Robert Bright QC

Robert Bright QC

Silk: 2006 | Call: 1987

"One of the best minds I have ever come across."

Legal 500

Practice Profile


Robert Bright practises primarily as an advocate and case-leader with experience in a broad range of commercial litigation.

He is generally regarded as one of the Bar’s leading Silks in Shipping and Commodities and has a top-tier ranking in both fields (Chambers & Partners, Legal 500). Recent cases of note include successfully defending claims by ship owners in the Supreme Court in PST Energy 7 Shipping LLC v OW Bunker Malta  [2016] AC 1034,  (sale of goods) described by Lloyds list as “the most spectacular shipping legal imbroglio so far this century”; The Alkyon [2018] EWCA Civ 2760 (shipping), a landmark decision on maritime arrests; Stolt Kestrel v Niyazi S [2016] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 125 (shipping), now the leading case on Admiralty actions in rem; Great Elephant v Trafigura [2014] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 1 (international trade/energy), a leading case on force majeure.

Robert Bright enjoys engaging as a team-member with solicitors and other counsel and believes that the best advocates are prepared to listen as well as to speak.  He relishes having an active, hands-on role in developing the best possible strategy for the client’s particular needs, alongside the client and the other members of litigation team. He regards it as his duty to commit 100% to the client; having taken on a case he will focus unswervingly on that case and will not accept professional commitments which might detract from that focus and commitment. Much of Robert Bright’s work in recent years has been in arbitrations.  Recent and ongoing arbitrations include a very large number of LMAA arbitrations as well as several LCIA and ICC arbitrations, as well as appointments as arbitrator.  Robert’s work as an advocate has included involvement in several international arbitrations taking place overseas, in Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Robert Bright’s practice involves a significant advisory component. He places emphasis on understanding the client’s commercial objectives, so as to be able to give advice that is both realistic and of practical use to the client.

Robert Bright also regularly sits as an arbitrator both in London and overseas. Robert is on the panel of approved arbitrators of the SCMA and the KLRCA.  Robert Bright is a member of the CMI working group on wrongful arrest.

Robert Bright was the lead advocate for ING in the OW Bunker litigation. This highly complex and multi-forum dispute includes the decision of the Supreme Court where he successfully defended claims by ship owners in PST Energy 7 Shipping v OW Bunker Malta – probably the most important Sale of Goods Act case in recent years, with great significance for the use of ROT clauses and for invoice receivables finance deals. Robert has very great experience in the area, having been involved in numerous cases concerning commodities/the sale of goods.  Cases are often multi-jurisdictional and frequently in international or trade arbitrations (which are confidential).  In 2015, in addition to the OW Bunker litigation, Robert also acted successfully in a coal trade arbitration and various disputes involving crude oil, coal and mineral ore.  In 2016 Robert acted in a US$100m claim concerning a port-service provider in Uruguay, as well as various coal and oil supply contract disputes.  In 2017 Robert acted in an arbitration relating to the sale of steel from China to Lebanon, two oil-sale disputes and two separate disputes concerning long-term contracts disrupted by the Samarco tailings dam disaster in Brazil.  In 2018 and currently, Robert has been acting in disputes concerning sale of fuel oil, coal contracts.

Selected cases:

  • PST Energy 7 Shipping LLC v OW Bunker Malta [2016] UKSC 23: Supply of bunkers; effect of ROT clause, whether the Sale of Goods Act applied, whether Owners had to pay the invoice of the insolvent bunker supplier
  • Neon Shipping v Foreign Economic Co-Operation Co. [2016] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 158: Sale of Goods Act implied terms
  • Glencore Energy UK Ltd v Cirrus Oil Services Ltd [2014] 1 All ER Comm 513; [2014] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 1: Oil and gas, sale of goods
  • Great Elephant Corporation v Trafigura Beheer BV (The “Crudesky”) [2014] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 1 (Court of Appeal): FOB sale on NNPC Conditions
  • Dolphin Maritime & Aviation Services Ltd v Sveriges Angfartygs Assurans Forening [2009] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 123: Jurisdiction
  • ERG Raffinerie Mediterranee Spa v Chevron USA Inc (The “Luxmar”) [2007] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 542: Sale of goods (FOB)
  • Australia And New Zealand Banking Group Ltd v Compagnie Noga D’Importation Et D’Exportation SA [2007] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 487: Fraudulent trading, settlement agreement
  • South Caribbean Trading Ltd v Trafigura Beheer BV [2005] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 128: Oil-trade contracts

Robert Bright has been instructed in numerous insurance and reinsurance arbitrations. A particular speciality in recent years has been P&I Club cover disputes. The Standard Club, Shipowners’ Mutual Club, Steamship Mutual Club, Skuld, North of England Club and the London Club are all regular clients.  A small selection of the more recent reported court hearings is given below.

Selected cases:

  • The Atlantik Confidence [2016] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 525: Act for the Club (Second Claimant) in resolving the fall-out from this judgment
  • Sealion Shipping Ltd v Valiant Insurance Company (The “Toisa Pisces”) [2012] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 252; [2012] Lloyd’s Rep. IR 141: Marine insurance claim under loss of hire policy
  • Dolphin Maritime & Aviation Services Ltd v. Sveriges Angfartygs Assurans Forening [2009] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 123: Rights of recovery agent against insurer
  • Micoperi Srl v The Shipowners’ Mutual Protection & Indemnity Association (Luxembourg)  Lloyd’s Law Reporter [2011]: Specialist operations excluded from cover, estoppel
  • Farenco Shipping Co Ltd v Daebo Shipping Co Ltd (The “Bremen Max”) Lloyd’s Law Reports , [2009] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 81: Effect of standard P&I Club Letter Of Indemnity
  • Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association (Bermuda) Ltd v Sulpicio Lines Inc [2008] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 269: Jurisdiction, enforceability of arbitration clause, antisuit injunction
  • Standard Steamship Owners’ Protection And Indemnity Association (Bermuda) Ltd v Gie Vision Bail [2005] Lloyd’s Rep IR 407: P&I cover, jurisdiction
  • Dolphin Maritime & Aviation Services Ltd v Sveriges Angfartygs Assurans Forening [2009] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 123: Jurisdiction

Robert Bright is a very experienced advocate in all forms of arbitration.  He has acted regularly in arbitrations taking place not only in London but also in Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. He is a Member of the LCIA, a Supporting Member of the LMAA, a member of the panel of approved SCMA arbitrators and a KLRCA panellist.

Selected cases:

  • Shagang South-Asia (Hong Kong) Trading Co Ltd v Daewoo Logistics [2015] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 545; [2015] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 504 (how to decide the lex arbitri/ curial law; circumstances in which the English Arbitration Act applies)
  • Central Trading & Exports Ltd v Fioralba Shipping [2015] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 580; [2014] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 449 (evidence to be allowed at s. 67 hearing to determined Arbitrators’ jurisdiction)
  • Primera Maritime (Hellas) v Jiangsu Eastern Heavy Industry [2014] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 813; [2014] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 255 (circumstances in which Court should set aside Award for irregularity)

Robert Bright has advised and acted in a very large number of matters and court hearings concerning shipping, including carriage of goods by sea, shipbuilding and shipsale disputes. In 2016 Robert represented ING in the OW Bunker litigation in the Supreme Court successfully defending claims by ship owners – described by Lloyd’s List as “the most spectacular shipping legal imbroglio so far this century”. Cases are often multi-jurisdictional and frequently in arbitration.  For example, 2018 saw Robert represent clients from UK, China, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, South Korea and USA in various charterparty, shipbuilding and shipsale arbitrations.  A small selection of the more recent reported court hearings is given below.

Selected cases:

  • The Alkyon [2018] EWCA Civ 2760 (landmark decision on maritime arrests)
  • The Cape Bonny [2018] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 356 (seaworthiness, GA bond)
  • Robert acted for ING Bank N.V. in the Supreme Court successfully defending claims by ship owners in the Res Cogitans dispute arising out of the collapse of the O.W. Bunker group (PST Energy 7 Shipping LLC v. O.W. Bunker Malta (the “Res Cogitans”) [2016] UKSC 23 (supply of bunkers etc)
  • Neon Shipping v Foreign Economic Co-Operation Co. [2016] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 158 (shipbuilding contract, Sale of Goods Act implied terms)
  • Stolt Kestrel v Niyazi S [2015] EWCA Civ 1035 (nature of Admiralty action in rem, distinction from action in personam; circumstances in which Admiralty in personam claim form should be extended)
  • Shagang South-Asia (Hong Kong) Trading Co Ltd v Daewoo Logistics [2015] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 545; [2015] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 504 (Gencon cl. 19 arbitration clause)
  • Navig8 Inc v South Vigour Shipping [2015] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 436 (charterparty, meaning of “Disponent Owner”, authority of agent/broker)
  • Tartsinis v Navona Management  [2015] EWHC 57 (Comm) (contract for sale of fleet/share transfer; rectification)
  • Great Elephant Corporation v Trafigura Beheer BV (The “Crudesky”) [2014] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 1 (Court of Appeal): demurrage)
  • Primera Maritime (Hellas) Ltd v Jiangsu Eastern Heavy Industry Co Ltd  [2014] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 255: Shipbuilding, whether Buyers were entitled to terminate on grounds of repudiatory breach by Shipyard
  • Kuwait Rocks Co v AMN Bulkcarriers Inc (The “Astra”) [2013] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 69: Whether failure to pay hire is a repudiatory breach of a timecharter
  • Sealion Shipping Ltd v Valiant Insurance Company (The “Toisa Pisces”) [2013] 1 Lloyds Rep. 108: Due diligence by Owners
  • Taokas Navigation SA v Komrowski Bulk Shipping Kg (Gmbh & Co) (The “Paiwan Wisdom”) [2012] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 416: Whether Owners were justified in refusing to proceed because of concerns regarding piracy
  • Compania Sud Americana De Vapores SA v Sinochem Tianjin Import & Export Corporation (The “Aconcagua”) [2010] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 1: Seaworthiness, dangerous goods, burden of proof
  • “He really gets to the root of the issues and doesn’t let go. He is excellent.” Chambers UK 2021
  • “He has a leading reputation in shipping.” “His confidence and clarity of thought put him among the best of advocates.” “Bright is very responsive and very good at getting to the heart of a matter quickly.” Chambers UK 2021
  • “Academically, I think he’s probably the best. He’s very strong on the law.” “He’s someone who will help with the practical work and get his hands dirty rather than stepping in at the last minute before trial.” “He is one of the best minds I have ever come across; he’s able to pick up points at short notice and articulate them with phenomenal ability.” Chambers Global 2021
  • “He provides very thorough and well thought out written work which is a pleasure to read.” “Very collaborative.” Chambers Global 2021
  • ‘Calm, methodical and creative, he approaches legal argument with an innovative mind and is always a dangerous opponent.’ Legal 500 2021
  • ‘Very aware of clients’ commercial needs and always committed to deliver what the client needs.’ Legal 500 2021
  • ‘Reaches a firm view and then is confident and delivers, he charms Tribunals every time.’ Legal 500 2021
  • ‘Calm and methodical whilst also creative and approaches legal argument with an innovative mind where needed.’ Legal 500 2021
  • “He provides very thorough and well thought out written work which is a pleasure to read.” “Very collaborative.” Chambers UK 2020
  • “Academically, I think he’s probably the best. He’s very strong on the law.” “He’s someone who will help with the practical work and get his hands dirty rather than stepping in at the last minute before trial.” “He is one of the best minds I have ever come across; he’s able to pick up points at short notice and articulate them with phenomenal ability.” Chambers UK 2020
  • ‘A first-class barrister, particularly noteworthy in shipping and commodities cases.’ Legal 500 2020
  • ‘A brilliant lawyer who is able to get to the heart of issues quickly.’ Legal 500 2020
  • ‘Lives up to his name.’ Legal 500 2020
  • ‘He is a top-flight silk.’ Legal 500 2020
  • “He gives fantastically sensible advice on both legal and practical levels. When it comes to advocacy he has huge gravitas because of his down-to-earth and straightforward approach.” “Very intelligent, astute and confident.” Chambers UK 2019
  • “Clever and client-friendly.” “Very effective.” Chambers UK 2019
  • ‘A very analytical brain and extremely well structured delivery, which goes down well with courts and arbitrators.’ Legal 500 2018
  • ‘A great mind; he is a pleasant balance between being a very sharp advocate and a thoughtful counsel.’ Legal 500 2018
  • ‘He is phenomenally intelligent but understands the commercial side of cases as well.’ Legal 500 2018
  • ‘One of the best around, he is a top-notch silk and an awfully good performer who is very easy to work with.’ Legal 500 2018
  • “Extremely clever and effective as counsel.” Chambers UK 2018
  • “He knows exactly what he’s talking about.” “Phenomenally bright.” “Strong on the law and on strategy.” Chambers UK 2018
  • His razor-sharp mind is suited for the most complex cases and challenging panels. Legal 500 2017
  • Superb and forensic in identifying the key points on which cases are won. Legal 500 2017
  • Exceptionally talented. Legal 500 2017
  • A top-class silk with great clarity of mind and a highly effective approach to advocacy. Legal 500 2017
  • A truly excellent silk, instructed in Hong Kong and beyond. Legal 500 2017
  • “A very polished advocate and very effective.” “A hard opponent, he takes no prisoners.” Chambers UK 2017
  • “He is patient, logical, persuasive and always makes himself available out of hours.”  Chambers UK 2017
  • “A leading performer, who is clear in his thinking, effective and understated.” Legal 500 2016
  • “He has a hugely retentive memory coupled with a robust sense of humour, which makes him a pleasure to work with.” Legal 500 2016
  • “A committed team player.” Legal 500 2016
  • “Highly recommended for arbitration.” Legal 500 2016
  • Mentioned in Asia Pacific: The English Bar 2016 – Robert Bright QC has recently been active as arbitration counsel in Hong Kong and New Zealand respectively.
  • “He is on the big cases as he is very well thought of. He’s terribly clever, switched on and understands the shipping market.” Chambers UK 2016
  • “Maintains his excellent reputation in the international arbitration market, regularly acting as counsel in key hubs for arbitration, such as London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. He has considerable charter party and trade expertise, and attracts a global client base.” Chambers UK 2016
  • “Extraordinarily helpful and calm but tenacious and aggressive in court” Legal 500 2015
  • “Diligent and happy to roll up his sleeves; a pleasure to work with” Legal 500 2015
  • “Very clever and knowledgeable, his submissions are clear and very well presented” Legal 500 2015
  • “A polished performer who quickly grasps the important points in complex matters”  Legal 500 2015
  • “He is someone in whose judgement I trust completely. He’s a skilled and unshowy advocate to whom the court listens.” Chambers UK 2014
  • “Clients praise his interpersonal skills and his ability to familiarise himself with complicated briefs at short notice. ” Chambers UK 2014
  • “Robert has huge charm and a dry sense of humour. He is very imaginative and a hugely effective cross-examiner. ” Chambers UK 2014
  • “fast becoming one of the top players in shipping and commodities” Legal 500 2013
  • “an exceptionally able cross-examiner, with the ability to distil the essence of a case and present a clear outline under great pressure and at very short notice” Legal 500 2013
  • “an excellent trial lawyer” whose “skilful and unshowy advocacy always gets the ear of the court” Chambers UK 2013
  • “high-calibre” and “recommended for complex shipbuilding and charterparty disputes” Legal 500 2012
  • “always seems to have the trust of the tribunal” which is perhaps due in part to his”understated and laid-back advocacy style” Chambers UK 2012
  • “very personable and understated, but you get him in court and he’s a Rottweiler” Legal 500 2011
  • “operates in the intellectual jetstream but keeps his feet on the ground at all times” Legal 500 2011
  •  “bright and thorough” Chambers UK 2011
  • “charming and user friendly.” Legal 500 2010
  •  “very successful in difficult cases where a barrister with some imagination and the ability to look at things with fresh eyes when needed” Legal 500 2010
  • “extremely well regarded for his key role in a number of shipping arbitrations and commodity disputes.” Chambers UK 2010
  • “Robust and effective” and “a good strategic thinker.” Legal 500 2009
  • “combines intellectual ability with good commercial judgement.” Legal 500 2009
  • “another highly regarded barrister.” Legal 500 2009
  • “the very trial smart.” Legal 500 2008
  • “sound commercial judgment”. “extremely user-friendly, reliable, effective and robust.” Chambers UK 2008
  • “intelligent, effective and thorough” “proud to be in his company.” Chambers UK 2006
  • Robert Bright was born in 1964 and read jurisprudence at Oxford University, attaining First Class Honours in 1985.  He gained the postgraduate BCL qualification, also at Oxford, in 1986. Robert Bright joined 7KBW in 1988, following the completion of his pupillage, and he has since practised here in all the classes of litigation frequently seen in the Commercial Court and in commercial arbitrations.  He took silk in 2006.

    Languages: French