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Karen Maxwell

Karen practises in shipping, sale of goods, international trade, banking, private international law, arbitration and insurance.

She graduated with a first in jurisprudence from Oxford University and then took a first in the BCL. After being called to the Bar, Karen practised at 20 Essex Street where she developed a commercial law practice, appearing before the High Court, Court of Appeal, House of Lords and in various arbitral proceedings including LMAA, LCIA, UNCITRAL and ICC.

Karen then spent time at Practical Law Company establishing and leading Practical Law Arbitration before returning to the Bar. She wrote and developed guidance and current awareness covering all legal and practical aspects of English and international arbitration, including both commercial and investment treaty arbitration. More recently, following the acquisition of Practical Law by Thomson Reuters, Karen was appointed Head of Current Awareness, with responsibility for updates published in Lawtel, Westlaw and Practical Law, and as such was responsible for the development of sectoral current awareness covering life sciences and energy law.

Karen writes and lectures widely on arbitration and private international law topics and is also a co-author of London Maritime Arbitration, published by Informa and now in its third edition.


International Arbitration

Karen has been instructed in various arbitral proceedings including LMAA, LCIA, UNCITRAL and ICC proceedings seated in London. She regularly advises on procedural issues in arbitration, including issues such as liability for costs of arbitral proceedings; interim and partial awards; jurisdictional challenges; appointment and arbitrator challenges.

Arbitration-related court proceedings include: various award challenges under sections 67, 68 and 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996; various issues relating to limitation, commencement of arbitral proceedings and validity of notice of arbitration; numerous cases raising issues as to scope of arbitration agreement; anti-suit injunctions and other remedies for breach of arbitration agreement; 'section 44 application for interim injunctive relief; New York Convention award enforcement proceedings. Karen also accepts arbitral appointments.

Karen writes and lectures widely on arbitration topics (commercial and investment treaty) and is co-author of London Maritime Arbitration (Informa) (fourth edition published 2017).


Karen regularly advises and represents claimants and defendants in charterparty and bill of lading disputes in the commercial court and arbitration, particularly LMAA arbitration.

Areas of expertise include unsafe port claims, redelivery disputes, off-hire, deviation, notice of readiness disputes, unsafe cargo disputes, seaworthiness, detention/demurrage, speed and performance, cancellation, economic duress; sanctions; cargo claims. Karen has also been instructed in several ship sale and shipbuilding arbitrations, including arbitral proceedings relating to guarantee claims under SAJ form contracts, claims for injunctive relief relating to ship sale MoA, claims relating to delivery under amended SAJ form contracts.

Confidential arbitration (2017) - represented disponent owners in charterparty dispute relating to war and piracy risks.

Confidential arbitration (2017) - instructed by Owners in dispute relating to repudiation of charter and quantum of damages.

Confidential arbitration (2017) - represented shipyard in shipbuilding dispute raising issues relating to scope of guarantee and measure of damages.

Confidential arbitration and associated court proceedings (2016) - represented respondent bareboat charterers in dispute relating to option to purchase/sell vessel and quantum of damages.

Confidential arbitration (2016) - represented claimant owners in bill of lading cargo shortage claims raising title to sue issues.

Advised charterers in relation to redelivery/withdrawal dispute.

Advised shipyard in dispute relating to delivery under amended SAJ shipbuilding contracts.

Advised owners in cargo contamination dispute on legal issues relating to quantum and assessment of damages.

Confidential arbitration and associated court proceedings (2015) - instructed by claimant sellers under ship sale MoA in dispute relating to delivery.

Confidential Arbitration (2015) - represented shipyard in 7-day arbitration raising issues relating to post-delivery guarantee, measure of damages and remedies.

Confidential Arbitration - instructed by intervening mortgagee in arrest proceedings raising issues relating to unpaid hire, insolvency, issue estoppel arising from previous arbitral proceedings.

Confidential Arbitration - instructed by claimant shipyard in arbitration arising from early termination of contract for construction of oil tanker.

Confidential Arbitration - instructed by yard in dispute relating to validity of notice of readiness tendered under shipbuilding contract.

Confidential Arbitration - instructed by claimant buyers in Norwegian Sale Form arbitration.

Stocznia Gdanska S.A. v Latvian Shipping Company & Ors [1998] UKHL 9; [2001] EWHC 500 (Comm) - shipbuilding; entitlement to cancel; liability for keel laying instalment; total failure of consideration; effect of default clause; repudiatory breach; affirmation.

Niru Battery Manufacturing Company & Anor v Milestone Trading Ltd & Ors [2002] EWHC 1425 (Comm) - presentation of false documents under letter of credit; liability under counter-indemnity; deceit; breach of trust; restitution; negligence.

"David Agmashenebeli", Owners of the Cargo v Owners of the Ship [2002] EWHC 104 (Admlty) - claused bill of lading; delay in berthing; title to sue; duties of master in respect of bill of lading.

Macieo Shipping Ltd v Clipper Shipping Lines Ltd [2001] EWHC 545 (Comm) - time charterparty; liability for costs incurred by reason of fire caused by stevedore negligence.

Vinmar International Ltd. v Theresa Navigation SA [2001] EWHC 497 (Comm) - loading of ethylene cargo despite obvious contamination of initial samples; unseaworthiness; causation; damages.

Education and Career: 

St Hugh's College, Oxford

1992 - 2004: 20 Essex Street
2006 - 2015: Practical Law
Feb 2015 - December 2015: Stone Chambers


London Maritime Arbitration

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