Photo of Stephen Smith QC

Stephen Smith QC

Call: 1983 Silk: 2000

Stephen Smith is renowned for his work in civil fraud litigation (typically claims for breach of fiduciary duty, deceit and misrepresentation), especially in connection with freezing injunctions, asset tracing, disclosure orders, jurisdictional and forum disputes, sham trusts and committals to prison for contempt of court. He also has vast experience in insolvency cases and general commercial litigation. He is a part time judge of the Chancery Division of the High Court.

Stephen has over 30 years’ experience as a barrister in England, for more than half of which he has been a QC. He has also been called to the Bar (or licensed to practise as an advocate) in the British Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the Isle of Man and the Cayman Islands, and he has frequently advised in respect of cases proceeding in other jurisdictions (such as Bermuda, Hong Kong and the Channel Islands). He has appeared in the Supreme Court and Privy Council on more than 15 occasions.

Stephen was at the forefront of the development of the worldwide freezing order, having been junior counsel for the claimants in the groundbreaking case of Derby v. Weldon. Since then he has been involved in many leading freezing order cases both in England and abroad, including Re BCCI (No. 9), FBME Ltd v. Hadkinson, JSC BTA Bank v. Solodchenko, JSC BTA Bank v. Ablyazov and JSC Mezhdunarodniy Promyshlenniy Bank v. Pugachev.

Many of Stephen’s cases go to trial, or involve a trial, and require extensive cross examination. The JSC BTA Bank involved two heavy trials, the first, for the committal of Mukhtar Ablyazov, lasted some 3 weeks; the second, on the substantive merits of 3 sets of proceedings, lasted for 44 days and resulted in a judgment for in excess of US $1.5bn. More recently, the trial of the allegations of contempt against Sergei Pugachev in the Mezhprom litigation resulted in sentences totalling 8 years and 11 months being imposed for 11 different contempts.

The last 2 years have been a particularly busy period for Stephen and have yielded a significant number of important reported cases, including:

  • JSC BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (No. 10) [2015] 1 WLR 4754 (SC) (wide scope of the standard form freezing order)
  • Thevarajah v. Riordan [2016] 1 WLR 76 (SC) (no second bite of the cherry of relief from sanction)
  • JSC Mezhdunarodniy Promyshlenniy Bank v. Pugachev [2016] 1 WLR 160 (CA) (disclosure of the terms of, and assets contained within, a discretionary trust)
  • Thevarajah v. Riordan [2015] CP Rep 19 (CA) (effect of debarral from defending)
  • Ardila Investments v ENRC [2015] 2 BCLC 560 (disclosure of documents held by a subsidiary company) 
  • JSC BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (No. 14) [2016] 3 WLR 659 (Comm Ct) (conspiracy to injure by the unlawful means of contempt)
  • JSC Mezhdunarodniy Promyshlenniy Bank v Pugachev (No.2) [2016] 1 WLR 78 (indemnity costs of cross-examination)
  • JSC BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (No.15) [2017] 1 WLR 603 EWCA 987 (abuse of process, privity and estoppel) 
  • Lemos v. Lemos [2016] EWCA 1181 (claims of sham trusts and transfers to trustees in fraud of creditors)

At the top of the Premier League for major complex cross-border civil fraud

Chambers & Partners

Litigation & Arbitration

  • Civil fraud and asset recovery
  • Commercial litigation
  • Shareholder disputes
  • Joint venture disputes
  • Warranty claims
  • Interim remedies

1. The JSC BTA Bank litigation

There are over 70 reported decisions to date in this litigation, in most of which Stephen has appeared as lead advocate for the claimant bank. The following are the most significant decisions:

(1) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (No.15) [2017] 1 WLR 603 EWCA 987
Abuse of process, privity and estoppel

(2) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2014] EWHC 2788
Bank entitled to production of documents created by or produced for solicitors as Defendant not entitled to claim litigation privilege.

(3) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2014] EWHC 2019
Respondent to Norwich Pharmacal proceedings obliged to pay Bank’s costs as his evidence was evasive and dissembling.

(4) BTA Bank v. Lapointec & Limia [2014] EWCA 602
A claim by a third party that to be able to enjoy assets free from the Court’s freezing and receivership orders had to go to trial.

(5) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2013] EWHC 691
Bank granted summary judgment for over US$294m for fraudulent misappropriation of assets.

(6) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2014] 1 WLR 1414
Not all choses in action are caught by a freezing order. (The Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal).

(7) BTA Bank v. Usarel Investments [2014] 1 BCLC 407
The Court declined to extend the powers of a litigation receiver to enable him to pursue an appeal to the Court of Appeal for which the trial judge had granted permission to appeal.

(8) BTA Bank v. Salim Shalabayev [17.5.13]
It was an abuse of process for a non-party to seek to challenge a decision made in the proceedings after the non-party had given evidence and been disbelieved.

(9) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2013] EWHC 510
After a 44 day trial of 3 actions, the Bank was awarded damages in excess of US$1.5bn, plus interest and indemnity costs, together with a port on the White Sea in Russia.

(10) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2013] 1 WLR 1854
A judge had not erred in refusing to recuse himself as the trial judge following his finding of contempt against a defendant, as there was no real possibility of bias and the right to make an application had been waived.

(11) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2013] 1 WLR 1331
There was jurisdiction to make an order that a defendant surrender himself to custody. The judge had been entitled to make orders debarring a defendant from defending the claims brought against him unless he surrendered himself and made proper disclosure of his assets.

(12) BTA Bank v. Usarel Investments [2012] I.L.Pr 53
The Court had jurisdiction to appoint a receiver of a company for the purposes of giving instructions in connection with the continuation of proceedings where the appointment of directors was in doubt.

(13) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2012] EWHC 2543
A defendant who had breached the terms of a freezing injunction by causing his companies to grant pledges to banks should use his best endeavours to intervene in any proceedings to enforce the pledges so as to inform the court of his breach.

(14) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2012] NJLR 757
The Court had jurisdiction to prevent a contemnor from pursuing an appeal against a committal order.

(15) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2012] 1 WLR 1988
The Bank was entitled to proceed against a defendant on a limited number of allegations of contempt, without having to abandon other allegations it had raised and notwithstanding a degree of overlap between the allegations and issues which would arise at the substantive trial.

(16) BTA Bank v. Kythreotis (CA) [2012] 1 WLR 350
Defendant sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment for failure to comply with the disclosure requirements of a freezing order (punitive part 9 months).

(17) BTA Bank v. Syrym Shalabayev [2011] EWHC 2908
Contemnor sentenced to two custodial sentences of 18 months and one of 6 months (to run concurrently) for breaches of the disclosure provisions of a freezing order.

(18) BTA Bank v. Solodchenko (CA) [2011] 1 WLR 888
A respondent to a freezing injunction in the Commercial Court form is not permitted to say that assets need not be disclosed because he holds them on trust for another.

(19) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2011] 2 All ER (Comm) 10
Application for a stay of proceedings struck out as allegations of political motivation were not justiciable.

(20) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2011] 1 WLR 2996
Even if proceedings were brought only partly for the purpose of making a recovery for the benefit of the Bank/its creditors (and partly for political purposes), they were not an abuse of process.

(21) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2011] Bus LR 119
An order appointing receivers of a defendant’s assets was rightly made since there was a measurable risk that the defendant would deal with his assets in breach of a freezing order.

(22) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2010] All ER 2840
A standard form freezing order should be varied as there was real risk that the liberty to deal with overseas assets would be used to put assets beyond the claimant’s reach.

(23) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2010] 1 WLR 976
Section 13 of the Fraud Act 2006 had removed the privilege against self-incrimination in respect of an offence under Section 328 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

(24) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2010] 1 All ER (Comm) 1029
It was appropriate for a defendant to give disclosure of his assets pursuant to a freezing injunction before his application to discharge the injunction could be heard.

2. Thevarajah v. Riordan [2014] 1 Costs LR 163
A party in default was not entitled to “another bite of the cherry” of relief from sanctions. Mitchell guidelines applied.

3. AK Investment CJSC v. Kyrgyz Mobil Tel Ltd (PC) [2012] 1 WLR
Where there was substantial evidence of specific irregularities, breaches of natural justice and irrational conclusions, the Court was entitled to find that there was a considerable risk of justice not being obtained in a foreign forum and refuse an application for a stay.

4. Cukurova Finance International v. Alfa Telecom Turkey Ltd (PC) [2009] 3 All ER 849
For the purposes of a right of appropriation of shares pursuant to the Financial Collateral Regulations 2003, it was not necessary for the chargee of the shares to obtain legal title to the shares for the appropriation to be effective.

5. Texan Management Ltd v. Pacific Electric Wire and Cable Co Ltd (PC) [2009] UKPC 46
The Court had jurisdiction to impose a case management stay of proceedings in the BVI, pending the determination of the proceedings in Hong Kong, even though the relief claimed in the BVI (the rectification of the share registers of BVI companies) was not available in Hong Kong.

6. Dian AO v Davis Frankel & Mead [2005] 1 All ER 1074
Court’s approach to applications to search the Court record under CPR 5.4C.

7. The RBG Resources Plc litigation
There are a number of reported decisions in these proceedings in which Stephen acted as leading counsel for the provisional, then full, liquidators of RBG Resources, and then the trustee in bankruptcy of Viren Rastogi:

(1) Shierson v. Rastogi [2007] BPIR 891
The automatic discharge of a bankrupt was suspended where there remained substantial failures by the bankrupt to comply with his obligations to provide full details of his financial affairs.

(2) RBG Resources plc v. Rastogi [2005] 2 BCLC 592 A defendant who had adopted a totally unreasonable and unjustified stance in proceedings had his costs reduced by 40% on an application by liquidators to discontinue the proceedings against him.

(3) RBG Resources plc v. Rastogi [2004] EWHC 1089 Summary judgment entered against directors for US$350m for dishonest breaches of fiduciary duty.

(4) RBG Resources plc v. Rastogi [2002] EWHC 2782
It was arguable that a senior employee was obliged to blow the whistle on suspected fraud of a director or manager by informing the auditors of the company or the authorities.

(5) Re RBG Resources plc (CA) [2003] 1 WLR 586
The Court was entitled to direct that directors of a company should be examined under s. 236 of the Insolvency Act 1986 by the liquidators of the company, even though the company (acting by its liquidators) had already commenced proceedings for fraud against those directors.

8. Fortis Fund Services Bahamas v. Seward & Kissel LLP (PC) [2007] UKPC 16
It was at least arguable that in providing advice to a manager in the Bahamas, lawyers intended the advice to be acted upon in the Bahamas and, if the advice was negligent, a tort had been committed in the Bahamas.

9. Shalson v. Russo [2005] Ch 281
The Court refused to consolidate sub-accounts in a Swiss bank so as to enable the claimant to overcome the rule that tracing was not permissible through accounts which were overdrawn.

10. Duggan v. Governor of Full Sutton Prison (CA) [2003] 2 All ER 678
Monies handed over to the Governor of a prison by a prisoner were not held by the Governor on trust for the prisoner and the Governor was under no duty to invest them in an interest-bearing account on the prisoner’s behalf.

11. R (Feakins) v. Secretary of State (CA) [2004] 1 WLR 1761
An applicant for judicial review had standing to make the application even though he had indicated he would accept the decision under challenge if he was paid a sufficient sum of money.

12. R (Persey) v. Secretary of State [2003] QB 794
The Secretary of State’s decision not to hold a public inquiry into the outbreak of foot and mouth disease was not irrational.

13. T. Choithram International v. Pagarani (PC) [2001] 1 WLR 1
A gift of shares to a trust was complete notwithstanding the absence of a formal transfer where the donor was also a trustee of the trust.

14. Trustor v. Smallbone [2001] 1 WLR 1177
It was appropriate to pierce the corporate veil and attribute the liability of a company to its sole shareholder where the company was a façade and used to conceal impropriety by the shareholder.

Other cases in which Stephen acted as a junior include:

Federal Bank of the Middle East v. Hadkinson (CA) [2001] 1 WLR 1695

Haji-Ioannou v. Frangos (CA) [1999] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 337

Village Cay Marina v. Acland (PC)

Re BCCI (Morris v. Mahfouz) (CA) [1994] BCLC 450

The Derby v. Weldon litigation:
(1) Derby v. Weldon (CA) [1990] Ch 48
(2) Derby v. Weldon (Nos. 3 & 4) (CA) [1990] Ch 65
(3) Derby v. Weldon (No. 5) (CA) [1989] 1 WLR 1244
(4) Derby v. Weldon (No. 6) [1990] 1 WLR 1139
(5) Derby v. Weldon (No. 7) (CA) [1990] 1 WLR 1156
(6) Derby v. Weldon (No. 8) [1991] 1 WLR 73

Civil Fraud and Asset Recovery

Since 2009 Stephen has been the lead advocate in the complex fraud and asset recovery proceedings known as JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov, in which over 70 significant judgments have been given so far in England (including 15 in the Court of Appeal). After a 40 day trial in 2013, judgment was entered for over US$4.5bn in favour of Stephen’s clients.

Latterly, Stephen has been heavily involved in the insolvency based litigation arising out of the collapse of the Russian Mezhprombank. That litigation has involved freezing and disclosure orders, including against the bank’s former chairman Sergei Pugachev. The Court of Appeal’s decision in February 2015 rejecting Pugachev’s appeal against the scope and terms of the freezing order is an important further milestone in the development in the freezing order jurisdiction.

JSC Mezhdunarodniy Promyshlenniy Bank and another v Pugachev [2015] WLR (D)  94 (Court of Appeal)
Acting for the liquidator of a Russian bank in claims of misappropriation of assets against the bank’s former owner.

1. The JSC BTA Bank litigation

There are over 70 reported decisions to date in this litigation, in most of which Stephen has appeared as lead advocate for the claimant bank. The following are the most significant decisions:

(1) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (No.15) [2017] 1 WLR 603 EWCA 987
Abuse of process, privity and estoppel

(2) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2014] EWHC 2788
Bank entitled to production of documents created by or produced for solicitors as Defendant not entitled to claim litigation privilege.

(3) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2014] EWHC 2019
Respondent to Norwich Pharmacal proceedings obliged to pay Bank’s costs as his evidence was evasive and dissembling.

(4) BTA Bank v. Lapointec & Limia [2014] EWCA 602
A claim by a third party that to be able to enjoy assets free from the Court’s freezing and receivership orders had to go to trial.

(5) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2013] EWHC 691
Bank granted summary judgment for over US$294m for fraudulent misappropriation of assets.

(6) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2014] 1 WLR 1414
Not all choses in action are caught by a freezing order. (The Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal).

(7) BTA Bank v. Usarel Investments [2014] 1 BCLC 407
The Court declined to extend the powers of a litigation receiver to enable him to pursue an appeal to the Court of Appeal for which the trial judge had granted permission to appeal.

(8) BTA Bank v. Salim Shalabayev [17.5.13]
It was an abuse of process for a non-party to seek to challenge a decision made in the proceedings after the non-party had given evidence and been disbelieved.

(9) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2013] EWHC 510
After a 44 day trial of 3 actions, the Bank was awarded damages in excess of US$1.5bn, plus interest and indemnity costs, together with a port on the White Sea in Russia.

(10) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2013] 1 WLR 1854
A judge had not erred in refusing to recuse himself as the trial judge following his finding of contempt against a defendant, as there was no real possibility of bias and the right to make an application had been waived.

(11) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2013] 1 WLR 1331
There was jurisdiction to make an order that a defendant surrender himself to custody. The judge had been entitled to make orders debarring a defendant from defending the claims brought against him unless he surrendered himself and made proper disclosure of his assets.

(12) BTA Bank v. Usarel Investments [2012] I.L.Pr 53
The Court had jurisdiction to appoint a receiver of a company for the purposes of giving instructions in connection with the continuation of proceedings where the appointment of directors was in doubt.

(13) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2012] EWHC 2543
A defendant who had breached the terms of a freezing injunction by causing his companies to grant pledges to banks should use his best endeavours to intervene in any proceedings to enforce the pledges so as to inform the court of his breach.

(14) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2012] NJLR 757
The Court had jurisdiction to prevent a contemnor from pursuing an appeal against a committal order.

(15) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2012] 1 WLR 1988
The Bank was entitled to proceed against a defendant on a limited number of allegations of contempt, without having to abandon other allegations it had raised and notwithstanding a degree of overlap between the allegations and issues which would arise at the substantive trial.

(16) BTA Bank v. Kythreotis (CA) [2012] 1 WLR 350
Defendant sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment for failure to comply with the disclosure requirements of a freezing order (punitive part 9 months).

(17) BTA Bank v. Syrym Shalabayev [2011] EWHC 2908
Contemnor sentenced to two custodial sentences of 18 months and one of 6 months (to run concurrently) for breaches of the disclosure provisions of a freezing order.

(18) BTA Bank v. Solodchenko (CA) [2011] 1 WLR 888
A respondent to a freezing injunction in the Commercial Court form is not permitted to say that assets need not be disclosed because he holds them on trust for another.

(19) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2011] 2 All ER (Comm) 10
Application for a stay of proceedings struck out as allegations of political motivation were not justiciable.

(20) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2011] 1 WLR 2996
Even if proceedings were brought only partly for the purpose of making a recovery for the benefit of the Bank/its creditors (and partly for political purposes), they were not an abuse of process.

(21) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2011] Bus LR 119
An order appointing receivers of a defendant’s assets was rightly made since there was a measurable risk that the defendant would deal with his assets in breach of a freezing order.

(22) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov [2010] All ER 2840
A standard form freezing order should be varied as there was real risk that the liberty to deal with overseas assets would be used to put assets beyond the claimant’s reach.

(23) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2010] 1 WLR 976
Section 13 of the Fraud Act 2006 had removed the privilege against self-incrimination in respect of an offence under Section 328 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

(24) BTA Bank v. Ablyazov (CA) [2010] 1 All ER (Comm) 1029
It was appropriate for a defendant to give disclosure of his assets pursuant to a freezing injunction before his application to discharge the injunction could be heard.

Restructuring & Insolvency

Stephen is regularly instructed on complex, high-profile insolvency litigation.

JSC Mezhdunarodniy Promyshlenniy Bank and another v Pugachev [2015] WLR (D)  94 (Court of Appeal)
Acting for the liquidator of a Russian bank in claims of misappropriation of assets against the bank’s former owner.

The RBG Resources Plc litigation
There are a number of reported decisions in these proceedings in which Stephen acted as leading counsel for the provisional, then full, liquidators of RBG Resources, and then the trustee in bankruptcy of Viren Rastogi:

(1) Shierson v. Rastogi [2007] BPIR 891
The automatic discharge of a bankrupt was suspended where there remained substantial failures by the bankrupt to comply with his obligations to provide full details of his financial affairs.

(2) RBG Resources plc v. Rastogi [2005] 2 BCLC 592 A defendant who had adopted a totally unreasonable and unjustified stance in proceedings had his costs reduced by 40% on an application by liquidators to discontinue the proceedings against him.

(3) RBG Resources plc v. Rastogi [2004] EWHC 1089 Summary judgment entered against directors for US$350m for dishonest breaches of fiduciary duty.

(4) RBG Resources plc v. Rastogi [2002] EWHC 2782
It was arguable that a senior employee was obliged to blow the whistle on suspected fraud of a director or manager by informing the auditors of the company or the authorities.

(5) Re RBG Resources plc (CA) [2003] 1 WLR 586
The Court was entitled to direct that directors of a company should be examined under s. 236 of the Insolvency Act 1986 by the liquidators of the company, even though the company (acting by its liquidators) had already commenced proceedings for fraud against those directors.

Re BCCI (Morris v. Mahfouz) (CA) [1994] BCLC 450

International & Offshore

Stephen has a successful offshore practice and has appeared in over 50 hearings at first instance, and more than twelve hearings at the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean, whilst also having appeared in the Privy Council on 10 occasions, on appeal from that court, or the courts of the Isle of Man, the BVI, and the Bahamas.

Stephen has also been called to the Bar of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, the Bar of the Bahamas and of the Cayman Islands.

Stephen is also a licensed advocate in the Isle of Man, and has carried out advisory work pre-trial for cases in Bermuda and Hong Kong and the Channel Islands.

Significant offshore cases include:

Alhamrani v Alhamrani & Chemtrade Ltd v Fuchs Oil Middle East Ltd
The longest trial to date before the BVI Commercial Court since the advent of the commercial division of the BVI High Court. Stephen appeared at a hearing in Dominica before the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, seeking leave to appeal to the Privy Council and a stay pending appeal.

VKontakte.com v Mail.ru
Shareholder dispute in relation to Russia’s largest social network, involving unfair prejudice proceedings commenced in the BVI.

Cukurova Finance International v. Alfa Telecom Turkey Ltd (PC) 
Stephen has been lead counsel for ATT in 6 out of the 9 Privy Council hearings, as well as multiple hearings in the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and at first instance in the British Virgin Islands since 2007.

United Best Developments v Noble Field
Shareholder dispute in respect of a BVI company.  The case settled before it was due to be heard in the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean.

AK Investment CJSC v. Kyrgyz Mobil Tel Ltd (PC) [2012] 1 WLR
Where there was substantial evidence of specific irregularities, breaches of natural justice and irrational conclusions, the Court was entitled to find that there was a considerable risk of justice not being obtained in a foreign forum and refuse an application for a stay.

Texan Management Ltd v. Pacific Electric Wire and Cable Co Ltd (PC) [2009] UKPC 46
The Court had jurisdiction to impose a case management stay of proceedings in the BVI, pending the determination of the proceedings in Hong Kong, even though the relief claimed in the BVI (the rectification of the share registers of BVI companies) was not available in Hong Kong.

Memberships & Publications

Chancery Bar Association

COMBAR

Recognition

2016/2017

“The master of the freezing injunctions field.” “He’s a good tactician and also a disarmingly good advocate.”

Chambers UK Bar 2016 – Offshore

“He is very user-friendly, very knowledgeable and very effective.” “Stephen Smith is a fount of knowledge. He is very experienced, easy to work with and also a very good advocate.”

Chambers UK Bar 2016 – Fraud: Civil

“He is very easy to work with and knowledgeable.” “He’s very bright and user-friendly.”

Chambers UK Bar 2016 –  Commercial Dispute Resolution

“Stephen is a fabulous advocate and incredible at knowing how to put a case, as he’s extremely experienced and has been in some of the biggest and most high-profile cases around. He is also fantastic to work with as he’s great at leading a team and provides that confident assurance you need in a QC.” “He has great respect from the court.”

Chambers UK Bar 2016 – Chancery: Commercial

‘relentless exocet-type approach’

Extract from Judgment on SALIM  SHALABAYEV- and -JSC BTA BANK

A good team player and real big-hitter, who provides very clear advice.

Legal 500 – Commercial Litigation

A good team player and a real big-hitter.

Legal 500 – Company and Partnership

Immensely clever – the pre-eminent silk in the area of civil fraud and asset recovery.

Legal 500 – Civil Fraud

He is very positive and finds solutions where others may see problems.’

Legal 500 – Insolvency

Recent client testimonials include :

“With respect to his colleagues, Stephen is simply the best”

“On his feet, Stephen has the priceless ability to inspire trust in judges, who recognise his first-class knowledge and understanding of complex points of black-letter law.”

“Stephen is a leader in the field of Freezing Injunctions…  In order to understand what is required for a Without Notice Freezing Injunction, Stephen’s experience is unparalleled, to the point where the Judges rely on his previous cases to determine the standards set by previous Courts.  There is no-one else at the Chancery Bar (or the Commercial Bar, for that matter) with this amount of experience.  ”

2015/2014

Won the ‘American Lawyer Award’ for ‘Global Dispute of the Year: U.K. Litigation – BTA Bank’

Smith is described as “one of the key figures at the Chancery Bar”.

‘Incredibly good and a leader in the field for civil fraud related work.’

Legal 500 – Commercial Litigation.

‘His immense experience means that even in an initial call, before reviewing papers, he adds value.

Legal 500 – Company and Partnership

‘Clearly a leader in fraud, particularly in relation to Russian related litigation.’

Legal 500 – Civil Fraud

‘Highly skilled in interim applications and offshore work.’

Legal 500 – Insolvency

“He is truly outstanding.  On the ball, thorough and detailed, he really does have the ear of the court.  He is hard-hitting, but not in an aggressive manner.”

Chambers UK Bar 2015 – Chancery: Commercial

“At the top of the Premier League for major complex cross-border civil fraud”

“He is robust and tenacious in relation to his approach to litigation and has an excellent courtroom style that commands the judge’s attention.”

Chambers UK Bar 2015 – Fraud: Civil

Leading Silk – Dispute Resolution: Commercial – Chambers Global 2015

Leading Silk – Dispute Resolution: Commercial Chancery – Chambers Global 2015

Leading Silk – Off

Leading Silk- Chancery: Commercial – Chambers UK Bar 2015

Leading Silk- Commercial Dispute Resolution – Chambers UK Bar 2015

Leading Silk- Fraud: Civil – Chambers UK Bar 2015

Leading Silk- Offshore – Chambers UK Bar 2015

Smith “is a very strong strategist, who is very good at dealing with complex and particularly novel issues at court”.
Chambers Global 2014 – Dispute Resolution: Commercial Chancery

“an excellent mind and a man with an excellent practice”.
Chambers Global 2014 – Dispute Resolution: Commercial
Chambers UK Bar 2014 – Commercial Dispute Resolution

A specialist in highly complex offshore commercial litigation, Smith “does very thorough preparation, and in court is very punchy and aggressive”.
Chambers Global 2014 – Offshore

A notable specialist in the field of injunctions and worldwide freezing orders, “it is poetry in motion seeing him work”.
Chambers UK Bar 2014 – Chancery: Commercial

Recognised as a market-leading civil fraud silk, Smith is “an excellent strategist, who is client-friendly, and a clear and persuasive advocate with an unsurpassable fraud track record”.
Chambers UK Bar 2014 – Fraud: Civil

2013/2012

Scaling the rankings this year, Smith is possessed of a “top-rate mind” and “a nice turn of phrase,” he is liked by solicitors, as “judges know that he is an expert brief and he won’t lead them astray.” Smith is by all accounts “a phenomenally good lawyer with a human touch.”
Chambers Global 2013 – Dispute Resolution: Commercial
Chambers UK Bar 2013 – Commercial Dispute Resolution

“he is an astonishing guy in court,” who “has a marvellously deft touch.”
Chambers Global 2013 – Dispute Resolution: Commercial Chancery

Smith dazzles in the courtroom with his “forensic cross-examination” and “controlled and authoritative advocacy.”
Chambers Global 2013 – Offshore
Chambers UK Bar 2013 – Offshore

‘his advocacy attracts praise from peers and clients alike’
Chambers UK Bar 2013 – Chancery: Commercial

“extraordinary intellect”
“very controlled and authoritative manner”
“extremely client-focused and very commercial”
Interviewees say: “You know you are going to get the best legal advice from him”
Chambers UK Bar 2013 – Fraud: Civil

“a top rate litigator”
“a very highly regarded silk”
Chambers UK Bar 2013 – Restructuring/Insolvency

Chancery ‘Silk of the Year’ – Chambers UK Bar 2013

 

Interests

When not litigating or advising in connection with litigation, Stephen likes to spend his spare time breeding red and fallow deer and alpacas, at home in Devon.

Ranked in

Chambers & Partners –
Civil Fraud, Chancery: Commercial, Commercial Dispute Resolution, Offshore

Legal 500 –
Civil Fraud, Commercial Litigation, Company & Partnership, Insolvency

Who's Who Legal –
Asset Recovery, Business Crime Defence

Chambers & Partners UK Bar Top 100 QCs –
Civil Fraud, Chancery: Commercial, Commercial Dispute Resolution, Offshore

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