Christopher Symons KC

Christopher Symons KC

Call: 1972 | Silk: 1989

"3 Verulam Buildings is first-class."

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2022)

“The set boasts some of the strongest practitioners in the market.”

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2022)

Practice Overview

After spending upwards of 40 years as a practising barrister, 26 of them as a QC, and 17 years as a Deputy High Court Judge, Christopher now works as a full time International Commercial Arbitrator and also accepts appointments as a mediator when a commercial approach is required.

Best known for his expertise in insurance and reinsurance disputes. He is also recommended for working on Arbitrations involving general commercial and financial disputes construction, telecommunications, shipping, pharmaceuticals and commodities. He acts as chair and co-arbitrator in cases under the auspices of the ICC, the LCIA, ARIAS, AAA and UNCITRAL among others.

"He is a steady hand and chairs with a wonderful calmness." Chambers & Partners 2024

"A delight to sit with. Conspicuously fair, measured, calm, reassuring, and succinct. High regard for him." Legal 500 2024

"He manages proceedings well." Chambers & Partners 2023

Strengths: "He is thoughtful, very judicial and is top of my list for insurance-related arbitrations." "He is always well prepared and prompt to reply." "He is very efficient and an excellent arbitrator." Chambers and Partners 2022

Christopher Symons is especially known for his expertise in arbitrating insurance disputes. Legal 500 2022

Strengths: "Absolutely delightful, charming and a very intelligent arbitrator." "A very reliable arbitrator, particularly in insurance disputes. He's dependable, works hard and is a fantastic go-to." Chambers and Partners 2021

“Very experienced, conscientious, wise and fair, but not afraid of making a decision.”
Legal 500 2021

During his years at the Bar Christopher was best known as a “heavyweight” in insurance and reinsurance including Bermuda Form Arbitrations. His practice and now his work as an Arbitrator covers professional negligence, claims by professionals against their insurers and the whole range of commercial disputes. These include financial disputes, shareholder and breach of warranty claims, energy, mining and commodity disputes as well as a large range of building and construction disputes, particularly those involving professionals. He made the decision to cease accepting instructions as Counsel in 2016. At the same time he has also ceased sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge having sat, deciding a variety of disputes, over the past 17 years.

Christopher has sat as an Arbitrator, as well as acting as Counsel in Arbitrations on a regular basis over the past 10 years. By ceasing to accept instructions as a Barrister the problems associated with conflicts of interest have largely disappeared. Over recent years Christopher has accepted appointments as an Arbitrator to deal with Insurance and Reinsurance disputes, including those involving the Bermuda Form, financial disputes, construction disputes, commodity disputes, shareholder breach of warranty claims, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, shipping  and other contractual claims. He is a member of the LCIA, ICC, and ARIAS  and on the panel of Arbitrators with the KLRCA.

Christopher was recognised in a Global Arbitration Review (GAR) article. The article referred to a $22M arbitration between US aviation company GA Telesis and bankrupt Russian airline Transaero as an example of how the use of a sole arbitrator, in this case, 3VB’s Christopher Symons QC, can speed up the legal process and help to reduce costs. The full GAR article can be read here.

Christopher has mediated a number of difficult commercial cases with a good success rate. He has a commercial approach to facilitating settlement and by helping parties to understand the weaknesses in their case regularly makes settlement possible where it seemed to be out of reach. Some of the cases have involved the insurance world, one in particular involving some unhappy Lloyd’s names stands out, but his experience goes much wider to embrace all types of commercial disputes most recently successfully mediating two separate auditors negligence actions. In 2022 he acted as the mediator in a complex insurance related dispute.

  • LCIA Arbitration arising from a dispute between the contractor and sub-contractor relating to the refurbishment of an FPSO – co-arbitrator with Clare Ambrose and Audley Sheppard QC
  • LCIA Arbitration relating to a pharmaceutical company’s claim against its insurers following alleged misrepresentation of the company’s product – co-arbitrator with Alistair Schaff QC and Mark Templeman QC
  • ARIAS arbitration involving a claim arising from the construction of a marine berth in Australia – Chair with co-arbitrators Sir Rupert Jackson and Andrew Bartlett QC
  • LCIA claim under a Trade Credit Insurance against the risk of non-payment of bills of exchange – co-arbitrator with Dame Elizabeth Gloster and Dominic Kendrick QC
  • Ad Hoc Arbitration involving a claim under a crime policy relating to theft of telecommunication equipment – chair and sole arbitrator.
  • An ICC Arbitration seated in Jordan relating to the failure of a steam turbine at a power  plant – co-arbitrators Ahmed Ibrahim and Ramiz Barghouti
  • ICC Arbitration concerning a contractual claim relating to transporting pilgrims from Israel to Mecca by air for the Haj – sole arbitrator.
  • LCIA claim under a Deed of Guarantee relating to mining operations in Sierra Leone – chair with co-arbitrators Sir Gordon Langley and Andrew Foyle.
  • Contractual dispute relating to marine offshore pipe-laying – umpire with Arbitrators Richard Fernyhough QC and Andrew Bartlett QC.
  • LCIA claims under various loan agreements  – co-arbitrator with Laurence Craig and Helen Davies QC.
  • LCIA Claim under a Share Holders Agreement relating to property in Russia chair with co-arbitrators William Rowley QC and Michael Brindle QC.
  • Bermuda Form claim by medical device manufacturer against its insurers – co-arbitrators Sir Mark Waller and Sam Haubold.
  • Property damage claim under a Bermuda Form Insurance contract arising out of use of a herbicide – co-arbitrators William Rowley QC and James Carter.
  • LCIA Breach of warranty claim arising out of a share purchase agreement – co-arbitrators Michael Brindle Q.C. and Duncan Matthews QC.
  • Claims arising out of the disturbances in Bangkok – co-arbitrators Sir Bernard Rix and Michael Collins QC.
  • Sole Arbitrator in claim under a policy of insurance in respect of the costs of defending a shareholder derivative action.
  • Insurance claim arising from a rail accident in Italy – co-arbitrators Colin Edelman QC and Professor Rusty Park
  • Sole Arbitrator in LCIA arbitration re a claim relating to the interpretation of a contract for supply of a mineral commodity in Australia.
  • Reinsurance claim arising out of the marketing of certain tax products – co arbitrators Sir Simon Tuckey and Lord Hoffmann
  • Claim under a Financial Institutions Combined Crime and Civil Liability policy relating to certain forged or counterfeit Instruments – Chair with co- arbitrators Colin Edelman QC and Alistair Schaff QC.
  • Dispute involving losses arising from a displaced FPSO – co- arbitrators Colin Edelman QC and Richard Youell.
  • Reinsurance claim under Quota Share and Cessions Treaties relating to certain pharmaceutical products – Chair – co-arbitrators Colin Edelman QC and David Jackson AM QC.
  • LCIA Arbitration involving a claim on a payment default contract of insurance – Chair with co-Arbitrators Jonathan Gaisman QC and Christopher Butcher QC.
  • Insurance coverage dispute involving a business interruption claim – co-arbitrators Sir Simon Tuckey and Jonathan Hirst QC.
  • Sole arbitrator in ICC Arbitration concerning a Processing and Servicing Agreement for Electronic Prepaid Recharging of Mobile telephones
  • Bermuda Form Arbitration in Bermuda involving claim by a financial services company against their excess layer quota share insurers – co-arbitrators William Rowley QC and Paul Hannon.
  • Contractual dispute between a foreign bank and a provider of credit and debit card services – Chair with co-arbitrators Oba Nsogbe QC and Tony Marks.
  • A dispute involving the construction of a luxury motor yacht – Chair with co-arbitrators Ian Hunter QC and Christopher Hancock QC.
  • Dispute involving losses to a chemical and refining company following Hurricane Ike – co arbitrators Sir Mark Waller and Ian Glick QC.
  • Insurance dispute concerned with damage caused by the California fires – Chair with co- arbitrators Bryan Kellett and Heather Thomas.
  • Insurance dispute concerned with damage to a mine in Africa acting as Umpire with arbitrators Michael Lee and John Lockey QC.
  • Insurance dispute over damage caused to property in the Caribbean as a result of hurricane damage – co-arbitrators Sir Mark Potter and Colin Edelman QC.
  • Sole arbitrator in a dispute between insurers as to which year of account a claim against solicitors fell to be indemnified.
  • An insurance dispute involving pharmaceutical products – co-arbitrators Sir Gordon Langley and Dominic Kendrick QC.
  • An insurance dispute involving the Witch Creek fires. Chair – co arbitrators Colin Edelman QC and Richard Youell.
  • Employment dispute under UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules – co-arbitrators Michel Kallipetis QC and Michael Lee.
  • LCIA arbitration re share purchase agreements – co-arbitrators Andrew Foyle and Toby Landau QC.
  • Reinsurance Arbitration involving Marine xs loss – Chair with co-arbitrators Richard Youell and Bryan Kellett.
  • Insurance arbitration in Bermuda co-arbitrator claim re right to recovery for losses arising from FSA intervention – co-arbitrators JL McDougall QC and Bill Jentes.
  • Insurance arbitration re damage to New Orleans hotel after Hurricane Katrina – co-arbitrator with Michael Collins QC and J. Stevens Clay.
  • LCIA arbitration as chair involving directors and officers cover issued to a Bermuda Telecommunications company – co-arbitrators Lord Irvine and Colin Edelman QC.
  • Arbitration involving a dispute over the construction of a Monorail system co-arbitrators – Ian Hunter QC and Professor John Uff QC.
  • LCIA arbitration involving the reinsurance of an insurance companies CAR account – co-arbitrators Bryan Kellett and John Emney.
  • Arbitration as sole arbitrator on question of whether there had been a good notification under a professional negligence policy issued to a firm of accountants.
  • Sole Arbitrator in LCIA Arbitration in a now publicised arbitration between US aviation company GA Telesis and bankrupt Russian airline Transaero in relation to a contractual claim relating to the leasing and maintenance of aircraft engines and parts. For recent GAR Article see here.
Winner: UK Bar Awards 2023
The Lawyer Awards 2022: Chambers of the Year