Richard Southern QC

Richard Southern QC

Silk: 2006 | Call: 1987

"A strong, fearless and brilliant advocate"

Chambers & Partners 2020

Practice Profile


Richard Southern specialises in commercial litigation and arbitration, including shipping, energy, commodities and international trade, as well as professional negligence, marine and non-marine insurance, and reinsurance.

As a silk, Richard’s work has included a wide range of litigation and arbitration. Recently Richard has been involved in several significant cases including a lengthy Commercial Court fraud trial (now under appeal), a series of arbitrations arising out of unperformed contracts of affreightments, several oil trading disputes both in court and in arbitration, an international arbitration concerning a drillship, shipbuilding and purchase disputes, and professional negligence claims against insurance brokers. He is ranked by Chambers UK 2016 as a leading silk in Shipping and Commodities (“He is extremely good. He is very thorough, always delivers on time and has a very good instinct for where a case is going to go”) and by the legal 500 as a leading silk in commodities, energy, insurance and reinsurance, and shipping (“an excellent advocate who picks the right points”). His work is principally advocacy and advisory although he also accepts appointments as an arbitrator and as an independent expert.

Banking and Finance is part of many international trade disputes.  Richard is familiar with letter of credit issues, ship financing arrangements and mortgages, pre-finance arrangements and the like.

Selected cases:

  • 2015: Advised lenders in connection with defaults under two bareboat charters of the semisubmersible drilling platforms
  • Advised Manufacturing company in connection with losses under a fake president fraud.
  • Macquarie v Glencore [2009] EWHC 2267 (Comm) and [2010] EWCA Civ 697. Counsel for Glencore as defendant in a breach of warranty claim arising out of a share sale and purchase agreement for the sale of a UK gas retail business, and whether the Accounts were “true and fair” or “misleading”; the claim against Glencore was successfully defended both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal.
  • Lloyd v Popely [2000] 1 BCLC 19 and CA unrep (Court of Appeal); fraud, dispute between promoters over ownership of shares in Hever golf club, and legality of sale agreement under Financial Services Act.
  • The “Maule” [1997] 1 W.L.R. 528 (Privy Council; banking, ship mortgage, mortgagee’s bank’s power of sale).

Richard has acted in several cases for an international oil trader and is familiar with most aspects of oil trading (including hedging), as well as shipment of oil cargoes and the UK gas market.

Selected cases:

  • OMV Petrom v Glencore [2015] EWHC 666 (Comm) and [2014] EWHC 242 (Comm).  Counsel for Glencore in substantial fraud claim arising out of delivery of multiple cargoes of crude oil.
  • 2015: counsel for the operators or a drillship in an international arbitration against a state oil company.
  • 2013: Counsel in a multi-million dollar contractual dispute concerning export of alumina from Jamaica.
  • Macquarie v Glencore [2009] EWHC 2267 (Comm) and [2010] EWCA Civ 697. Counsel for Glencore as defendant in a breach of warranty claim arising out of a share sale and purchase agreement for the sale of a UK gas retail business; the claim against Glencore was successfully defended both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal.
  • Glencore Energy v Transworld Oil [2010] EWHC 141 (Comm). Counsel for Glencore in an oil trading dispute arising out of the repudiation of an FOB contract for the sale of West African crude oil; the claim was pursued to a successful judgment handed down by Blair J.
  • 2010: Counsel for an international oil trader in an arbitration concerning the delivery of multiple cargoes of crude oil.
  • 2009: Counsel for the buyers in a breach of warranty claim arising out of the sale of a Russian oil company; the claim was successfully pursued to an award in the London Court of International Arbitration in 2009.
  • 2008: Counsel for an international oil trader in an arbitration claim arising out of crude oil swaps contracts.
  • Glencore International v Metro Trading [2001] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 284 (Conflict of laws, application of lex situs to property in moveable goods, proprietary effect of bailee blending stored oil).

Richard has represented parties in a wide variety of commercial claims, with particular emphasis over the years on commercial fraud, oil related disputes, and mergers and acquisitions disputes.

Selected cases:

  • OMV Petrom v Glencore [2017] EWCA Civ 195 [2015] EWHC 666 (Comm) and [2014] EWHC 242 (Comm).  Counsel for Glencore in substantial fraud claim arising out of delivery of multiple cargoes of crude oil.
  • Ipartner Pte Shipping v Panacore Resources [2014] EWHC 3608 (Comm)  Counsel for the applicants in committal proceedings
  • Dolphin Tanker Srl v Westport Petroleum Inc [2010] EWHC 2617 (Comm).  Counsel for Charterers in a dispute arising out of an “oil majors” clause in a time charterparty.
  • Synergy Health (UK) Ltd v CGU Insurance [2010] EWHC 2583 (Comm) Counsel for defendant insurance brokers in a large fire claim.
  • Macquarie v Glencore [2009] EWHC 2267 (Comm) and [2010] EWCA Civ 697. Counsel for Glencore as defendant in a breach of warranty claim arising out of a share sale and purchase agreement for the sale of a UK gas retail business; the claim against Glencore was successfully defended both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal.
  • Glencore Energy v Transworld Oil [2010] EWHC 141 (Comm). Counsel for Glencore in an oil trading dispute arising out of the repudiation of an FOB contract for the sale of West African crude oil; the claim was pursued to a successful judgment handed down by Blair J.
  • 2010: Counsel for an international oil trader in an arbitration concerning the delivery of multiple cargoes of crude oil.
  • 2009: Counsel for the buyers in a breach of warranty claim arising out of the sale of a Russian oil company; the claim was successfully pursued to an award in the London Court of International Arbitration in 2009.
  • 2008: Counsel for an international oil trader in an arbitration claim arising out of crude oil swaps contracts.
  • Lloyd v Popely [2000] 1 BCLC 19 and CA unrep (Court of Appeal); fraud, dispute between promoters over ownership of shares in Hever golf club, and legality of sale agreement under Financial Services Act.
  • Dubai Aluminium Co Ltd v Salaam [1999] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 415 (Commercial fraud, dishonest receipt, claims for contribution between defendants.

Selected cases:

  • Glencore International v Exter Shipping Ltd [2002] EWCA Civ 524 (Court of Appeal; shipping, misdelivery of oil cargoes, jurisdiction of English court to order anti-suit injunction restraining proceedings in Georgia).

Richard is currently involved in a claim several (unrelated) fire claims, for the insured and for the insurers, a large material damage and business interruption claim involving a blast furnace, and a number of disputes between insureds and their Errors and Omissions insurers.

Selected cases:

  • Synergy Healthcare (UK) Ltd v CGU and others.  [2010] EWHC 2583 (Comm) Appeared as leading counsel for the Fifth Defendant broker, against whom the Claimant sought damages for breach of duty if its primary claim for an indemnity under a MD/BI insurance policy – which the defendant insurers had sought to avoid on the grounds of non-disclosure and misrepresentation – failed.
  • EAIC v Axa [2007] Lloyd’s Rep IR 359 and [2007] EWCA Civ 1178. Counsel for the claimant reinsured in a successful summary judgment application.
  • ABB Brown Boveri v Hiscox Dedicated [2007] EWHC 1150 (Comm). Counsel for the claimant in a claim against insurers and brokers on a programme of contract frustration indemnity insurance.
  • Aneco Reinsurance Underwriting Ltd v Johnson & Higgins [2002] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 157 (House of Lords – professional negligence, insurance broking, quantification of damages)
  • Lincoln National Life Insurance Co v Employers Reinsurance Corp [2002] Lloyds’s Rep I&R 852 (Reinsurance, personal accident carve out cover, jurisdiction).
  • Glencore International v Exter Shipping Ltd [2002] EWCA Civ 524 (Court of Appeal; shipping, misdelivery of oil cargoes, jurisdiction of English court to order anti-suit injunction restraining proceedings in Georgia).
  • Glencore International v Metro Trading [2001] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 284 (Conflict of laws, application of lex situs to property in moveable goods, proprietary effect of bailee blending stored oil)
  • Lloyd v Popely [2000] 1 BCLC 19 and CA unrep (Court of Appeal); fraud, dispute between promoters over ownership of shares in Hever golf club, and legality of sale agreement under Financial Services Act.

About half of Richard’s practice involves confidential arbitrations, some before LMAA or GAFTA arbitrators, others in the LCIA or on UNCITRAL terms, and many on the basis of ad hoc agreements. All are confidential. Richard also accepts appointments as arbitrator.

Selected cases:

  • 2015: Counsel for the operators or a drillship in an international UNCITRAL arbitration against a state oil company.
  • 2015: counsel for the Sub-Buyers or a newbuilding bulk carrier in an expedited dispute over hatch covers.
  • 2014: counsel for the owners in a series of arbitrations to recover claims for non-performance of contracts of affreightment.
  • 2013: Counsel for Owners in a dispute concerning the condition on redelivery of a vessel after a long bareboat charter
  • 2013: Counsel in a multi-million dollar contractual dispute concerning export of alumina from Jamaica
  • 2010: Counsel for the Charterers in an expedited arbitration concerning tanker vetting and oil major approvals.
  • 2010: Counsel for the sub charterers in an arbitration claim over the exercise of a lien on sub hires.
  • 2010: Counsel for an international oil trader in an arbitration concerning the delivery of multiple cargoes of crude oil.
  • 2009: Counsel for the Owners of a ballastable barge in a bareboat charterparty arbitration.
  • 2009: Counsel for the buyers in a breach of warranty claim arising out of the sale of a Russian oil company; the claim was successfully pursued to an award in the London Court of International Arbitration in 2009.
  • 2008: Counsel for an international oil trader in an arbitration claim arising out of crude oil swaps contracts.

Jurisdiction and Conflicts of Laws have been one of Richard’s particular specialities over the years, although in recent years few of the disputes in which he has been involved have fought to a conclusion on jurisdiction or conflicts issues specifically.

Selected cases:

  • 2009: obtained anti suit injunction in the Commercial Court to restrain prosecution of proceedings in India brought in breach of a London arbitration clause where the Indian Court had issued an injunction restraining the arbitrator personally from arbitrating the dispute.
  • Lincoln National Life Insurance Co v Employers Reinsurance Corp [2002] Lloyds’s Rep I&R 852 (Reinsurance, personal accident carve out cover, jurisdiction).
  • Glencore International v Exter Shipping Ltd EWCA Civ 524 (Court of Appeal; shipping, misdelivery of oil cargoes, jurisdiction of English court to order anti-suit injunction restraining proceedings in Georgia).
  • Glencore International v Metro Trading [2001] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 284 (Conflict of laws, application of lex situs to property in moveable goods, proprietary effect of bailee blending stored oil).
  • Jordan Grand Prix Ltd v. Baltic Insurance Group and Others [1998] 1 WLR 1049 and [1999] 2 AC 127; This was Richard’s first case in the House of Lords without a leader.  The case concerned Article 11 of the Brussels Convention (as it then was).

Richard is currently involved in several brokers’ negligence actions as well as claims against a firm of solicitors arising out of conveyancing transactions, and both architects’ and surveyors’ negligence claims.   In 2010 Richard has represented an insurance broker, and the insurers of a structural engineering firm in mediations, both of which have resulted in settlement agreements.

Selected cases:

  • 2015: Counsel for insurance brokers in a claim arising out a fire at a waste recycling plant.
  • 2014: Counsel for placing brokers in a contribution claim by the producing broker.
  • 2012: Instructed by the Bar Mutual in a claim against a commercial barrister.
  • 2012: Advised the owners of a damaged pier in connection with claims against various professionals.
  • 2011: Counsel for a bank in a claim against the employers of a corrupt surveyor.
  • Synergy Healthcare (UK) Ltd v CGU and others. [2010] EWHC 2583 (Comm) Appeared as leading counsel for the Fifth Defendant broker, against whom the Claimant sought damages for breach of duty if its primary claim for an indemnity under a MD/BI insurance policy – which the defendant insurers had sought to avoid on the grounds of non-disclosure and misrepresentation – failed.
  • Ramco v Weller Russell & Laws [2009] Lloyd’s Rep IR 27.  Counsel for the claimant, a bailee of goods, against its insurance broker; the claim was pursued to a successful judgment.
  • Counsel for Glencore in a claim against insurance brokers JLT in connection with the Metro litigation.
  • Aneco Reinsurance Underwriting Ltd v Johnson & Higgins [2002] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 157 (House of Lords – professional negligence, insurance broking, quantification of damages).

Richard has recently represented an Owner in a string of COA related disputes and a Charterer in a different string of COA related disputes.  Other recent cases involve a substantial dispute over the condition of a vessel after a long bareboat charter, a dispute concerning a coal handling contract, numerous time charter and voyage charter disputes

Selected cases:

  • 2015: counsel for the Sub-Buyers or a newbuilding bulk carrier in a dispute over hatch covers.
  • 2015: counsel for the Owners in a claim for non-performance of a COA.
  • Ipartner Pte Shipping v Panacore Resources [2014] EWHC 3608 (Comm)  Counsel for the applicants in committal proceedings.
  • 2013: counsel for Owners in a dispute concerning the condition on redelivery of a vessel after a long bareboat charter.
  • Dolphin Tanker Srl v Westport Petroleum Inc [2010] EWHC 2617 (Comm).  Counsel for Charterers in a dispute arising out of an “oil majors” clause in a time charterparty.
  • 2010: Counsel for the sub charterers in an arbitration claim over the exercise of a lien on sub hires.
  • Classic Maritime v Lion Diversified Holdings [2010] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 59. Counsel for Classic Maritime in a claim under a contract of affreightment which was alleged to have been frustrated by reason of the worldwide downturn in international trade.
  • “Aktor” – PT Berlian Laju Tanker v Nuse Shipping [2008] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 246. – Counsel for the buyers of the vessel in an MOA dispute.
  • “Torm Gertrud” in collision with the “New Flame” which sank off Gibraltar. Counsel for the Owners of the “Torm Gertrud”.
  • Glencore International v Exter Shipping Ltd EWCA Civ 524 (Court of Appeal; shipping, misdelivery of oil cargoes, jurisdiction of English court to order anti-suit injunction restraining proceedings in Georgia).
  • “A go-to for some of the biggest energy companies.” Chambers UK 2021
  • “Richard Southern is very highly regarded by everyone at the Bar.” “He is always accurate and precise, hitting the nail right on the head.” “A go-to QC with a good analytical mind.” Chambers UK 2021
  • “He is extremely good and he is always accurate.” “He is very willing to fight his corner.” Chambers Global 2021
  • “He’s good, thorough and prepared.” “He’s very clever.” Chambers Global 2021
  • ‘Very thoughtful and diligent, his courtroom demeanour and advocacy are both first-class.’ Legal 500 2021
  • ‘Richard is very thoughtful and diligent, and his courtroom demeanour and advocacy are both first-class. He manages to get on top of very complex cases very quickly and his attention to detail is excellent.’ Legal 500 2021
  • ‘Fantastic in oral hearings.’ Legal 500 2021
  • “He is extremely good and he is always accurate.” “He is very willing to fight his corner.” Chambers UK 2020
  • “He’s good, thorough and prepared.” “He’s very clever.” Chambers UK 2020
  • “A strong, fearless and brilliant advocate who’s got a very good bedside manner with clients.” “Richard gives practical and effective advice, has a good written product and carries himself with an air of gravitas when appearing before tribunals and court.” Chambers Global 2020
  • “He provides practical, effective advice and he carries himself with the right air of gravitas when appearing before tribunals and courts.” “Persuasive, analytical and careful.” Chambers Global 2020
  • ‘He has a strong instinct for how a case will play out and is fantastic in oral hearings.’ Legal 500 2020
  • ‘A razor-sharp cross-examiner with an outstanding intellect and huge experience of insurance claims.’ Legal 500 2020
  • ‘He is ferociously clever but a real team player.’ Legal 500 2020
  • “A strong, fearless and brilliant advocate who’s got a very good bedside manner with clients.” “Richard gives practical and effective advice, has a good written product and carries himself with an air of gravitas when appearing before tribunals and court.”  Chambers UK 2019
  • “He provides practical, effective advice and he carries himself with the right air of gravitas when appearing before tribunals and courts.” “Persuasive, analytical and careful.” Chambers UK 2019
  • ‘Very intelligent and a great lawyer.’ Legal 500 2018
  • ‘He is incredible on the details in both the facts and the law.’ Legal 500 2018
  • ‘An experienced insurance advocate.’ Legal 500 2018
  • “Very clever and quick at getting right to the heart of the problem.” “He is fantastic. He has an extremely good forensic mind.” Chambers UK 2018
  • “An unquestionably brilliant and confident lawyer. He is incredibly tenacious and never misses a point.” Chambers UK 2018
  • Especially strong as an advocate; he is bright and able to handle substantial and complex shipping disputes. Legal 500 2017
  • Very impressive; he turns cases around fast, is very clear and cuts straight through to the key issues. Legal 500 2017
  • Intellectually able and well liked by clients. Legal 500 2017
  • Experienced in marine and non-marine insurance. Legal 500 2017
  • “Incredibly smart and so responsive. Very easy to deal with and personable. He comes back to you very, very quickly. He works with you rather than dictates to you.” Chambers UK 2017
  • “He is always very impressive, he has an excellent forensic mind and deploys his arguments well.”  Chambers UK 2017
  • “He is very gentle with clients and has very good written submissions and oral advocacy.” Chambers UK 2017
  • An intelligent and insightful advocate with a keen eye for strategy. Legal 500 2016
  • He combines a great mind with a responsive and user-friendly approach. Legal 500 2016
  • Experienced in property damage and shipping-related claims. Legal 500 2016
  • Very polished at hearings. Legal 500 2016
  • “He is extremely good. He is very thorough, always delivers on time and has a very good instinct for where a case is going to go.” “His advice always comes back quickly in a clear, intelligent format.” Chambers UK 2016
  • Cerebral and understated; an excellent advocate who picks the right points Legal 500 2015
  • Focused, diligent and user-friendly. Legal 500 2015
  • He has a first-class legal mind, and is very good for shipping-related disputes. Legal 500 2015
  • He has a brilliant mind Legal 500 2015
  • “He is extremely skilled and quick at slicing through some difficult issues.” “My perception is that his instincts are almost invariably right.” Chambers UK 2015
  • A popular choice of practitioner for keenly contested commodities litigation as well as charter party matters. Sources highlight his excellent advocacy and unwavering focus on the important issues as key reasons to retain his services. Chambers UK 2014
  • Expertise: “He is a superb advocate and a superb cross-examiner, who makes lucid, convincing submissions with great conviction.” “I always go to him if he is available. He is extremely clever and cuts through the rubbish and all the red herrings in a case.” Chambers UK 2014
  • Richard Southern QC is ‘excellent – a first choice for commodities work’, particularly in the energy sector. Legal 500 2013
  • “persuasive and a delight to listen to Chambers UK 2011
  • “You always thank God he’s on your side and not across the room Chambers UK 2011
  • “an immensely shrewd tactician who is always open to discussing the way forward.” Chambers UK 2010
  • “understated, careful, and develops excellent arguments.” Legal 500 2010
  • “forceful advocate”, “hugely adds value to any case.” Legal 500 2010
  • “extremely clever” “efficient at turning a wealth of information into cohesive advice quickly.” Chambers UK 2009
  • “ability to take something impossibly complicated and make good sense of it in a short time.”  Chambers UK 2008
  • “remains in possession of a stellar shipping practice.Legal 500 2008
  • “entertains a commercial practice that takes in shipping, international trade and marine insurance.Chambers UK 2007
  • “a stand-out commercial minded junior” Chambers UK 2006  
  • “an absolute pleasure to work with.” Chambers UK 2006