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Matthew McGhee

Matthew has been a tenant at 20 Essex Street since 2014 and has a broad commercial practice. He is regularly instructed to advise or act in national & international litigation & arbitrations across chambers' practice areas. Recent instructions have had a particular focus on disputes concerning civil fraud, shipping & commodities, company & insolvency, and a wide range of other contractual and commercial disputes.

Matthew has been instructed as part of a team in a number of large commercial disputes, as well as to advise, draft pleadings or act in a variety of other matters as sole counsel. He regularly appears in both the High Court and County Courts and is familiar with using interim relief to protect his clients' positions, having frequently been instructed to obtain emergency injunctions in the High Court (including freezing orders). Matthew is happy to accept instructions on a direct access basis.

Before coming to the Bar, Matthew read Law at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Specialisations: 

Commercial & Private International Law

Matthew has experience of large-scale international commercial litigation, having previously been instructed in Libyan Investment Authority v Société Générale & ors (Claim no: CL-2014-000144), a US$ 2.1 billion claim brought by the sovereign wealth fund, against the international investment bank and a third party, seeking rescission of a number of derivative options and other investments on the grounds of fraud and illegality. He is currently instructed (with Philip Edey QC) in a US$ 42 million claim between shareholders in respect of the construction of a shipping port.

He also regularly acts as sole counsel and has often been required to appear on an urgent basis to obtain injunctions, including freezing orders and other similar protective measures. Matthew was previously instructed (with Thomas Raphael QC) to obtain an anti-suit injunction in Unwired Planet v Huawei [2017] EWHC 2831 (Pat) in respect of ongoing litigation concerning certain mobile communication patents.

Other matters on which Matthew has recently worked include advising a shipyard in respect of a claim for defective work (with David Lewis QC), the payment of introduction agents in the music industry, and a dispute over design consultancy and website-hosting agreements. He is also often instructed to advise in non-contentious situations, most recently on the interpretation of a proposed oil well services agreement.

Shipping

Matthew frequently advises and acts with a leader or as sole counsel in shipping disputes, both in court (including the admiralty division) and arbitration. He recently appeared (with Duncan Matthews QC) in the Court of Appeal in Sino Channel v Dana Shipping [2018] 1 Lloyd's Rep 17, a case concerning the validity of an arbitration which had been commenced by serving notices on an apparent agent of the COA counterparty.

Other recent cases have included a US$ 9 million arbitration claim concerning an assigned indemnity under a charterparty (with Timothy Young QC), a US$ 3 million claim in respect of a chartering investment (with Timothy Hill QC), and a US$ 750,000 claim for defective repair work against a shipyard (with David Lewis QC).

Matthew spent 2 months working in-house with a Norwegian Defence Club in 2015, where he regularly drafted advice and arbitration submissions. His work spanned the full range of shipping disputes, including in relation to bareboat charters and ship sale agreements.

Matthew has experience of claims across all areas of shipping law, including in respect of:

  • Hire & freight
  • Pilotage & towage
  • Detention, delay & demurrage
  • Port & voyage safety
  • Bunkers
  • Bills of lading & cargo claims
  • General average & marine insurance
  • Collisions & other matters

Matthew has been asked to provide opinions by way of early neutral evaluation, giving owners and charterers a basis on which to pursue settlement before commencing arbitration. He has also been asked to prepare expert reports on English shipping law for use in foreign courts. Matthew was recently invited to speak at the International Congress of Maritime Arbitrators XX on the topics of broker authority and charterparty fraud.

Commodities & Sale of Goods

Matthew has a wide range of commodities experience, including a variety of standard terms such as SCoTA, GAFTA, FOSFA & the Shell GTCs.

Recent instructions have included a US$ 13 million claim (with Julian Kenny QC) concerning property and security interests in steel held by a port authority), a US$ 3.2 million ICC arbitration regarding off-specification acetone that was said to have deteriorated in storage, and a EUR 1.5 million claim (with Luke Pearce) for damages and restitution in relation to prepaid contracts for grain where the vendor company was dissolved and there were issues as to delay and quality. 

Matthew also has experience of claims in respect of:

  • Conversion
  • The passing of property & risk
  • Prohibition on import/export
  • Calculation of loss

As a pupil, Matthew assisted Malcolm Jarvis on Soufflet Negoce SA v Fedcominvest Europe SARL [2014] 2 Lloyd's Rep 537, a case concerning the proper interpretation of the standard GAFTA notice clause.

Civil Fraud

Matthew was recently instructed in Libyan Investment Authority v Société Générale & Ors (Claim no: CL-2014-000144), a US$ 2.1 billion claim brought by the sovereign wealth fund against the international investment bank and a third party, seeking rescission of a number of derivative options and other investments on the grounds of fraud and illegality. 

He is was instructed (with Paul Lowenstein QC and Philip Riches) in CMOC v Persons Unknown [2017] EWHC 3599 (Comm), a claim to trace and recover US$ 8 million of funds which were stolen in a 'business email compromise' fraud. This case is notable as being the first-known occasion that a Worldwide Freezing Injunction has been granted against 'persons unknown', and also involves various other novel forms of relief which have been sought to assist recovery against fraudsters and their facilitators.

Other recent instructions include a US$ 2 million fraud claim in an arbitration between joint venture partners, and a number of cases of international 'man in the middle' frauds (both where the claimant seeks recovery from the fraudster, but also where 2 innocent parties are in dispute over who bears the loss following the fraud).

As a pupil, Matthew assisted Duncan Mathews QC and Luke Pearce on OMV Petrom SA v Glencore International AG [2014] 2 Lloyd's Rep 308, an application to strike out a Defence to a US$40 million fraud claim against the international commodities house. 

Company & Insolvency Law

Many of the disputes on which Matthew has worked have involved company law issues and he frequently appears in the Companies Court and County Courts in matters of corporate insolvency and more general company law matters. 

Matthew is currently instructed as sole counsel in a US$ 2 million arbitration between shareholders in a joint venture company. He was also recently instructed to obtain an emergency injunction in the High Court to prevent the removal of a director by a shareholders’ meeting in circumstances where the company was of doubtful solvency. Matthew has often been instructed to act for office holders in applications to set aside transactions entered into at an undervalue and transactions to defraud creditors, and regularly speaks at conferences on these topics.

Matthew is also familiar with issues raised in cross-border insolvency situations, and has made applications in the English courts to facilitate the assistance of foreign courts in a bankruptcy. He regularly advises in hearings concerning administrations, as well as in bankruptcy proceedings in relation to individuals and partnerships.

Matthew also has experience of claims in respect of:

  • Knowing receipt & dishonest assistance
  • Breach of trust & other fiduciary duties
  • Shareholder rights
  • Share purchase agreements
Banking & Finance

Matthew was recently instructed in Libyan Investment Authority v Société Générale & Ors (Claim no: CL-2014-000144), a US$ 2.1 billion claim brought by the sovereign wealth fund against the international investment bank and a third party, seeking rescission of a number of derivative options and other investments on the grounds of fraud and illegality. 

Matthew has previously been instructed by a leading international bank in relation to the FCA review of the misselling of interest rate hedging products. He has also been instructed on matters concerning litigation funding, priority debt agreements, and other financial arrangements including guarantees, letters of credit and bills of exchange.

Matthew has acted as tribunal secretary (to Julian Lew QC) in a US$ 5.8 million arbitration concerning a dispute as to the construction of a joint venture & financing agreement in relation to oil and gas exploration.

Energy

Further to his general commodities practice, Matthew understands the specific issues that arise in the context of disputes concerning coal, oil & gas, etc., and has experience of industry standard forms such as SCoTA & the Shell GTCs.

He has previously been instructed in a US$ 25 million ICC arbitration concerning a long term gas supply contract (with Michael Ashcroft QC), and to advise on the construction of a termination clause in an oil well services agreement which incorporated LOGIC terms. Matthew has also acted as tribunal secretary (to Julian Lew QC) in a US$ 5.8 million arbitration concerning a dispute as to the construction of a joint venture & financing agreement in relation to oil and gas exploration.

As a pupil, Matthew assisted Christopher Hancock QC and Malcolm Jarvis on Assuranceforeningen Gard Gjensidig v International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund 1971 [2014] EWHC 3369 (Comm), a case concerning the existence of a legally binding agreement for funding interim compensation payments for oil pollution damage. Matthew also assisted on the earlier freezing injunction application ([2014] 2 Lloyd's Rep 219).

Education and Career: 

Education

Magdalen College, Oxford: BA (Hons) Jurisprudence, First (2012)

Kaplan Law School: BPTC, Very Competent (2013)

Scholarships

Lord Denning Scholarship and Hardwicke Award, Lincoln's Inn (2012)

Cholmeley Studentship, Lincoln's Inn (2013)

Phoenicia Scholarship, Bar European Group (2014)

Publications: 

Skuld offshore briefing 'Spotlight on Insolvency: restructuring procedures in US, UK. Norway and Singapore' January 2018

'Dual capacity brokers, seen through the prism of man-in-the-middle frauds' (2017) 3 LMCLQ 435

'Reconsidering reflective loss: are creditors barred from recovery?' (2016) 37(6) Comp. Law. 178

20 Essex Street case update 'End of Shelf Life: The regulatory framework and legal issues involved when decommissioning oil & gas platforms' April 2016

The Lawyer Insolvency Briefing 'More time for claims from the twilight zone' January 2015

Appointments and Society Memberships: 

  • Bar European Group
  • COMBAR
  • ICC
  • London Shipping Law Centre
  • London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association
  • Young Fraud Lawyers Association (YFLA)
  • British Insurance Law Association
  • Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration

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