Philippe Kuhn

Year of call:
2017
Email:
philippe.kuhn@39essex.com

Clerks:
+44 (0)20 7832 1111

Philippe has an international practice specialising in commercial and construction disputes. He is also frequently instructed in mixed civil (including property), public law and employment disputes.

His main practice interest is in commercial matters with an international dimension, in particular civil fraud, banking & finance, arbitration, energy, construction, insolvency, jurisdiction, choice of law and insurance disputes. Notable recent instructions are from clients in Ukraine, Singapore, India, Russia, China and across Continental Europe. He regularly acts for large corporations, insurers, high-net worth individuals as well as central and local government.

He also has particular experience of cases at the intersection of private and public law, in particular procurement and Human Rights Act damages claims. This builds on his international background, growing up in Switzerland and Sri Lanka, before reading law at the LSE and Oxford and qualifying as a barrister in England.

Notable current and recent instructions as junior counsel include multiple Commercial Court and Chancery Division civil fraud, banking, insolvency, arbitration enforcement and contractual damages claims and acting in a Covid-19 testing procurement case in the TCC. As sole counsel, Philippe regularly appears in and advises on a range of commercial, construction, personal injury, travel and property disputes, including in specialist lists.

Prior to joining Chambers, Philippe was a Judicial Assistant at the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (2018/19), assigned to Lord Briggs, Lord Sumption and Lord Sales, and pupil barrister at 11KBW (2017/18). Relevant experience includes assisting in the Bank Mellat Article 1 Protocol 1 ECHR damages litigation arising out of asset freezing orders against a major Iranian bank and Vedanta Resources PLC v Lungowe [2019] UKSC 20 concerning jurisdiction issues in a mass tort claim by Zambian nationals.

Philippe is a native English and German speaker. He also speaks intermediate French and Sinhala.

Commercial, Construction & International Arbitration


Philippe’s commercial and construction practice covers a wide range of sectors, from civil fraud, banking & financial services, international arbitration, oil and gas, energy, insolvency, aviation, insurance and technology to residential and commercial property.

He has particular experience in complex civil fraud claims involving s.423 Insolvency Act 1986 and common law conspiracy claims (including related insolvency applications), banking guarantee enforcement claims, and freezing injunction and contempt of court applications.

Notable current and recent instructions include:

  • Acting as junior counsel in a EUR 230 million civil fraud claim in the Chancery Division, having successfully obtained a EUR 110 million worldwide freezing injunction against over 20 respondents in 5 different jurisdictions.
  • Acting as junior counsel in a US$10 million cross-border banking guarantee dispute in the Chancery Division against a major international bank.
  • Acting as junior counsel in a US$6 million banking guarantee enforcement dispute in the Commercial Court against a Russian state-owned bank.
  • Acting as sole counsel in the Chancery Division in an application for discharge of custodial sentences for contempt of court as part of a long-running cross-border commercial contract dispute.
  • Acting as junior counsel in a complex £4m property finance civil fraud claim in the Chancery Division involving s.423 Insolvency Act and common law conspiracy claims.
  • Acting as junior counsel in a Commercial Court international commercial arbitration enforcement concerning multiple LCIA awards.
  • Acting as junior counsel in a success fees claim in the Commercial Court arising out of professional advisory services in the FinTech sector.
  • Advising as junior counsel on Covid-19 force majeure events in a contentious dispute in the energy sector.
  • Assisting in contested arbitration enforcement proceedings in the Commercial Court concerning ICC awards in a Swiss-seated arbitration between Chinese and German parties.
  • Advising as sole counsel on transactions at undervalue and set-off in a cross-border insolvency involving Russian, Lithuanian and Bermudian parties.
  • Acting as sole counsel in multiple payment protection insurance (“PPI”) claims for major UK banks, dealing with issues of compromise, limitation, redress and contractual interest.
  • Acting as sole counsel in a bio-diesel supply defect damages claim.

Philippe has a particular interest in jurisdiction and choice of law issues in international commercial litigation and arbitration including joint instructions with James Ramsden QC and Marion Smith QC. This builds on his specialisms in English commercial law and private international law at the University of Oxford (during the BCL) and his experience at the Supreme Court assisting in the leading case of Vedanta Resources PLC v Lungowe [2019] UKSC 20 concerning jurisdiction issues in a mass tort claim brought by Zambian nationals.

Specifically in the construction sector, current and recent experience includes:

  • Advising as junior counsel on Covid-19 force majeure events in a contentious dispute in the energy sector concerning a biofuel power plant.
  • Acting as junior counsel in an adjudication concerning a residential property development against an insolvent counter-party.
  • Assisting at the trial stage of a Hong Kong seated HKIAC construction arbitration raising issues as to delay, scope of duty, damage to non-parties and limitation.
  • Assisting in a multi-million pound construction adjudication concerning façade defects and delay.
  • Assisting in a high-end TCC residential property defective works claim (successfully settled in mediation).
  • Acting as sole counsel in multiple subsidence damage disputes.
  • Advising as sole counsel on valuation and payment notice issues under a JCT Minor Works Building Contract 2016 edition.
  • Assisting in several high-value expert determinations under the RICS scheme arising out property development and licence disputes.

Philippe is also a co-author of:

  • The chapter on construction professionals in Wilmot-Smith on Construction Contracts (4th edition, May 2021) (with Patrick Hennessey).
  • ‘Adjudications brought by insolvent companies – An exercise in (f)utility?’ (2020) 31(8) Construction Law 24-26 (with Marion Smith QC and David Sawtell).

A further area in which Philippe has experience is advising on complex litigation funding agreements in the context of cross-border proceedings.

While at the Supreme Court, Philippe assisted on a number of significant commercial and commercial chancery appeals including:

  • Sevilleja v Marex Financial Ltd [2020] UKSC 31 – on the rule against reflective loss.
  • Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB v Conway [2019] UKPC 36 – on fraudulent preferences through share redemption payments and remedies.

While at 11KBW, Philippe worked on a range of commercial employment (misuse of confidential information, bonus and commission), shareholder and LLP/partnership disputes under the supervision of Jane McCafferty QC. His article on negotiating damages in misuse of confidential information cases post-One Step (Support) Ltd v Morris-Garner [2018] UKSC 20 was published in the autumn 2020 edition of the Edinburgh Law Review – Volume 24, Issue 3.

Philippe is a member of COMBAR and the Financial Services Lawyers Association (FSLA).

Public & Regulatory


Philippe has experience acting both for and against central and local government public bodies and in regulatory disputes. He has a particular interest in procurement disputes. Current and recent instructions include:

  • Acting as junior counsel to the Infected Blood Inquiry on financial assistance schemes for victims of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C (led by Jenni Richards QC and Katie Scott), including three weeks of hearings in February and March 2021.
  • Acting as junior counsel for the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in the TCC in Ai Diagnostics v UK Biocentre and others (led by Katherine Apps and Rose Grogan). The case concerned the procurement of software for the Lighthouse Labs used for Covid-19 testing. It settled shortly before trial.
  • Acting for a law firm in a challenge to a regulatory decision by the Legal Ombudsman.
  • Advising on a crowd-funded challenge in the special educational needs context (led by Steve Broach).
  • Advising a local authority on its Covid-19 related response (with Marion Smith QC and Ruth Keating).
  • Advising on a potential overseas malicious prosecution claim (as sole counsel).

As part of his interest in public procurement, Philippe has also contributed to a series of articles and webinars on abandonment, variation and relaxation of procurement standards in light of Covid-19.

As a pupil at Chambers, Philippe was supervised by Colin Thomann and Andrew Tabachnik QC, assisting on public law and regulatory matters in the asylum, immigration, EU sanctions and environmental regulation context. At 11KBW, he was supervised by Joanne Clement. Notable work included research assistance on quantum in the Bank Mellat A1P1 ECHR damages litigation in the Commercial Court arising out of asset freezing orders against an Iranian bank. He also gained particular experience in information, data protection and equality rights issues.

While at the Supreme Court, Philippe assisted on notable appeals, including R (Privacy International) v Investigatory Powers Tribunal [2019] UKSC 22 which raised constitutional law issues as to the legality of a potential ouster of judicial review clause.

Philippe also has a sustained academic interest in public and human rights law, including during the BCL at the University of Oxford. He has written a number of published articles in this field:

  • “Reforming the Approach to Racial and Religious Hate Speech Under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights” (OUP Human Rights Law Review, Volume 19, Issue 1, February 2019).
  • “The Rebirth of the Common Law: Common Law Constitutional Rights and Legality” (Gray’s Inn Student Law Journal, Volume 8, 2017).
  • “Rules and Discretion: Elevating the Status of Soft Law in the United Kingdom” (Washington Undergraduate Law Review, Volume VIII, Issue I, 2015).

Philippe is a member of the Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA).

Civil Liability & Property


Philippe regularly appears as sole counsel in personal injury and mixed civil Fast Track and Small Claims matters in the County Court. Hearings range from witness trials to interim applications, case management, quantum disposal and infant approval hearings. His main areas of practice are road traffic accident, occupiers’ liability and Highways Act claims. He acts both for major insurers and injured claimants, including on a CFA basis.

He has a particular interest in conflict of laws (private international law) issues in the personal injury context, including direct claims brought against insurers in the English courts for injuries sustained in accidents abroad. He has experience advising on jurisdiction, choice of law and consumer contracts issues, including in relation to the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 and the ATOL Regulations 2012.

Relevant experience also includes acting in residential property disputes raising health and safety and landlord-tenant law issues, and in commercial lease disputes. Philippe has a growing property practice at the intersection of insurance, commercial and real property law. This includes assisting in several high-value expert determinations under the RICS scheme arising out property development and licence disputes.

While at the Supreme Court, Philippe assisted in the important appeal of Vedanta Resources PLC v Lungowe [2019] UKSC 20 which resolved complex jurisdiction issues in a mass tort claim brought by Zambian nationals against the UK-domiciled parent company of a mining corporation.

As a pupil in Chambers, Philippe was supervised by Emily Formby and Judith Ayling. He gained experience in clinical negligence and personal injury matters, for NHS Trusts, local authorities and insurers. He also regularly appeared in personal injury matters in the County Court.

Philippe is a member of the Personal Injuries Bar Association (PIBA).

Employment


Philippe has broad experience of the full range of statutory and commercial employment matters as a pupil at 11KBW and judicial assistant at the Supreme Court. Current instructions include:

  • Acting as junior counsel in test claims against several police authorities in the High Court (QBD) concerning historic pay and leave entitlements under the Police Regulations (led by Martin Westgate QC and Sadie Crapper).
  • Acting as junior counsel in PGA European Tour v Kelly concerning re-engagement for unfair dismissal in the Court of Appeal (led by David Mitchell) ([2021] EWCA Civ 559, currently on appeal to the Supreme Court).

He has a particular interest in misuse of confidential information cases and injunctive relief. His article on negotiating damages in such cases post-One Step (Support) Ltd v Morris-Garner [2018] UKSC 20 was published in the autumn 2020 edition of the Edinburgh Law Review – Volume 24, Issue 3.

While at the Supreme Court, Philippe assisted on significant appeals including:

  • Royal Mencap Society v Tomlinson-Blake (pending) – on national minimum wage entitlements of home workers who are required to remain at home in their shift and of sleep-in residential care workers.
  • Egon Zehnder Ltd v Tillman [2019] UKSC 32 – the leading case on restraint of trade and the doctrine of severance of unenforceable covenants in employment contracts.

As a pupil at 11KBW, Philippe was supervised by Jane McCafferty QC and Simon Forshaw. He gained broad experience in the following main areas:

  • Commercial employment: post-termination restraints, misuse of confidential information, bonus claw-back provisions, commission entitlements, shareholder covenants, LLP rights and conflicts of laws.
  • Statutory employment: discrimination, whistleblowing, victimisation, TUPE transfers, unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal and worker status.

Notable cases as a pupil include International Petroleum Limited v Osipov [2019] IRLR 52 (CA) –  the leading case on individual whistleblowing liability under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Philippe is a member of the Employment Law Bar Association (ELBA).

Philippe's Practice Areas


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