Jonathan Gaisman QC is ranked as one of only five “Star Individuals” in the Commercial Dispute Resolution section of Chambers and Partners 2017. He was Chambers and Partners’ Commercial Litigation Silk of the Year 2014, having previously won the award in 2009. (He was shortlisted for the award again in 2016.) He was Chambers and Partners’ Insurance Silk of the Year in 2006. He was shortlisted for the Chambers and Partners’ Professional Negligence Silk of the year in 2014 and again in 2015.
He was shortlisted for the 2015 Legal 500 Commercial Litigation Silk of the year, the 2015 and 2017 Legal 500 Shipping Silk of the year, and the 2017 International Arbitration Silk of the year.
He was short-listed for the 2009 Barrister of the Year award by The Lawyer Magazine, and was included in The Lawyer Magazine’s “Hot 100” in 2006.
According to the current Legal 500 directory, he is “quite simply the best advocate in London by a country mile”. He has also been recently described as “unquestionably the best advocate at the Commercial Bar”, a “truly stunning” and “incredibly charismatic” advocate; “a Commercial advocate of consummate ability… the difference between winning and losing”; “utterly superb and brilliantly clever”, “an accomplished and polished advocate who is urbane, funny and devastating in the courtroom”; “a terrifying opponent … whose fearsome intellect is matched with devastatingly brutal cross-examination skills”; “an utterly fantastic lawyer; an enormously impressive guy with a really supreme mind”; “a tenacious, disciplined and rigorous advocate, who is great fun to deal with” and as having “phenomenal intelligence, amazing forensic skills and a good sense of humour”.
Jonathan Gaisman practises primarily as an advocate. He specialises in all areas of commercial litigation and arbitration, and is happy to expand his practice into any field where his skills as an advocate may be of use. He is equally experienced in short cases before first instance or appellate tribunals arguing points of law, and lengthy commercial trials and arbitrations, demanding in terms of long-term preparation, tactical planning, cross-examination of factual and expert witnesses and detailed mastery of complex facts – or any case falling in between these extremes. He believes that commercial advocates owe a duty to their client to concentrate absolutely on the case in hand; he avoids making professional commitments which conflict with the fulfilment of that duty.
Jonathan Gaisman’s practice also involves a significant advisory component. He places emphasis on the client’s need for realistic, down to earth advice in a commercial context.
Jonathan Gaisman also accepts appointments as arbitrator in a wide range of commercial and international disputes, including ICC arbitrations.
He has appeared in some of the largest and most high-profile trials of recent years. Starting with the Gooda Walker action, the first and most successful of the Lloyd’s Names actions, he subsequently acted for auditors Deloitte & Touche in the claim against them brought by the liquidators of Barings, and for Ernst & Young in Equitable Life’s attempt to hold its directors and auditors liable for its misfortunes. In neither case did the claimant make any recovery from the auditors. In 2008, Jonathan Gaisman acted for the lead claimants in the Buncefield explosion litigation, against whom the principal defendant, Total, ultimately conceded most issues and failed on the rest. In 2013 Jonathan Gaisman acted for Gulf Keystone in its successful defence of Excalibur’s claims to a share of oil concessions in Iraqi Kurdistan. Among other long cases in which Jonathan Gaisman has been involved are the 80 day NRG claim against its actuaries, accountants and advising bank arising out of a company take-over, and a 66 day hearing (and a 10 day appeal) in disciplinary proceedings against Ernst & Young before the JDS. Going back further in the reports, Jonathan Gaisman appeared in well-known authorities such as Banque Keyser Ullmann v Skandia – the Gemstones litigation, and Henderson v Merrett, both of which went to the House of Lords.
Recent clients have included the Royal Bank of Scotland and four of its ex-directors, in defence of the claims brought against them by shareholders relating to the bank’s 2008 rights issue; and Cattles plc and its subsidiaries, in relation to claims against PwC for negligent auditing.
Current clients include the Lloyd’s marine insurance market in a total loss case in which wilful misconduct was alleged against the owners of the “Brillante Virtuoso”, arising out of what is claimed to have been an attack by Somali pirates off the coast of Yemen (the owners’ claim has just been struck out for defaults in disclosure, following a lengthy cross-examination of the beneficial owner); and the Russian Federation, in connection with enforcement proceedings brought against it by shareholders in Yukos Oil arising out of out a $50bn award promulgated in the Hague.
He is acting for Petrosaudi Oil in a dispute PDVSA concerning a Venezuelan drilling contract, and he recently persuaded the Court of Appeal to over turn a decision of the Commercial Court, which had prosecuted Petrosaudi from claiming under a standby letter of credit on its grounds of fraud. He is acting for Fiona Trust in its long running dispute with Yuri Nikitii, and is instructed to appear in the Court of Appeal in relation to the Commercial Court’s award of $60m damages on a cross-undertaking in damages.