Rajesh Pillai KC

Rajesh Pillai KC

Call: 2002; 2003 (New York Bar) | Silk: 2020

"Rajesh is astute, commercial and sees the key points quickly. He's a very effective and a no-nonsense advocate."

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2024)

"He's very good at dealing with a team and with clients especially and simplifying complex concepts."

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2024)

"No issue or problem is too big for him, and he is able to calm nerves in the room while maintaining focus on the key issues."

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2024)

'Raj is incredibly strong on his feet - equally comfortable in cross-examination as he is in appellate submissions.'

- Legal 500 UK Bar (2024)

'Smooth but forceful advocate, and great with clients. Rajesh is forensic but also has astute commercial awareness.'

- Legal 500 UK Bar (2024)

Arbitration Overview

Rajesh Pillai KC deals with high-value and complex commercial disputes and has significant international experience. He has deep knowledge of arbitration as counsel, having appeared in matters in a variety of jurisdictions over the last twenty years. He is instructed in important claims on behalf of corporate clients, high net worth individuals and States. He is now available for appointment as an arbitrator.

Rajesh is able to resolve claims involving contractual matters, banking and financial services, mergers and acquisitions, joint-venture and related shareholder claims, commercial fraud, commercial real estate and asset management, art and cultural property, negligence and insolvency.  Specific experience is addressed in the sections below.

He regularly works with parties and lawyers from different jurisdictions. He is called to the Bars of England and Wales, New York and the BVI. He is a registered foreign practitioner with the Singapore International Commercial Court and the DIFC Court. He has also appeared in disputes before the ADGM Court.

Rajesh has dealt with systems of law and expert evidence from a variety of sectors. He is adept at handling expert valuation evidence and quantum issues. He is also well used to dealing with arguments and approaches from a variety of different legal and cultural backgrounds. He is alive to the potential for culture clashes and the need for sensitivity in the formal context of an arbitration. Rajesh has been described in the legal directories as one who “understands the complexities of unwieldy disputes in a three-dimensional way.

Rajesh is also comfortable dealing with applications for urgent or emergency interim relief in the context of arbitration and related court proceedings, including freezing and antisuit injunctions, security for costs and witness depositions.

Rajesh has experience of disputes governed by a range of rules from ad hoc arbitrations to those administered under the LCIA, ICC, SIAC, GCC (Bahrain) and BCCI (Bulgaria). He is also a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He is recommended as counsel for international arbitration in Chambers UK, Chambers Global, Chambers Asia-Pacific, Legal 500 UK and Legal 500 Asia-Pacific. He has been listed as one of Who’s Who Legal’s Future Leaders in Arbitration.

Rajesh’s international background complements his professional experience. His family is Sri Lankan in origin and he was brought up in England. Rajesh holds undergraduate degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and an LLM from New York University School of Law. He speaks conversational French and Sinhala. He gives regular talks on litigation and arbitration and has published on a variety of disputes topics.

Ranked as a leading silk in International Arbitration in the leading legal directories. The Chambers UK Guide 2022 says that Rajesh “has a great in-depth knowledge of how the system works and can handle large international disputes globally. His advice is extremely sound and he is commercially sound. He’s very sought after and in demand. He has a good blend of diligence and commerciality.”

Chambers Asia-Pacific 2022 describes Rajesh as being “particularly well known for his handling of matters with Indian, Indonesian or Malaysian connections”, as “an up-and-coming silk and one to watch” who is “one of the handful of English Bar barristers who really get India and Indian legal practice.”

The Legal 500 Guide for 2022 says Rajesh has a “Brilliant mix of technical expertise and commercial nous. Manages to cut through and identify the key issues”. Before taking silk, Rajesh was the only junior counsel named in Chambers Asia Pacific’s Spotlight table for the international arbitration bar.

Parties from:  Africa, Western and Central / Eastern Europe, Middle East, North America, South and SE Asia

Seated in: Bermuda, BVI, Delhi, Hong Kong, London, Paris, Singapore, Sofia, Switzerland, UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain)

Governing law: Australia, Bermuda, Bulgaria, BVI, Cayman Islands, People’s Republic of China, Cyprus, England and Wales, Egypt, France, Greece, Guernsey, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Jersey, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, USA (California, Delaware, New Jersey, New York), Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, public international law.

Art and cultural property: title and payment; authenticity; provenance; auction disputes

Construction: Owners, contractors; terminal licensing arrangement, hydro-electric plant defects, gold mining facility, turnkey engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) issues.

Energy / natural resources / mining: Multinational energy companies; electric utility fraud, hydroelectric plant issues; liquefied natural gas (LNG) distribution network, regasification, arrest of FSRU; oil trading; iron ore mine licensing and concession issues; solar power joint venture; gold mining investment dispute; claim over license to operate port terminal.

Financial services: Financial agreements, including loans, refund and demand bonds, guarantees; mortgages and complex securities; competing rights and trust issues; bondholder claims; syndicated lending, junior, mezzanine and senior creditor issues; fraudulent misrepresentation on listed exchanges (LSE and AIM); state expropriation of bank; claims against noteholders; failed joint-venture investment bank; commission arrangements; commercial lending; international trade finance; insolvency and office-holder claims.

Hospitality: Hotel and managed residential buildings; key person.

Life sciences: pharmaceutical company disputes over bonded warehouse and distribution arrangement, cross-border supply agreement; domestic regulation.

Commercial real estate: aggregation of land parcels; investment; zoning and change of use; regulatory issues.

Technology and media: Information technology companies, license termination; royalties; musical copyright infringement; use of confidential / proprietary information, GPS satellites for logistics, springboard injunction; license and distribution agreement for film rights; license and distribution for sporting media rights (football), trading with a view to profit (tax) issues; City transport restructure and regulation.

Post-M&A, joint venture, commercial: Post-M&A purchase price (working capital) top-up, accounting / tax, environmental indemnification claims; asset purchase agreement; joint venture agreement; claim in relation to reasonable profit forecasting; goodwill and exclusion clauses; notice and termination; interpretation; financial caps and thresholds; securities, share purchase agreement; supply agreement, charitable (non-profit) organization; University student recruitment; Commodities (metals, sugar); waste management; recycling.

Public international law, investment treaties: acted for investors involved in investment disputes over urban transport network investment; advised former owners of bank in relation to expropriation issues.

Manufacturing: Aerospace industry manufacturing and quality issues, NADCAP accreditation, Vehicle manufacturing and design (platforms; power steering); shipbuilding and ship finance.

Recent work includes:

  • Acting for Indian pharmaceutical company in dispute over vaccine licensing and distribution; SIAC rules, Singapore seat.
  • Acting for Indian power company in dispute over supply from China; SIAC rules, Singapore seat.
  • Acting for Indian energy group in disputes over termination of charters and related contracts for LNG regasification unit; ICC and SIAC rules, London and Singapore seats.
  • Acting for New York and PRC investors in $18m dispute over hotel investments; CIArb (Bermuda) Rules, Bermuda seat.
  • Acting for European bank in a €15m dispute over trade financing arrangements for metals transactions; LCIA Rules, London seat.
  • Acting for Middle Eastern company in claim for commission in relation to energy contracts in Iraq; ICC Rules, London seat.
  • Advising Indian oil and gas consultancy in dispute over services; LCIA Rules, London seat.
  • Acting for Serbian companies in claim over breach of warranty in high-value commercial real estate dispute; LCIA Rules, London seat.
  • Acting for a US client in a $multi-million claim against Indian manufacturer over agency and commission for Latin American sales; co-counsel with US team; ICC Rules, London seat.
  • Acting for UK banking group in €100m claim for recoveries arising out of the largest M&A transaction of recent times, involving the merger of four banking groups (with Jonathan Davies-Jones KC); ICC Rules, Paris seat.
  • Acting for an Indian developer in a £350m dispute over alleged investment recommendations (with Richard Salter KC and Jonathan Davies-Jones KC); LCIA Rules, Singapore seat.
  • Acting for Indian infrastructure company in $multi-million dispute over energy joint venture in India; co-counsel with Indian team; SIAC Rules, Singapore seat.
  • Acting for an Indian developer in a US$1bn dispute over Indian real estate ventures; LCIA-I Rules, New Delhi seat.
  • Application to obtain deposition evidence for use in foreign-seated arbitration under the Arbitration Act 1996 (Commercial Court).
  • Advised Australian machinery company on arbitration relating to European subsidiary’s supply contract with English public body.
  • Acting on behalf of Middle Eastern company in dispute over foreign investment. Shareholder dispute involving entities from the region and state; ICC Rules, London seat.
  • Acting on behalf of claimant mining company resisting s9 Arbitration Act 1996 application for stay (Commercial Court).
  • Acting on behalf of investment fund in dispute over South Asian power plant involving Cayman and Singaporean parties; acting with New York and Singapore counsel; SIAC Rules, Singapore seat.
  • Acting on behalf of Indian telecoms company in financing dispute with Japanese party; acting with New York and Mumbai counsel; LCIA Rules, Singapore seat.
  • Acting on behalf of arranger in claims for commission and damages relating to break up of joint venture on investment banking operations in the Gulf involving Dubai, Kuwaiti and European parties; GCC Rules, Bahrain seat.
  • Acting on behalf of precious metal mining company in arbitration over design and construction services involving BVI, Jersey and Kazakh interests; issues include alleged bribery, rescission and contractual estoppel; ad hoc and LCIA Rules relevant (with Jonathan Nash KC).
  • Acted on behalf of claimant multinational pharmaceutical companies in two arbitrations involving UK, Swedish and Bulgarian parties; issues included breach of contract, alleged bribery, commercial agency, standards of proof in international arbitration; BCCI Rules, Sofia seat (with Jonathan Nash KC).
  • Advised on the validity of arbitration clauses and the finality of trade association (International Cotton Association) arbitration awards.
  • 2003-present Barrister at 3 Verulam Buildings, Gray’s Inn, London
  • 2021 Called to the BVI Bar
  • 2020 Appointed Queen’s Counsel
  • 2008-2018 Appointed to the UK Attorney-General’s Panel of counsel
  • 2003 Selected as intern to the Appellate Body of the WTO, Geneva;  Called to the New York Bar
  • 2002 Called to the Bar of England & Wales
  • 2001-2002 LLM International Legal Studies – New York University School of Law
  • 2000-2001 Bar Vocational Course – Inns of Court School of Law, London
  • 1998-2000 BA Hons (Law) – Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge
  • 1995-1998 BA Hons (English) – St Anne’s College, University of Oxford

Rajesh has been recognised in the legal directories for a number of years. Selected comments from the 2021 & 2022 guides include:

Legal 500

UK Bar, International Arbitration Counsel

Brilliant mix of technical expertise and commercial nous. Manages to cut through and identify the key issues.

Asia-Pacific, The English Bar

He provides clear thinking, good presentation skills and frank advice.

Chambers & Partners

International Arbitration – The Bar – Asia-Pacific Region Spotlight Table

Rajesh Pillai KC of 3 Verulam Buildings is noted for his prominent roles on arbitrations involving disputes in which investors, joint venture partners or shareholders are the key participants, or those in which financial services or fraud-related issues feature strongly. Particularly well known for his handling of matters with Indian, Indonesian or Malaysian connections, he is described by one interviewee as “an up-and-coming silk and one to watch,” while another calls him a “sensitive and measured” advocate who is “one of the handful of English Bar barristers who really get India and Indian legal practice.”

International Arbitration – The English Bar – Global: Multi-Jurisdictional

Rajesh Pillai KC provides robust assistance in international arbitrations. He acts for a wide range of clients including contractors, investment funds and shareholders. He is often sought after for his expertise in offshore and foreign law disputes, particularly in connection with India. His clients include companies and individuals from around the world.

Strengths: “He has a great in-depth knowledge of how the system works and can handle large international disputes globally. His advice is extremely sound and he is commercially sound.” “He’s very sought after and in demand. He has a good blend of diligence and commerciality.”

Winner: UK Bar Awards 2023
The Lawyer Awards 2022: Chambers of the Year