Legal 500 2022
Legal 500 2022
Gavin Kealey is acknowledged to be one of England & Wales’s leading Commercial Queen’s Counsel 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, one of London’s premier set of barristers’ chambers for significant commercial disputes.
Gavin specialises in all areas of commercial law and has considerable expertise in contentious litigation in court (at trial and on appeal to all appellate tribunals including the Supreme Court and Privy Council) and in international arbitrations – with particular emphasis on contractual disputes of all kinds: commercial litigation, insurance/reinsurance, aviation, financial services and banking, oil and gas, civil fraud, professional negligence, shipping, conflicts of laws, sports law, share sales, joint venture disputes and corporate/share valuations.
He is known for the quality of his advisory work, and strategic case management skills, which, combined with meticulous preparation, team leadership, incisive and effective examination of witnesses make him the first port of call for cases involving complex legal arguments at first instance and at all appellate levels up to the Supreme Court and the 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 fellow of the AIAC (Malaysia), member of the LCIA, 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, as well as specialist arbitrations, such as those under the Bermuda Form scheme.
His considerable experience outside England as Counsel and as Arbitrator extends far and wide to such jurisdictions as the US, France, Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bermuda, New Zealand, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Holland, and Italy.
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 his appearance in the FCA Test Case litigation before the UK Supreme Court  UKSC 1 and the Divisional Court  EWHC 2448 (Comm), the leading case on business interruption (BI) losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the only other High Court judgment on BI interruption (to date)  EWHC 2710 and the only non-confidential arbitration on BI interruption (Policyholders v China Taiping ).
He also acted in a major case decided by the Court of Appeal on issues of fundamental importance in the law of contract, particularly, fraudulent misrepresentation, to which permission for appeal to the Supreme Court was denied  EWCA Civ 596, and an important Court of Appeal case on the scope of section 245 of the Insolvency Act,  EWCA Civ 345.
Previously, he appeared in 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, and two trusts cases in the Privy Council  UKPC 44, and  UKPC 34.
Recently, international arbitrations (as Counsel and as Arbitrator) in the UK and Bermuda including political risk insurance in Sierra Leone, Africa (2021); another on indemnity insurance for settlements arising from allegations of sexual abuse (2019/20); insurance issues arising from opioid-related US class actions (2019 – ongoing); and a major US, UK, and Bermudian insurance arbitration regarding a South American $800m catastrophic loss event.
Other cases have involved toxic chemicals, medical malpractice, hip implants, pharmaceutical products, (2013 – 2019), 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 the last two years, in which the insurance industry has been dominated by the pandemic, Gavin acted in the FCA Test Case litigation, the insurance industry’s most significant case of 2020/1, and also acted in important related litigation regarding business interruption claims, while maintaining his interest in ongoing litigation from 2019 – 2021, ranging from cases involving political risks in Africa, allegations of church sex abuse (USA), opioid abuse (USA), construction all risks (Malaysia), and the failings of industrial concrete for one of London’s gateway ports.
He is also an acknowledged expert on the Bermuda Form and is regularly appointed as Arbitrator in international insurance arbitrations. In 2005, he was the first recipient of the Chambers and Partners Insurance Silk of the Year Award, being in the very top rank of insurance and reinsurance silks in that directory and others ever since this area of practice was recognised.
Gavin Kealey’s expertise in Commercial Law and as an advocate is well known. He is also particularly well known for his preparation, analytical skills, team-work, and cross-examination which put 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.
Alongside his disputes practice, he is regularly involved in advising on, and appearing in, complex fraud cases, where his forensic skills are in particular demand.
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. His work spans London market instructions to cases further afield, including the Middle East.
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 domestic and international arbitrations. He is regularly instructed as Counsel 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.
He is also regularly appointed in significant arbitrations as an Arbitrator. His arbitrations cannot be described with any particularity in view of the confidentiality of the process.
However, he has a tremendous reputation and is particularly known for presiding fairly and efficiently, with a light and relatively informal touch, over arbitrations where he is a party-appointed Arbitrator, or the sole Arbitrator, and increasingly, as the president of eminent tribunals.
He also makes it a point of writing and delivering his awards swiftly following the conclusion of any hearings.
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 has an established product liability practice with a focus on the insurance aspects of pharmaceutical and aviation industries.
Gavin Kealey has been instructed in several major energy disputes in recent years, especially in offshore energy claims, but also in insurance-related disputes. With a long-running interest in litigation and arbitration in the energy sector, he remains instructed by leading law firms in this sector on a regular basis, both as advocate and as an Arbitrator.
Thanks in part to Gavin’s experience in the insurance aspects of this field, and from his acknowledged reputation and skills in assessing expert evidence, cross-examination and legal presentation, he has a stellar reputation in this area of the law.
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. For many years he has been instructed in many of the shipbuilding disputes from major maritime centres on claims which are in excess of $100 million.
Gavin Kealey has been recommended as a leading silk consecutively since 2008 in both Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500. Gavin is ranked in the following categories: Commercial Dispute Resolution, Insurance, International Arbitration: Arbitrator, International Arbitration: Commercial & Insurance, Shipping & Commodities and Aviation.
Gavin Kealey QC and Henry Moore succeed in striking out £50 million claim with limitation point
The Lawyer features 9 members in their Top 20 Cases of 2022
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
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 fellow of the AIAC (Malaysia) member of JAMS International, 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 Silk of the Year 2005.
Director of the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund Ltd 2001 – 2010.