Dominic Kendrick QC

Dominic Kendrick QC

Silk: 1997 | Call: 1981

Practice Profile


Dominic Kendrick QC has decided to step back from acting as counsel in large trials to focus more on sitting as an arbitrator, but continues to advise clients in consultation and in writing and will act as counsel in short cases. In this capacity, he is currently engaged in Business Interruption and Event Cancellation insurance claims and aggregation issues, arising out of Covid 19 as well as oil and gas and long term shipping contracts, also affected  by the downturn due to Covid 19.

Dominic already has an established practice as an arbitrator, and is regularly appointed as sole arbitrator, party-appointed arbitrator or as the third arbitrator in a wide range of commercial disputes, mainly in ad hoc, LCIA, ICC, LMAA and  Bermuda Form disputes. His appointments cannot be described in any great detail in view of the confidential nature of the process. However they have ranged from disputes about a superyacht to the alleged illicit plundering of title to prestigious Moscow real estate, although more typically they concern shipping, insurance, commodity contracts, alleged fraud and ship building.

He has a wealth of experience to call upon having acted in many of the large commercial disputes which have occurred over the last 25 years. These include: the turmoil at Lloyd’s in the nineties; the Eastern European political risk/marine risk cases after the fall of the Soviet Bloc; the Exxon Valdez disaster; the invasion of Kuwait; the Personal Accident spiral and rigged reinsurance market; pension mis-selling; the aggregation of losses after 9/11; large losses and frauds uncovered by the 08 crash including the Madoff affair, besides a steady stream of heavy cases in shipping, sale of goods, insurance, general commercial disputes and commercial fraud.

As counsel, he has appeared regularly in arbitration, in the Commercial Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Many of these cases have involved long trials.  Examples over recent years are: Government of Djibouti v Boreh [2016] EWHC 405 (Comm)  (alleged corruption and fraud in Africa); the Ocean Victory [2017] UKSC 35 where he succeeded in the Supreme Court (shipping- safe port and marine insurance), a large Bermuda Form arbitration in 2018,  and  Yukos v Lynch [2019] EWHC 2621 (Comm)  (alleged rigging of a major auction of oil and gas assets in Russia).

Republic of Djibouti v Boreh (Commercial Court) [2016] EWHC 405 (Comm). Dominic was lead counsel in a team of 4 barristers, including another QC acting for the Defendant. This was a 12 week trial in which grave charges of fraud and corruption were raised by each side against the other concerning major commercial projects in Djibouti, Africa. Dominic was successful on all issues and the corruption, (and dishonesty in answers in cross examination) was found to lie on the Claimants’ side only.

Gard Marine v China National (“The Ocean Victory”)  [2015] 2 All E.R. (Comm) 894. This case arose out of the total loss of a large modern ship in appalling weather in Kashima Japan. It raises important points in shipping law (on the safe port promise in charterparties) and in insurance law (on the effect of underlying contracts on rights of subrogation). Dominic led the team of three including another QC and senior junior and was successful on both points in the Court of Appeal. The case is now going to the Supreme Court.

Boreh v Republic of Djibouti, Gibson Dunn, and Gray [2015] 3 All E.R. 577. This case was much commented upon in the legal press. After cross examination lasting 2-3 days, Dominic established that a partner in a well-known firm of solicitors had knowingly deceived the Commercial Court in obtaining a freezing injunction and subsequently tried to conceal the dishonesty.  Dominic led a team of four counsel including another QC.

Rathbone Brothers Plc v Novae Corporate Underwriting Ltd [2015] Lloyd’s Rep. I.R. 95. Dominic led a team of three barristers in this large claim on professional indemnity insurers concerning offshore trust investment advice. Dominic succeeded on all issues in the Court of Appeal including important issues on the rights of insurers in subrogation.

Beside court actions, he has also  been working on issues raised by the Madoff frauds, a large rig claim in the North Sea, and as counsel for the Law Society on aggregation under its recommended insurance terms.

Dominic Kendrick specialises in banking cases which involve international trading and/or documentary credits.

Selected cases:

  • Societe Generale v Wurttembergische [2012] This was a claim for the loss of $ ½ billion of gold bars. It involved the practice of a proprietary trading department, and the role of the back and middle office.
  • Standard Bank v Via Mat [2012] EWHC 574 (Comm). This involves trading by warehouse warrants and the loss of $70 million of silver bars.
  • Shinhan Bank v Sea Containers [2000] 2 LLR 406 Claim in deceit by a financing Bank after the presentation of fraudulent documents.
  • Glencore v Bank of China [1996] 1 LLR 135 Construction of the ICC rules on documentary credits.
  • “Future Express” [1993] 2 LLR 542 (presentation of fraudulent documents and bills of exchange).

Fraud, and the consequences of fraud, lies at the heart of many of the cases of Dominic Kendrick QC.

Selected cases:.

  • Standard Bank v Via Mat [2012] EWHC 574 (Comm) Disappearance of $70 million of silver bars from a warehouse in China.
  • Societe Generale v Wurttembergische [2012] This was a claim for $ ½ billion of gold bars said to have been abstracted fraudulently by the buyer in Istanbul.
  • MAN A.G and ERF v Freightliner Ltd and Ernst & Young [2005] EWHC 2347 (Comm), vicarious liability of a company for the deceit of a person used in negotiations for the sale of a subsidiary. After a long trial, this led to damages in the order of £350 million. Dominic Kendrick appeared for the Claimant.
  • Trafigura Beheer v MSC [2007] – an internationally organized fraud concerning the theft of copper in China using fraudulent documents of title.
  • Shinhan Bank v Sea Containers [2000] 2 LLR 406 – documentary credit fraud on a bank.
  • In arbitration, Dominic Kendrick QC was leading counsel for the claimant which first established that there had been a ‘rigged market,’ creating an artificial spiral of losses for Personal Accident reinsurers.

Recent cases range from acting for a hedge fund in a dispute on refinancing debt, and in a Chancery Court appeal from a VAT Tribunal decision on tax.

Selected cases:

  • Humpus [2011] EWHC 2339 (Comm) [2011] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 663. Dominic Kendrick successfully argued that there was no fit case of ‘piercing the corporate veil’ and so a large worldwide freezing order was set aside.
  • Standard Bank v Via Mat [2012] EWHC 574 (Comm). Formation of contract and role of framework terms.
  • Golden Ocean v Salgaocar [2012] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 542 [2012] WLR (D) 70. The application of the requirements of Statute of Frauds 1677 on guarantees to email negotiations.
  • Transfield v Mercator [2009] AC1 A leading modern case on the law of damages in contract.
  • HM Customs v Homeserve [2009] EWHC 1311 (Ch) [2010] Lloyd’s Rep. IR 47. Successful appeal in Chancery Division on VAT.
  • MAN A.G and ERF v Freightliner Ltd and Ernst & Young [2005] EWHC 2347 (Comm) Large scale fraud in the sale of the shares of a company

Dominic Kendrick QC has been involved in most of the large disputes in the insurance market over the last 25 years. These include: the Lloyd’s problems in the nineties; the Eastern European political risk/marine risk cases after the fall of the Soviet Bloc; the Exxon Valdez disaster; the invasion of Kuwait; the PA spiral; pension mis-selling; the aggregation of losses after 9/11; and, most recently, losses through the Madoff affair and large insured losses of traders, including ‘proprietary’ trading by Banks.

Selected cases:

  • Societe Generale v Wurttembergische [2012] This was a claim for the loss of $ ½ billion of gold bars insured on the specie market. After a late amendment was allowed, the case settled just before trial.
  • Beazley v Travelers [2011] EWHC 1520 (Comm) [2012] Lloyd’s Rep. IR 78 This case concerned run-off insurance and decided the contractual effect of comments by an underwriter’s scratch on a slip.
  • Gard v Tunnicliffe [2011] EWHC 1658 (Comm) [2012] Lloyd’s Rep. IR 1 Custom and usage in the marine energy reinsurance market.
  • Scott v Copenhagen [2003] EWCA Civ 688. This case concerns the loss of Kuwaiti and a BA aircraft in the Gulf war. It is a leading CA case on aggregation of claims ‘arising out of one event’
  • Sun Life v Feasey (CA) [2003] EWCA Civ 885. This is the leading case on insurable interest in modern commercial insurance.
  • Commercial Union v NRG, Skandia v NRG [1999] 2 All E.R. 434. This case arose out of the Exxon Valdez disaster. It is a leading authority on what must be proved by Reinsureds to recover under reinsurance in respect of foreign judgments and settlements.
  • Glencore International AG v Alpina and Others [2004] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 111. Dominic Kendrick was lead counsel in an 8 week trial of claims on a trader’s worldwide marine policy after the theft of about $300 million of oil in floating storage.
  • Lincoln v Sun Life and Phoenix. [2004] EWHC 343 (Comm). This case concerned the effect in a reinsurance dispute of a previous award and defined the limits of issue estoppel
  • Quorum v Schramm [2002] 1 LLR 249: Loss of value of a Degas masterpiece damaged by smoke in a fire. This case raised basic problems of what constitutes ‘damage’ and how it should be valued.
  • John Wyeth & Brothers Ltd. v Cigna Insurance Company of Europe SA/NV and Ors [2001] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. IR 420 (CA): This case, which arose in the wake of the collapse of the largest single UK group action, concerned the interface between London market product liability insurance and US ‘duty to defend’ type insurance.
  • Newfoundland Explorer [2006] EWHC 429 Loss of a vessel through fire and the construction of a marine insurance warranty.
  • Interpart v Lexington Insurance [2004] LRIR 690. This case concerned the significance of a back-dated surveyors certificate in marine insurance.

Current insurance cases include: acting for the Law Society on a test case concerning aggregation under the solicitors’ standard wording; acting for a commodity trader on an $80 million theft of commodities from warehouses in the Far East; acting for the owner of power ships on a CTL claim on a war/political risks insurance for $350 million; acting in relation to Madoff losses. Many of Dominic Kendrick’s insurance cases are in arbitration, including some Bermuda Form arbitrations.

A large number of Dominic Kendrick QC’s hearings take place in arbitration, which requires a slightly different form of advocacy from High Court or appellate court work. He is frequently appointed as an arbitrator in commercial disputes, particularly shipping, insurance and trading disputes. He is a member of the London Court of International Arbitration, a supporting member of the London Maritime Arbitrators’ Association, and has been appointed as arbitrator in ICC cases.

Bringing the claim in the right forum is an essential step in international litigation. Dominic Kendrick QC has been involved in many forum disputes; England versus another jurisdiction (whether a country within the EC or elsewhere); Court versus Arbitration.

Selected cases:

  • Standard Bank v Via Mat [2012] EWHC 574 (Comm). Jurisdiction dispute between London and Hong Kong following the loss of silver.
  • Golden Ocean v Salgaocar [2012] EWCA Civ 265 [2012] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 542 [2012] WLR (D) 70. Forum conveniens: India or England
  • Noble Denton [2010] EWHC 2574 (Comm) [2011] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 387. The role of court and arbitrators in investigating the jurisdiction of arbitrators.
  • Gard v Glacier Re [2010] EWCA Civ 105 [2011] Bus LR 839. EC jurisdiction
  • Inco v First Choice (House of Lords) [2000] 1 WLR 586 Arbitration jurisdiction.,
  • Glencore -v- Metro and Itochu Petroleum C. (S) Pte Ltd. & Banque Trad-Credit Lyonnais [1999] 2 LLR 632 (European Convention on Jurisdiction),
  • HIB Insurance v Guardian [1997] 1 LLR 412 (jurisdiction for negative declaration),
  • Federal and Chubb v Transamerica [1999] 2 LLR 227 (arbitration)
  • “Anna H” [1995] 1 LLR 111 (Admiralty jurisdiction).

Dominic Kendrick QC has acted in numerous cases of professional negligence of agents and intermediaries in the above fields, including insurance brokers, ship brokers, solicitors, accountants and the personal liability of directors and officers of a company. He also acts frequently in insurance disputes concerning E&O and D&O coverage for professional misconduct.

Selected recent cases:

  • “Ocean Victory” [2017] UKSC 35 A leading case in the Supreme Court concerning “unsafe port” at Kashima.
  • Rowan [2012] EWCA Civ 198 [2012] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 564. The effect of an oil company approval clause in tanker charters. Dominic Kendrick was brought in as lead counsel for the (successful) appeal.
  • Humpus [2011] EWHC 2339 (Comm) [2011] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 663. Setting aside a world-wide freezing order against subsidiaries of time charterers and guarantors after the collapse of long term contracts.
  • Golden Ocean v Salgaocar [2012] EWCA Civ 265 [2012] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 542 [2012] WLR (D) 70. A decision on the formalities requires for the guarantee of a long term time charter.
  • Acergy v Sobrena [2011] EWHC 2490 (Comm). A claim for major fire damage to a pipe laying ship whilst at a ship repairer.
  • Transfield Shipping Inc v Mercator Shipping Inc “Achilleas” [2009] AC 1. Dominic Kendrick QC was leading counsel in the successful appeal to the House of Lords. The case is a leading, (if controversial), case on the measure of damages in time charters and in general contract.
  • “MSC Amsterdam” [2007] – He was successful leading counsel in the Court of Appeal in a case concerning the misdelivery of copper after fraudulent bills of lading were presented .
  • Dominic Kendrick was also leading counsel in Commercial Court actions arising out of large oil tanker and bulker casualties which turned on complex issues of naval architecture and computer modelling.

Many shipping cases are in arbitration and therefore confidential. In recent years, after the shipping crash in late 08, many of these have involved new-building disputes and long term COAs. In court, current cases include a large safe port claim for the loss of a nearly new Cape size bulker.

  • “An extremely good insurance lawyer. He’s one of the most senior silks and has the reputation to match.”
  • “He is extremely thorough, very careful and precise.”
  • “Kendrick is astonishingly good at assimilating the details of any matter and appreciating the tiniest nuances, both legal and commercial.”
  • “He gets right inside the mind of the judge or tribunal; his huge experience leaves you knowing you are in the most capable hands.”
  • “He always produces the goods.”
  • “He is an impressive opponent.”
  • “An iron fist in a velvet glove, he is measured, quietly very effective and someone who always makes the right point.”
  • “Dominic is exceptional; he has the ability to turn a lot of very complicated issues into compelling, simple issues which you cannot argue against.”
  • “He’s very impressive and experienced and can argue whatever you want very persuasively.”
  • “An outstanding lawyer who has the ability to read the court very well and absolutely hold the trust of the client even in the most difficult circumstances.”
  • “A very fluid and charming advocate.”
  • ‘An experienced and knowledgeable advocate.’
  • ‘Very bright and experienced.’
  • ‘Especially experienced in insurance and reinsurance disputes.’
  • ‘A very experienced silk.’
  • “An excellent insurance specialist.”
  • “He steers tribunals brilliantly.” “He can reduce an incredibly complicated dispute into four points.”
  • “He’s very approachable, always imaginative and someone who always fights hard.”
  • ‘User-friendly, experienced and knowledgeable.’
  • ‘He is extremely effective.’
  • ‘Especially experienced in insurance and reinsurance disputes.’
  • ‘A very experienced silk.’
  • “Very diligent.” “Incredibly intelligent. He has a very clear way of presenting a case.”
  • “Personable and incredibly well respected. He is very bright and he has excellent judgement.” “Highly commercial, user-friendly, and exceptionally clever.”
  • ‘Very experienced and able.’
  • ‘Someone I always check if he’s free.’
  • ‘Proven track record in large disputes.’
  • ‘An excellent counsel, very bright, knowledgeable and user friendly.’
  • “He is a class act. People genuinely queue up for him.”
  • “Has knowledge of very specialist areas and brings great gravitas to proceedings.” “He writes very well and is technically good.”
  • “He is not just clever, experienced and hard-working, which comes with the territory; he brings that extra insight or perspective which is very rare even among the best silks.”
  • “A very impressive advocate.” “He has an excellent manner of advocacy.” “Intellectually very strong and very good commercially.”
  • A superstar without diva tantrums – a dream to work with.
  • Very effective.
  • Very impressive in shipbuilding matters.
  • An outstanding silk for commodities and shipping matters.
  • An “extremely user-friendly” silk who is also considered an “excellent insurance and commercial leader.”
  • “His experience and knowledge speak for themselves. If I had a case where I wanted every inch of ground covered in an attractive way then I would use him.”
  • “Very good, very technical, and good at handling sophisticated legal points.” “Somebody who gets to grips with issues very quickly, and who can take both an intuitive and analytical approach.”
  • An eminent silk with a practice of the highest calibre, “who always seems to be right.”
  • “He has a very rigorous mind; he is always thinking two steps ahead and is able to tie together the legal and technical sides of an issue.”
  • “What he says is very well received in tribunals because he adopts a very down-to-earth and sensible, measured style. He is extremely courteous and extremely pleasant.”
  • “He’s very good for offshore energy. He has a very rigorous mind and he is always thinking two steps ahead. He is able to tie in the law with the technical side and use both to his advantage.”
  • Cerebral, highly commercial and truly superb.
  • A highly persuasive yet fearless advocate.
  • He has a strong presence and gravitas as an advocate, while remaining very approachable.