Adam Fenton KC

Adam Fenton KC

Silk: 2003 | Call: 1984

Practice Profile

Nature of practice

Adam acts as an advocate in Court and Arbitration work in the following core areas of practice: Insurance (non-marine and marine), Reinsurance, Professional Negligence, Shipping and Sale of Goods.

Recent directory recommendations

Adam is recommended in the current main directories. Under Insurance and Reinsurance in Chambers and Partners he is known for his “enormous attention to detail”, “is an excellent lawyer, who is very thoughtful and able to assist with the early resolution of matters”, “a very practical person and commercially minded” and “assured and user-friendly particularly on difficult insurance disputes”, and in the same category in the Legal 500 “ A very strong insurance barrister with good expertise in professional negligence”.

Recent practice

In the past four to five years, the focus of his work has remained his ongoing insurance and reinsurance practice and his prominence in that field is reflected in his involvement in the major cases of the last three or four years. He appeared in the COVID-19 test case FCA v. Arch Insurance, which was heard in the Divisional Court [2020] EWHC Comm 2448 and then the Supreme Court [2021] UKSC 1 on an expedited basis. He acted for Hiscox, instructed by Allen & Overy. He then appeared in a further COVID-19 test case Stonegate v. MS Amlin [2022] EWHC 2549 acting for insurers, instructed by DACB. He is currently acting for All Risk Insurers in the Russian Aircraft litigation, concerning insurance claims for western leased aircraft remaining in Russia, due to be heard as a 12-week trial in the Commercial Court in October 2024.

Other recent cases include acting for Enterprise cars in a Commercial Court insurance claim which settled close to trial in 2021, acting in a large professional negligence matter in relation to shipbuilding in the Commercial Court which settled in 2022, various aggregation matters including in relation to COVID-19 and the collapse of a large listed entity, a number of large commercial property insurance claims, a large liability insurance arbitration involving a major listed company, liability/CAR insurance disputes in relation to a major building project, liability insurance issues in relation to OFCOM, OAR insurance in relation to OFGEM rulings, products liability and cargo insurance in relation to a large damage to goods claim, and D&O claims and insurance issues arising out of the Madoff claims.

In addition to acting in and advising in relation to disputed matters, he is involved from time-to-time in advising on the contents and drafting of insurance policies and has acted for a number of both insurers and blue chip companies in this respect in recent years. As regards blue chip assureds he was instructed (with a junior) in an across-the-board review (property, motor, D&O, products liability, crime, media amongst others) of a FTSE 100 company’s insurance coverage.

In addition to insurance and reinsurance he deals with other matters.  He has been involved in a series of major shipbuilding arbitrations and in the Cattles case, the biggest claim ever to be brought against an accountant, which settled shortly after the start of trial in the Commercial Court in October 2015.

Arbitration and mediation

Adam also sits as an arbitrator in his core areas of practice and is a CEDR accredited mediator. Current arbitration cases include maritime and international sale of goods and shipbuilding cases, as well as insurance matters. Adam has recently mediated sale of goods, maritime and insurance matters.

Selected cases:

  • Russian Aircraft claims, acting for All Risk Insurers.
  • FCA v. Arch [2021] UKSC 1 where Adam acted for Hiscox in both the Divisional Court and Supreme Court.
  • Stonegate v. MS Amlin [2022] EWHC 2549
  • Various arbitration references involving aggregation.
  • Enterprise Cars v. DLIS (Commercial Court)
  • Professional negligence case involving solicitors alleged negligence in relation to shipbuilding contracts in the Commercial Court.
  • Major liability insurance arbitration.
  • The Cattles litigation
  • He acted in a BVI professional negligence case.
  • Has been involved in numerous D&O cases, acting particularly for insurers on coverage and aggregation issues.
  • DHL v. Barbon [2010] Lloyd’s Rep IR 149 Leading Counsel for Barbon in this major five-week High Court trial involving claims in relation to an Excess Insurance Contract fighting each of the three other parties and effectively fighting three cases in one. Also acted for DHL in relation to the application to join Insurers : [2009] Lloyd’s Rep. IR 464
  • Acted for successful insurers in relation to insurance of solicitors which resulted in an Award in favour of aggregation and thus the very substantial restriction of insurer’s liability and led to the termination of the major High Court action against the solicitors. The arbitration concerned a point of considerable legal and market importance in relation to the basis of aggregation of claims where no dishonesty.
  • Acted for successful Insurers in High Court action; action against Insurers was struck out just prior to trial.
  • Acted for Encia in relation to appeal to the Court of Appeal from the judgment of Mr. Justice Cresswell (Encia Remediations v. Canopius [2008] Lloyd’s Rep IR 79) which settled on the eve of the Appeal. Raised a number of significant insurance points.
  • Acted for Lincoln (Swiss Re) in a four-week major arbitration.
  • Scott v. Copenhagen Re (Com Ct. Langley J and Court of Appeal [2003] EWCA Civ 885
    XL market test case about aggregation of losses of KAC aircraft and spares and BA aircraft which occurred during the invasion of Kuwait/Gulf War. The case is a leading case on aggregation and when loss occurs in non-marine insurance.
  • Feasey v. Phoenix & Sun Alliance (Com. Ct Langley J and Court of Appeal [2003] EWCA Civ 688 Dispute about insurable interest, misrepresentation and authority of underwriting agent. I acted for Phoenix on an issue worth US$ 16 million dollars relating to authority and also provided some assistance and appeared for a day for Sun in the Court of Appeal.
  • Imperio v. C.E. Heath (Com Ct) 1999 Lloyds IR 571; [2001] 1 W.L.R. 268
    The leading authority on limitation in relation to breach of fiduciary duty, in the context of reinsurance brokers.
  • ABT Rasha (CA) [2000] 2 Lloyds Rep. 575. Successful claim against insurers for balance of general average liability.
  • Kirkaldy v. Adrian Walker (Com Ct.) [1999] Lloyds IR 410. Successful defence of claim against underwriters in respect of sinking of a floating dry dock.
  • North Atlantic v. Bishopsgate (Com Ct.) [1998] 1 Lloyds Rep. 459. Accrual of cause of action under variable excess reinsurance.
  • Aiken -v- Wrightson [1995] 1 W.L.R. 1281 (Insurance – duty of Lloyd’s managing agent)
  • Grace -v- Leslie & Godwin [1995] C.L.C. 801 (Insurance – brokers’ negligence)

Selected cases:

  • Cattles – Represented the Claimants in a major action for professional negligence against PwC, the amount claimed being more than £ 1 billion. The case settled a week into trial in October 2015.
  • Hollywood Litigation: Represented Ince & Co, instructed by Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, for alleged negligence in relation to film finance insurance and reinsurance, where the claim was for U.S. $ 180,000,000.
  • Shinhan v. Sea Containers (Com Ct.) [2000] 2 Lloyds Rep 406
  • Successful claim against Sea Containers for fraud and negligence in relation to the issue of banking documentation.
  • Grace -v- Leslie & Godwin [1995] C.L.C. 801 (Insurance – brokers’ negligence)

Selected cases:

  • SCT v. Trafigura [2005] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 128 Sale of Goods case involving sale of oil and repudiation of contract.

Selected cases:

  • Recently involved in a series of major shipbuilding arbitrations acting for Chinese yards.
  • The “Surf City” [1995] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 242 (Shipping/insurance – waiver of subrogation)
  • The “Product Star” [1993] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 397 (Shipping – unsafe ports in Gulf)
  • The “Simona” [1989] A.C. 788 (Shipping)

Adam has recently acted in numerous confidential arbitrations and actions which did not come to trial, as well his advisory practice.

  • “Adam is very detailed and intelligent.”

      Insurance, Chambers UK Bar 2024  

  • ‘Very detailed and incredibly intelligent and careful analysis on complex coverage issues.’

      Insurance and Reinsurance, Legal 500 2024

  • ‘Adam is a hands-on silk. His attention to detail and ability to remember all key facts and dates are very impressive.’

     Professional Negligence, Legal 500 2024

  • “Adam is very bright and very hard-working. He knows the market very well.”
  • ‘Extremely client friendly – he builds an immediate rapport and his experience oozes, so he has a natural yet understated self-confidence that conveys his many years of experience and commands respect.’ ‘Adam has a first-class intellect. His attention to detail is phenomenal.’
  • “He’s extremely thorough and responsive. He’s very straight with you and provides excellent client service.” “He’s brilliant, completely hands-on and all over the details.”
  • ‘An extremely hard worker who is reliable, straight and clear in his assessment and advice, and prepared to get into the nitty gritty.’
  • ‘He is very technically astute.’
  • “Ridiculously responsive, very involved and very enthusiastic.” “He’s very switched on and very knowledgeable.”
  • ‘He knows the insurance market very well and understands the technical insurance nuances and insurance contracts to a very high level.’
  • ‘He is very technically astute.’
  • ‘Razor-sharp intellect, commercial and tenacious.’
  • ‘He is experienced in high-profile professional negligence cases.’
  • “Very user-friendly.” “Thorough and pleasant to work with.”
  • “Steeped in insurance law and really thinks problems through. His detail-driven approach inspires confidence.” “very user-friendly.”
  • Superb.
  • Tremendous attention to detail, strong analysis and good turnaround.
  • “Enormous attention to detail”
  • “He is an excellent lawyer, who is very thoughtful and able to assist with the early resolution of matters.”
  • He adopts a very thorough approach.
  • Noted for his professional indemnity experience.
  • A very strong insurance barrister with good expertise in professional negligence.
  • Careful, considered and calm
  • “Intelligent, utterly professional and hard-working.”
  • Received widespread praise for his “sensible advice coupled with a tough litigation stance.”
  • “Tenacious” “deeply immersed in insurance matters.”
  • “Low-key, considered and highly effective” advocate
  • “Highly recommended”