Richard Sarll is a barrister specialising in commercial and admiralty law, with particular expertise in the shipping and insurance sectors.  His distinctively commercial approach to cases sees him ranked in the legal directories as a Leading Junior, noted in particular for his “real effort to understand the commercial realities of the business”. Richard has a unique combination of professional qualifications, having sat exams of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers and the Association of Average Adjusters. Whichever industry is involved, Richard is keen to listen to and absorb the views of the businesspeople instructing him and regards this as instrumental in persuading tribunals of the justice of their position.

Richard appears as an advocate in court and in arbitration, either on his own or as part of a team of counsel.  He also provides advice, both indirectly via solicitors and directly to in-house counsel, claims handlers, and adjusters.  Recent notable cases include:

  • The Brillante Virtuoso: acting for the claimants in a claim under a policy of war risks insurance for the total loss of an oil tanker by fire, in which insurers have alleged that the fire was instigated by the insured shipowner;
  • The Niyazi S v The Stolt Kestrel: now the leading authority on the Admiralty Court’s in rem jurisdiction;
  • The Longchamp: the first case concerning the York-Antwerp Rules to have been heard by an appellate court since 1993.

Richard’s effective advocacy has attracted praise from judges.  In Clothing Management Technology Ltd v Beazley Ltd, in which he appeared for a Midlands-based clothing manufacturer against their London insurers in a claim under a stock throughput policy, a total of 10 defences were defeated.  The judge expressed gratitude “to counsel and to the solicitors for the admirable way in which this case was prepared and presented”.  In Topworkmen.com Ltd v Billscutter, Richard obtained for an internet start-up company possibly the only fully reasoned decision in which security for costs has been successfully resisted on grounds of Article 6, ECHR (access to justice).   It is a reflection of the confidence placed in Richard’s advocacy that he lays claim to no less than six reported decisions argued on his own, including four argued against QCs.

Richard has a particular affinity for technical cases, and has gained a familiarity with various areas of technical expertise, including the operation of diesel engines; electrical engineering; oil exploration and extraction; meteorology; metallurgy; and others.  He enjoys the challenge of understanding complicated and unfamiliar subject-matters, and explaining them clearly and simply to tribunals.

The depth of Richard’s expertise in the marine sector is reflected in his appointment to a committee of the Association of Average Adjusters formed to respond to a consultation by Comité Maritime International upon the drafting of York-Antwerp Rules 2016, the contractual regime governing the ascertainment of general average liabilities.  In addition, he is the author of a chapter concerning discharge of charterparties by repudiation and frustration published in Carver on Charterparties.  He has also been appointed an associate editor of the next edition of Lowndes & Rudolf: General Average and the York-Antwerp Rules.

Before being called to the Bar in 2005, Richard attended Jesus College, Oxford University where he read French and German.  He accepts documents in those languages without translation.

Outside of Chambers, Richard frequently speaks at legal and industry gatherings.  He is a speaker at the annual General Average Seminar organised by Lloyd’s Maritime Academy.  He is a guest lecturer at METL, a provider of maritime education to students preparing for the examinations of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. He has spoken at the London Shipping Law Centre’s talk on Admiralty Procedure, and is regularly invited to solicitor firms to speak on maritime law themes. He is the Vice-Chairman of the Admiralty Bar Group, the specialist bar association for barristers who practise in admiralty and maritime law.

Outside of his practice, Richard has enjoyed collaborating with the Chelsea Society on successful campaigns to save Chelsea pubs from closure by property developers.