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Practice Summary

Alexander Brown operates across the full spectrum of commercial disputes, in both litigation and arbitration.  He is presently engaged in a number of significant disputes across the Commercial Court, Technology and Construction Court (TCC) and in international arbitration.  He is instructed in the Castle Water Limited v. Thames Water Utilities Limited litigation before the TCC, one of The Lawyers’ Top 20 Cases for 2021.  He is engaged in parallel Commercial Court (Shorter Trial Scheme) and UNCITRAL arbitration Proceedings in a wide-ranging dispute between Brown-Forman Corporation v Bacardi-Martini. Alexander is also engaged in high-profile proceedings between Ocado Group Plc v McKeeve, where the Court of Appeal recently upheld Ocado’s appeal.

Alexander has a wealth of advocacy experience, appearing in his own right before the Court of Appeal, in several High Court trials and in arbitral proceedings under a variety of rules.  He has also obtained numerous interim injunctions, including worldwide freezing orders (“WFOs”), search orders and disclosure orders.  Alexander has appeared in several of the leading WFO cases of recent years, including  Fundo Soberano de Angola v dos Santos where he appeared for the respondent and successfully set aside a US$3 billion WFO, and Tsareva v Ananyev, where he appeared (as sole counsel) for D10 in proceedings arising out of a US$100 million claim for an alleged fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy in connection with the collapse of a major Russian bank.

Alexander’s recommendations include Legal 500 2020 (Civil Fraud): "He is an excellent team player and has a great eye for detail, his oral advocacy is superb and he can pick open an argument with ease."

Alexander's cases include the following:

  • Ocado Group Plc v McKeeve [2021] EWCA Civ 145
    Appeared (led by David Cavender QC) for Ocado Group Plc in relation to a conspiracy claim against a former manager of Ocado, and in particular high-profile committal proceedings which have been brought arising out of a search order. Ocado alleges that a solicitor at a leading law firm, upon being notified of a search order against his client, instructed the IT technician at the client to “burn all”, and a result material relevant to the conspiracy claim was irretrievably deleted.
     
  • VTB Commodities Trading DAC v JSC Antipinsky Refinery [2020] EWHC 72 (Comm)
    Appeared (led by Kenneth MacLean QC) for the defendant in successfully obtaining the discharge of an interim mandatory order requiring the defendant to supply substantial quantities of oil (worth several hundred million euros) to the Claimant, VTB. Lord Justice Phillips gave an important judgment on the application of section 44 of the Arbitration Act 1996 and on the principles applicable to granting specific performance.
     
  • Tsareva v Ananyev [2019] EWHC 2414 (Comm)
    Appeared (as sole counsel) for D10 in a 5 day jurisdiction and WFO hearing. The Claimants (represented by Charles Samek QC and David Lord QC) alleged that the Defendants had misappropriated over $100 million from a major Russian bank, Promsvyazbank, before its collapse in January 2018. Alexander successfully persuaded the Commercial Court that there was no arguable case against D10, no basis for a WFO and that the Court had no jurisdiction. The Claimants were ordered to pay D10’s costs assessed on the indemnity basis.
     
  • Fundo Soberano de Angola v dos Santos [2018] EWHC 2199 (Comm)
    Appeared (led by Stephen Auld QC) for the Second Defendant in successfully discharging a WFO in the sum of $3 billion.  This high-profile case related to the management of the sovereign wealth fund of Angola over several years.  Mr Justice Popplewell’s landmark judgment setting aside the WFO included important clarifications as to the duty of full and frank disclosure, and what is required to show a real risk of dissipation.
     
  • LCIA Arbitration
    Appeared (led by Neil Kitchener QC) for the Defendant in a major LCIA arbitration relating to the control and ownership of substantial Russian assets and intellectual property. The Claimant brought claims in conspiracy, unfair prejudice, shareholder oppression and breach of contract.  The Claimants’ claims were dismissed in their entirety and the Defendant’s counterclaims for breach of contract and warranty were upheld, with damages of several million awarded.
     
  • Monk v Largo [2016] EWHC 1837 (Comm)
    Appeared (leading Stephanie Wood) for the Defendant in a 5 day Commercial Court trial defending claims worth £3 million in breach of contract and under the Commercial Agents Regulations.  The claimants (represented by Oliver Segal QC) argued that the Defendant had to act in good faith in deciding whether to terminate the contract.  In a landmark ruling on the meaning and application of good faith in the commercial agency context, the Judge held that the Defendant had an unfettered right to terminate and dismissed the contract claim.
     
  • ICC Arbitration
    Appeared (as sole counsel) for the claimant in a 4-day arbitral proceeding (before Ian Glick QC, Jonathan Hirst QC and Stuart Boyd QC) under ICC rules.  The claim related to negligent investment in the Russian investment market and raised difficult points of Russian and Cayman Islands law, practice and regulation.  The trial involved extensive cross-examination of both factual and expert witnesses. The claims were upheld and multi-million damages were awarded.
     
  • Gerald v Timis [2016] EWHC 2327 (Ch)
    Appeared (led by Ben Strong QC) for the Defendant in successfully resisting a worldwide freezing order in the sum of £77 million.  The WFO was refused on the basis that the Claimants had failed to establish a good arguable case against the Defendant.  The judgment also contained important findings as to the scope of section 44 of the Arbitration Act 1996.
     
  • Re Quantum Survey Management Limited [2016] EWHC 3084 (Ch)
    Appeared (as sole counsel) for the Petitioner, in the 5-day trial of an unfair prejudice petition in the Companies Court. The Petition was granted upon the Judge finding that the Respondent had acted in breach of his duties by diverting business away from the company and by making unauthorised payments from company funds. Quantum was adjourned to a further hearing, and the matter was subsequently settled.
     
  • Biotec v Siemens [2015] EWHC 3555 (Comm)
    Appeared (led by Neil Kitchener QC) for the Defendant in an LCIA arbitration, successfully defending wide-ranging claims in conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duties, breach of confidence and knowing receipt. The claims were dismissed and the Defendant was awarded its full costs on an indemnity basis in February 2015.  Alexander and Neil successfully resisted the claimant’s subsequent attempt to challenge the Award in Court under s.68 of the Arbitration Act 1996.
     
  • Ma’Har v O’Keeffe [2014] EWCA Civ 1684
    Appeared (as sole counsel) for the First Respondent in the Court of Appeal and successfully resisted the appeal. The appeal related to the costs of taking an account upon the dissolution of a partnership. The Appellant claimed that it was entitled to its costs and that the first instance Judge had erred in his judgment. Lewison LJ set out the principles on which the costs of an account should be treated and held that the first instance Judge’s approach could not be criticised.
     
  • Fortress Value v Blue Skye [2013] EWHC 14 (Comm)
    Appeared (led by Craig Orr QC) for the Fourth Defendant and Part 20 Claimant (Stepstone) in a €200 million fraud claim relating to the control of Italian assets. The case involved numerous complex issues of fact and law, including those relating to jurisdiction, applicable law, corporate restructuring, assignment and economic torts, plus several issues of Luxembourg law. The other defendants sought to strike out the claims made against them, but the claimants and Stepstone successfully resisted this application. A 10 week trial was listed for May 2014, but the case settled shortly before the trial was due to commence.

EXAMPLES OF RECENT CASES

  • Administrative & Public Law

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    • Camelot UK Lotteries Ltd v. The Gambling Commission [2012] EWHC 2391 (Admin)
      Appeared (with Susanna FitzGerald QC) for 51 Community Interest Companies (CICs) in resisting Camelot’s application to review the Gambling Commission’s decision to licence the Health Lottery. The case involved issues of regulatory discretion, statutory interpretation and delay in bringing claims for judicial review.
    • Advised (with David Wolfson QC and Richard Mott) the Financial Services Authority on potential actions to be taken against a high street bank and how the FSA should respond to challenges to its decisions.
    • Acted for the producers of a major television show in resisting a potential decision by the Gambling Commission to revoke its licence and force it off the air. Successfully persuaded the Commission not to take such an action.
  • Agency

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    Alexander has substantial expertise on the Commercial Agents Regulations. He has advised several principals and agents on every aspect of the Regulations, including (a) whether the Regulations apply; (b) what claims they might bring; and (c) the valuation of the agency under Regulation 17.  He also represented the successful Defendant in the landmark case of Monk v Largo.

    • Monk v Largo [2016] EWHC 1837 (Comm) Alexander appeared (with Stephanie Wood) for the Defendant in a 5 day Commercial Court trial defending claims worth £3 million in breach of contract and under the Commercial Agents Regulations.  The claimants (represented by Oliver Segal QC) argued that the Defendant had to act in good faith in deciding whether to terminate the contract.  In a landmark ruling on the meaning and application of good faith in the commercial agency context, the Judge held that the Defendant had an unfettered right to terminate and dismissed the claim.
    • Advised (with Daniel Toledano QC) a major principal on the interpretation and application of the Commercial Agency Regulations to thousands of agency contracts and how best to limit their liability for claims thereunder.
    • LCIA Arbitration Acted for the Respondent in resisting a claim for breach of an agency contract. The reference involved issues relating to the Commercial Agents Regulations, implied terms and fiduciary duties. The claim was settled without any admission of liability prior to the hearing.
    • Acted for a property acquisitions agent in a claim for breach of contract against his principal following a high-profile property purchase in London for $160m. The claim involved issues related to implied terms, expert evidence on industry standard practices, contractual interpretation and quantum meruit.
    • Acted for a factoring company in a claim for breach of contract against a supplier of goods. One of the key issues was whether the supplier was responsible for the actions of its agents in preventing performance of the contracts.
  • Arbitration

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    Alexander also has extensive experience of other forms of ADR, having assisted in several mediations and negotiations.

    • Acting for the Respondents (with Neil Kitchener QC) in an LCIA Arbitration, defending wide-ranging claims in conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duties, breach of confidence and knowing receipt. In July 2013, the Respondents successfully obtained security for their costs. A two week trial on liability is due to commence in July 2014.
    • Acting for the Claimant in an LCIA Arbitration, bringing claims in breach of contract against a major investment firm. The reference involves issues relating to estoppel, rectification and misrepresentation.
    • Acting for the Claimant in an ICC Arbitration, bringing claims in professional negligence and breach of contract against a major Russian investment management firm. The reference involves expert evidence on investments in emerging markets and the sale of complex structured notes.
    • Assisted Anthony de Garr Robinson QC and Steven Elliott in preparing the arbitral claims arising out of the termination of a multi-million pound property management agreement. The claims involved an extensive investigation into serious allegations of fraud relating to several Indian developments and advising on numerous complex points of law.
    • Assisted Lord Grabiner QC in advising on the prospects of appealing an arbitral award and interpreting the relevant case law on the Arbitration Act 1996.
    • Assisted Simon Colton in acting for a Chinese supplier of silicon wafers in a US$33million arbitral dispute under the ICC rules. The arbitration involved issues of applicable law, contractual construction, penalty clauses and competition law.
  • Banking and Financial Services

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    • Advised (with David Wolfson QC and Richard Mott) the FSA on the application of its rules to a major mortgage provider and the remedial actions which the FSA could and should take.
    • Appeared for the Bank of Scotland in successfully seeking an indemnity from a Part 20 defendant, thus preventing any liability falling on the Bank. Also advised on the effect of related Italian proceedings.
    • Appeared for Barclays in defending a misrepresentation claim relating to solar panels, which raised issues of the appropriate limitation period and when the cause of action arises in a misrepresentation action.
    • Appeared for Barclays in defending a misrepresentation claim relating to solar panels, which raised issues of the appropriate limitation period and when the cause of action arises in a misrepresentation action.
    • Acted for several claimants in bringing claims against major banks for breaches of the FCA rules in the selling of financial products. The claims involved seeking compound interest to reflect the losses suffered by the claimants as a result of the banks’ breaches.
    • Crema v Cenkos Securities Plc [2010] EWHC 461 (Comm)
    • Assisted Orlando Gledhill in defending a broker in a claim by a sub-broker for unpaid fees allegedly due in respect of a corporate fundraising. The case involved issues of contractual construction, implied terms and the Financial Services Authority rules on introductions and written contracts.
    • Assisted Charles Graham QC and Simon Colton in preparing to resist an appeal by an investment bank in a claim for £7 million of unpaid fees under a bridging facility.
  • Civil Fraud

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    • Fortress Value v. Blue Skye [2013] EWHC 14 (Comm)
      Appeared (with Craig Orr QC and Jamie Goldsmith) for the Fourth Defendant and Part 20 Claimant (Stepstone) in a €200 million fraud claim relating to the control of Italian assets. The case involved numerous complex issues of fact and law, including those relating to jurisdiction, applicable law, corporate restructuring, assignment and economic torts, plus several issues of Luxembourg law. In December 2012, the other defendants sought to strike out the claims made against them, but the claimants and Stepstone successfully resisted this application. A 10 week trial was listed for May 2014 and was named one of the top 20 cases of 2014, but the case settled shortly before the trial was due to commence.
    • Acted for a BVI investment company in bringing a fraud claim relating to a share offer. Key issues involved company law, relationship with extant proceedings, and quantification of damages (in excess of £1 million).
    • Acted for a sheet metal manufacturer in defending a claim relating to its purchase of vending machines and whether the alleged contracts had been fraudulently entered into. Brought a counterclaim in restitution for sums paid out by mistake.
    • Appeared for a building society in enforcing legal charges and defending allegations that valuations had been carried out fraudulently or negligently.
    • See VTB Capital v. Nutritek in conflict of laws section below, where the underlying claim was in fraud.
  • Commercial Litigation

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    • Acted for a major UK manufacturer in bringing claims for breach of contract against a US supplier. Issues involved establishing jurisdiction, contractual interpretation, limitation clauses and penalty clauses.
    • Advised (with Jamie Goldsmith) a property developer on alleged misrepresentations by a major bank as to the terms of his loans. Advice also included the potential restructuring of his loans and drafting the terms of settlement.
    • Acted for a Claimant company in obtaining an order for specific performance of a contract, requiring the Defendant to change its name and remove all references to a particular word from its advertising and signage.
    • Acted for a Hotel in defending claims by a major hotel supply firm for breach of contract. The Hotel brought a substantial counterclaim and reached a beneficial settlement of the case.
    • Acted for a clothing supplier in claiming substantial damages for breaches of its distribution agreement in the UK.
    • Littlewoods Retail Limited v HMRC [2010] EWHC 2771 (Ch)
      Assisted Laurence Rabinowitz QC and Steven Elliott in a claim for over £1 billion of compound interest on overpaid VAT, which was the subject of a reference to the European Court of Justice.
    • Assisted Richard Gillis QC and Sam O’Leary on seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court in a dispute arising out of the collapse of a major Icelandic bank. Involved issues of statutory interpretation and its developing relationship with contractual construction.
    • See Fortress Value v. Blue Skye above.
  • Company and Insolvency

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    Alexander also has extensive advocacy experience in the Bankruptcy and Companies Court, having appeared on winding up petitions, applications to restore a company to the register, applications to register charges out of time, case management hearings on unfair prejudice petitions and section 216 applications to re-use a company name following a liquidation.

    • VTB Capital Plc v. Nutritek International Corp [2011] EWHC 3017 (Ch)
      This jurisdiction dispute involved a landmark ruling by Arnold J on the nature and scope of piercing the corporate veil, disapproving an earlier judgment of the Commercial Court where the doctrine had been extended so as to establish English jurisdiction (Antonio Gramsci Shipping Corp v Stepanovs [2011] EWHC 333 (Comm). Arnold J’s judgment was upheld on appeal.
    • Acting for the Respondents in a wide-ranging unfair prejudice petition arising out of the Petitioner’s exclusion from the management of the company. The case involves issues relating to breaches of directors’ duties, misuse of company information, restraint of trade clauses, EU copyright law and employment law.
    • Advised (with Stephen Auld QC) a partnership on the potential claims it had against one of its former members and how best to defend any potential counterclaims. Case settled favourably for the client.
    • Acted for the Defendant company in successfully defending a claim based on the allegation that a joint venture partnership had come into existence between the parties.
  • Jurisdiction and Conflict of Laws

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    • VTB Capital Plc v. Nutritek International Corp [2011] EWHC 3017 (Ch)
      Appeared (with Daniel Toledano QC and Jamie Goldsmith) for Nutritek in a major 6 day jurisdiction battle with respect to a US$250m civil fraud and deceit claim against Nutritek and others. The case involved a landmark ruling on the nature and scope of piercing the corporate veil, as well as issues concerning the applicable law, forum non conveniens (including extensive Russian law expert evidence) and when loss is suffered for the purpose of tort claims. Jurisdiction was successfully resisted and the decision was upheld on appeal ([2012] EWCA Civ 808]). The case also involved several interim applications relating to material non-disclosure, specific disclosure and worldwide freezing injunctions.
    • Aggreko International Projects Ltd v Antigua Public Utilities Authority
      Appeared for Aggreko in a jurisdiction challenge brought by the Defendant. Successfully resisted the jurisdiction challenge and subsequently obtained judgment against the Defendant (in excess of $1 million).
    • Magistro v (1) Industrial Union of Donbass and (2) Alwen Trading Limited
      Appeared for the Second Defendant in its jurisdiction challenge. The Claimant alleged that he could not obtain justice in the Ukraine and expert evidence was obtained, which coincided with the recent uprising in the Ukraine. The Judge permitted supplementary expert evidence on the issue and consequently held that there was a real risk of injustice in Ukraine. The Second Defendant appealed, but the case was settled before the appeal was heard.
    • Acting for the Claimant in a claim relating to the ownership of a domain name and its associated revenue stream. Successfully applied for alternative service under CPR 6.15 and subsequently secured jurisdiction over a Gibraltarian defendant and German defendant.
    • See Fortress Value v. Blue Skye above, where the first key issue was serving and securing jurisdiction over each of the Part 20 Defendants.
    • Assisted Simon Colton in advising on the application of the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) to a sale contract between Italian parties.
    • Assisted Stephen Auld QC in advising on jurisdiction under the Brussels Regulation and permission to serve out of the jurisdiction.
  • Economic Torts

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    • Acting for the Respondents (with Neil Kitchener QC) in an LCIA Arbitration, defending wide-ranging claims including unlawful means conspiracy and procuring breach of contract.
    • Fortress Value v. Blue Skye [2013] EWHC 14 (Comm)
    • This major Commercial Court dispute involved several economic torts, including unlawful means conspiracy, procuring breach of contract and unlawful interference. Several of the claims were governed by Luxembourg law and so it was also necessary to consider the extent to which these economic torts could exist under Luxembourg law and if so how there various elements could be satisfied.
    • Acted for the Claimant in bringing claims for breach of contract against the First Defendant and procuring breach of contract against the Second Defendant (a director of the First Defendant). The case involved demonstrating that the Second Defendant could be liable personally in his role as a director. Settled before trial.
  • Energy and Natural Resources

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    • Secondment to the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) (October-December 2010)
      Advised on issues relating to Renewable Obligation Certificates, the implementation of the EU’s ‘Third Package’ legislation and the tender process for offshore wind farms. Gained valuable insight into Ofgem’s operations and the legal issues raised by complex energy deals.
    • Acted (with Ian Glick QC) for the National Gas corporation of a South American nation against a major energy company in breach of contract claims seeking damages in excess of $200m.
    • Assisted Iain Milligan QC and Orlando Gledhill in a multi-million claim for breach of a ‘farm-in agreement’ in relation to offshore oil exploration. The claim involved complex expert evidence and raised legal issues as to when damages can be claimed for loss of a chance or on the basis applied in Wrotham Park Estate Co Ltd v. Parkside Homes [1974] 1 WLR 798.
  • injunctions (including freezing orders and search orders, and orders for disclosure of information)

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    • VTB Capital Plc v. Nutritek International Corp [2011] EWHC 3017 (Ch)
      The case involved several interim applications, including those related to material non-disclosure, extensions of time, specific disclosure and worldwide freezing injunctions.
    • Fortress Value v. Blue Skye [2013] EWHC 14 (Comm)
      The case involved numerous interim applications, including those related to jurisdiction, expert evidence, strike out / summary judgment, amendments to pleadings, alternative service, directions for the Part 20 claim and whether to order a split trial.
    • Alexander has appeared in the High Court and County Court on numerous occasions in a wide variety of interim applications (both with and without notice), including applications for: summary judgment, strike out, setting aside default judgment, specific disclosure, pre-action disclosure, security for costs, extensions of time, interpleader, interim payment and Part 18 requests for information.
  • Professional Liability

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    • Acting for the Claimant (as sole counsel) in an ICC Arbitration, bringing claims in professional negligence and breach of contract against a major Russian investment management firm. The reference involves expert evidence on investments in emerging markets and the sale of complex structured notes.
    • Acting for the Claimant in a professional negligence claim against a firm of solicitors for advice relating to a complex loan agreement and property transaction.
    • Acting for the Claimant in a professional negligence claim against a firm of valuers in relation to the valuations of several London properties.
    • Acted for the Claimant in a misrepresentation and negligence claim against a High Street bank and one of its managers.
    • Acted for the Defendant firm of solicitors in successfully resisting a claim for professional negligence and breach of contract in relation to unpaid invoices.
  • Trusts

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    • Gerald v Timis
      Acting for the Defendant in an ongoing dispute, claims against Trust and against the main beneficiary.  The dispute involves several issues of trust law, including Trustee powers, the extent to which transfers made by the Trust are binding, and the rules of discretionary trusts.
    • Fortress Value v Blue Skye [2013] EWHC 14 (Comm) 
      Appeared (with Craig Orr QC and Jamie Goldsmith) for the Fourth Defendant and Part 20 Claimant (Stepstone) in a €200 million fraud claim relating to the control of Italian assets. The case involved assets held through a variety of trusts (English, Luxembourg and Italian) and numerous trust law points, including formation of trust, identification of beneficiaries, breach of trust, resulting trusts and constructive trusts.
    • Advising in a substanial pre-action dispute as to the governing law of a trust under the Recognition of Trusts Act 1987 and the Hague Convention on the law applicable to trusts and their recognition.
    • Advised in a claim for dishonest assistance and knowing receipt in relation to a breach of trust. 
    • Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton
      Alexander appeared (with David Cavender QC) for the claimants in bringing and pursuing a complex conspiracy claim worth £2.2 billion against the Defendants.  The dispute contained several trust law points. 

Academic Achievements

Levitt Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn [2009]
Buchanan Prize, Lincoln’s Inn [2009]
Lord Denning Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn [2008 - 2009]
Hardwicke Entrance Award, Lincoln’s Inn [2008]
Warwick Graduates’ Association Full Scholarship, University of Warwick [2003 - 2006]
Exceptional Scholarship, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School [2001 - 2002]

Other Achievements

Winner, Incorporate Council of Law Reporting (ICLR) National Mooting Competition [2008]
Chairperson, BPP Mooting and Advocacy Society [2007 - 2008]
Financial, Democracy, and Strategy Officer and Chair of the Board of Directors, University of Warwick Students’ Union [2006 - 2007]

Education

BPP Law School: BVC (Outstanding) [2008 - 2009]
BPP Law School: CPE/GDL (Distinction) [2007 - 2008]
University of Warwick: BA (Hons) Philosophy and Politics (First, Top in Year) [2003 - 2006]