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Socrates Papadopoulos

BA (Oxon), LLM (Lond)

Socrates Papadopoulos has been a tenant at 20 Essex Street since October 2001. He has a commercial law practice with an emphasis on admiralty and shipping, arbitration, sale of goods, banking, insurance and reinsurance, and private international law. He has appeared both as sole counsel, and as part of a team, in the Commercial Court, the Court of Appeal, and in arbitrations both in the UK and abroad. He particularly enjoys cases involving a technical or scientific dimension.


  • Admiralty and Shipping
  • Banking and Derivatives
  • Insurance and Reinsurance
  • International Sale of Goods
  • Jurisdiction and Conflicts
  • Arbitration

Principal Cases: 

Admiralty and Shipping

Socrates has extensive experience of admiralty and shipping law. The majority of his work in this field is in arbitration. His principal reported cases are set out below.

The Star Polaris
[2017] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 203 (Commercial Court)
Appeal from arbitration award dealing with the meaning of “consequential losses” in the context of an exception clause in an SAJ form shipbuilding contract. The case gives guidance as to when the phrase “consequential losses” carries its established, namely losses falling under the second limb of Hadley v. Baxendale, and when it carries a different and wider meaning.

Standard Chartered Bank v. Dorchester LNG
[2015] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 97 (Court of Appeal)
[2013] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 338 (Commercial Court)
The case concerned a claim by a confirming bank against the carrier of a cargo of gasoil for misdelivery, in circumstances where the bank initially rejected the presentation under the letter of credit and only paid the seller upon being sued, after the seller had ordered the discharge of the cargo.  The case is the leading modern authority on title to sue under bills of lading and the requirements for becoming a lawful holder under COGSA 1992.

Carboex S.A. v. Louis Dreyfus
[2012] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 379 (Court of Appeal)
[2011] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 177 (Commercial Court)
Appeal from arbitration award dealing with the important question in the trade of whether the Amwelsh charterparty strike clause applies to excuse delays in loading and discharging after a strike is over, and where the vessel is delayed in berthing due to congestion that has arisen as a result of a strike that has ended. The CA's judgment includes a consideration of the House of Lords decision in Central Argentine Railway v. Marwood [1915] AC 981, and addresses how a number of conflicting House of Lords and Court of Appeal authorities are to be reconciled.

Tidebrook Maritime Corp v Vitol SA of Geneva, The "Front Commander"
[2006] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 251 (Court of Appeal)
The case concerns the question of whether under the widely used Vitol Voyage Chartering Terms, Charterers' consent to early NOR has the effect of causing laytime to start before the agreed laydays. The Court of Appeal, reversing the judgment below, held that Charterers' consent to early NOR was sufficient to start the laytime clock early and that there was no requirement that Charterers separately consent to the early commencement of laytime.

Union Maritime Morocco Scandinave S.A. v Spero Marine S.A.
Claim No. PO910005 (Mercantile Court)
Dispute as to the construction of a charterparty arbitration clause, and the question of whether failure to bring the claim within the time limit prescribed in the clause had the effect that the claim was time barred, or that the claim had to be brought in the courts instead. 

Commercial Law

Socrates’s practice encompasses a wide range of commercial matters including sale of goods, banking and derivatives, letters of credit, guarantees, insurance, conflict of laws and jurisdictional disputes. He also has experience of heavy commercial cases. He appears both in the English courts and in international commercial arbitrations.  His principal reported cases are set out below:

Standard Chartered Bank v. Dorchester LNG 
[2015] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 97 (Court of Appeal)
[2013] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 338 (Commercial Court)
The case concerned a claim by a confirming bank against the carrier of a cargo of gasoil for misdelivery, in circumstances where the bank initially rejected the presentation under the letter of credit and only paid the seller upon being sued, after the seller had ordered the discharge of the cargo.  The case addresses the important question of whether a claim for dishonour of a letter of credit sounds in debt or in damages, and consequently whether arguments about causation, mitigation and remoteness can be raised in defence to such a claim.

Great Elephant Corporation v. Trafigura and others, "The Crudesky"
[2014] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 1 (Court of Appeal)
[2012] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 503 (Commercial Court)
The case concerned the irregular loading of a vessel at the Akpo Oil Terminal in Nigeria, and the consequent detention on of the vessel by the Nigerian authorities.  The buyers of the cargo at the top of the chain of sale contracts incurred significant losses as a result of the delay which they sought to pass down the chain of contracts.  The judgments address important aspects of the law of force majeure, delegated performance, the Sale of Goods Act implied terms of right to sell and quiet possession, and whether a disproportionate response by state authorities amounts to a novus actus interveniens.

Nakanishi Marine v. Gora and others
[2012] EWHC 3383 (Comm) (Commercial Court)
Dispute concerning the proper construction of various clauses of a deed of subordination between prior and subsequent lenders to a shipowning company, including the meaning of a clause providing that the subordinated lender must not take "any steps to enforce any of its rights" while the senior indebtedness remains outstanding.

Rainy Sky and Others v Kookmin Bank
[2011] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 233 (Court of Appeal)
[2010] 1 All ER (Comm) 823 (Commercial Court)
Claim by buyers of vessels under 6 shipbuilding contracts for a refund of instalments totalling USD 46 million against the guarantor bank under a number of Advance Payment Bonds.  The case considered whether as a matter of construction the Bonds amounted to demand guarantees, obliging the bank to pay regardless of any underlying dispute under the shipbuilding contracts, and regardless of whether the shipbuilding contracts had actually been terminated.  The case is the leading authority on how the tension between purposive and textual considerations in the interpretation of commercial contracts is to be resolved.

Re Lehman Brothers International (Europe) (In Administration)
[2010] EWHC 2094 (Chancery Division)
[2010] EWHC 3044 (Chancery Division - Costs)
This was one of the most significant cases of 2010 and was a dispute between the principal London based Lehman entity ("LBIE") and various Lehman affiliates worldwide as to the ownership of USD 1.5 billion of securities which were subject to a continuous process of inter-company repurchases and stock loans for regulatory capital reasons (known as the "RASCALS" process).  In deciding whether, after initial acquisition, securities held in LBIE's unsegregated house depots were held on trust for the affiliates, Briggs J reviewed the law on certainty of trusts, ultimately applying the much debated decision of the Court of Appeal in Hunter v. Moss [1994] 1 WLR 452.

Schweppe v Harper
[2008] All ER (D) 311 (Court of Appeal)
Claim by agent for success fee in respect of securing finance for the Defendant for the purpose of annulling the Defendant’s bankruptcy.  In a wide ranging judgment the Court of Appeal considered a number of important issues of principle relating to unilateral offers, contingent conditions precedent, certainty of contractual terms, the validity of an agreement to negotiate in good faith, the existence of implied terms of co-operation and non-prevention of performance, and assessment of damages for loss of a chance.

Sunderland Marine Mutual Insurance Co Ltd v Wiseman - The "Seaward Quest"
[2007] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 308 (Commercial Court)
Jurisdictional challenge in respect of claim by insurance company in England against the crew of a vessel domiciled in Scotland for recovery of insurance monies, on the basis that the insured vessel had been scuttled by the crew.  The case considered whether under Schedule 4 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982, England was "the place where the harmful event occurred", and if it was, whether the doctrine of forum non conveniens applies between England and Scotland.

Uniworth International v. Plover Investments
[2006] EWHC 1163 (Ch) (Chancery Division)
Case concerning the disputed sale of a textile business and related premises, and in particular whether the sale was duly authorised by the owner, whether the agent who effected the sale had ostensible authority to do so, and whether an injunction prohibiting the on-sale of the premises should be discharged.

Harsco Track Technologies v Euro Trans International Inc.
2003 (Commercial Court)
Jurisdictional dispute in which the carrier and the freight forwarder each issued separate contracts of carriage containing different jurisdiction clauses.  The issue was whether the freight forwarder had actual or apparent authority to issue the bill of lading, and which of the two conflicting jurisdiction clauses prevailed.

Education and Career: 

Socrates was educated at St. Anne's College Oxford (BA Jurisprudence), and University College London (LLM). He obtained his LLM with Distinction. Whilst at Oxford, he was a scholar of St. Anne's College and President of the Oxford University Law Society.  He is also a Major Scholar of the Inner Temple.

Lectures and Teaching: 

Between 2000 and 2006 he was a tutor in Carriage of Goods by Sea and Marine Insurance on the LLM program at University College London.