZ v ARA [2015] SGHC 49)
  • An ICC arbitration concerning an electricity offtake agreement involving a Romanian state hydropower company
  • An ICC arbitration arising out of a contract for earth observation satellite services
  • A LMAA arbitration concerning “hull-swapping” at a Korean shipyard
  • Several shipbuilding arbitrations for Chinese clients concerning issues of delay, technical defects and cancellations

He also regularly acts in court proceedings connected with arbitration, such as applications for anti-suit injunctions, enforcement of arbitral awards and challenges/appeals from arbitral awards including:

  • Isabella v Shagang [2012] EWHC 1077, [2012] 1 CLC 899, [2012] 2 All ER (Comm) 461, [2012] 2 Lloyd's Rep 61 (challenge for procedural unfairness and appeal on a point of law)
  • Republic of Serbia v Imagesat International NV [2009] EWHC 2859 (jurisdictional challenge)
  • Carbon Products International v Open Joint Stock Company Kremenchug Plant of Technical Carbon (unreported) (enforcement of arbitral award)
  • Golden Feng Inc v Sanko Steamship Company, 2013 Folio 385 (successfully defending shipowner against a s. 69 appeal on a point of law relating to alleged “hull swapping”)

Simon also sits as arbitrator and has conducted several arbitral proceedings up to and including the award stage.

Banking & Finance

Simon has acted for various international banks, especially in cases concerning security for commercial transactions and financing of international trade. His areas of specialist expertise, in which he has acted in contentious cases, include:

  • Letters of credit
  • Bills of exchange
  • Security documentation, pledges and liens

He has also acted in numerous disputes arising out of derivatives contracts on the ISDA 1992 form.

He also acted as junior counsel in UK and BVI proceedings in major international litigation concerning (inter alia) ownership and management of a bank based on the CIS region, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Armenia, and Georgia (JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov and others). 

Simon also acted for the partial owner (via holding companies) of a Bulgarian bank in an ICC arbitration involving allegations of dishonest payments and breach of fiduciary duties.

Commercial Law

Simon has wide experience in commercial dispute resolution, having acted as sole or lead counsel in disputes – mostly in arbitration – concerning:

  • Commodity trading
  • Infrastructure and projects
  • Joint ventures and Post-M&A
  • Mining
  • Oil rig construction
  • Power plant construction
  • Shipping and shipbuilding

For more details, please see under ‘Arbitration’ and ‘Energy and Natural Resources’.

Commodities & International Trade

Simon has specialist experience in commodity trading disputes. He has represented clients in contentious matters including:

  • Representing a well-known independent oil trading firm in relation to a long-term supply contract for the sale of Low Sulphur Fuel Oil to the Sri Lanka state petroleum company for power generation
  • Representing a different well-known independent oil trading firm in relation to alleged frustration of a contract for the FOB sale of oil on barges in the Volga river
  • Various arbitrations concerning the sale of Indonesian coal, including issues of pricing, existence of an available market and alleged economic duress
  • A dispute concerning sale of a cargo of Nigerian crude oil to a Middle Eastern national oil company
  • Arbitrations under the GAFTA and FOSFA rules concerning sales of grain and vegetable oils

Conflicts of Law & Jurisdiction

Simon is well versed in conflict of laws and jurisdictional issues (also known as private international law), having acted in the following mandates:

  • Obtaining an anti-suit injunction against a Sri Lanka state-owned company
  • Advising a high net worth individual in relation to a potential anti-suit injunction application (English court, subject to confidentiality restrictions)
  • Advising Munich Re Capital on a complex conflict of laws issue concerning European choice of law rules in reinsurance (Munich Re Capital and others v Mareb Yemen Insurance Co., 2009 Folio 703)
  • Representing a Serbian defence company in relation to a procedurally unusual ‘advisory opinion’ of the English Court on enforcement issues (Westacre Investments Inc v Yugoimport SDPR, [2008] EWHC 801 (Comm), [2009] 1 All ER (Comm) 780)

Energy & Natural Resources

Simon has extensive experience in energy-related disputes and has been consistently ranked as a recommended practitioner in this field (Legal 500, 2016; Legal 500, 2017 – Tier 1). His recent experience includes:

  • Representing oil rig construction yards in Singapore on cancellation and postponement disputes
  • Representing a Chinese shipyard in a construction dispute arising out cancellation of the contract for the world’s largest drillship, a ‘Multi Purpose FPSO’ combined with drillship
  • A joint venture dispute relating to the development of a coal mine and mine-mouth power plant in Kalimantan, Indonesia
  • Representing UK contractors in a dispute regarding barges specially adapted for offshore wind farm construction work
  • Representing a well-known independent oil trading firm in relation to a long-term supply contract for the sale of Low Sulphur Gas Oil to the Sri Lanka state petroleum company for power generation
  • Representing an Indian company in a dispute over purchase of Indonesian coal (alleged force majeure and pricing issues)

Environment & Human Rights

Simon complements his energy-related work with an interest in disputes concerning environmental impacts. Simon recently advised a global NGO on issues of banking confidentiality relating to the controversial Adani mine / port development in Queensland Australia. He has also published articles on cross-border environmental human rights claims

Fraud

Simon has extensive experience of fraud-related disputes. In 2010-11, Simon acted as junior counsel in JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov and others, in both English and BVI proceedings. In March 2010, a team of Duncan Matthews QC with Simon as his junior succeeded in having the BVI freezing injunction against the bank’s former chairman, Mukhtar Ablyazov, set aside on the basis that the case of fraud pleaded against him was too speculative. After relocating to Singapore in late 2010, Simon was retained as a member of the counsel team to continue advising on various aspects of the case.

Simon’s other fraud disputes experience includes:

  • Defending a Bulgarian financial investor against allegations of fraud and dishonesty (ICC arbitration)
  • Defending a German financier against allegations of fraudulent secret payments (ICC arbitration)
  • Representing the alleged victims of an allegedly fraudulent property investment scheme (English law)
  • Advising in relation to allegations of breach of fiduciary duty by management of a tobacco firm involving alleged diversions of cigarettes for illicit sale (English law)
  • Advising a former board member of a charity in relation to fiduciary liability (English law)

Infrastructure Projects

Much of Simon’s practice focuses on infrastructure and projects work, especially in emerging markets, above all the Asia-Pacific region, for example:

  • A joint venture dispute relating to the development of a coal mine and mine-mouth power plant in Kalimantan, Indonesia
  • EPC contracts, e.g. disputes arising from the supply of specialised components for power plant construction
  • Advising in relation to a shareholder dispute over ownership of the Grand Bahama Port Authority

 

Insurance & Reinsurance

Simon has specialist knowledge of insurance and reinsurance law. He has acted in numerous reinsurance arbitrations, especially in the Asia-Pacific region including arbitrations seated in the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. He also undertakes advice and advocacy work in relation to business interruption policies, directors’ and officers’ liability insurance, and contractors all risks policies and all types of marine and transportation insurance.

His recent cases include:

  • Defending a claim under a retrocession treaty on the ground that the treaty had been induced by fraudulent under-statements of premium income from certain high risk markets (arbitration)
  • Advising on issues of coverage under marine insurance policies
  • Representing reinsureds in reinsurance claims arising from the catastrophic Thai floods losses of 2011
  • Advising in relation to aggregation of claims under a financial advisory firm’s negligence liability insurance
  • Advised on constructive total loss under war risks insurance policy resulting from seizure of vessel by authorities in an African jurisdiction for suspected smuggling

From 2010 to 2015, Simon was a co-author of the leading practitioner’s textbook, MacGillivray on Insurance Law (12th Ed, 2012, 13th Ed, 2015, and interim supplements).

Public International Law

Simon has strong credentials in the specialist field of public international law, having studied it at Masters level at Georgetown University (ranked no. 2 in the United States for international law) and having acted as junior to Maurice Mendelson QC in Republic of Serbia v ImageSat International NV [2009] EWHC 2859, an appeal arising from an ICC arbitration award concerned with State succession issues. Simon undertakes advisory work in relation to jurisdiction, immunities, international organisational law, treaty interpretation and international investment law.

In 2017, Simon addressed the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in oral submissions in the proceedings leading to its landmark advisory opinion on Environment and Human Rights, published in February 2018.

Shipping & Transport

Simon regularly acts in cases relating to charterparties (time and voyage), bills of lading, sale of goods carried by sea and shipbuilding contracts.

He was named with Timothy Young QC as a “Top Ten” maritime lawyer (2015) by Lloyd’s List and has regularly been ranked in leading directories for shipping work.

His previous cases include:

  • Isabella v Shagang, ‘The Aquafaith’ [2012] EWHC 1077, [2012] 1 CLC 899, [2012] 2 All ER (Comm) 461, [2012] 2 Lloyd's Rep 61 concerning applicability of the White and Carter principle to time charters
  • The MSC Napoli group litigation (2008-2010) – bill of lading claims (eventually settled out of court) by the owners of cargo aboard the MSC Napoli which suffered a catastrophic hull failure and was deliberately beached on the English coast
  • The MSC Napoli – arbitration claims involving the salvors and recyclers of sections of the hull of the ‘MSC Napoli’ after its deliberate demolition
  • A claim under a container ship operators’ joint venture arising out of a fire caused by allegedly dangerous cargo
  • Defending claims under a general cargo ships pooling agreement

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