Rebecca Sabben-Clare QC

Rebecca Sabben-Clare QC

Silk: 2012 | Call: 1993

"Exceptionally bright, extremely hard-working and very thorough. She is very committed and is an excellent advocate."

Chambers & Partners

Practice Profile


Rebecca is a leading English Queen’s Counsel. She has a wide ranging commercial practice, focussing particularly on insurance/reinsurance, accountants’ liability and general commercial disputes.

Rebecca is listed as a leading English silk in the 2020 Chambers & Partners UK and Global Directories and the 2020 Legal 500 Directory. The directories describe her as “incredibly bright” and “very talented”, praising her ability as “a fearless advocate…” and recognising that she is “very cool, calm and easy to work with”.  She is listed as a leading silk in the fields of commercial dispute resolution, insurance/reinsurance, international arbitration and professional negligence.

Current and recent cases include: instructions in relation to Carillion; ICC arbitrations in Paris acting for a Middle Eastern government concerning oil and gas concession agreements (hearings in each of 2011-2019 and pending in 2020); insurance and reinsurance work, including Teal v. Berkley (Supreme Court 2017: allocation of claims to reinsurance programme) and advice and arbitrations concerning political risks insurance, contingency insurance and D&O cover (2016-2020); Manchester Building Society v. Grant Thornton (appeal to the Supreme Court to be heard in 2020) and the PwC v Cattles litigation.

Rebecca is a supporting member of the LMAA and a member of the LCIA. She is willing to accept appointments as arbitrator. She has been appointed as arbitrator in LMAA, LCIA, SCC and ad hoc arbitrations.

Rebecca has appeared as counsel in ICC, LCIA, LMAA, ARIAS, Bermuda Form and ad hoc arbitrations.

“Rebecca is very bright, highly user-friendly and someone who is developing considerable authority as a silk”.Chambers & Partners 2020 Guide.

Rebecca is listed as a leading silk in the field of Commercial Dispute Resolution in the 2020 edition of Chambers & Partners and the 2020 edition of the Legal 500. Rebecca has a diverse commercial practice. Her expertise and experience includes claims under contracts for oil exploration and production, issues arising from gas supply contracts, letters of credit, hedge fund management, private equity, bond sales, share sale agreements and long term supply contracts. Her clients include banks, hedge funds, private equity funds and major commodities trading companies.

Selected cases:

  • Executive Counsel to the Financial Reporting Council v. Deloitte LLP & Others (2019) – Acted for the Executive Counsel to the FRC in the disciplinary proceedings against Deloitte arising from the audits of Autonomy Plc.
  • Manchester Building Society v. Grant Thornton [2018] EWHC 963; [2019] EWCA Civ 40 Commercial Court trial heard in early 2018; Appeal to Court of Appeal in 2019; Supreme Court hearing fixed for 2020. Acting for Manchester Building Society in claim against former auditors. Issues concerning hedge accounting and scope of duty.
  • Executive Counsel to the Financial Reporting Council v. (1) Morgan (2) KPMG LLP (November 2017 and October 2018) – Acted for the Executive Counsel to the FRC in disciplinary proceedings against the former Finance Director to the managing agent of a Lloyd’s Syndicate and the Syndicate’s auditors. Issues concerning reserving for motor insurance claims.
  • Cattles Limited v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP –  audit negligent claim following the collapse of the Cattles Group, formerly one of the largest providers of consumer credit finance in the UK. Settled at start of trial in October 2015.
  • ICC arbitrations concerning oil exploration and production – hearings in each of 2011-2017. Issues concerning cost recovery and accounting, force majeure, good oilfield practice, assignments, stability clauses, time bar and waiver/estoppel.
  • LCIA arbitrations – acted as advocate at final hearings in arbitrations concerning sale of goods / metal smelting (2017); commercial fraud concerning sale of goods (2016); natural gas / political risks (2016); long term supply contract and related financing agreements (2015). Advised in many other disputes over the same period. Issues including implied terms and extensive issues on quantum, including value and pricing of commodities.
  • Conocophillips v. Green Dragon [2013] EWHC 2733 Freezing injunction in aid of Singapore arbitration award concerning concession rights set aside on jurisdictional grounds.
  • Rok Plc v. S Harrison Group [2011] EWHC 270  – Preliminary issues on construction of terms in a Share Sale Agreement.
  • Curtis v. Lockheed Martin [2008] EWHC 2691 – Trial of claim for breach of warranties under Share Sale Agreement.
  • Graham Calvert v. William Hill Credit Limited [2008] EWHC 455 – Bookmakers’ duties of care in relation to “self-exclusion”.
  • BBC Worldwide Ltd v. Bee Load Ltd [2007] EWHC 134 – Construction of contracts for potential exploitation of archive recordings.
  • Warner Chappell v. Bolton – Action against singer/songwriter brought by insurers following breach of copyright action. Liability under  contract.

“Very talented” “Political and war risks, professional indemnity and reinsurance disputes form key components of her practice” Chambers and Partners 2020.

“A fearless advocate with outstanding experience of insurance law” Legal 500 2020.

Rebecca is listed as a leading silk in the field of insurance and reinsurance in the 2020 edition of Chambers & Partners and the 2020 edition of the Legal 500. She acts on behalf of both insureds and insurers. She is familiar with a wide range of insurance and reinsurance policies. Recent instructions include cases concerning war risks (2019), contingency insurance (2018), political risk insurance (LCIA arbitration heard in 2016), business interruption insurance, financial institutions insurance (including D&O policies), professional indemnity insurance and a cargo open cover. She has experience of Bermuda Form arbitrations.

Selected cases:

  • ABN Amro v, RSA: 5 week Commercial Court trial fixed for autumn 2020. Issues concerning policy coverage / credit risk insurance.
  • WR Berkley Insurance (Europe) Limited & Another v. Teal Assurance Company Limited [2017] EWCA Civ 25 A payment of money into escrow was not an insured loss under a programme of liability insurance.
  • Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania v. Equitas Insurance Ltd [2014] Lloyd’s Rep. IR 195 – parallel proceedings in England and New York. Whether New York proceedings should be restrained by anti-suit injunction or the English action. A related claim against insurance brokers settled in 2015.
  • Teal Assurance Co v. Berkley Insurance (Europe) Ltd [2013] UKSC 57; [2013] 4 All ER 643; [2016] LRIR 134  – order in which claims attached to a programme of liability insurance and reinsurance.
  • Quadra v. Ergo – 2 claims under a cargo open cover for loss / damage to soybeans imported into Indonesia. Application for permission to amend successfully resisted in September 2012, see [2012] EWHC 2687. Claims settled in 2013.
  • Navegacao Lda v. Navigators Insurance Co – preliminary issues concerning effect of exclusions under standard Institute War and Strikes clauses.
  • Orient-Express Hotels Limited v. Assicurazioni Generali SPA t/a Generali Global Risk [2010] Lloyd’s Rep. IR 531 – business interruption arbitration involving the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the New Orleans luxury hotel industry.
  • AC Ward v. Catlin [2010] Lloyd’s Rep. IR 695 – Claim for indemnity following theft of goods from warehouse. Issues of breach of warranty  and  non-disclosure.
  • Major Bermuda Form reinsurance arbitration, settled in 2010.
  • Markel Capital Ltd v. Gothaer Allgemeine Versicherung Ag And Another [2009] Lloyd’s Rep. IR 433 – Reinsurance — Directors’ and officers’ cover — Whether claims cooperation clause incorporated into reinsurance agreement — Whether reinsureds in breach of clause — Summary judgment.
  • Mopani Copper Mines Plc v. Millennium Underwriting Ltd [2009] Lloyd’s Rep IR 158 – Reinsurance – Slip scratched for Construction/Erection and Operational Risks – Condition for extension of coverage running from date of commissioning of final building and for operational risks inserted subject to approval by reinsurers – Condition later agreed with deletion of cover for operational risks
  • Absalom v. TCRU [2006] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 129 a series of disputes concerning payment of brokerage on personal accident and medical accident business
  • Hollywood 4 and 5 – Film finance insurance litigation.
  • The Metro Litigation Recovery and insurance actions arising from collapse of oil trading company.
  • The “Starsea” [2001] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 389 – Scope of duty of utmost good faith at the claims stage and effect of s.39(5) of the Marine Insurance Act 1906 (House of Lords).
  • D.P. Mann v. Lexington [2001] 1 Lloyd’s Rep.1 – Reinsurance, aggregation of claims.

“Highly regarded for her expertise in multimillion-pound LCIA and ICC arbitrations. She is frequently instructed by top-tier law firms.” “A very good advocate – clear, persuasive and puts forward the case concisely and in a very attractive way” Chambers and Partners 2020.

Much of Rebecca’s recent work has been in the field of International Arbitration. She has appeared as counsel in LMAA, LCIA, ARIAS, Bermuda Form and ICC arbitrations. She has been appointed as arbitrator in LMAA, LCIA, SCC and ad hoc arbitrations. Rebecca is familiar with issues concerning jurisdiction and the proper conduct of arbitrations. She has settled and appeared on applications for permission to appeal from arbitration awards and applications to remit for misconduct. Rebecca is listed as a leading silk in the field of International Arbitration in the 2020 edition of Chambers & Partners.

Recent arbitrations include:

  • ICC and LMAA arbitrations as arbitrator 2018 and 2019.
  • ICC arbitrations in Paris concerning oil exploration and production rights 2011-2019 and pending.
  • LCIA arbitration concerning sale of goods / metal smelting 2017
  • LCIA arbitration under contract of political risk insurance 2016
  • LCIA arbitrations concerning commercial fraud 2016
  • LCIA arbitration concerning security agreements and long term supply contract 2015
  • LMAA arbitration concerning sale and long term charter of new build vessel 2013 This case included an application to Court under s.32 of the Arbitration Act 1996 to determine the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.
  • LCIA arbitration concerning the condition of a floating oil storage and production unit 2012

Rebecca is willing to accept appointments as an arbitrator. She is a supporting member of the LMAA and a member of the LCIA.

“She is authoritative, superbly well prepared and approachable.” “A very confident, experienced and clever barrister who works extremely hard as a natural extension of the team. She is always unafraid to challenge views. She is super with clients and performed very well on her feet, with detailed and effective cross-examination” Chambers and Partners 2020.

“Very cool, calm and easy to work with” Legal 500 2020.

Rebecca is listed as a leading silk in the field of professional negligence in the 2020 edition of Chambers & Partners and the 2020 edition of the Legal 500. She has exceptional experience of claims against auditors, as well as broader experience of  claims for professional negligence against accountants, solicitors, insurance brokers, engineers, bookmakers, valuers and other professionals.

Selected cases:

  • Executive Counsel to the Financial Reporting Council v. Deloitte LLPActed for the Executive Counsel to the FRC in disciplinary proceedings against Deloitte concerning audits of Autonomy Plc.
  • Executive Counsel to the Financial Reporting Council v. (1) Morgan (2) KPMG LLP (November 2017 and October 2018) – Acted for the Executive Counsel to the FRC in disciplinary proceedings against the former Finance Director to the managing agent of a Lloyd’s Syndicate and the Syndicate’s auditors. Issues concerning reserving for motor insurance claims.
  • Cattles Limited v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP Audit negligence claim following the collapse of the Cattles Group, formerly one of the largest providers of consumer credit finance in the UK. Settled at start of trial 2015.
  • Manchester Building Society v. Grant Thorntonaudit negligence claim. Trial heard in early 2018, appeal to the Court of Appeal in 2019 and appeal to the Supreme Court pending in 2020. Issues concerning hedge accounting.
  • Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania v. Equitas Insurance Ltd – action over against brokers settled 2015.
  • Quadra v. Ergo contingent claims against insurance brokers. Settled 2013.
  • Graham Calvert v. William Hill Credit Limited [2008] EWHC 455 – Bookmakers’ duties of care in relation to “self-exclusion”.
  • Absalom v. TCRU [2006] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 129 a series of disputes concerning payment of brokerage on personal accident and medical accident business.
  • Somatra v. Sinclair Roche & Temperley [2003] EWCA.1474 – Solicitors’ negligence action concerning conduct of a marine insurance  claim.

Rebecca appears regularly in the Commercial Court and in LCIA and LMAA arbitrations. Her experience and expertise includes disputes concerning charterparties, bills of lading, long term COAs, shipbuilding, ship sale and ship finance.

Selected cases:

  • Ongoing LMAA arbitrations (2018).
  • LMAA arbitration concerning construction of NYPE charterparty 2015.
  • LCIA arbitration concerning the condition of an FPSO. Claims under MOA. Arbitration heard in 3 stages, 2010-2012. 4 arbitrations under shipbuilding contracts, settled in 2012 and 2013.
  • LMAA arbitration concerning sale and long term charter of new build vessel. Settled 2013.
  • LMAA arbitration concerning STS transfers, preliminary issues heard August 2012.
  • The “Northgate” [2008] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 24 – Construction of charterparty laytime/demurrage provisions; waiver and estoppel.
  • “Darfur” Blue Nile Shipping Company Ltd. And Another v. Iguana Shipping And Finance Inc. And Others [2004] 2 Lloyd’s Rep.  469 – Limitation of liability – Collision in River Seine – Time-charterers of colliding vessel bringing action against owners of vessel – Vessel owners bringing limitation action and constituting limitation fund.
  • “Dynamic” Ocean Marine Navigation Limited v. Koch Carbon Inc. [2003] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 693 – Charter-party (Time) – Redelivery – Hire – Vessel arrested by charterers – Whether hire continued to be payable – Whether charterers in repudiatory breach of contract in redelivering vessel – Owners not accepting repudiation – Whether owners bound to accept charterers’ repudiation and sue for damages – Whether owners were entitled to recover damages for repudiatory breach equivalent to the hire for the period of the arrest.
  • “Hill Harmony” Whistler International Ltd. v. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd.; Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. v. Tokai Shipping Co. Ltd. [1998] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 367 – Charter-party (Time) – Employment – Navigation – Charterers ordered vessel to follow great circle route – Master disregarded orders and followed more southerly route – Voyage took longer and more bunkers consumed.
  • “An incredibly bright, bold and creative thinker who grasps the issues really quickly. She’s a brilliant and very measured advocate.” “A hands-on barrister who uses her time effectively for the client.” Chambers UK 2021
  • “Has a brilliant manner with opponents and clients, and is good at handling people – she can put people at ease.” “She’s handled some heavyweight cases, and is one to watch.” Chambers UK 2021
  • “Terrific – extremely smart.” Chambers UK 2021
  • “She is skilled at asking the right questions and very good at simplifying the message for the client or the court.” “She is good at whatever she turns her hand to and is incredibly hard-working.” Chambers UK 2021
  • “Rebecca is very bright, highly user-friendly and someone who is developing considerable authority as a silk.” Chambers Global 2021
  •  “A very good advocate – clear, persuasive and puts forward the case concisely and in a very attractive way.” Chambers Global 2021
  • ‘A brilliant advocate, exceptionally well organised and very intelligent.’ Legal 500 2021
  • ‘A brilliant advocate, who is exceptionally well organised, very intelligent, and able to cut through enormous amounts of detail.’ Legal 500 2021
  • ‘Very hard-working. Totally unafraid of challenging witnesses and experts. Charming on her feet and reads a courtroom very well.’ Legal 500 2021
  • ‘Has excellent judgement on tactical points, very personable, down to earth and easy to work with.’ Legal 500 2021
  • “Very talented.” “She is incredibly bright and gets to the nub of the issue quickly.” Chambers UK 2020
  • “She is authoritative, superbly well prepared and approachable.” “A very confident, experienced and clever barrister who works extremely hard as a natural extension of the team. She is always unafraid to challenge views. She is super with clients and performed very well on her feet, with detailed and effective cross-examination.” Chambers UK 2020
  • “A very good advocate – clear, persuasive and puts forward the case concisely and in a very attractive way.” Chambers UK 2020
  • “Rebecca is very bright, highly user-friendly and someone who is developing considerable authority as a silk.” Chambers UK 2020
  • “A very bright and user-friendly brief who is developing considerable authority as a silk.” “She is a smooth operator who is very impressive in court.” Chambers Global 2020
  • ‘A good advocate and easy to work with.’ Legal 500 2020
  • ‘A fearless advocate with outstanding experience of insurance law.’ Legal 500 2020
  • ‘Very cool, calm and easy to work with.’ Legal 500 2020
  • “Exceptionally bright and very committed. She is an excellent advocate and establishes a good rapport with the judges.” “Very pragmatic and sensible in her approach to cases.” Chambers UK 2019
  • “She is very diligent and good with tribunals.” “She is very clever and tenacious. She reads the judge very well and has a persuasive manner in court.” Chambers UK 2019
  • “Very bright.” “A very clever advocate.” Chambers UK 2019
  • “A very bright and user-friendly brief who is developing considerable authority as a silk.” “She is a smooth operator who is very impressive in court.” Chambers UK 2019
  • ‘A very highly regarded silk.’ Legal 500 2018
  • ‘An excellent advocate and formidable intellect.’ Legal 500 2018
  • ‘A brilliant mind.’ Legal 500 2018
  • “Remarkably user-friendly, very straightforward and a very good team player.” “She has a very impressive grasp of the details, and produces superb drafting and impressive legal analysis.” Chambers UK 2018
  • “Exceptionally bright and extremely hard-working and very thorough, she is very committed and always makes herself available. She is an excellent advocate and establishes a good rapport with judges.” Chambers UK 2018
  • “A real tough, no-nonsense analyst and adviser. She is good at setting out a technical analysis but leaving you with a pragmatic solution.” Chambers UK 2018
  • “Extremely intelligent and very much into the details. She’s strategic as well as excellent at drafting.” Chambers UK 2018
  • Thorough, very hardworking and very good with clients. Legal 500 2017
  • A regarded advocate with an outstanding legal brain. Legal 500 2017
  • She is client-friendly and cuts to the key points in her compelling advocacy. Legal 500 2017
  • “Clever, hard-working and hands-on, she relishes responsibility and is fearless” Chambers UK 2017
  • “An excellent advocate who establishes a good rapport with the judge” Chambers UK 2017
  • “The complete package” Chambers UK 2017
  • Very intelligent and experienced. Legal 500 2016
  • A real team player, who is proactive, hardworking and cuts to the important points. Legal 500 2016
  • Attentive to detail and easy to work with. Legal 500 2016
  • “An exceptionally good advocate and adviser who always impresses clients and the courts.” “She’s very bright and user-friendly, and has developed considerable authority as a silk.” Chambers UK 2016
  • “She has a phenomenally analytical mind combined with very good commercial sense. She’s also very user-friendly.” Chambers UK 2016
  • “In terms of her advocacy she is very impressive – she picks the right points, is persuasive and has impeccable timing.” “She is very intelligent, well prepared and very good on her feet.” Chambers UK 2016
  • She is absolutely first rate and has good client rapport. Legal 500 2015
  • Quick to respond and extremely good at cutting through irrelevant material. Legal 500 2015
  • Totally on top of the detail and the strategy Legal 500 2015
  • A silk with a particularly strong reputation in insurance work. Market commentators praise her for being client-friendly and extremely hard-working. Chambers UK 2015
  • “She is extremely bright and gives commercial and forthright advice. She works very hard and is a pleasure to have on a team.” Chambers UK 2015
  • Joins the rankings this year given her high-profile international insurance law practice. She has represented clients in front of the Supreme Court. Chambers UK 2015
  • “She is exceptionally bright and extremely hard-working and thorough. She is very committed and always makes herself available, while also being an excellent advocate who establishes a good rapport with the judges.” Chambers UK 2015
  • Advises in insurance and financial negligence disputes. She is also recommended for tackling very high-value auditors’ negligence cases. Chambers UK 2015
  • “A modern practitioner who is very clever, user-friendly and a pleasure to deal with.” “Very clever and a barrister with a great commercial mind, she picks up the complexities really quickly and has sound judgement.” Chambers UK 2015