Practice Profile


Ralph practises across all areas of commercial law. Recent work has included acting for the successful claimants in a US$300m international arbitration; obtaining strike out of a £39m Commercial Court fraud claim on behalf of Ernst & Young; obtaining (as sole counsel) an asset disclosure order in the Commercial Court; a US$10m shipping arbitration concerning shipment of dangerous goods; appearing in the Court of Appeal in a case concerning the Insolvency Act; acting for a major auditor investigated by the Financial Reporting Council; a political risk insurance claim arising out of the Syrian Civil War and a variety of wet and dry shipping matters.

Ralph acts both led and unled and has been instructed in matters up to and including the Court of Appeal. He has also spent time on secondment to the shipping department of a major City firm of solicitors.

Ralph joined Chambers in September 2017 upon successful completion of his pupillage under Charles Holroyd, Benjamin Parker, Michael Holmes and Richard Sarll. He has a particular interest in Admiralty Court work, having gained practical experience of navigation and seamanship over three years as a member of Cambridge University Royal Naval Unit.

Ralph has been published in the Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly (on admiralty law) and has written for LexisPSL (on insurance arbitration).

  • Appearing for the successful claimants in a US$300m business interruption insurance arbitration (as junior to James Drake QC and Michael Holmes) concerning an offshore oil pipeline, involving detailed consideration of technical questions as to design and engineering of the pipeline and its control system, as well as questions of New York law.
  • Obtaining (as sole counsel) an asset disclosure order from the Commercial Court against the losing party in a GAFTA arbitration.
  • A multi-million-dollar LCIA arbitration concerning the sale of a telecoms company in a CIS member state, which raised questions of privity of interest, assignment, jurisdiction and conflict of laws.
  • A section 68 appeal against an arbitral tribunal’s decision on a matter based on a submission not made by, and not put to, the parties.
  • Advising sub-lessee of a pair of Airbus airliners as to whether it could obtain emergency injunctive relief from an LCIA arbitral tribunal preventing the head lessor from placing the aircraft under arrest.
  • Simultaneous applications under sections 68 and 69 of the Arbitration Act to challenge the striking-out of an arbitration claim for inordinate delay.
  • Questions of breach of arbitration confidentiality and as to the nature of agreed awards.
  • Ralph is also the author of a series of practice notes on insurance arbitration for Lexis PSL.
  • Ralph is currently instructed in several LMAA matters, including (as junior to Robert Bright QC) in an arbitration concerning bunker fraud.
  • Acting (as junior to Michael Holmes) in an arbitration in excess of US$10m arising out of dangerous cargo shipped aboard a container vessel, which successfully settled.
  • Acting (as junior to James Drake QC) in LMAA proceedings relating to the charter of bulk carriers in the context of a broader commercial relationship between the seller and buyer of iron ore.
  • Advice and drafting in a variety of charterparty disputes, including questions of the true construction of a cargo heating clause; unseaworthiness; damage to perishable cargo owing to defective refrigeration systems; speed warranties and weather performance; failure to pay hire; wrongful early redelivery; performance and contract options; hold cleaning; and overloading.
  • Advice and drafting (as sole counsel) on appeals from LMAA arbitrations, including simultaneous applications under sections 68 and 69 of the Arbitration Act to challenge the striking-out of an arbitration claim for inordinate delay; and a section 68 challenge to an arbitrator’s decision on costs under the LMAA small claims procedure.
  • Preparing (as sole counsel) a section 44(2) application for a “Vasso” order to enable surveyors to come on board a marine casualty (resulting in access being successfully granted by agreement).
  • Advice and drafting (as sole counsel) for proceedings in the Admiralty Court against a fishing vessel which fouled and broke a subsea internet cable, including advice on jurisdiction and drafting arrest documentation.
  • Advice to harbour commissioners on whether (and how) to arrest a vessel in the Admiralty Court.
  • Advice on the interrelationship between insolvency proceedings against a shipowner in Germany and arrest in the Admiralty Court.
  • Advice on the true construction of a jurisdiction agreement in a letter of undertaking for Pacific islanders seeking redress against a vessel which had collided with their coral atoll.
  • Advice on the interrelationship of a contractual agreement to arbitrate with Admiralty limitation actions.
  • An LMAA unsafe port charterparty dispute concerning safe working practices for operation of hatch covers on a general cargo vessel.
  • Cargo claims, including questions of whether the Hague or Hague-Visby Rules apply, defences under Article IV of the rules and limitation of liability;
  • Written submissions on behalf of sellers of two vessels under MOAs of which the buyers refused to take delivery on the ground of frustration.
  • As a pupil, Ralph assisted Stephen Kenny QC and Richard Sarll with legal research into international approaches to crew expenses for general average for the successful appeal in The Longchamp [2017] UKSC 68.
  • Ralph spent three years as a member of Cambridge University Royal Naval Unit, holding the honorary rank of Midshipman in the Royal Naval Reserve and gaining practical experience of navigation and seamanship (including passage planning, pilotage and ship handling).
  • Ralph has been published in the Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly on the Collision Regulations.
  • Ralph is currently instructed (as junior to James Brocklebank QC) in a claim under a political risk insurance policy brought by owners of a factory complex occupied by rebels in the Syrian Civil War.
  • Appearing (as junior to James Drake QC and Michael Holmes) for the successful claimants in a US$300m business interruption insurance arbitration concerning an oil pipeline, involving detailed consideration of technical questions as to design and engineering.
  • A marine reinsurance arbitration which raised issues of proper law, material non-disclosure, unseaworthiness and claims control.
  • Advice on directors’ and officers’ liability insurance policies.
  • Advice on business interruption policies, including the construction of an aggregation clause and advice (via the Bar Pro Bono Unit) regarding cover for business interruption where a care home owner’s licence was suspended;
  • Advice to insurers and prospective policyholders as to whether proposed insurance policies cover the risks intended to be insured.
  • Ralph is also the author of a series of practice notes on insurance arbitration for Lexis PSL.
  • Acting (as junior to Gavin Kealey QC) in the Court of Appeal in Crumpler v Candey, an appeal concerning how services supplied by a firm of solicitors under a fixed fee agreement are to be valued under section 245 of the Insolvency Act 1986.
  • Acting (as junior to James Brocklebank QC) for a Nigerian oil services company bringing multi-million dollar claims of breach of contract, breach of duty and dishonest assistance against its bankers.
  • Advising (as junior to James Brocklebank QC) a major auditor as to the powers and duties of the Financial Reporting Council during its investigations;
  • Acting (as junior to James Brocklebank QC) for a Ernst & Young in successfully obtaining strike-out of a £39m claim for conspiracy to defraud the shareholders of an engineering company.
  • Advice to a telecoms network engineering company regarding its liability for claimed indirect losses of £48m to a mobile phone company whose network had suffered an outage.
  • Advice on the true construction of standby letters of credit and the demands necessary to trigger them.
  • Advice on whether a gambler is owed a duty of care by bookmakers.
  • Advice on the true construction of commission agreements.
  • Advice on whether the English Admiralty Court has jurisdiction in respect of damage done by a vessel to a subsea cable located outside British territorial waters but within the United Kingdom’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
  • Advice as to whether service of a claim form aboard an aircraft registered in a foreign jurisdiction about to take off from an English airport was service within the jurisdiction.
  • Advice on the proper law governing questions of agency.
  • Advice on the scope of a letter of undertaking conferring exclusive jurisdiction in respect of a collision claim on a foreign court.
  • Advice on whether English or Egyptian law governed an insurance contract.
  • Advice on the proper law of a contract for sale of fruit from Egypt for delivery in Rotterdam and Tilbury.
  • Advice as to whether service of a claim form aboard an aircraft registered in a foreign jurisdiction about to take off from an English airport was service within the jurisdiction.
  • Advising sub-lessee of a pair of Airbus airliners as to whether it could obtain emergency injunctive relief from an LCIA arbitral tribunal preventing the head lessor from placing the aircraft under arrest.
  • Obtaining (as sole counsel) an asset disclosure order against a purchaser of commodities in the High Court following default on an arbitration award.
  • Advice and drafting in a wide range of sale of goods matters, including via the Bar Pro Bono Unit (now Advocate), and claims arising from deteriorated cargo requiring expert evidence.
  • As pupil to Richard Sarll, Ralph assisted with the successful defence of claims for losses incurred on a hedge taken out against the physical sale of biofuel in Vitol SA v Beta Renowable SA [2017] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 238.
  • Advising a political consultancy on the registration requirements of the European Commission’s Transparency Register.
  • Advising (via the Bar Pro Bono Unit, now Advocate) on the duties owed to leisure users of a reservoir by the water company statutorily responsible for it under the Water Industry Act 1991.

“Make me a (narrow) channel of your peace: the narrow channel and crossing rules reconsidered”, [2019] LMCLQ 242: this article reconsiders the narrow channel and crossing rules of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea in light of the recent decision in The Ever Smart [2018] EWCA Civ 2173; [2019] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 303; [2019] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 130 and proposes a governing principle for the interaction of these rules in order to solve a longstanding problem of admiralty law.

Practice Notes for LexisPSL on insurance arbitration.

    • Member, Young International Arbitration Group
    • Member, Admiralty Bar Group
    • Panel Member, Advocate (previously the Bar Pro Bono Unit)
  • 2015-16: Bar Professional Training Course at City University, London (Outstanding, ranked sixth out of over three hundred candidates)

    2014-15: Graduate Diploma in Law at City University, London (Distinction)

    2011-2014: MA in Classics, Trinity College, Cambridge (double First)

    While at Cambridge, Ralph was captain of the Trinity College team which won the 2014 series of the BBC television quiz programme University Challenge.

    Ralph was formerly Assistant Editor of the Journal of International Comparative Law (published by Sweet & Maxwell)

    Scholarships and Awards

    • Queen Mother Scholarship for both the GDL and the BPTC (awarded by Middle Temple)
    • Baron Dr Ver Heyden de Lancey Prize for best performance on BPTC course by a member of Middle Temple
    • Templeman-Singhvi Scholarship to lecture at National Law University, Jodhpur, India and observe proceedings in the Supreme Court of India (Middle Temple)
    • Everard Ver Heyden Foundation Prize (City University)
    • Certificate of Honour (Middle Temple)
    • Harmsworth Exhibition (Middle Temple)
    • University Classical Scholarship (University of Cambridge)
    • Senior Scholarship (Trinity College, one of six awarded to first-year students from a cohort of 240);
    • Hallam Prize and Henry Arthur Thomas Prize (University of Cambridge)
    • Cooke-Hurle Studentship; Perring Scholarship; Eric Evans Spicer Prize; Gregg Bury Prize (all awarded by Trinity College)