Gavin Kealey is acknowledged to be one of England’s leading Commercial QCs practising at the English Bar. Gavin is a Deputy High Court Judge assigned to the Commercial Court in London (from where he has delivered some important judgments), and also Head of Chambers at 7 King’s Bench Walk.
Gavin specialises in all areas of commercial law and has considerable expertise in contentious litigation in court and international arbitrations – with particular emphasis on contractual disputes of all kinds: commercial litigation, insurance/reinsurance, aviation, share sales, financial services and banking, oil and gas, civil fraud, conflicts of laws, sports law, shipping, corporate/share valuations, and professional negligence.
He is known for his meticulous preparation, incisive and effective examination of witnesses, team leadership, and complex legal argument at first instance and at all appellate levels up to the Supreme Court and Privy Council. Gavin also regularly accepts appointments as arbitrator and has vast international experience. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a member of the LCIA, AIAC (Malaysia) and JAMS International. As a result of his considerable international arbitration practice, Gavin is particularly familiar with New York, French, Colombian and Mexican laws of contract and insurance. His considerable experience outside England as counsel and as arbitrator extends far and wide to such jurisdictions as New Zealand, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, France, Holland, Dubai, Singapore, Italy and the US. Gavin is accustomed to giving expert evidence on English law, and he has given expert evidence in both Federal and State courts of the United States by affidavit, by oral deposition and in trial, as well as in France, Norway, and Spain. He also appeared as counsel in Federal Court (2016) in Memphis, Tennessee, to argue complex and novel issues of English law in response to the Federal Judge’s invitation to the parties to field English counsel to make the oral arguments.
Recent cases include a major case before the Court of Appeal on issues of fundamental importance in the law of contract  EWCA Civ 596, a four week hearing in the Commercial Court on aviation leasing  EWHC 3315 (Comm), a share sale appeal  EWCA Civ 2744, an Insolvency Act 1986 appeal, an oil & gas appeal  EWCA Civ 25, two trusts cases in the Privy Council  UKPC 44, and  UKPC 34, international arbitrations (as counsel and as arbitrator) in the UK and Bermuda involving toxic chemicals, medical malpractice, pharmaceutical products, (2013 – 2017), US litigation and international arbitration involving medical devices (2016/7), international aviation arbitration (2016/7), Ace Capital v Brit & QBE  LRIR 253, a series of arbitrations in New Zealand (2013 – 2015) on behalf of NZ insureds arising out of the Christchurch earthquakes, acting for BAT Industries in defending billion dollar claims relating to environmental pollution caused by PCBs in Missouri and Michigan (2012 – 2014), claims exceeding $100 million against US manufacturers of toxic products (2013 – 2015), and also acting in punitive damages indemnity claim following a fatal aircraft disaster (2014).
Gavin Kealey’s well-known skills of analysis and his experience have made him a sought after leader in difficult and substantial financial litigation. Banking and Finance work forms a small but significant part of his considerable practice.
Gavin Kealey is and has been for many years one of the best-known and most highly regarded insurance and reinsurance practitioners in England. In 2005, he was the first recipient of the Chambers and Partners Insurance Q.C. of the Year Award, being in the very top rank of Insurance and Reinsurance Q.C.s in the Legal Directories ever since this Area of Practice was recognized. He is also an acknowledged expert on the Bermuda Form and is regularly appointed as arbitrator in international insurance arbitrations.
Gavin Kealey’s expertise in Commercial Law and as an advocate known for his preparation, analytical skills, team-work, and cross-examination, puts him in high demand from domestic and international clients, lay and legal. The diversity of his General Commercial work at all levels (see below, most recently in the Privy Council, Court of Appeal and Commercial Court) reflects his wide-ranging and acknowledged skills.
Gavin Kealey has a relatively small but nonetheless well-developed practice in Sports Law, deriving principally from his acknowledged reputation and skills in contractual analysis, cross-examination and legal presentation. This is an area of practice he particularly enjoys.
Gavin Kealey’s main involvement in aviation concerns aviation insurance in relation to which he is an acknowledged expert.
Gavin Kealey began his professional negligence practice when he first joined chambers. His practice has evolved from representing one of the big four accounting firms in much of its early litigation in the U.K. and in The Bahamas, to dealing with and managing substantial cases involving a variety of classes of professional most notably insurance brokers, solicitors and valuers.
Gavin Kealey is known for his considerable expertise in acting as Counsel in domestic and international arbitrations. He also has an established practice as an arbitrator. His arbitrations cannot be described with any particularity in view of the confidentiality of the process. However he is regularly appointed and instructed on substantial commercial cases where his skills as a legal and factual analyst, as a cross-examiner, and as an advocate highly respected by the international markets, are in high demand.
Gavin Kealey has considerable experience of international arbitrations for and against U.S. pharmaceutical and medical companies (mostly, the largest in the world).
Given the international and commercial nature of his practice, Gavin Kealey often advises on issues of private international law: on issues of governing law, jurisdiction, anti-suit injunctions. He is constantly involved in the important strategic and tactical decisions that need to be made on these issues which often directly or indirectly affect the outcome of any dispute.
Gavin Kealey’s practice in Shipping has developed from a thriving junior’s specialism into a leading silk’s practice in which his experience and expertise are very much in demand in substantial cases both as Counsel and also as an Arbitrator.
Gavin Kealey has been recommended as a leading silk consecutively for over 12 years in both Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500 in the following categories: Commercial Dispute Resolution, Insurance, International Arbitration: Arbitrator, International Arbitration: Commercial & Insurance, Shipping & Commodities and Aviation.
Gavin Kealey QC and Sushma Ananda secure victory for insurers in latest COVID BI dispute
Supreme Court gives landmark judgment in COVID-19 business interruption test case appeal: 7KBW team acts for MS Amlin
Gavin Kealey QC quoted in The Financial Times and by Law 360 in the FCA “Business Interruption” Supreme Court Appeal
Latest COVID-19 judgment: Gavin Kealey QC and Keir Howie secure summary dismissal of business interruption claim
Judgment in COVID-19 business interruption test case: 7KBW team acts for MS Amlin and Ecclesiastical
Gavin Kealey is not only known for his considerable expertise in acting as Counsel in domestic and international arbitrations but he also has a well-established practice as an arbitrator. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a member of JAMS International, the KLRCA, the LCIA and an ICC arbitrator. His appointments cannot be described with any great particularity in view of the confidentiality of the process.
However he is regularly appointed as sole arbitrator in aviation, insurance and reinsurance, financial services and energy disputes, and as a party-appointed arbitrator in other areas of commercial disputes. His acknowledged expertise is also reflected in his judgments while sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Commercial Court.
BA (Jurisprudence) University College, Oxford University. First Class.
Distinction in Law Moderations, Oxford University. Fletcher Scholar (Oxford).
Lecturer in Laws, King’s College, London University (Contract, Evidence, Jurisprudence).
Assistant Recorder of the Crown Court 1999. Recorder (Crown Court Judge) 2000 – 2010.
Deputy High Court Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court, assigned to the Commercial Court.
Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Member of JAMS International, the LCIA, the AIAC (Malaysia) and an ICC arbitrator.
Head of Chambers at 7KBW.
“Chambers and Partners” Insurance Q.C. of the year 2005.
Director of the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund Ltd 2001 – 2010.