Richard Sarll was called to the Bar in 2005 and specialises in disputes relating to commercial and admiralty law. He is particularly well-known for his work in shipping, commodities, insurance and reinsurance, energy, and shipbuilding disputes.
Richard is ranked as a leading junior in the fields of Shipping, Commodities, and Insurance by Legal 500, who place him in their Tier 1 category of juniors for both Shipping and Commodities. He was named Shipping, Commodities, and Aviation Junior of the Year 2022 at the Legal 500 Bar Awards.
Richard has been repeatedly singled out in the legal directories for his collegiate approach (“user-friendly”, “great to work with”, “very personable”); for rigorous analysis (“very diligent”, “noted for his attention to detail”, “precise, accurate and succinct”); and for his industry knowledge (“He has made a real effort to understand the commercial realities”). He is a persuasive advocate who has acquired praise in reported decisions for “interesting and able arguments” (The “Free Goddess”) and “for the admirable way in which [a] case was prepared and presented” (Clothing Management Technology v Beazley). He has been described in Who’s Who Legal as “a very good, hard working barrister who gets great results”.
He lays claim to an impressive tally of 20 reported decisions between 2009 and 2019. Of that number, Richard argued 9 of them on his own, the others with leading counsel. It is a reflection of the confidence placed in his advocacy that he is regularly instructed to appear against KCs.
Richard is a co-author of “Carver on Charterparties”, Second Edition, in which he is responsible for a chapter concerning discharge of contract by repudiatory breach and frustration. He is also a co-editor of “Lowndes & Rudolf”, 15thEdition, the leading textbook upon the law of general average – a field in which he has a preeminent reputation and upon which he regularly gives expert evidence to foreign courts upon English law.
Richard appears before the Commercial Court and the Admiralty Court. He also has experience of appellate proceedings, having appeared on a number of occasions before the Court of Appeal, as well as in the UK Supreme Court. In terms of interlocutory hearings, he has experience of obtaining freezing injunctions, as well as other types of injunctive relief. He has conducted numerous multi-day trials on his own. His involvement in lengthy, multi-million dollar litigation includes the five-month long trial in the matter of the “Brillante Virtuoso”, a well-known marine insurance dispute. Much of his work is in confidential arbitration.
Richard’s cases have been amongst the most significant in his fields of expertise, and include the following.
|Carriage of Goods||The MSC Napoli Litigation||Major containership casualty, famously beached on Devon coast.|
|Sale of Goods||Vitol SA v Beta Renowable||Effect on interdependent obligations of unaccepted anticipatory breach.|
|Marine War Risks Insurance||The Brillante Virtuoso (No. 1) & (No. 2)||Evaluation of constructive total loss on figures. Trial of wilful misconduct defence.|
|Marine Cargo Insurance||Clothing Management Technology v Beazley||Constructive Total Loss due to unlikelihood of recovery of goods.|
|Loss of Hire Insurance||The Toisa Pisces||Standard and burden of proof applicable to the Inchmaree risks. Aggregation of losses.|
|Salvage||BP Thunderhorse PDQ||Salvage of semi-submersible oil platform believed to have been the largest salved fund ever to be the subject of LOF salvage.|
|General Average||The Longchamp||Supreme Court decision upon the application to ransom payments of the principle of substituted expenses.|
|Admiralty Practice||Niyazi S v Stolt Kestrel||Leading case on jurisprudential basis of the Admiralty Court’s jurisdiction in rem.|
|Private International Law||The Free Goddess||Identifying the place where the damage occurred under Art 8(3), Brussels 1 Regulation in the case of an economic tort.|
Alongside those traditional areas of commercial and admiralty practice, Richard accepts instructions in a wide variety of contractual disputes. He takes pride in finding solutions to difficult contractual problems which draw on the depth of legal analysis that has built up in these traditional practice areas.
Richard has an affinity for technical disputes, and enjoys working with and learning from expert witnesses in diverse fields. The cases in which Richard has applied these skills have been wide-ranging, spanning such areas as oil well design; fire investigation; and subsea cable laying.
At the outset of his practice, Richard undertook professional training alongside his counterparts in industry, taking evening classes in shipbroking and chartering, and in average adjusting (i.e. loss adjusting under policies of marine insurance and general average). Richard holds an Advanced Diploma of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers with a concentration in the chartering of bulk carriers. He is also an Associate Member of the Association of Average Adjusters, having passed the requisite examinations in marine insurance law and practice with distinction.
Richard is the Vice-Chairman of the Admiralty Bar Group, which he co-founded in 2017. He is a member of the Admiralty Court Users’ Committee. He is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Association of Average Adjusters upon matters relating to General Average.
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 his practice, Richard has enjoyed collaborating with the Chelsea Society on successful campaigns to save Chelsea pubs from closure by property developers.
Shipping & Transport is a mainstay of Richard’s practice. At the outset of his career, Richard pursued evening classes for two years in the fields of bulker chartering, tanker chartering, and ship operations and management. (The evening classes were the successors to those which were formerly required of shipbrokers wishing to gain admission to the trading floor of the Baltic Exchange.) He sat exams set by the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers in 2009, obtaining an Advanced Diploma with a concentration in dry cargo chartering. Subsequently, he undertook coaching in average adjusting (i.e. loss adjusting under policies of marine insurance and general average) and sat exams set by the Association of Average Adjusters in 2012. He therefore brings a wealth of industry knowledge to his cases, as well as a strongly commercial approach.
Richard has experience in both “dry shipping” and “wet shipping”. He is increasingly well-known for cases involving a navigational angle, such as complex unsafe port disputes. In addition, he has extensive experience in marine insurance. He takes pride in being able to provide insights into shipping disputes which take account of all these fields.
With 19 reported cases related to shipping and transport since 2010, Richard is one of the most prominent junior barristers practising in this area of the law.
Most of Richard’s work in this area is conducted in arbitration and, as such, confidential. The following headings provide an outline.
Containerships and liner trades
Richard has acted in a number of high-profile casualties involving container vessels. He is familiar with the complex chartering arrangements of these vessels; container yard infrastructure; and the planning of liner operations.
Dry bulkers and tankers
Richard is regularly instructed in connection with disputes relating to bills of lading, charterparties, and long term COAs. He also has experience in freight and goods derivatives. Typical cases involve claims for damage to cargo upon outturn; for unpaid charter hire; demurrage; speed and performance; and unsafe ports. He has a strong knowledge of the technical and operational side of these ships, including in matters of naval architecture, marine engineering, cargo surveying (including oil cargoes), deck operations, and port set-up. He is increasingly gaining a reputation for his aptitude for cases involving navigation, having recently dealt with a number of complex unsafe port disputes.
Gas carriers and chemical carriers
Richard has acted in a number of cases involving gas carriers, both LNG carriers and fully pressurised gas carriers. He is familiar with the technology associated with the carriage of LNG, and with the special features of LNG charterparties, including their speed and performance provisions.
Freight forwarding and project cargoes
Richard is familiar with all aspects of multi-modal transportation, and has acted in disputes relating to “through transport” and “combined transport” bills of lading, as well as booking notes for the carriage of project cargoes.
Richard has been praised in the legal directories for being “particularly well regarded for his admiralty law expertise”. He has extensive experience of disputes falling within the admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court, including ship arrest, shipowners’ limitation of liability, collision proceedings, and salvage. He has recently been involved in a number of cases involving damage to subsea cables. He also has a preeminent reputation in the field of general average.
At the outset of his practice, Richard regularly acted as junior to Timothy Brenton QC in salvage proceedings, including BP Thunderhorse PDQ, a semi-submersible oil platform believed to have been the most valuable asset ever to be subject of LOF proceedings. He cemented his reputation in admiralty matters with a succession of cases concerning the time bar applicable to collision proceedings, including The Stolt Kestrel, currently the leading case on the jurisprudential basis of the in rem jurisdiction. In 2017, Richard co-founded the Admiralty Bar Group, a specialist bar association promoting the work of the Admiralty Court. In 2018, he was appointed to the Admiralty Court Users’ Committee by the Admiralty Judge. He has contributed to revisions of the Civil Procedure Rules relating to the Admiralty Court.
Richard is familiar with all aspects of ship arrest, including practice and procedure; its interrelationship with private international law; applications for default judgment; and orders for sale.
Richard gained considerable experience in salvage as a junior to Timothy Brenton QC. As sole counsel, Richard has argued a widely discussed case upon the true construction of the SCOPIC clause, successfully establishing on behalf of ship interests that the costs of repairing salvage equipment after the termination of services were not recoverable under the clause. He has also appeared as sole counsel on behalf of contractors at a LOF arbitration hearing against unrepresented cargo interests following a major containership casualty. In 2009 Richard participated in the “Managing Maritime Emergencies Course” put on by Smit Salvage in Rotterdam.
Richard has a pre-eminent reputation in the field of general average. In 2012, Richard was admitted as an Associate member of the Association of Average Adjusters, having passed the requisite examinations with distinction. In 2013 he was appointed to a sub-committee of the AAA reporting to the Comité Maritime International on the drafting of the York-Antwerp Rules 2016. He is a co-editor of Lowndes & Rudolf, 15thEdition. He is also a member of the Association of Average Adjuster’s standing committee on matters relating to general average, and the only lawyer on that panel.
Richard has experience in pursuing collision actions in the Admiralty Court. He is also well-versed in the interrelationship between collision liabilities and policies of marine insurance, and general average. He is currently instructed in relation to a collision involving a cruise liner in Venice.
Shipowners’ Limitation of Liability
Richard has experience in both obtaining limitation decrees and in pursuing claims against limitation funds. He contributed to the process of revising the Civil Procedure Rules to facilitate the establishment of security by way of letter of undertaking.
Richard has extensive experience of the procedural aspects of admiralty jurisdiction. Between 2013 and 2015 he was instructed on a series of cases concerning the time limitation period applicable to the commencement of collision proceedings, culminating in the Court of Appeal decision in The Stolt Kestrel.
Richard’s practice covers all aspects of insurance and reinsurance in line with Chambers’ profile as a leading set for insurance disputes.
He has particular expertise in marine insurance, and has been involved in some of the most important recent decisions in that field. Richard’s interest in this subject was fostered by coaching in average adjusting (i.e. loss adjusting under policies of marine insurance and general average) by the well-known marine consultant, Charlotte Warr. In 2012, Richard passed the Associateship examinations of the UK Association of Average Adjusters with distinction. Since then, he has gained a strong reputation for his understanding of marine insurance, and has been instructed in such well-known cases as The Renos and The Brillante Virtuoso.
Notable cases include:
Richard has acted in a number of important cases concerning oil rigs and oil production. He is familiar with the technology involved in well design; sub-sea infrastructure; coring and pre-loading; naval architecture of MODUs; and drilling equipment. Richard has also acted in a large number of cases involving sub-sea electricity cables. He has built up a strong reputation for handling cases involving damage to submarine cables caused by shipping and fishing vessels.
Richard has been involved in a number of significant cases in which fraud has been alleged, including Suez Fortune Investments Ltd v Talbot Underwriting Ltd, The “Brillante Virtuoso”, a high profile marine insurance case worth approximately USD 85 million in which London underwriters alleged that the loss was caused by wilful misconduct. The Commercial Court trial lasted between January and July 2019.
Richard has experience in obtaining freezing injunctions, including ancillary orders for disclosure.
Notable cases include:
Shipping & Commodities, Chambers UK Bar 2024
Shipping, Legal 500 2024
Commodities, Legal 500 2024
Insurance and Reinsurance, Legal 500 2024
Star Axe I LLC v Royal and Sun Alliance Luxembourg S.A. & Others (The “Star Antares”),  EWHC 2784 (Comm)
Peter MacDonald Eggers KC & Richard Sarll to speak at International Underwriting Association of London marine market event
7 King’s Bench Walk celebrates success at the Legal 500 Awards 2022
7KBW shortlisted for 14 awards at The Legal 500 Bar Awards 2022
Richard Sarll to speak at LMAA Spring Seminar
Carver on Charterparties, First Edition (2017), Second Edition (2020). Co-author.
Lowndes & Rudolf, General Average and York-Antwerp Rules, Fifteenth Edition (2018), Co-Editor
Submarine cables and Admiralty law: a guide to cable damage claims. Lloyd’s Shipping and Trade Law. L.S.T.L. 2018, 18(1), 1-5
York-Antwerp Rules 2016: a summary, Shipping and Trade Law Monthly,. S.T.L. 2016, Jul/Aug, 4-6
Spar Shipping, The Astra and the Status of the Obligation to Pay Hire Punctually: Watching a Falling Star. Journal of International Maritime Law. (2016) 22 JIML 345. Please click here to view a copy of the article.
Associate of the Association of Average Adjusters
Supporting Member of London Maritime Arbitrators Association
Member of Admiralty Bar Group
Jesus College, Oxford: MA (Oxon), Modern Languages. (French and German), First Class (2002)
College of Law, London: Graduate Diploma in Law (Distinction) (2004)
Bar Vocational Course (2005)
Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers: Advanced Diploma (2009)
Association of Average Adjusters: Distinctions in Module 1 (MIA 1906 & related principles) and Module 2 (Hull and Cargo Claims) (2012)
University of Southampton, Maritime Law Short Course, Singapore (2012)