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Practice Summary

Seb Isaac took silk this year, after being recognised for a number of years as one of the leading juniors at the Commercial Bar in both general commercial disputes and specialist banking and finance litigation. 

In recent years, Seb has appeared in many of the most significant actions in the Commercial Court, and in very demanding and high value arbitrations.

Seb has a particular strength in dealing with the most complex commercial disputes, and in getting to grips with the demanding technical issues of the type which arise in commercial banking and finance, oil, gas and commodities, and civil fraud disputes.

An outstanding oral advocate and cross-examiner who “commands the courtroom,” Seb is particularly noted by clients for being “user-friendly,” “very easy to deal with,” “a team player," "responsive," "approachable," and "commercially minded."

Seb is recommended (in the most recent directories, published before he took silk) as a leading junior by both Chambers & Partners UK and Legal 500, and is recognised both for his ability to manage heavy cases, for his advice and written advocacy, and for his strong courtroom performance. 

For Commercial Dispute Resolution, Seb’s Tier 1 listing in Chambers & Partners UK records that he is “A walking encyclopedia in terms of the law, and someone who has a very quick grasp of facts and concepts. He has a pretty singular ability to analyse things instantly and distil them down.” In previous years, Chambers & Partners noted that “He is very bright, very hard-working, very easy to deal with and a good team player”, “He has an authority beyond his years, and he commands the courtroom” and that he is “Extremely intelligent and has lots of clear ideas as to how to achieve various ends.”  

Seb is also recommended for Commercial Dispute Resolution by Legal 500 in Tier 1, saying “He has it all. A fabulous strategist, very clever lawyer, very user-friendly, wide-ranging knowledge and ability to understand and explain esoteric concepts, brilliant draftsman and strikes the right tone in court.” In previous years, Legal500 said: “A star of the Bar for the years to come, Seb manages to combine that quality with an easy going and very approachable style which makes him a fabulous asset on any case.

For Banking and Finance, Chambers & Partners said Seb “will have a long and illustrious career. He is very clever, responsive, user-friendly and fun to work with.”. Previous years’ commentary included: “has a great ability to master the detail on factually complex matters and is also extremely easy to work with,” “Incredibly good at managing cases, and effective both on paper and on his feet”; “He is a joy to work with, as he is a very clever man who is able to explain complex problems well”; “He's good at identifying unique arguments and thinking outside the box. He's great to work with, very responsive and commercially minded”, “He's very user-friendly, commercial, responsive and technically brilliant.”

Seb’s Legal500 listing says he is “Very quick to get to the heart of a matter, gives clear, incisive advice, without doubt, one of my top choices for senior junior on banking and finance cases“. In previous years, Legal 500 explained that Seb ““Gets to grips with complex legal and factual scenarios very quickly and is a pleasure to work with”, and that he is “Very strategic and extremely supportive – obtains fantastic results.

In 2019, Seb appeared in two of the highest profile trials in the Commercial Court, Yukos Finance v Lynch and others [2019] EWHC 2621 in June and July 2019 and Avonwick Holding v Azitio Holdings in October and November 2019. In 2020, Seb appeared in another of the year’s most significant trials, acting for the sellers in the leading case on the effect of the Covid-19 crisis on mergers and acquisitions contracts, Travelport Ltd v WEX [2020] EWHC 2670 (Comm).

In 2021, Seb was mainly engaged in a very high value confidential arbitration for a Dutch infrastructure investment company in a dispute with its joint venture partner in a deep water grain terminal on the Russian black sea coast, for which an Award will be delivered in 2022, and in early 2021 Seb appeared in the Commercial Court trial between the Brazilian mining company, Vale, and Beny Steinmetz and his associates.

Seb’s recent cases include:

  • Travelport Ltd v WEX [2020] EWHC 2670 (Comm): Seb appeared with Richard Hill QC, Sa’ad Hossain QC and others for the sellers of a travel payments business in a $1.7 billion transaction in the trial of preliminary issues relating to whether the “Material Adverse Effect” clause in the contract releases the buyers from the obligations to close as a result of the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Avonwick Holding v Azitio Holdings and others [2020] EWHC 1844 (Comm): Seb appeared successfully with David Wolfson QC for Mr Oleg Mkrtchan in another of the biggest trials in the English courts, between the current and former shareholders of the Ukrainian industrial group,  Industrial Union of the Donbass (see Avonwick Holding v Azitio Holdings, below).
  • Yukos Finance v Lynch and others [2019] EWHC 2621: Seb appeared successfully with Stephen Houseman QC for the hedge fund manager Richard Deitz in a Commercial court trial arising from the acquisition of Yukos Finance BV, a $1.5 billion company, in the auctions of Yukos Oil’s assets in 2008.
  • Sharp v Blank [2017] EWHC 3390 (Ch): Seb appeared (with Richard Hill QC and others) for the Claimant shareholders of Lloyds who sued the Bank and its directors over non-disclosures in the Circular for the takeover of HBOS during the global financial crisis.
  • Pinchuk v Kolomoisky & Bogolyubov: Seb acted (with Jonathan Crow QC, David Foxton QC and others) for the Ukrainian Victor Pinchuk in his very high value LCIA Arbitration and High Court claims against Igor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov; both of which were pursued successfully to settlement during and just before the final hearings.

Main areas of practice include energy, commodities, banking and finance, civil fraud, and professional negligence.