Gavin Kealey QC

Practice Profile


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 [2019] EWCA Civ 596, a four week hearing in the Commercial Court on aviation leasing [2018] EWHC 3315 (Comm), a share sale appeal [2018] EWCA Civ 2744, an Insolvency Act 1986 appeal, an oil & gas appeal [2018] EWCA Civ 25, two trusts cases in the Privy Council [2017] UKPC 44, and [2017] 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 [2016] 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.

Selected cases:

  • Deslauriers v GAM (Trinidad appeal to the Privy Council) [2017] UKPC 34.
  • Sole (LCIA) arbitrator in arbitration involving alleged fraud, breach of trust, breach of duty in connection with financial investments (2017/8).
  • Representing Calyon in $1.65 billion claim in the Commercial Court against IKB: derivatives, swaps, claim of fraud (2009 – 2010).
  • Representing private investors in bank fraud trial against HSBC in the Commercial Court (2006).
  • Alexiou v Campbell: share sale dispute before the Privy Council in its inaugural sittings in Nassau, The Bahamas (2006/7), [2007] UKPC 11.
  • Acting for Pictet Bank (Geneva and Nassau) in two month trial in the Bahamas (2005) in Trust/Banking litigation.
  • National Westminster Bank PLC v Bilgin [2004] EWHC 2372 (piercing corporate veil, nominees & resulting trusts) – Deputy High Court Judge.
  • Renault v Volvo. International arbitration sitting in Paris/Amsterdam concerning company/share acquisitions (2003).
  • Den Danske Bank A/S, Nomura Bank, Bank of Tokyo v Skipton Building Society, Economic Ins. Co. Ltd. and Kleinwort Benson Ltd. (Commercial Court, Thomas J.) judgment December 1997: Leading for defendants against all other parties in 2 month trial in the Commercial Court: loan portfolio transfers, construction of lending criteria, bank Broking Deeds and assignments, application of insurance terms, breaches of contract.
  • Sumitomo Bank, Sanwa Bank, Arab Bank v Banque Bruxelles Lambert [1997] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 487. Leading for syndicate of Banks in trial against Agent Bank: Duties of care owed by agent bank to syndicate of banks, misrepresentation and duties in the context of commercial property lending and mortgage indemnity insurance policies, the syndication of credit risks, the construction of Loan Agreements.

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.

Selected cases:

  • Aviation disaster (2019) as sole arbitrator.
  • Arbitrator and counsel in numerous arbitrations involving Bermuda Form or modified Bermuda Form policies (2017/9).
  • Ace Capital v Brit & QBE [2016] LRIR 253.
  • International arbitrations (as counsel) in the UK and Bermuda involving casualty insurances relating to toxic chemical claims (2017), medical malpractice claims (2016/7), pharmaceutical products claims, (2013 – 2017).
  • US litigation (Tennessee) as counsel on behalf of Smith & Nephew (policyholder), and international arbitrations (Bermuda and London) involving medical devices (2016/7): Case No. 04-CV-3027 – STA.
  • International aviation insurance arbitration as arbitrator (2016/8).
  • Lithuanian oil refinery claim against international brokers in negligence claims exceeding $100 million: Commercial Court trial October/November 2014.
  • Representing Aviation insurers in defending punitive damages indemnity claim arising out of an aircraft disaster in the US: International Arbitration (2014).
  • Representing Bermudian insurers in Bermuda Form insurance dispute with US insureds: mass tort toxic chemical casualty claim (2014).
  • Representing Bermudian insurers in international arbitration on the Bermuda Form concerning landfill collapses and river pollution in U.S. (2012-2013).
  • Representing international insurers in a Bermuda arbitration on the Bermuda Form concerning brokers’ bid-rigging in N.Y. and U.S. (2012-2013).
  • Representing  Bermudian  insurer  in  international  arbitration  on  the  Bermuda  Form  concerning  hormone replacement therapy: multi-district litigation in U.S. (2012).
  • Representing Indonesian insurers in Singaporean arbitration against Indonesian mining insureds in relation to misrepresentation and non disclosures arising in connection with mine collapses and landslides in Indonesia (2011-2012).
  • Representing mutual energy insurers in long running international arbitration hearing governed by New York law concerning North Sea oil platform collapse (2011).
  • Representing New Zealand mutual insurers in claims against the international reinsurance market arising out of the 2010/2011 Christchurch earthquakes. Two arbitrations in Auckland in 2014, March and November/December (2013/2014): claims in the 100s of millions of dollars.
  • Representing Bermudian insurer in international arbitration concerning medical equipment claims exceeding $100 million under the Bermuda Form (2011).
  • Representing UK Bank in domestic arbitration claim against UK insurers concerning UK and US Bankers Blanket Bond Policies (2011).
  • NFU v HSBC [2010] EWHC 771 (as a Deputy High Court Judge: double insurance).
  • Balli and PK Air Finance v Chartis & Others – Representing 18 major aviation insurers in an action brought against them in the Commercial Court for $150 million in connection with the theft and removal of three Boeing 747 aircraft to Iran (2009 – 2010).
  • Advising the Law Society in relation to claims against and coverage for solicitors in respect of professional indemnity (2010).
  • Advising leading football club in relation to disablement claims arising from injuries sustained by former Captain on the football field (2010).
  • Representing Excess Insurers in international arbitration on the Bermuda Form in resisting claim for $75 million in connection with medical malpractice liabilities in the U.S. (2009 – 2010).
  • Representing insurers in resisting claims exceeding $50 million by U.S. hospital company in an international arbitration on an amended Bermuda Form (2009 – 2010).
  • Representing one of the major international insurance brokers in resisting claims of $500 million in the Commercial Court for alleged fraud in relation to PA LMX and Permanent Health covers (2008-9).
  • Representing insurers in international arbitration on the Bermuda Form in resisting $50 million claim by a major U.S. pharmaceutical company in respect of an internationally marketed and allegedly harmful drug (2008-9).
  • Representing one of the major international pharmaceutical companies in a Bermudian arbitration on the Bermuda Form in obtaining recovery from liability insurers in respect of mass tort third party claims in the U.S.
  • Bedfordshire Police Authority v Syndicate 386 [2009] LRIR 607 (Commercial Court and Court of Appeal).  Leading for public liability insurers in claim concerning Riot Damage Act liabilities.
  • HLB Kidsons v Lloyd’s [2009] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 8; [2008] LRIR 237; [2008] 3 Costs LR 427 (Court of Appeal & Commercial Court). 2 month trial leading for Professional Indemnity Underwriters.
  • Limit (No 2) v AXA [2009] LRIR 396 (Court of Appeal).  Leading for reinsured against avoiding reinsurers: continuing representations.
  • Representing Mexican insurers in defending a claim by U.S. aircraft lessors for excess of $150 million in international arbitration governed by Mexican and English law in respect of the theft of a fleet of ageing aircraft (2007 – 2010).
  • Acting for Colombian insurers in ICC arbitration: recovery from international reinsurers in claim arising from mortgage and savings liabilities of Banco de la Republica in Bogota (2006 – 2008).
  • Acting for Bermudian insurers in an international arbitration in Bermuda on the Bermuda Form in resisting a $50 million claim by a major U.S. motor manufacturer  in respect of casualties in the U.S. (2006-2007).
  • Talbot v Nausch Hogan & Murray Inc [2006] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 195 (Commercial Court). Undisclosed principals in insurance contracts.
  • Travelers v Sun Life [2007] LRIR 619; [2006] EWHC 2885 (Commercial Court) Leading for insureds in claim under professional indemnity insurance.
  • Grecoair v Tilling [2005] Lloyd’s Rep. IR 151 (acting for reinsurers in successfully resisting the attempt by U.S. insured to cut through insurance provided by Angolan insurers to claim direct against reinsurers).
  • Lumbermens v Bovis [2005] LRIR 74 (Commercial Court). Impact and enforceability of global settlements in liability insurance and reinsurance.
  • Commercial Court trial (2 months) leading for international reinsurers (Swiss Re affiliate) Insurance of a manufacturer’s historical asbestos exposure in £166.6 million claim vs insurers and brokers (2005).
  • Arbitration for insurers on World Trade Center coverage dispute (2005).
  • Tonicstar v American Home [2005] LRIR 32 (Commercial Court) Anti-suit and anti-anti-suit injunctions and conflicts of laws in context of insurance.
  • Travelers Casualty v Sun Life [2004] LRIR 846 (Commercial Court) Jurisdiction, conflict of laws.
  • Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada v CX Reinsurance Co. Ltd [2004] LRIR 58 (Court of Appeal). Formation of contract, incorporation of terms, existence of arbitration agreement in context of reinsurance.
  • Wise v Grupo Nacional Provincial [2004] 1 All ER (Comm) 49. Affirmation/waiver.
  • Acting for Warner Chappell in Warner Chappell v Michael Bolton (Commercial Court) Infringement of copyright by U.S. singer/songwriter and rights of subrogation between co-assureds (2004).
  • Assicurazioni Generali v CGU [2003] LRIR 725. Deputy High Court Judge: leading case on follow settlements clauses – affirmed by the Court of Appeal.
  • 3 week arbitration on the Bermuda Form (leading for U.S. insured) concerning mass tort silicone gel breast implant claims in the U.S. (2003).
  • 5 week reinsurance/brokers’ negligence trial concerning energy insurance in the Commercial Court leading for reinsured (2002).
  • 4 week international arbitration leading for US/Indonesian insureds against English/Continental insurers (2002).
  • Film finance insurance trial (leading for insurers) in Commercial Court, London.
  • Gold Medal v Hopewell 3 month insurance/reinsurance arbitration in Bermuda (leading for reinsurers) concerning illegal applications of pesticides in the USA on edible products (2001 – 2003).
  • Kingscroft Ins. Co. Ltd. & Walbrook Ins. Co. Ltd & others v The Nissan Fire & Marine Insurance Company Limited (Commercial Court) [1999] LRLR 603. Leading for reinsureds.  Reinsurance pools, retention clauses in quota share contracts, non-disclosure and misrepresentations.
  • J. Rothschild Assurance PLC v John Collyear (Commercial Court) [1999] 1 LRLR 6 Professional liability insurers in trial against financial services insured involved in pensions mis-selling.
  • Kumar v AGF Insurance (Commercial Court, Thomas J.) [1999] 1 WLR 1747. Leading for professional indemnity insurers against insured solicitor.  Interpretation of clauses permitting claims for indemnity against legal liability by non-fraudulent partners in circumstances where the fraud of the culpable partner amounted also to a breach of warranty.
  • Denby v English & Scottish Maritime Insurance Co. Ltd., & Yasuda Fire and Marine Company of Europe Ltd. v Lloyd’s Underwriting Syndicates 209, 356 and others (Court of Appeal) [1998] LRLR 343. Leading for Lloyd’s Syndicates (reinsurers) in the leading case on the construction of aggregate extension clauses in reinsurance contracts.
  • Den Danske Bank A/S, Nomura Bank, Bank of Tokyo v. Skipton Building Society, Economic Ins. Co. Ltd. and Kleinwort Benson Ltd. (Commercial Court) judgment December 1997: Leading for defendants against all other parties in 2 month trial in the Commercial Court: loan portfolio transfers, construction of lending criteria, bank Broking Deeds and assignments, application of insurance terms, breaches of contract.
  • Sumitomo Bank, Sanwa Bank, Arab Bank v. Banque Bruxelles Lambert [1997] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 487 Leading for syndicate of Banks in trial against Agent Bank: Duties of care owed by agent bank to syndicate of banks, misrepresentation and duties in the context of commercial property lending and mortgage indemnity insurance policies, the syndication of credit risks, the construction of Loan Agreements.
  • Glencore International A.G. (Marc Rich & Co. A.G.) v Portman and others (Court of Appeal) [1997] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 225. Leading for (Glencore) the insured in marine insurance trial and in the Court of Appeal against Lloyd’s underwriters: Utmost good faith, waiver, constructive knowledge of underwriters.
  • DR Insurance v. Central National Ins. [1996] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 74. Leading on issues of Private International law, Jurisdiction, Proper law, illegality.

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.

Selected cases:

  • BV Nederlandse v Rembrandt Enterprises [2019] EWCA Civ 596
  • Crumpler v Candey [2019] EWCA Civ 345
  • APFL v Alitalia [2018] EWHC 3315 (Comm).
  • Towergate [2018] EWCA Civ 2744.
  • Monde v WesternZagros [2018] EWCA Civ 25.
  • Deslauriers v GAM (Trinidad appeal to the Privy Council) [2017] UKPC 34.
  • Whitlock v Moree (Bahamas appeal to the Privy Council) [2017] UKPC 44.
  • Monde Petroleum v WesternZagros (Kurdistan oil & gas dispute) [2018] EWCA Civ 25.
  • International arbitrations in the UK and Bermuda involving toxic chemical claims (2017), medical malpractice claims (2016/7), pharmaceutical products claims, (2013 – 2017).
  • US litigation (Tennessee) on behalf of Smith & Nephew (counsel in Federal Court).
  • International arbitrations (Bermuda and London) involving medical devices (2016/7).
  • International aviation insurance arbitration (2016/8).
  • Representing New Zealand mutual insurers in claims against the international reinsurance market arising out of the 2010/2011 Christchurch earthquakes. Two arbitrations in Auckland in 2014.
  • Representing Lithuanian oil refinery insureds against international brokers in claims for negligence exceeding $100 million: Commercial Court trial October/November 2014.
  • Representing charterers in defending multi-million dollar claim arising out of a 5 year contract of affreightment (2014).
  • Representing a first tier City firm against claims of negligence brought against them by clients in previous shipping arbitration (2014).
  • Representing Bermudian insurers in Bermuda Form insurance dispute with US insureds: mass tort toxic chemical casualty claim: Arbitration in London (2014).
  • BAT Industries Plc v Windward Prospects Ltd & Appleton Papers Inc [2013] EWHC 4087 (Comm) Multi-million dollar claim for indemnity against potential liabilities arising from toxic environmental pollution caused by PCBs.
  • General Construction Limited v Chue Wing [2013] UKPC 30 (Privy Council). Force majeure under Mauritian and French Law. Appeal from Mauritius.
  • Proton Energy v Orlen [2013] EWHC 334 (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge). Oil sale contract dispute between Swiss sellers and Lithuanian buyers.
  • Thinc Group Ltd v Armstrong [2012] EWCA Civ 1227 (Court of Appeal).  Contractual construction concerning contract between principal and agent.
  • Masri v Consolidated Contractors International [2011] EWHC 1024 (Comm); [2011] EWCA Civ 898; [2011] WLR (D) 258. 4 week contempt hearing and appeals in one of the longest-running Commercial Court disputes involving breaches of court orders, contempt of receivership orders, civil contempt (2011).
  • Buyuk v Progress [2010] EWHC 442 (challenges to arbitration award for irregularity and permission to appeal) – Deputy High Court Judge.
  • Retained by Force India to act for Formula One racing engineer/employee in resisting attempt by/on behalf of Virgin Racing/Wirth Engineering to enforce a non-compete provision in employment contract (2010).
  • Representing Calyon in $1.65 billion claim in the Commercial Court against IKB: derivatives, swaps, claim of fraud (2009 – 2010).
  • Acting for International Motorsport in claim against Welsh Ministers in respect of the cancellation of the Welsh world motor rally (2009).
  • Datasat v Swindon Town Football Club [2009] EWHC 859 (loans, investments, share sale) referred to at [2011] EWCA Civ. 84 – acting as a deputy High Court Judge.
  • Verizon v Swiftnet [2008] EWHC 551 (Deputy High Court Judge – telecommunications network dispute and forgeries).
  • Alexiou v Campbell [2007] UKPC 11.  Representing successful shareholders in share sale dispute before the Privy Council in its inaugural sittings in Nassau, The Bahamas (2006/7).
  • Representing the Rugby Football Union in its dispute with the Premiership clubs in the QBD in London (2005-2006).
  • Representing private investors in bank fraud trial against HSBC in the Commercial Court (2006).
  • Representing EDF in the High Court in its employment contract dispute with its former CEO (Sept 2005).
  • Acting for Pictet Bank (Geneva and Nassau) in two month trial in the Bahamas (2005) in Trust/Banking litigation.
  • Representing BAR in BAR v Jenson Button and Williams Racing (to retain the services of Jenson Button for 2005 in Formula One – arbitration before the Formula One Contract Recognition Board in Paris, Milan and Geneva).
  • Acting for Warner Chappell in Warner Chappell v Michael Bolton (Commercial Court) Infringement of copyright by U.S. singer/songwriter and rights of subrogation between co-assureds.
  • Renault v Volvo. International arbitration sitting in Paris/Amsterdam concerning company/share acquisitions.
  • Tonicstar v American Home [2005] LRIR 32 (Commercial Court) anti-suit and anti-anti-suit injunctions and conflicts of laws.
  • National Westminster Bank PLC v Bilgin [2004] EWHC 2372. Deputy High Court Judge – piercing corporate veil, nominees & resulting trusts.
  • Den Danske Bank A/S, Nomura Bank, Bank of Tokyo v Skipton Building Society, Economic Ins. Co. Ltd. and Kleinwort Benson Ltd. (Commercial Court, Thomas J.) judgment December 1997: Leading for defendants against all other parties in 2 month trial in the Commercial Court: loan portfolio transfers, construction of lending criteria, bank Broking Deeds and assignments, application of insurance terms, breaches of contract.
  • Sumitomo Bank, Sanwa Bank, Arab Bank v Banque Bruxelles Lambert [1997] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 487. Leading for syndicate of Banks in trial against Agent Bank: Duties of care owed by agent bank to syndicate of banks, misrepresentation and duties in the context of commercial property lending and mortgage indemnity insurance policies, the syndication of credit risks, the construction of Loan Agreements.

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.

Selected cases:

  • Acting for Premiership Football Club in respect of disablement claims arising from injuries sustained by former Captain on the football field (2010).
  • Retained by Force India to act for Formula One racing engineer/employee in resisting the attempt by/on behalf of Virgin Racing/Wirth Engineering to enforce a non-compete provision in employment contract (2010).
  • Acting for International Motorsport in claim against Welsh Ministers in respect of the cancellation of the Welsh world motor rally (2009).
  • Datasat v Swindon Town Football Club [2009] EWHC 859 (loans, investments, share sale in connection with Football Club) referred to at [2011] EWCA Civ. 84 – acting as a deputy High Court Judge.
  • Representing the Rugby Football Union in its dispute with the Premiership clubs in the QBD in London (2005-2006).
  • Representing BAR in BAR v Jenson Button and Williams Racing (to retain the services of Jenson Button for 2005 in Formula One – arbitration before the Formula One Contract Recognition Board in Paris, Milan and Geneva).
  • Acting for Warner Chappell in Warner Chappell v Michael Bolton (Commercial Court concerning the infringement of copyright by U.S. singer/songwriter and rights of subrogation between co-assureds).

Gavin Kealey’s main involvement in aviation concerns aviation insurance in relation to which he is an acknowledged expert.

Selected cases:

  • Aviation disaster (2019) as sole arbitrator.
  • APFL v Alitalia [2018] EWHC 3315 (Comm).
  • International aviation insurance arbitration involving aircraft loss (2016/8).
  • Representing Aviation insurers in defence of claim for punitive damages indemnity arising out of an aircraft disaster in the US: International Arbitration (2014).
  • Representing insurers in dispute over recoverability of US punitive damages award against US aviation company (2011).
  • Representing insurers in the Commercial Court in an action for the loss by theft of three 747 aircraft valued at $150 million and their retention in Iran (2009 – 2010). PK Airfinance, and Balli, v Insurers.
  • Representing Mexican insurers in defending a claim by U.S. aircraft lessors for excess of $150 million in international arbitration in respect of the theft of a fleet of ageing aircraft (2008 – 2010): after a 2 month arbitration before two Mexican arbitrators and one English arbitrator, the U.S. lessors’ application for permission to appeal the award against them was finally dismissed with costs.
  • Grecoair v Tilling [2005] Lloyd’s Rep. IR 151 (acting for reinsurers in successfully resisting the attempt by U.S. insured to cut through insurance provided by Angolan insurers to claim direct against reinsurers).

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.

Selected cases:

  • Representing Lithuanian oil refinery insureds against international brokers in claims for negligence exceeding $100 million: Commercial Court trial October/November 2014.
  • Representing a first tier City firm against claims of negligence brought against them by clients in previous shipping arbitration (2014).
  • Advising the Law Society (2010 and 2011) in relation to claims against (and coverage for) solicitors in respect of professional indemnity.
  • Representing one of the major international insurance brokers in resisting claims of $500 million in the Commercial Court for alleged fraud and negligence in relation to PA LMX and permanent health insurance (2008-9).
  • HLB Kidsons v Lloyd’s [2009] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 8; [2008] LRIR 237; [2008] 3 Costs LR 427 (Court of Appeal & Commercial Court). 2 month trial leading for Professional Indemnity Underwriters.  Claims by accountants against their insurance brokers, insurance advisers, claims managers and solicitors.
  • Talbot v Nausch Hogan & Murray Inc [2006] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 195. Undisclosed principals of insurance brokers in insurance contracts.
  • Commercial Court trial (2 months) leading for international reinsurers (Swiss Re affiliate) in case concerning the insurance of a manufacturer’s historical asbestos exposure in £166.6 million claim vs insurers and brokers: (2005).

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.

Selected Cases:

  • Aviation disaster (2019) as sole arbitrator.
  • Kuala Lumpur insurance arbitration (2018) as presiding arbitrator (fellow arbitrators from UK and Australia).
  • International arbitrations in the UK and Bermuda (Counsel) involving toxic chemical contamination claims (2017/8), pharmaceutical products claims (2013 – 2018), medical devices (2018).
  • Bermuda arbitration (Arbitrator) involving medical malpractice claims (2016/8)
  • Arbitrator in London arbitration involving copyright (2017/8).
  • Sole Arbitrator in London arbitration concerning US financial services (2017/8).
  • Sole Arbitrator in London arbitration concerning aviation (aircraft) loss (2016/8).
  • Counsel in natural disaster arbitrations (New York, London) 2017/8.
  • Sole Arbitrator in Bermudian arbitration concerning $1 billion marine casualties (2015).
  • Arbitrator in London and Geneva concerning oil and gas development and production contracts in Iraq (2014).
  • Arbitration (Counsel) concerning claim governed by Pennsylvania law (2014).
  • Sole Arbitrator In arbitration between UK and Romanian companies as to proper construction of written agreements and liabilities for damages: 2005 – 2014.
  • Final hearings (Counsel) in (a) international pharmaceutical arbitration involving Israeli and European companies (sitting in New York) (2012 & 2013); (b) international arbitrations concerning shipbuilding and oil/gas licensing disputes (2012 & 2013); (c) international arbitration with juridical seat in Paris (sitting in Paris, French law, French and English languages) (2013).
  • Arbitration (Arbitrator) concerning impact of Icelandic volcanic ash cloud on insurance and reinsurance policies (2012).
  • Dubai arbitration (Counsel) involving hotel management contract (2015).
  • Counsel for New Zealand mutual insurers in claims against the international reinsurance market arising out of the 2010/2011 Christchurch earthquakes. Two arbitrations in Auckland in 2014, March and November/December (2013/2014): claims in the 100s of millions of dollars.
  • Punitive damages indemnity arbitration (Counsel) arising out of aircraft disaster in the US: International Arbitration (2014).
  • Arbitration (Counsel) concerning landfill collapses and river pollution in U.S. (2012-2013).
  • Arbitration (Counsel) concerning brokers’ bid-rigging in N.Y. and U.S. (2012-2013).
  • Arbitration (Counsel) concerning hormone replacement therapy: multi-district litigation in U.S. (2012).
  • International (Greece / China) arbitration: shipbuilding / sale dispute, as Counsel (2012).
  • International arbitration hearing (Counsel) governed by New York law concerning oil platform collapse (2011).
  • Representing UK Bank in domestic arbitration claim against UK insurers concerning UK and US Bankers Blanket Bond Policies (2011).
  • Representing Indonesian insurers in Singaporean arbitration against Indonesian mining insureds (2011-2012).
  • Buyuk v Progress [2010] EWHC 442 (challenges to maritime arbitration award for irregularity and permission to appeal) – Deputy High Court Judge.
  • Arbitration concerning US hospital company claim (2009 – 2010).
  • U.S. pharmaceutical company claim in an international arbitration in respect of an internationally marketed drug (2008-9).
  • Representing Mexican insurers in defending a claim by U.S. aircraft lessors for excess of $150 million in international arbitration in respect of the theft of a fleet of ageing aircraft (2008 – 2010).
  • Acting for Bermudian insurers in resisting a $50 million claim by a major U.S. motor manufacturer in an international arbitration in Bermuda in respect of casualties in the U.S. (2006-2007).
  • Acting for Colombian insurers in ICC arbitration: seeking recovery from international reinsurers in claim arising out of mortgage and savings liabilities of Banco de La Republica in Bogota (2006 – 2008).
  • Acting for Formula 1 motor racing team to retain the services of their no. 1 driver for 2005 in Formula One – arbitration before the Formula One Contract Recognition Board in Paris, Milan and Geneva).
  • International arbitration sitting in Paris/Amsterdam concerning company/share acquisitions under aegis of Dutch Arbitration Court.
  • International arbitration held bilingually in French and English concerning share sales and company valuations.
  • Arbitration for insurers on World Trade Center coverage dispute.
  • 3 week arbitration concerning mass tort silicone gel breast implant claims in the U.S.
  • 4 week international arbitration leading for US/Indonesian insureds against English/Continental insurers in connection with landslide construction damage.
  • 3 month insurance/reinsurance arbitration in Bermuda concerning illegal applications of pesticides onto cereals in the USA (2001 – 2003).
  • Representing Norwegian oil rig owners in 2 month arbitration against rig builders.

Gavin Kealey has considerable experience of international arbitrations for and against U.S. pharmaceutical and medical companies (mostly, the largest in the world).

Selected cases:

  • As counsel in Federal Court 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: Case No. 04-CV-3027 – STA.
  • International arbitrations in the UK and Bermuda involving casualty insurances relating to toxic chemical claims (2017), medical malpractice claims (2016/7), pharmaceutical products claims, (2013 – 2017).
  • International arbitrations (Bermuda and London) involving medical devices (2016/7).
  • Acting as expert for US insureds in relation to a Federal Court claim against international insurers concerning prosthetic implants 2011-2015 and continuing.
  • Representing Bermudian insurers in Bermuda Form insurance dispute with US insureds: mass tort toxic chemical casualty claim: first stage International Arbitration (2014).
  • Representing Bermudian insurer in international arbitration concerning hormone replacement therapy: multi-district litigation in U.S. (2012).
  • Representing Bermudian insurer in international arbitration concerning medical equipment claims exceeding $100 million under the Bermuda Form (2011).
  • Representing insurers in resisting claim exceeding $50 million by U.S. hospital company in an international medical malpractice arbitration (2009 – 2010).Form in resisting claim for $75 million in connection with medical malpractice liabilities in the U.S. (2009 -2010).
  • Representing insurers in an international arbitration in resisting $50 million claim by a US pharmaceutical company in respect of an internationally marketed and allegedly harmful drug (2008-9).
  • Representing major international pharmaceutical company in obtaining recovery from liability insurers in a Bermudian arbitration in respect of mass tort third party claims in the U.S. arising out of on and off label marketing/sales of medical drugs (2008).
  • 3 week arbitration on the Bermuda Form (leading for U.S. insured) concerning mass tort silicone gel breast implant claims in the U.S. (2003).
  • 3 month insurance/reinsurance arbitration in Bermuda (leading for reinsurers) concerning illegal applications of pesticides in the USA on edible products (2001 -2003). Gold Medal v Hopewell.

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.

Selected cases:

  • Masri v Consolidated Contractors International Company SAL [2011] All ER (D) 142 (Commercial Court), jurisdiction, stay, Articles 27 and 28 Council Regulation (EC) 44/2011.
  • Tonicstar v American Home [2005] LRIR 32 (Commercial Court) anti-suit and anti-anti-suit injunctions and conflicts of laws in context of insurance.
  • Travelers Casualty V Sun Life [2004] LRIR 846 (Commercial Court) jurisdiction, conflict of laws.
  • DR Insurance v. Central National Ins. [1996] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 74. Leading on issues of Private International law, Jurisdiction, Proper law, illegality.

Selected cases:

  • As counsel in Federal Court in Memphis, Tennessee: Case No. 04-CV-3027 – STA.
  • International arbitrations in the UK and Bermuda involving casualty insurances relating to toxic chemical claims (2018), medical malpractice claims (2016/7), pharmaceutical products claims, (2013 – 2017).
  • International arbitrations (Bermuda and London) involving medical devices (2016/7).
  • Representing Bermudian insurers in Bermuda Form insurance dispute with US insureds: mass tort toxic chemical casualty claim: first stage International Arbitration (2014).
  • Insurance arbitration concerning a substantial claim by German insureds against international insurers under a contract of liability insurance governed by Pennsylvania law (2014).
  • Representing Aviation insurers in defence of claim for punitive damages indemnity arising out of an aircraft disaster in the US caused by a defective engine and blades: International Arbitration (2014).
  • BAT Industries Plc v Windward Prospects Ltd & Appleton Papers Inc [2013] EWHC 4087 (Comm) Multi-million dollar claim for indemnity against potential liabilities arising from toxic environmental pollution caused by PCBs.

Selected cases:

  • Monde Petroleum v WesternZagros (Kurdistan oil & gas dispute) [2018] EWCA Civ 25.
  • Representing subrogated insurers in claim involving polypropylene dehydration technology in Saudi Arabia against US and UK companies (2017).
  • Representing Lithuanian oil refinery in claims exceeding $100 million in respect of refinery explosion: Commercial Court trial October/November 2014.
  • International arbitration in London and Geneva concerning oil and gas development and production contracts in Iraq, the allocation of working interests, the value of working interests, revenues and costs associated with onshore exploration and production fields (2014).
  • Arbitrator in international arbitration governed by Bermudan law concerning North Sea oil platform casualty resulting in property damage and liability losses exceeding $1 billion (2014 – 2015).
  • Representing Lithuanian oil refinery insureds against international brokers in claims for negligence: Commercial Court trial October/November 2014.
  • BAT Industries Plc v Windward Prospects Ltd & Appleton Papers Inc [2013] EWHC 4087 (Comm) Multi-million dollar claim for indemnity against potential liabilities arising from toxic environmental pollution of land and air caused by PCBs.
  • Representing US Energy Company against a $50 million claim following the collapse of a major coal ash facility (2013).
  • Proton Energy v Orlen [2013] EWHC 334 (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge). Oil sale contract dispute between Swiss sellers and Lithuanian buyers.
  • Representing Indonesian Insurers in insurance claim brought by Indonesian insureds concerning mine disaster and collapse of land: arbitration in Singapore (2011/2012).
  • Representing energy mutual in claim concerning oil platform collapse: arbitration in London governed by New York Law (2011).
  • Representing international insurers in connection with proceedings in Australia concerning mining flood disaster (2011/2012).

Selected cases:

  • Representing Bermudian insurers in Bermuda Form insurance dispute with the insureds: mass tort toxic chemical casualty claim: Arbitrations in London (2014/17).
  • Representing New Zealand mutual insurers in claims against the international reinsurance market arising out of the 2010/2011 Christchurch earthquakes. Two arbitrations in Auckland in 2014, March and November/December (2013/2014): claims in the several hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • BAT Industries Plc v Windward Prospects Ltd & Appleton Papers Inc [2013] EWHC 4087 (Comm) Multi-million dollar claim for indemnity against potential liabilities arising from toxic environmental pollution.

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.

Selected cases:

  • Arbitrator in shipping and shipbuilding disputes (2015/6).
  • Representing a first tier City firm against claims of negligence brought against them by clients in previous shipping arbitration (2014).
  • Arbitrator in international arbitration governed by Bermudian law concerning two substantial marine casualties resulting in property damage and liability losses exceeding $1 billion (2014 – 2015).
  • Representing charterers in defending a multi-million dollar claim arising out of a 5 year contract of affreightment (2014).
  • International arbitration (LMAA) for highly complex contractual shipbuilding dispute (2014).
  • International (Greece / China) arbitration: shipbuilding / sale dispute, as Counsel (2012).
  • Arbitrator in international arbitration concerning shipbuilding contracts (2012).
  • Buyuk v Progress [2010] EWHC 442 (challenges to maritime arbitration award) – Deputy High Court Judge.
  • Acting as arbitrator in charterparty disputes (2005 – present).
  • Representing a variety of shipowners in relation to shipbuilding disputes and charterparty disputes in arbitration – cancellation of contracts, instalments, repudiation (2008 – 9).
  • Golden Fleece Maritime v St Shipping [2008] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 119 (Court of Appeal). Leading for shipowners against time charterers.  Effect of change of International Regulations on Shipowners’ obligations.
  • Petroleum Oil & Gas Corp. of South Africa v FR8 [2009] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 107 (Commercial Court, Steel J.).  Leading for Shipowners in claim under Shelltime 4 form.
  • Representing Norwegian oil rig owners in 2 month arbitration against rig builders (2005).
  • Glencore International A.G. (Marc Rich & Co. A.G.) v Portman and others (Court of Appeal) [1997] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 225. Leading for (Glencore) the insured in marine insurance trial and in the Court of Appeal against Lloyd’s underwriters: issues of charterparty terms, demurrage and insurance.
  • Tharros Shipping Co. v Bias Shipping Co. [1997] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 426.  Leading for non-party at first instance and in the Court of Appeal on issue of liability of a non-party for costs in context of shipping dispute.
  • Pendennis Shipyard v Magrathea [1998] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 315. Lliability of third party for litigation costs in the context of shipping dispute.

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.

  • “Has an encyclopedic knowledge of the law.” “He is a gifted appellate advocate and he is charming with clients.” Chambers & Partners 2021
  • “Gavin is one of the finest advocates I have seen; he has a very relaxed style but also dominates the detail for the judges.” “A highly respected advocate and a leading QC in the area.” Chambers & Partners 2021
  • “He is highly effective, asks intelligent and searching questions and arrives at the right decision.” “A very impressive arbitrator who is phenomenally well versed in the insurance market.” Chambers & Partners 2021
  • “A highly respected advocate and leading silk in the area.” “A recognised leader in the insurance field with substantial international arbitration experience.” Chambers & Partners 2021
  • “He is a formidable advocate with a real sense of what the true point in a case is.” Chambers & Partners 2021
  • “He has the Court of Appeal’s ear and is very charming and friendly.” “His performance and analytical capabilities are truly extraordinary, and the energy and strength of his delivery is impressive.” Chambers Global 2021
  • “Fantastic analytical mind.” “Acute and sharp on cross-examination.” Chambers Global 2021
  • ‘A true giant of the commercial Bar, with a long pedigree in commercial aviation cases.’ Legal 500 2021
  • Walk ‘A true giant of the commercial Bar, he always gets to the real issues and his advocacy is refreshing in its directness and flourish.’ Legal 500 2021
  • ‘Very well versed in all aspects of insurance/reinsurance law, and his analysis of the principles of the law and their proper application to the facts is first-rate.’ Legal 500 2021
  • ‘He is very well versed in all aspects of insurance/reinsurance law: his analysis of the principles of the law and their proper application to the facts is first-rate.’ Legal 500 2021
  • ‘Intelligent, incisive, extremely knowledgeable of the law, and always fun to work with.’ Legal 500 2021
  • ‘His knowledge of cases is amazing.’ Legal 500 2021
  • “An exceptionally clever man who is an attractive advocate.” Chambers & Partners 2020
  • “A brilliant mind and a brilliant advocate – he is just amazing.” “His performance and analytical capabilities are truly extraordinary. The energy and strength with which he delivers arguments is extremely impressive.” Chambers & Partners 2020
  • “A fabulous arbitrator for really complex cases.” Chambers & Partners 2020
  • “Fantastic analytical mind.” “Acute and sharp on cross-examination.” Chambers & Partners 2020
  • “He has the Court of Appeal’s ear and is very charming and friendly.” “His performance and analytical capabilities are truly extraordinary, and the energy and strength of his delivery is impressive.” Chambers & Partners 2020
  • “A class act who’s not afraid of descending into the deep detail of a case.” “He’s very entertaining and a real pleasure to work with.” Chambers Global 2020
  • “Incredibly creative. He comes up with ingenious arguments and is also a formidable cross-examiner.” Chambers Global 2020
  • ‘A brilliant and fearless advocate with a great intellect, who can vary his pitch to suit the occasion.’ Legal 500 2020
  • ‘At his best in an appellate environment, bringing charm, gravitas, and a huge appetite for getting to the bottom of really complex issues of law.’ Legal 500 2020
  • ‘One of the finest silks for contentious insurance work.’ Legal 500 2020
  • ‘A scrupulously courteous and effortlessly authoritative arbitrator who combines a first-class intellect with an impressive ability to master complex material.’ Legal 500 2020
  • ‘A very experienced advocate with a style that appeals to arbitrators – one of the best in the field.’ Legal 500 2020
  • ‘He is always available and is fully committed to his cases.’ Legal 500 2020
  • “Incredibly creative. He comes up with ingenious arguments and is also a formidable cross-examiner.” Chambers & Partners 2019
  • “Simply formidable and a real presence to work with.” Chambers & Partners 2019
  • “A class act who’s not afraid of descending into the deep detail of a case.” “He’s very entertaining and a real pleasure to work with.” Chambers & Partners 2019
  • “He has the ear of the court and is a real specialist.” “Very experienced.” Chambers & Partners 2019
  • “He has a formidable reputation as a man who is utterly charming and has the ear of the court.” Chambers & Partners 2019
  • “Very sharp and very client-friendly.” “He is incredibly creative and comes up with ingenious arguments.” Chambers & Partners 2019
  • ‘Brings with him a charm that motivates the whole team to do its best.’ Legal 500 2018
  • ‘An exceptional insurance lawyer, he is very client friendly and easy to work with.’ Legal 500 2018
  • ‘Leaps right into the breach; he tested all prior arguments and improved our case.’ Legal 500 2018
  • ‘A top-class advocate; his great strength is his fluency, informed by clarity of thought and delivery.’ Legal 500 2018
  • “Bright and always well prepared.” “Gavin is a megastar.” Chambers & Partners 2018
  • “He is meticulously fair, extremely user-friendly and scrupulously polite.” Chambers & Partners 2018
  • “He’s fiercely bright and he provides penetrating analysis.” Chambers & Partners 2018
  • “Able to wade through complex facts quickly and cut to the key issues. He is a team player.” “Very user-friendly, he’s hard-working and a strong cross-examiner.” Chambers & Partners 2018
  • A brilliant advocate and a cunning strategist, he is silky smooth orally and writes well too. Legal 500 2017
  • A charismatic, fluent and confident advocate. Legal 500 2017
  • Excellent analytical skills, advocacy and knowledge of the insurance markets. Legal 500 2017
  • A charismatic and dogmatic advocate, who conjures ingenious and creative arguments. Legal 500 2017
  • “Gavin is intellectually powerful, rigorous and fearless. He rapidly absorbs new context and circumstances for cases.” Chambers & Partners 2017
  • “He’s a silk who can turn his hand to anything. He’s exceptional.” Chambers & Partners 2017
  • He is brilliant, extraordinarily disciplined in his thinking and someone who challenges others to raise their game and to think as clearly as they can.” Chambers & Partners 2017
  • “His mastery of the facts allowed him to demonstrate his very lucid writing skills and flawless oratory to a very impressed arbitral tribunal that was, frankly, spellbound.” Chambers & Partners 2017
  • “Very well prepared and very good at handling the dispute, the parties and the counsel.” “Gives timely, well-reasoned decisions.” Chambers & Partners 2017
  • “Offers well-reasoned and detailed advice.” “Really bright and very commercial.” Chambers & Partners 2017
  • A “very dynamic lawyer who is also fun to work with.” “A colourful, tenacious advocate.” Chambers & Partners 2017
  • A real name on the arbitration circuit. Asia Pacific: The English Bar Legal 500 2016
  • His depth of legal knowledge and masterful oral advocacy mean clients are always on the front foot. Legal 500 2016
  • His grasp of highly complex scientific details is impressive. Legal 500 2016
  • Head of chambers, Gavin Kealey QC runs a “formidable” practice that deals with a wide range of commercial disputes. Who’s Who Legal 2016
  • “He is a brilliant advocate who is extremely intelligent and great to work with.” Chambers & Partners 2016
  • “You go to him for the performance he delivers on his feet, which is top drawer.” Chambers & Partners 2016
  • “He has a wonderful way of taking control of a room, and is a real presence in an arbitration setting.” Chambers & Partners 2016
  • “A very good advocate who is very persuasive and has a good way with tribunals.” Chambers & Partners 2016
  • 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.

    Languages: French

Portfolio