Harry Wright

Practice Profile


Harry is a commercial barrister who specialises in (re)insurance, professional negligence, aviation, shipping & shipbuilding, and other commercial disputes. During 2020, he appeared in the FCA Test Case on business interruption insurance claims arising from Covid-19 (recently decided by the Supreme Court); a Supreme Court appeal in a professional negligence claim against auditors (Manchester Building Society v Grant Thornton); a shipbuilding case currently on appeal to the Court of Appeal (Shanghai Shipyard v Reignwood); and in a heavy and valuable High Court insurance trial, acting for the broker (ABN Amro v RSA and others).

As well as forming part of a team in large and high-profile commercial cases, Harry regularly appears as sole counsel in court and arbitral proceedings. He has already developed a reputation for the quality of his oral advocacy and cross-examination: the 2021 Legal 500 describing him as an “excellent advocate” with “good instincts for how to deal with both witnesses and the court”.

Harry has been recognised by Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500 in the fields of insurance & reinsurance, professional negligence and aviation. He is known for his particular expertise in the Insurance Act 2015, having co-written A Practical Guide to the Insurance Act 2015 with David Kendall. He also edits the chapter in Simpson on the liability of auditors and accountants. He is a junior barrister who “performs significantly above his year of call.”

Harry has a first-class degree in history, having studied in the UK and the USA, and was a Prince of Wales Scholar and winner of the Du Cann Prize in Gray’s Inn.

Harry is currently ranked by Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 for insurance and reinsurance. Selected cases and experience are summarised below.

Insurance:

  • FCA Test Case on business interruption insurance (The FCA v Arch Insurance (UK) Ltd and others [2020] EWHC 2448 (Comm); [2021] UKSC 1). Harry was part of a team (led by Jonathan Gaisman QC and Adam Fenton QC) acting for the insurer Hiscox in this high-profile test case about business interruption insurance claims arising from Covid-19, which was recently appealed to the Supreme Court.
  • ABN Amro v Royal & Sun AllianceHarry appeared for the broker, Edge, in a £35m claim by a Dutch Bank against its marine cargo insurers (led by Sioban Healy QC). Judgment of the High Court (Jacobs J) is awaited.
  • In the Matter of First Title Insurance Plc. Acted for a major UK title insurer in a transfer of business to Malta under Part VII of FSMA 2000.
  • 2019 arbitrationHarry was involved in a multi-million-dollar insurance arbitration between a well-known manufacturer of medical implants including hip replacement devices, and its insurer (led by Gavin Kealey QC).
  • Suez Fortune Investments Ltd & Piraeus Bank AE v Talbot Underwriting Ltd (the “Brillante Virtuoso”) [2019] EWHC 2599 (Comm). Appeared as junior counsel for the claimant in this dispute involving allegations of scuttling by the insured under a war risks policy.
  • Pemberton Greenish LLP v Jane Henry [2017] EWHC 246 (QB). Sole counsel for the successful defendant in a case about whether a subrogated claim may be brought against a co-insured.
  • 2015 arbitration: insurance dispute arising from a catastrophic rail crash in Italy (led by David Bailey QC)
  • Porchuck Boat Company v Kiln Regional Underwriting. Sole counsel in the Mercantile Court for a marine cargo insurer; issues involving notification of loss, valuation of the insured powerboat, and policy construction.
  • Teal Assurance v WR Berkley Insurance [2013] UKSC 57. Harry was involved in extensive research on the “hold harmless fiction” in this dispute over the order in which claims are paid under a tower of liability insurance contracts (Christopher Butcher QC and Rebecca Sabben-Clare QC).
  • Sunboat Inc v Amlin Corporate Insurance. Commercial Court dispute under a contract of marine hull and machinery insurance following the total loss of a superyacht by fire (led by David Bailey QC).

Insurance Act 2015:

  • Harry is a leading expert on the Insurance Act 2015.  He acted for the Lloyd’s Market Association during the passage of the Insurance Bill, and was responsible for several substantive changes to the statute. He wrote the principal guidance to the Act (Please click  here to view), and appeared (led by Alistair Schaff  QC) on the first occasion when it was  given  judicial consideration (by Lord Mance, in the BILA Mock Trial). More recently, he has advised a number of policyholders and insurers on the implications of the Act for their businesses, and is co-author of A Practical Guide to the Insurance Act 2015.

Reinsurance:

  • Jordan Insurance Company v AIG Europe LimitedHarry acted for AIG in this High Court dispute about the effect of US sanctions against Syria on payment of a reinsurance claim (led by Peter MacDonald Eggers QC).
  • Christchurch Earthquake arbitration. Harry acted for a reinsured in an international arbitration in New Zealand worth over $100m, which arose from the Christchurch earthquakes, and involved complex issues on discharge, illegality, mistake, rectification, waiver and estoppel (led by Gavin Kealey QC).

Bermuda Form:

Harry has been instructed in two major Bermuda Form Arbitrations:

  • The first of these (led by David Bailey QC) was a $40m claim arising from a rail crash, the issue being the recoverability of defence costs. Issues of contractual construction, estoppel, bad faith and tortious interference arose.
  • He was also instructed (led by John Lockey QC) in another Bermuda Form arbitration concerning building defects in thousands of residential properties in the USA.

Harry is currently ranked by Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 for professional negligence. Selected cases and experience are summarised below.

Auditors/accountants:

Harry is co-author (with James Brocklebank QC) of the chapter on Accountants and Auditors in Professional Negligence and Liability (ed. Mark Simpson QC). He has been instructed in several major audit/accountancy negligence cases, including:

  • Manchester Building Society v Grant Thornton, a case arising from the Society’s misapplication (on the advice of GT) of hedge accounting to a portfolio of interest rate swaps. This case is currently on appeal to the Supreme Court.
  • 3D-Gold Jewellery v Pricewaterhouse Coopers, a HK$237m professional negligence claim in the Hong Kong High Court. The case involved complex issues of attribution (including consideration of Stone & Rolls v Moore Stephens).
  • Wey Bridging v Ernst & Young, a case in the Chancery Division involving an auditor’s allegedly negligent failure to detect fraudulent “cross-firing” payments by directors of a company.

Solicitors:

  • Trilogy Management v Harcus Sinclair [2017] EWHC 1164 (Ch) (led by Christopher Butcher QC). Obtained summary judgment for the solicitors on basis the claim was time-barred, in (unusually) a second application for summary disposal of the claim (having previously succeeded in [2016] EWHC 170 (Ch)).
  • Pemberton Greenish LLP v Jane Henry [2017] EWHC 246 (QB). Sole counsel in High Court trial against a solicitor sued by her former firm: the claim against her was dismissed.

Insurance Brokers:

  • ABN Amro v Royal & Sun AllianceHarry appeared for the broker, Edge, in a £35m claim by a Dutch Bank against its marine cargo insurers and its broker (led by Sioban Healy QC). Judgment of the High Court (Jacobs J) is awaited.
  • Hiscox v Edge Brokers. Harry is currently instructed as sole counsel in a claim by the insurer Hiscox against Edge Brokers.
  • Eco-Farming Ltd v Willis Ltd. Sole counsel for the insurance broker Willis in a negligence claim by an insured. Succeeded in having the claim struck out on the basis that it was time-barred.

Selected cases:

  • Aircraft Purchase Fleet Limited v Compagnia Aerea Italiana [2018] EWHC 3315 (Comm). Harry acted for the successful Defendant (led by Gavin Kealey QC), which previously operated the airline Alitalia, in a €300m claim for non-acceptance of thirteen aircraft.
  • Bockstiegel v Chilena Consolidada Seguros (2018). Harry successfully obtained an anti-suit injunction following commencement of proceedings in Chile, in breach of an English arbitration clause in a general average guarantee.
  • AOT Trading AG v Cassar Fuel Ltd [2015] EWHC 3674 (Comm), sole counsel in a sale of goods case arising from non-acceptance of a cargo of fuel oil. Harry defeated AOT’s application for summary judgment on liability, arguing that it would serve no useful purpose, which Popplewell J accepted could amount to a compelling reason for trial.
  • Flame SA v Agarwal Coal Corporation successfully obtained an anti-suit injunction against an Indian party to a contract of sale of steam coal containing an exclusive English law and jurisdiction clause (led by Robert Bright QC).
  • GAFTA arbitration Harry has experience of arbitration under the GAFTA rules, including appeals both to GAFTA and to the High Court.

Harry is currently ranked by Legal 500 for aviation. Selected cases and experience are summarised below.

  • Aircraft Purchase Fleet Limited v Compagnia Aerea Italiana [2018] EWHC 3315 (Comm). Harry acted for the successful Defendant (led by Gavin Kealey QC), which previously operated the airline Alitalia, in a €300m claim for non-acceptance of thirteen aircraft.
  • Rivermead Aviation v HML and Rise Aviation (2020). Sole counsel in a dispute arising from a crash during ground runs of a Robinson R44 helicopter.
  • Aercap Ireland Limited v Hainan Airlines Holding Co. (2020) Sole counsel for the defendant in a multi-million dollar dispute between an Irish lessor and a Chinese airline.
  • Jet2.com Limited v Menzies Aviation (2020). Sole counsel for the claimant in a claim following damage to a Jet2 aircraft by a tug at Edinburgh Airport.
  • Shanghai Shipyard v Reignwood [2020] EWHC 803 (Comm). Shipbuilding dispute proceeding in High Court and LMAA arbitration concerning four drillships. Harry appeared for the buyer in a successful preliminary issues trial about the nature of a guarantee, currently on appeal to the Court of Appeal (led by Zoe O’Sullivan QC of Serle Court). He also appears in the ongoing LMAA arbitration.
  • Bockstiegel v Chilena Consolidada Seguros (2018). Harry successfully obtained an anti-suit injunction following commencement of proceedings in Chile, in breach of an English arbitration clause in a general average guarantee.
  • LMAA arbitrations: Harry is currently or has recently been instructed in numerous LMAA arbitrations, including the following matters:
    • A dispute between the builders and operators of a ferry service in South America regarding performance of the ferry (led by David Bailey QC).
    • Sole counsel for owners in claim against charterers for loading unlawful cargoes connected with parties subject to US and UN sanctions.
    • Sole counsel for charterers defending a claim by owners and bareboat charterers, arising from the contamination of a grain cargo by reason of the poor condition of the vessel’s cargo holds.
    • Junior counsel for charterers in claim arising from a fatal fire caused by a shore crew performing hot works, giving rise to complex issues of unseaworthiness (led by Charles Priday).

Harry Wright has been named by Chambers & Partners as an up-and-coming junior who “performs significantly above his year of call” and who has developed an impressive reputation for his knowledge of the 2015 Insurance Act, among other things.

  • “He does a fantastic job and his written work is excellent. He’s not afraid to get stuck into the detail but he’s also very down to earth and good with clients.” Chambers & Partners 2021
  • “Exceptionally bright, gets to the heart of the issues and is easy to deal with.” “An inspired thinker who is totally prepared to go the extra mile.” Chambers & Partners 2021
  • “Clever, dedicated, rapid turnaround. Listens carefully. Open to new ideas. He has good instincts for how to deal with both witnesses and the court. Really understands the Insurance market so sees issues through the lens of his clients.” Legal 500 2021
  • “An excellent advocate, very smart and a delight to work with.” Legal 500 2021
  • “His written advice is excellent and he really gets insurance. What makes Harry stand out is how commercially astute he is.” Legal 500 2021
  • “Very personable, approachable, user-friendly and creative.” “He’s great at managing client expectations and his work ethic is second to none.” Chambers & Partners 2020
  • “Client-focused, excellent in court, brilliant on paper.” Legal 500 2020
  • “Incredibly user-friendly.” “Very hard-working and clear-thinking.” Chambers & Partners 2019
  • “Harry Wright is a delight to work with. He is clever, thorough and very responsive.” “He is a dream junior.” Chambers & Partners 2018
  • “Intelligent, quick witted, hard working and a pleasure to work with.” Chambers & Partners 2017
  • “Great with clients, very personable, very enthusiastic and really efficient.” Chambers & Partners 2017

Harry featured in Legal Week’s Stars of the Bar 2017 where he was listed as “highly recommended”.

  • 2006-10   MA History, University of Edinburgh (First Class)
    2008-09   History and Politics, University of Virginia, USA
    2010-11   GDL, BPP University College, Distinction
    2011-12   BPTC, Kaplan Law School, Very Competent

    Scholarships and awards

    2007        Simon Gray Prize for top mark in politics, University of Edinburgh
    2009        Top mark ever awarded in US Politics, University of Virginia
    2010        Winner of BPP & Atkin Chambers Moot
    2011        Prince of Wales Scholarship, Gray’s Inn
    2011        Advocacy Scholarship, Kaplan Law School
    2012        Du Cann Memorial Prize and Gray’s Inn Bowl for winning the Gray’s Inn Moot

    Languages

    Spanish, French

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