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Practice Summary

Alex Gunning QC is an advocate specialising in complex, high-value international disputes, predominantly resolved in arbitration. He is acknowledged in the directories for his expertise in cases concerning large energy and offshore construction projects and natural resources. He has been leading counsel in disputes concerning a series of high-profile infrastructure projects, including the Kashagan offshore oilfield project, the Marmaray rail project and the South Stream pipeline. Alex has a particular interest in disputes arising out of the East and South-East Asia region and is the UK representative for the Inter-Pacific Bar Association.

 

"Bright, sensible and somebody who can produce a definitive note on a case overnight." (Chambers UK Bar 2020 - Commercial Dispute Resolution)

"He is fantastically user-friendly, extremely accessible, and an advocate of impressive subtlety." "He is an excellent technical lawyer who really drills into the details." (Chambers UK Bar 2020 - Energy & Natural Resources)

"A superb advocate, very sharp but with graceful manners, who finds solutions to knotty legal issues." (Legal 500 2019 - Energy & Natural Resources)

"He is an enormously impressive silk. He is completely on top of the details, produces exceptional legal submissions and is the best cross-examiner in the arbitration world." "He's a terrific shipping silk and a lovely guy." (Chambers Bar UK 2020 - Shipping & Commodities)

"He is a persuasive advocate." (Legal 500 2019 - Shipping & Commodities)

"Super responsive and very hands-on." "Very good on his feet." "Exceptionally hard-working, extremely knowledgeable and good at cross-examining expert witnesses, yet easy-going and a constant pleasure to deal with." (Chambers UK Bar 2020 - International Arbitration)

"Has an extremely deep knowledge of construction/energy law and international arbitration practice and procedure." (Legal 500 2019 - International Arbitration)


"He marshals tons of documents, evidence and information in the shortest time and responds in clear, user-friendly language. He's a highly impressive advocate for the largest, most complex cases." "Has a calm and highly persuasive style of advocacy." "Well regarded by peers and solicitors for his effective style of advocacy."  (Chambers UK Bar 2019 - Energy & Natural Resources)

“A charming advocate who really has the ear of the court.” (The Legal 500 2019 – Energy)

"a popular choice for offshore construction matters"  (The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2018 - Energy)

"A polished advocate who is a real source of specialist expertise. He is very hard-working and leaves no stone unturned when preparing for a case." "Confident, good with instructing solicitors and clients, and very sound on the law." (Chambers UK Bar 2019 – Shipping & Commodities)

"He is a brilliant academic who is a leading mind in the sector. Tribunals really take to him." (Chambers & Partners Global 2018 – Energy & Natural Resources UK)

"A highly intelligent, skilled advocate. We need someone who is on top of their game and a team player and
he fits both of those categories." "Very sharp and very quick on his feet."
(Chambers & Partners Global 2018 – Shipping & Commodities UK)

EXAMPLES OF RECENT CASES

  • Energy, Natural Resoures and Offshore Construction

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    Alex has been involved in a wide range of disputes concerning the mining, drilling and transportation of natural resources as well as the construction of large energy and offshore construction projects. Commonly the disputes arise from projects involving parties from the PRC, South-East Asia, Russia and the CIS. Typically, they are resolved in international arbitration, including in London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul.

    "He is fantastically user-friendly, extremely accessible, and an advocate of impressive subtlety." "He is an excellent technical lawyer who really drills into the details." (Chambers UK Bar 2020 - Energy & Natural resources)

    “Well regarded by peers and solicitors for his effective style of advocacy” (Chambers UK Bar 2019 – Energy & Natural Resources)

    "A superb advocate, very sharp but with graceful manners, who finds solutions to knotty legal issues." (Legal 500 2019 - Energy & Natural Resources)

    “He is extremely capable of cross-examining technical experts” (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific 2019 – Energy)

    "A superb advocate - very sharp, but in a graceful manner" (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific 2019 - Shipping)

    "He marshals tons of documents, evidence and information in the shortest time and responds in clear, user-friendly language. He's a highly impressive advocate for the largest, most complex cases." "Has a calm and highly persuasive style of advocacy." (Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2019 – Energy & Natural Resources)

    "He is a brilliant academic who is a leading mind in the sector. Tribunals really take to him." (Chambers & Partners Global 2018 – Energy & Natural Resources UK)

    Energy and natural resources:

    Alex has advised and appeared in disputes concerning exploration for and extraction of natural resources, including disputes between joint venture partners and disputes under drilling contracts. Recent examples include the following:

    • 2018: Representing an investor in a US$500m LCIA arbitration arising out of alleged failure to provide funding for the development of gas-fields in Central Asia.
    • 2018: Representing a Chinese metals company in an LME arbitration; in particular, a jurisdiction dispute concerning economic tort claims following interruption to the delivery of precious metals from the DRC.
    • 2017-2018: Representing an African oil storage company in anti-suit injunction applications made in an LCIA arbitration arising from a dispute concerning the cancellation of loans.
    • 2017-2018: Advising a Middle-Eastern State aluminium company concerning claims following erroneous shutdown of the plant.
    • 2017: Advising a Chinese metals company in a dispute concerning the cancellation of a contract for the supply of precious metals following allegations relating to the use of child labour.
    • 2017: Representing the purchaser in a claim for an injunction restraining the disposal of copper anodes under production in South America.
    • 2015-2017: Representing the contractor in a US$60m dispute board hearing and subsequent ICC arbitration concerning an alleged EPC contract relating to iron ore mining operations in the South Pacific.
    • 2016: Representing an African oil company in an LCIA arbitration pursuant to a JOA and PSC. The claims included allegations of shortcomings in deepwater drilling operations conducted offshore West Africa.
    • 2016: Representing a Chinese steel producer in an arbitration application concerning an alleged error in an LCIA award relating to coal supply: Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd v Benxi Iron and Steel (Group) International Economic and Trading Co Ltd [2016] EWHC 2022 (Comm); [2017] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 299.
    • 2016: Advising an insurer in relation to claims arising from Qingdao warehouse losses.
    • 2015: Representing a South-East Asian oil refinery in a US$500 million ad hoc arbitration concerning the export of bitumen.
    • 2015: Advising a mining company in relation to the termination of a very high value share purchase contract.

     

    Offshore construction:

    Alex frequently acts for contractors and owners in disputes concerning the performance and cancellation of contracts for pipelines, offshore structures, semi-submersible drilling rigs, jack up drilling rigs, drill ships and barges. Recent examples have included the following:

    • 2018-2019: Representing South Stream (a Gazprom subsidiary) in ICC arbitration proceedings brought by Italian energy services company Saipem in connection with the termination of an approximately €2 billion contract for the construction of a 900km gas pipeline from Russia to Bulgaria across the Black Sea.
    • 2018-2019: Representing a Central Asian state oil company in a dispute concerning the construction of a jack-up drilling rig.
    • 2018: Representing a Chinese ship yard in multiple LMAA arbitrations concerning alleged defects in the design of propulsion machinery in a fleet of ships.
    • 2018: Representing a US/Norwegian drilling contractor in an LMAA arbitration concerning cancellation of a contract for the construction of a drilling barge.
    • 2016: Representing the Greek buyer in an LMAA arbitration concerning the resale of a bulk carrier following the wrongful cancellation of a shipbuilding contract.
    • 2016: Representing an Italian shipyard in a professional negligence claim against London solicitors relating to the presentation of a delay case in an LMAA arbitration.
    • 2016: Representing the US buyer in a dispute arising out of the termination of a c.US$600m contract for construction of a drill ship due to alleged insolvency of the Yard.
    • 2015: Advising a Chinese yard in a dispute concerning the construction of a >US$500m semi-submersible drilling rig.
    • 2015: Advising a Chinese yard in a dispute concerning the termination of a c.US$200 contract for the supply of a jack-up drilling rig.
    • 2015: Representing the Chinese shipyard in 2-ship cancellation dispute, following rejection of the ships due to their condition on delivery.
    • 2014; Representing the European contractor in an LCIA arbitration arising from a final account dispute related to the world’s largest offshore construction project (a hook-up project in a CIS country).
    • 2014: Advising a European bank in relation to the drawdown of the second tranche of >US$300m funding for the construction of 2 new-build vessels.
  • Arbitration (As Counsel)

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    Alex is instructed in a wide range of domestic and international arbitrations including under ICC, LCIA, LMAA, UNCITRAL, DIAC and trade association rules. He also acts on arbitration appeals, applications to set aside awards, challenges to Tribunal jurisdiction and ancillary applications to Court in arbitration matters. He is one of only 3 silks ranked in Chambers & Partners for both International Arbitration: General Commercial and International Arbitration: Construction/Engineering.

    "Super responsive and very hands-on." "Very good on his feet." "Exceptionally hard-working, extremely knowledgeable and good at cross-examining expert witnesses, yet easy-going and a constant pleasure to deal with." (Chambers UK Bar 2020 - International Arbitration)

    "Has an extremely deep knowledge of construction/energy law and international arbitration practice and procedure." (Legal 500 2019 - International Arbitration)

    "Sharp, well prepared and responsive. His advocacy skills are superb and clients like him." (Chambers UK Bar 2019 - International Arbitration: General Commercial & Insurance)

    “Cool, calm and collected. He marshals tons of documents, evidence and information in the shortest time and responds in clear, user-friendly language. A highly impressive advocate on the largest, most complex cases.” (Chambers UK Bar 2019 - International Arbitration: Construction/Engineering)

    ‘An impressive QC, incredibly hardworking and smart.’ (Legal 500 London Bar 2019 – International Arbitration Counsel)

    ‘You can always be confident that he will go that extra mile as and when needed.’ (Legal 500 London Bar 2019 – Shipping)

    Examples of work (excluding the energy/offshore construction arbitrations which form the bulk of Alex’s practice and which are referred to above) include: 

    2018: Representing the main contractor in a US$150m ICC arbitration against a subcontractor concerning defects in the boilers at a Combined Cycle Thermal Plant in the Middle East.

    2017: Representing the Republic of Turkey in an ICC arbitration concerning one of the contracts for the Marmaray Rail Project in Istanbul.

    2016: Representing an insurer in relation to claims arising from Qingdao warehouse losses.

    2016: Representing a Russian company in an LCIA arbitration concerning non-payment under a settlement agreement, involving allegations of cyber attack.

    2015: Representing the employer in a US$120m ICC arbitration concerning the delayed completion of a Combined Cycle Thermal Power Plant in the Middle East.

    2015: Acting for a power company in a dispute concerning the performance of generating equipment at a power plant in South East Asia.

    2014: Representing a UK engineering company in an ad hoc insurance arbitration arising out of a claim to recover punitive damages liability to which it was exposed in the US.

    On two occasions in 2017 Alex sat as an arbitrator, once in an LMAA dispute in London, once in an ICC case in Doha. Both cases have concluded. He has not accepted any further appointments since and has no desire to develop an arbitrator practice.

  • Commercial Litigation

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    Alex has a wide-ranging commercial practice and is frequently instructed by commercial clients and insurers in major disputes concerning international and domestic business transactions. As noted above, many of these disputes are referred to arbitration. He also, however, appears regularly in the principal divisions of the High Court, in particular the Commercial Court. He has substantial experience of related interlocutory relief such as search orders, freezing injunctions and security for costs.

    "Bright, sensible and somebody who can produce a definitive note on a case overnight." (Chambers UK Bar 2020 - Commercial Dispute Resolution)

    "Highly intelligent, a very skilled advocate and part of the team." "Combines the best qualities of a formidable advocate with accessibility, goodwill and a readiness to assist." (Chambers & Partners Global 2018 - Dispute Resolution: Commercial – UK)

    "A great pleasure to work with - solicitors and lay clients find him a go-to advocate" (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific 2019 - Commercial)

    Examples of work include: 

    • 2018: Representing a Peruvian casino owner in a jurisdiction dispute arising out of an alleged online gaming conspiracy: Eurasia Sports Ltd v Aguad [2018] EWCA Civ 1742
    • 2017: Representing SocGen in applications arising out of attempted service of proceedings in Turkey and related freezing injunctions: Societe Generale v Goldas Kuyumculuk Sanayi Ithalat Ihracat AS [2017] EWHC 667 (Comm)
    • 2017: Acting for the owner in a dispute concerning payments due in respect of construction of waste-to-energy plant.
    • 2013-2017: VIS Trading v Nazarov [2014] EWCA Civ 313,d [2013] EWHC 491, [2015] EWHC 3327 (QB), representing the claimant in a dispute relating to dishonest failure to provide security for loans, including subsequent committal proceedings against the defendant and applications for the disclosure of information on assets in the BVI.
    • 2015-2017: Advising an investment fund in relation to potential claims arising out of the Madoff Ponzi scheme.
    • 2016: Representing a joint venture party in relation to payments allegedly due following a JV agreement in respect of an oil prospecting licence in West Africa.
    • 2016: Advising a CIS company in respect of potential claims against a bank following the enforcement of security.
    • 2015-2016: Representing a Spanish shipyard in a claim by an oil company concerning the resistance of an offshore platform to ship impact.
    • 2015: Qinetiq Ltd v Cofely Workplace Ltd [2015] EWHC 989 (TCC), representing the claimant in a dispute arising out of accidental damage to drone aircraft.
    • 2014: Acting for a telecoms company in relation to fees payable to corporate advisers following the sale of a subsidiary.

Education and Qualifications

King’s College London:  1989-1992: LLB; First Class Honours (Jelf medallist)

1992-1993: LLM (Commercial and Corporate Law)

Inns of Court School of Law: 1993-1994: Outstanding

Admitted to practise in the British Virgin Islands (BVI)

Registered as an advocate in the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (DIFC)

Memberships

COMBAR: Chair of the International Committee

UK Jurisdictional Council Member for the Inter-Pacific Bar Association

Member of the 6th Working Group of the Permanent Forum of China Construction Law

Member of LCIA European Users’ Council

Supporting member of the LMAA

Other Interests

Rugby: long-suffering Bath Rugby supporter, sponsor of QMUL 1st XV and UCS Old Boys.

Music: supporter (Producing Circle member) of The Roundhouse in Camden.

Running.