Ralph Morley

Ralph Morley

Call: 2016

Practice Profile


Ralph practises across all areas of commercial law, with a particular focus on commercial disputes, international arbitration, jurisdiction and civil procedure, enforcement and contempt proceedings, wet and dry shipping, insurance, and professional negligence. Ralph acts both led and unled.

High-profile recent work includes acting as sole counsel in limitation proceedings concerning the “EVER GIVEN”, acting (as junior to Michael Holmes QC) in the successful challenge to jurisdiction of claims brought by the Libyan Investment Authority (Libyan Investment Authority v Credit Suisse & others [2021] EWHC 2684 (Comm) and acting as junior counsel for KPMG in a variety of matters relating to the collapse of Carillion, including in KPMG’s successful challenge to a pre-action disclosure application [2020] EWHC 1416 (Comm) and in FRC v KPMG, one of The Lawyer’s top 20 cases of 2022.

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. He regularly acts in cases which depend on technical questions of expert evidence, across a range of disciplines.

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

In 2021, Ralph was appointed to the Attorney-General’s London C Panel of junior counsel to the Crown.

Experience includes led and unled representative and advisory work across a range of arbitral rules and sectors, as well as relief in support of arbitration, including anti-suit injunctions, “Vasso” orders and jurisdiction challenges:

  • Appearing for the successful claimants in a US$300m business interruption insurance arbitration (as junior to James Drake QC and Michael Holmes QC) 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.
  • Instructed (as junior to Robert Bright QC) in a US$60m dollar claim under LCIA rules concerning the operation of a container terminal.
  • Appearing for claimants seeking anti-suit relief from an arbitral tribunal in respect of proceedings brought by counterparties to a joint venture in Saudi Arabia, led by Stephen Houseman QC and John Bignall.
  • Obtaining (as sole counsel) ancillary relief including disclosure orders, enforcement by committal, and anti-suit injunctions
  • Preparing (as sole counsel) a section 44(2) application for a “Vasso” order to enable surveyors to inspect property (resulting in access being successfully granted by agreement).
  • Section 68 and section 69 challenges to arbitration awards.
  • Advice on emergency injunctive relief.
  • Challenge (as sole counsel) to tribunal jurisdiction.
  • Ralph is also the author of a series of practice notes on insurance arbitration for Lexis PSL.

Shipping is a core part of Ralph’s practice. Ralph regularly acts in both wet and dry shipping disputes, including:

  • Ralph is currently instructed as sole counsel representing slot charter interests in limitation proceedings concerning the grounding of the container ship “EVER GIVEN” in the Suez Canal in March 2021.
  • Instructed (as junior to Robert Bright QC) in a US$60m dollar claim under LCIA rules concerning the operation of a container terminal.
  • Acting (as junior to Michael Holmes QC) 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.
  • Acting (as junior to Robert Bright QC) in a multi-million-dollar arbitration concerning suspected bunker fraud.
  • Advice, drafting and representation (as sole counsel)in a variety of charterparty disputes, including laytime and demurrage; unseaworthiness (including fitness to receive cargo); 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 and is editor of the English Admiralty and Merchant Shipping Law section of the International Maritime and Commercial Law Yearbook.
  • Acting for claimant insureds in a US$30m claim under a political risk insurance policy brought by owners of a factory complex occupied by rebels in the Syrian Civil War, led by James Brocklebank QC.
  • Appearing (as junior to James Drake QC and Michael Holmes QC) 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.
  • Libyan Investment Authority v Credit Suisse & Others [2021] EWHC 2684 (Comm): acting for a defendant in a successful jurisdiction challenge to a multi-million-dollar claim alleging bribery, led by Michael Holmes QC.
  • Carillion plc v KPMG: junior counsel representing KPMG in defence of anticipated claim arising from the insolvency and collapse of the Carillion Group, as well as in related matters. The dispute is currently at the pre-action stage but a large professional negligence claim is anticipated and Ralph is instructed, with other members of 7KBW, on behalf of KPMG to act in its defence. Ralph was part of the 7KBW team which successfully resisted an application for pre-action disclosure [2020] EWHC 1416 (Comm).
  • 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, led by Gavin Kealey QC.
  • Cunningham v Ernst & Young & Others [2018] EWHC 3188 (Comm): Ralph represented Ernst & Young in its successful application to strike out a £39m claim alleging conspiracy to defraud and breach of fiduciary duty, led by James Brocklebank QC.
  • Ralph has experience of a wide range of ancillary proceedings, having acted as sole counsel in applications including anti-suit injunctions, disclosure orders and contempt proceedings.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Libyan Investment Authority v Credit Suisse & Others [2021] EWHC 2684 (Comm): acting for a defendant in a successful jurisdiction challenge to a multi-million-dollar claim alleging bribery, led by Michael Holmes QC.
  • Appearing for claimants seeking anti-suit relief from an arbitral tribunal in respect of proceedings brought by counterparties to a joint venture in Saudi Arabia, led by Stephen Houseman QC and John Bignall.
  • Obtaining (as sole counsel) anti-suit injunctive relief on both an interim and a final basis.
  • 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.
  • Flight delay claims under Regulation 261/04.
  • 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) asset disclosure orders against purchasers 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 steel, hydrocarbons and grain and feed, spanning several sets of institutional rules, including via the Bar Pro Bono Unit (now Advocate).
  • 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.

Ralph has been appointed to the Attorney-General’s C Panel.

  • Advising an oil exploration company on whether its activities constitute “dealing in land” for the purpose of Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme relief.
  • 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.

Ralph has acted in a number of complex and high-profile professional negligence cases, including:

  • Carillion plc v KPMG: junior counsel representing KPMG in defence of anticipated claim arising from the insolvency and collapse of the Carillion Group, as well as in related matters. The dispute is currently at the pre-action stage but a large professional negligence claim is anticipated and Ralph is instructed, with other members of 7KBW, on behalf of KPMG to act in its defence. Ralph was part of the 7KBW team which successfully resisted an application for pre-action disclosure [2020] EWHC 1416 (Comm).
  • Cunningham v Ernst & Young & Others [2018] EWHC 3188 (Comm): Ralph represented Ernst & Young in its successful application to strike out a £39m claim alleging conspiracy to defraud and breach of fiduciary duty, led by James Brocklebank QC.

As well as civil claims, Ralph has experience of regulatory proceedings brought by the Financial Reporting Council against major auditors under both the Audit Enforcement Procedure and the Accountancy Scheme, including FRC v KPMG, one of The Lawyer’s top 20 cases of 2022.

“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; subsequently re-elected to a Senior Scholarship);
    • 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)