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Luke Pearce

Luke Pearce has a broad practice covering all aspects of commercial law, with a particular emphasis on banking and derivatives, shipping, commodities, private international law and insurance/reinsurance. He regularly appears in the High Court and Court of Appeal, as well as before arbitral tribunals under a variety of rules. He has also appeared in the Supreme Court.

He is recommended by the The Legal 500 directory in the fields of Banking & Finance, Shipping and Commodities; by the Chambers and Partners directory in the fields of Shipping & Commodities and International Arbitration (General Commercial and Insurance); and by the Who's Who Legal Bar UK 2018 in the fields of Banking & Finance and International Trade.

In 2013 Luke was named by Legal Week as one of 10 "Stars of the Bar" under 10 years' call, where he was described as combining "outstanding intellect with an uncanny ability to identify the points that a court or tribunal will find attractive and those they will not" as well as being "a pleasure to work with". In 2018 Luke was shortlisted by The Legal 500 for the award of Shipping Junior of the year.

Luke's recent cases include: Orexim Trading Limited v Mahavir Port and Terminal Private Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 1660 (appeared as sole counsel in important Court of Appeal case involving service out of the jurisdiction of claims under s.423 of the Insolvency Act 1986);  Bou Simon v BGC Brokers LLP [2018] EWCA Civ 1525 (appeared as sole counsel in the Court of Appeal in case involving implied terms); The Songa Winds [2018] EWCA Civ 1901 (Court of Appeal case concerning the operation of letters of indemnity issued for the discharge of cargo absent bills of lading);  The Swedish Club v Connect Shipping ("MV Renos") [2018] EWCA Civ 230 (important CA decision on constructive total loss); "The RBS Rights Issue Action" (high profile group litigation against RBS arising out of the £12 billion Rights Issue in April 2008); MSC v Cottonex [2016] EWCA Civ 789 (important Court of Appeal decision concerning the right to affirm a contract following a repudiatory breach of contract); Global Maritime Investments v OW Supply & Trading [2015] EWHC 2690 (Comm) (successful claim for various declaratory relief in relation to a series of derivatives contracts); OMV Petrom v Glencore [2015] EWHC 666 (Comm) (c.$90 million fraud claim against Glencore arising out of the supply of oil to Romania in the mid-1990s); "The Alexandros T" [2013] UKSC 70 (Supreme Court appeal concerning the operation of Articles 27 and 28 of the Brussels Regulation); and Lomas v Firth Rixson [2012] EWCA Civ 419 (Court of Appeal decision concerning the construction of certain key provisions of the 1992 ISDA Master Agreement).

Before coming to the Bar, Luke taught Contract Law at Worcester College, Oxford and Kings College, London.

Principal Cases: 

General Commercial

Orexim v Mahavir Port and Terminal Private Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 1660; [2017] EWHC 2663 (Comm) - appeared as sole counsel, both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal, in a successful application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear a claim under s.423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 to set aside an alleged fraudulent transaction.    

BGC Brokers v Bou Simon [2018] EWCA Civ 1525; [2017] EWHC 204 (QB) - appeared as sole counsel, both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal, in a claim for the recovery of a sum of £336,000 said to be due under a loan agreement, raising questions as to the proper approach to implied terms, and the relevance of deleted terms from draft agreements.

2018 ad-hoc arbitration - appearing for the Respondent in a 2 day arbitration of a claim for $3.8 million said to be due under a loan agreement.

2017-2018 ICC, LMAA, and SMA arbitrations - acting (as part of a five counsel team) in a complex, multi-jurisdictional dispute between a BVI commodities company and a Venezuelan state owned entity, raising issues of breach of contract, fraud and corruption. The dispute includes a Swiss seated ICC arbitration, a London seated LMAA arbitration and a US seated SMA arbitration. Luke has appeared (and conducted part of the advocacy) in hearings in each of these arbitrations.  

Haidar v RM Auctions (2017-) - acting (as sole counsel) for RM Auctions (trading as RM Sotheby’s) in a claim for damages for the loss of a vintage Ferrari.      

Vodafone v TOP Optimised Technologies (2017-) - acting for Vodafone in a claim for an alleged breach of a non-disclosure agreement, raising various conflicts of laws issues (with Thomas Raphael QC). 

"The RBS Rights Issue Action" - instructed by Mishcon de Reya in the ongoing claim against RBS arising out of the £12 billion Rights Issue in April 2008. Previously instructed (with Philip Marshall QC and Thomas Raphael) by Bird & Bird.

2016 ICC arbitration - acting (as sole counsel) for the defendant in a 3 day arbitration arising out of a riot at a Guinean Iron Ore mine.   

Canmoor Asset Management v Heref Chiswick (Chancery Division, 2015-2016) - acting for the defendants in a claim in the Chancery division concerning sums said to be due under an asset management agreement (led by Duncan Matthews QC). The case settled following a successful summary judgment application, and the hearing of an appeal.    

OMV Petrom v Glencore [2015] EWHC 666 (Comm) - acting for the successful claimant in a c.$90 million fraud claim against Glencore arising out of the supply of oil to Romania in the mid-1990s (with Duncan Matthews QC and Andrew Fulton). The case resulted in a 4 week trial before Flaux J and was listed by The Lawyer magazine as one of the top 20 cases of 2015.

"The Alexandros T" [2014] 1 Lloyd's Rep 223; [2013] 1 Lloyd's Rep 217 - acted (with Iain Milligan QC and Michael Ashcroft QC) before the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in this heavy, multi-party litigation concerning the operation of the lis pendens provisions of the Judgments Regulation.    

2012 LCIA arbitration - claim against an African state for damages under a Concession Agreement (with Christopher Butcher QC and Tom Weisselberg).

2012 LCIA arbitration - claim for damages and specific performance under a JOA concerning the operation of an oil-field off the coast of Nigeria (with Charles Kimmins QC).

2012 ICC arbitration - claim for around US$16 million under a contract for the construction of a methanol production plant in Egypt (with Philip Edey QC).

Chvetsov v Matuzny [2011] EWHC 248 (QB) - acted for the successful claimant in a claim for the recovery of shares in a Russian company under a loan agreement (with Mark Templeman QC).

Banking

"The RBS Rights Issue Action" - instructed by Mishcon de Reya in the ongoing claim against RBS arising out of the £12 billion Rights Issue in April 2008. Previously instructed (with Philip Marshall QC and Thomas Raphael) by Bird & Bird.

Global Maritime Investments v OW Supply & Trading [2015] EWHC 2690 (Comm) - acted (as sole counsel) for the successful claimant in a claim for declaratory relief relating to a series of derivatives contracts arising out of the insolvency of the defendant.   

LBIE v Dekabank - instructed by Herbert Smith for the Defendants in a claim for around €100 million arising out of various repurchase agreements (with David Quest QC).

Lomas v Firth Rixson [2012] EWCA Civ 419 - the leading authority on the loss and netting provisions in the 1992 ISDA Master Agreement (with Charles Kimmins QC).

Pioneer Freight Futures v TMT (No 2) [2011] 2 CLC 225 - decision of Gloster J on the meaning of the netting provisions in the 1992 ISDA Master Agreement (with Charles Kimmins QC).

Pioneer Freight Futures v TMT (No 1) [2011] 1 CLC 885 - decision of Gloster J on the meaning of the loss provisions in the 1992 ISDA Master Agreement (with Charles Kimmins QC).

"The Rascals litigation" - instructed by the joint administrators of Lehman Brothers International (Europe) in the "Rascals" litigation, which resulted in the judgment of Briggs J in Re The Administration of Lehman Brothers (Europe) [2010] EWHC 2914 (Ch).

Private International Law

Orexim v Mahavir Port and Terminal Private Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 1660; [2017] EWHC 2663 (Comm) - appeared as sole counsel, both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal, in a successful application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear a claim under s.423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 to set aside an alleged fraudulent transaction. 

Vodafone v TOP Optimised Technologies (2017-) - acting for Vodafone in a claim for an alleged breach of a non-disclosure agreement, raising various conflicts of laws issues (with Thomas Raphael QC).

Global Maritime Investments v OW Supply & Trading [2015] EWHC 2690 (Comm) - acted (as sole counsel) for the successful claimant in a claim for declaratory relief relating to a series of derivatives contracts arising out of the insolvency of the defendant. The case raised issues as to the proper approach to the construction of jurisdiction clauses.

"The Alexandros T" [2014] 1 Lloyd's Rep 223; [2013] 1 Lloyd's Rep 217 - acted (with Iain Milligan QC and Michael Ashcroft QC) before the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in this heavy, multi-party litigation concerning the operation of the lis pendens provisions of the Judgments Regulation.    

Ecom v Mosharaf [2013] EWHC 1276 (Comm) - acted (as sole counsel) for the successful claimant in an application for an anti-suit injunction and related declaratory relief to prevent the defendant from pursuing proceedings in Bangladesh in breach of an arbitration clause.

Navig8 Pte Ltd v Al-Riyadh Co for Vegetable Oil Industry [2013] EWHC 328 (Comm) - acted as sole counsel in a case raising important issues relating to jurisdiction, anti-suit injunctions, and claims for declaratory relief.

Star Reefers v JFC [2012] EWCA Civ 14 - acted for the Respondent in an appeal to the Court of Appeal relating to the circumstances in which non-contractual anti-suit injunctions can be granted and the meaning of vexatious conduct (with Charles Kimmins QC).

Star Reefers v JFC [2011] 2 Lloyd's Rep 215 - acted for the successful respondent to a jurisdiction challenge raising an important question relating to the proper law of guarantees (with Charles Kimmins QC).

Golden Ocean v Salgaocar [2012] EWCA Civ 265 - appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning a jurisdiction challenge raising issues as to the application of s.4 of the Statute of Frauds 1677 and the proper law of a warranty of authority (with Charles Kimmins QC).

Civil Fraud

2017-2018 ICC, LMAA, and SMA arbitrations - acting (as part of a five counsel team) in a complex, multi-jurisdictional dispute between a BVI commodities company and a Venezuelan state owned entity, raising issues of breach of contract, fraud and corruption. The dispute includes a Swiss seated ICC arbitration, a London seated LMAA arbitration and a US seated SMA arbitration. Luke has appeared (and conducted part of the advocacy) in hearings in each of these arbitrations.  

Orexim v Mahavir Port and Terminal Private Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 1660; [2017] EWHC 2663 (Comm) - acting for the defendant to a substantial claim raising various allegations of fraud and a claim for the setting aside of a transaction under s.423 of the Insolvency Act 1986. Appeared as sole counsel in a successful jurisdiction challenge at first instance and in the Court of Appeal. 

OMV Petrom v Glencore [2015] EWHC 666 (Comm) - acting for the successful claimant in a c.$90 million fraud claim against Glencore arising out of the supply of oil to Romania in the mid-1990s (with Duncan Matthews QC and Andrew Fulton). The case resulted in a 4 week trial before Flaux J and was listed by The Lawyer magazine as one of the top 20 cases of 2015.

Kerr v Nuttall (2015) - acting for the defendant/counterclaim in a dispute arising out of an aborted investment in a sports management company. The case raises allegations of fraudulent misrepresentation.  

Shipping

2018 LMAA arbitration – acted (as sole counsel) in 3 day arbitration concerning a claim for damages under an MOA for the sale of a ship.  The main issue in the case was whether the ship had been delivered with contaminated bunkers on board.     

Songa Winds  [2018] EWCA Civ 1901; [2018] EWHC 397 (Comm) - acting (with Timothy Young QC) both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal in a claim for relief under a letter of indemnity for delivery of cargo without production of bills of lading. 

2017 LMAA arbitration - appearing (with Christopher Hancock QC) in a 6 day arbitration arising out of an alleged breach of a safe port warranty.    

2017 LMAA arbitration - appearing (as sole counsel) in an urgent arbitration raising various issues arising out of an ITF boycott of a vessel.   

L v A [2016] EWHC 1789 - acted (as sole counsel) for the successful appellant in a section 69 appeal concerning the scope of a contractual indemnity under a charterparty.  

Navig8 v South Vigour [2015] EWHC 32 (Comm) - acted for the Claimants in a claim for around $10 million arising out of an alleged repudiation of a time charterparty (with Andrew Baker QC).

"The Alexandros T" [2014] 1 Lloyd's Rep 223; [2013] 1 Lloyd's Rep 217 - acted (with Iain Milligan QC and Michael Ashcroft QC) before the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in this heavy, multi-party litigation concerning the operation of the lis pendens provisions of the Judgments Regulation.    

A v B (2013, Commercial Court) - Successfully obtaining an urgent injunction for the inspection of a vessel (sometimes known as a "Vasso Order") in a contested application in the Commercial Court. The injunction was granted in connection with an arbitration under s.44 of the Arbitration Act 1996, and so the proceedings were heard in private.  

2013 LMAA arbitration - acting (with Charles Kimmins QC) in a claim brought under a refund guarantee relating to a shipbuilding contract, raising issues of illegality arising out of the backdating of the underlying contract.

2013 LMAA arbitration - acting as sole counsel for the successful claimant in a claim for damages for the wrongful termination of a charterparty.

2012 LMAA arbitration - acting for the successful claimant in a claim for a declaration that a time charterparty was validly terminated by reason of a delay in delivery, and a counterclaim for damages for repudiation of the charterparty (with Philip Edey QC).

Star Reefers v JFC [2011] EWHC 2204 (Comm) - acted for the claimant owner in commercial court proceedings against the guarantor of a charterer's obligations under two long-term charterparties (with Charles Kimmins QC). The case raised important questions relating to the measure of damages for early redelivery under a time charter.

Golden Ocean v Salgaocar [2012] EWCA Civ 265 - appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning a jurisdiction challenge raising issues as to the application of s.4 of the Statute of Frauds 1677 and the proper law of a warranty of authority (with Charles Kimmins QC).

Regularly instructed in a wide range of shipping disputes, including disputes under charterparties, COAs, bills of lading, and shipbuilding contracts. Also instructed on numerous applications for freezing injunctions in the shipping context.  

Commodities

2017-2018 ICC, LMAA, and SMA arbitrations - acting (as part of a five counsel team) in a complex, multi-jurisdictional dispute between a BVI commodities company and a Venezuelan state owned entity, raising issues of breach of contract, fraud and corruption. The dispute includes a Swiss seated ICC arbitration, a London seated LMAA arbitration and a US seated SMA arbitration. Luke has appeared (and conducted part of the advocacy) in hearings in each of these arbitrations.

Trafigura Beheer BV v Renbrandt [2017] EWHC 3100 (Comm) - appearing (as sole counsel) in a successful summary judgment application for negative declaratory relief in connection with a contract for the sale of gasoil. 

Libero Commodities SA v Alexandre Augustin [2015] EWHC 1815 (Comm) - acted (as sole counsel) for the successful appellant in this s.69 appeal raising issues as to the construction of time bar provisions in arbitration agreements, and the operation of price fixation clauses in commodities contracts.

MSC v Cottonex [2016] EWCA Civ 789; [2015] EWHC 283 (Comm) - appeared at first instance (as sole counsel) and in the Court of Appeal (led by Steven Berry QC) for the Defendant in a claim for in excess of $1 million by way of "container demurrage". The case raises important issues of law relating to the right to affirm a contract following a repudiatory breach, and the applicability of the doctrine of mitigation to a demurrage clause. 

Insurance and Reinsurance

The Swedish Club v Connect Shipping (“MV Renos”) [2018] EWCA Civ 230; [2016] EWHC 1580 (Comm) - acted for the Defendants in a 3 week Commercial Court trial, and in the Court of Appeal, in a claim for an indemnity of about US$15 million under a marine insurance policy. The case raises important issues relating to the law of constructive loss and the time in which a notice of abandonment must be served. 

Allied Chemicals Carriers v Talbot Underwriting ("Chemstar Venus") - acting for claimants in a Commercial Court claim for approximately £1.9 million under a marine insurance policy following the hijack of a vessel by pirates in the Gulf of Aden (with Philip Edey QC).

Chelsea Building Society v Chubb Insurance - instructed for the Defendant insurers in a £9 million claim in the Commercial Court under an insurance contract, involving questions as to the proper construction of a deductible provision, and a claim for rectification (with Christopher Hancock QC).

Arbitration and related court applications

2018 LMAA arbitration – acted (as sole counsel) in 3 day arbitration concerning a claim for damages under an MOA for the sale of a ship.  The main issue in the case was whether the ship had been delivered with contaminated bunkers on board.  

2018 ad-hoc arbitration - acting for the Respondent in a claim for $3.8 million said to be due under a loan agreement (with Andrew Dinsmore).

2017-2018 ICC, LMAA, and SMA arbitrations - acting (as part of a five counsel team) in a complex, multi-jurisdictional dispute between a BVI commodities company and a Venezuelan state owned entity, raising issues of breach of contract, fraud and corruption. The dispute includes a Swiss seated ICC arbitration, a London seated LMAA arbitration and a US seated SMA arbitration. Luke has appeared (and conducted part of the advocacy) in hearings in each of these arbitrations.  

2016 ICC arbitration - acting (as sole counsel) for the defendant in a 3 day arbitration arising out of a riot at a Guinean Iron Ore mine.   

L v A [2016] EWHC 1789 - acted (as sole counsel) for the successful appellant in a section 69 appeal concerning the scope of a contractual indemnity under a charterparty.  

Agrocorp International v Larus Australia (Commercial Court, 16 November 2015) - acted (as sole counsel) for the successful respondent to an application under s.68 of the Arbitration Act challenging an arbitration award on the ground of serious irregularity. The case raised issues as to the extent to which arbitrators are obliged to bring points which appear to have been missed to the attention of the parties.         

Libero Commodities SA v Alexandre Augustin [2015] EWHC 1815 (Comm) - acted (as sole counsel) for the successful appellant in this s.69 appeal raising issues as to the construction of time bar provisions in arbitration agreements, and the operation of price fixation clauses in commodities contracts. 

Sierra Fishing Company v Hasan [2015] EWHC 140 (Comm) - acted as sole counsel for the successful applicant in an application under s.24 of the Arbitration Act 1996 for the removal of an arbitrator on the ground of apparent bias.

A v B (2013, Commercial Court) - successfully obtaining an urgent injunction for the inspection of a vessel (sometimes known as a "Vasso Order") in a contested application in the Commercial Court. The injunction was granted in connection with an arbitration under s.44 of the Arbitration Act 1996, and so the proceedings were heard in private.  

2013 LMAA arbitration - acted for the successful defendant in a claim brought under a refund guarantee relating to a shipbuilding contract, raising issues of illegality arising out of the backdating of the underlying contract (with Charles Kimmins QC).

2013 LMAA arbitration - acting as sole counsel for the successful claimant in a claim for damages for the wrongful termination of a charterparty. The case raised the question whether a charterer was entitled to reject delivery of a vessel on the ground that the holds were not ready to receive the intended cargo.  

2012 LCIA arbitration - claim against an African state for damages under a Concession Agreement (with Christopher Butcher QC and Tom Weisselberg).

2012 LCIA arbitration - claim for damages and specific performance under a JOA concerning the operation of an oil-field off the coast of Nigeria (with Charles Kimmins QC).

2012 ICC arbitration - claim for around US$16 million under a contract for the construction of a methanol production plant in Egypt (with Philip Edey QC).

Instructed on numerous applications for injunctive relief under s.44 of the Arbitration Act 1996.  

Energy and Natural Resources

2012 LCIA arbitration - claim for damages and specific performance under a JOA concerning the operation of an oil-field off the coast of Nigeria (with Charles Kimmins QC).

Professional Negligence

Instructed and assisted in various cases involving allegations of professional negligence, including solicitor's negligence.

Sports Law

Fury v UKAD (2017) - acting for the boxers Tyson and Hughie Fury in connection with anti-doping proceedings brought against them by the UKAD (instructed by Morgan Sports Law).

Kerr v Nuttall - acting for the defendants in a dispute arising out of an aborted investment in a sports management company.   

Assisted Sir Philip Otton in connection with an arbitration between a Premier League football manager and his former club.

PGC, Sports Law, De Montford University.

Education and Career: 

Education

BA (Law), Worcester College, Oxford (Double First, ranked second in University)

BCL, Worcester College Oxford (Distinction)

BVC, Inns of Court School of Law (Very Competent)

 

Prizes, Scholarships, Awards

Lord Mansfield Scholarship, Lincoln's Inn (2006)

Bruce Reynolds Prize for the best performance in the BCL, Worcester College, Oxford (2006)

Hardwicke Entrance Award, Lincoln's Inn (2005)

Martin Wronker Prize (Proxime Accessit) for obtaining the second highest first in Law Finals, Oxford University (2005)

Henriques Prize, Worcester College, Oxford (2005)

Simmons and Simmons Scholarship, Worcester College, Oxford (2002)

 

Appointments and Society Memberships: 

Young Fraud Lawyers Association

COMBAR

Lectures and Teaching: 

Lecturer in Law, Worcester College, Oxford (2006-2008)

Lecturer in Contract Law, Kings College London (2007-2008)

Frequently gives talks to law firms and other professionals on commercial law, and in particular, shipping law and banking law.

 

Quotes: 

"He's a star. He is very thoughtful and very analytical. Whether he is solo or with a senior you just feel like you're in a safe pair of hands." (Chambers and Partners 2018, Shipping & Commodities)

"Highly responsive and a great team player." (Chambers and Partners 2018, International Arbitration)

"Incredibly responsive, very conscientious and extremely thorough." (Legal 500 2017, Banking & Finance)

"An extremely good advocate with a deep understanding of what is needed in a commodities case." (Legal 500 2017, Commodities)

"Superb." (Legal 500 2017, Shipping)

"A master of detail, an outstanding advocate and a pleasure to work with." (Chambers and Partners 2017, Shipping & Commodities)

"He is adept at gripping technical cases…"  (Chambers and Partners 2017, International Arbitration) 

"A good draftsmen with an excellent ability to grasp complex technical issues." (Legal 500 2016, Banking & Finance)

"A strong advocate, whose quality suggests experience beyond his years" (Legal 500 2016, Commodities)

"Very talented" (Legal 500 2016, Shipping)  

"a "highly ranked junior" who impresses with his "breadth of expertise and experience" and "commercial acumen" (Who's Who Legal UK Bar 2016, International Trade)

"He is smooth, well prepared and bright. You can instruct him with confidence." (Chambers & Partners 2016, Shipping & Commodities)

"He is likeable and easy to work with." (Chambers & Partners 2016, International Arbitration)

"His work belies his year of call" (The Legal 500 2015, Commodities)

"He has a strong track record" (The Legal 500 2015, Banking)

"often called upon to handle very significant banking cases" (Chambers & Partners 2015, Banking)

"very measured, careful and on top of what he is required to do." (Chambers & Partners 2015, International Arbitration)

"considered by many to be a rising star" (Chambers & Partners 2015, Shipping & Commodities)

"unflappable .. and quick as a flash with all the detail." (Chambers UK Bar 2015, Shipping & Commodities)

"He consistently delivers well beyond his year of call." (The Legal 500 2014, Commodities)

"Hardworking and clever; a rising star" (The Legal 500 2014, Banking)

"combines outstanding intellect with an uncanny ability to identify the points that a court or tribunal will find attractive and those they will not. ... Partners say he is "a pleasure to work with and clearly intelligent and thoughtful", while opponents say "his drafting is first rate, and he has a savvy and commercial understanding of how best to put his client's case". (Legal Week, Stars of the Bar, 2013)

"He is so far ahead of his contemporaries that it is too easy to forget that he is a fairly junior barrister." (Chambers & Partners 2014, Shipping & Commodities)

"A strong junior whose practice spans an impressive range of commercial disputes. ... He is one to watch and has a great career ahead of him." (Chambers UK 2014, International Arbitration: General Commercial and Insurance)

"Has acted in a number of significant banking litigation matters and continues to go from strength to strength in the area." (Chambers UK 2014, Banking and Finance)

"a rising star who constantly delivers well beyond his year of call". (The Legal 500, 2013, Commodities)

"Luke Pearce is commended for his 'outstanding success' in ISDA Master Agreement related litigation, including Pioneer v Cosco and Agenco v Daeyang." (The Legal 500, 2013, Banking & Finance)

"Commentators enjoy working with a junior who is 'hard-working and supportive throughout, and shows excellent attention to detail.' He is further praised for his 'ability to turn his hand successfully to complex issues at very short notice.'" (Chambers and Partners, 2013, Shipping & Commodities)

 

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