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Richard Spearman KC

“He is extremely clever and knows exactly how to present a case to a judge.” The Legal 500 

Richard has a wide-ranging practice which includes commercial fraud, tracing, media and entertainment, film and music industry law, sports law, insurance, and professional negligence.

Richard has appeared in many high-profile and reported cases; was briefed in the House of Lords/Supreme Court in Grobbelaar v NGN, Campbell v MGN, Cream Holdings v Banerjee, Polanski v Conde Nast, and Ivey v Genting Casinos; has appeared in numerous cases in the Court of Appeal and all divisions of the High Court; and has advised on and appeared in litigation overseas (Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Malaysia) as well as in commercial, media and sport arbitrations.

Richard was shortlisted for “Barrister of the Year” in 2003, was the inaugural The Legal 500 IP, IT and Media Silk of the Year 2013, and is highly recommended in legal directories.

Richard sits as a deputy High Court judge in both the Chancery Division and the King’s Bench Division (including Media and Communications (MAC) List). He accepts appointments as an arbitrator and has been nominated by a party or appointed by the arbitral body in London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitrations. He has been called to the Bars of Gibraltar, Trinidad and Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (BVI).

Areas of expertise

Information and Media

Richard has appeared in many of the leading cases concerning defamation, misuse of private information, data and copyright; specialises in heavy and protracted litigation (most recently Mirror Group phone hacking, and the media aspects of the Al-Maktoum divorce proceedings); and is currently the only deputy High Court judge authorised to sit in the Media and Communications List. 

Cases of note

  • JIH v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2011]1 WLR 1645 (CA) - principles applicable to orders for anonymity, reporting restrictions and other restraints on normally reportable details of a case.
  • Re Child X [2009] EMLR 26 (Sir Mark Potter P) - principles to be applied in relation to media access and reporting in family law cases.
  • Murray v Express Newspapers plc [2009] Ch 481(CA) - successful appeal of the infant son of the author J.K.Rowling from the dismissal of his claims against a photographic agency for misuse of private information and under the Data Protection Act 1998.
  • Polanski v Conde Nast Ltd [2005] 1 WLR 637 (HL) - defamation; whether claimant should be permitted to give evidence by video conference link from abroad to avoid risk of arrest and extradition.
  • Cream Holdings Ltd v Banerjee [2005] AC 253 (HL) - confidence; injunction; meaning of “likely” in s12(3) Human Rights Act 1998.
  • Campbell v MGN Ltd [2004] 2 AC 457 (HL) - confidence/privacy; right of media to set the record straight where a public figure misinforms the public about his or her private life; Data Protection Act 1998: meaning of “processing” and scope of s32 exemption; and (No 2) [2005] 1 WLR 3394 (HL) - whether recovery of conditional fee agreement (CFA) success fees in a free speech case compatible with Article 10.
  • Grobbelaar v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2002] 4 All ER 732 (HL) - whether jury verdict perverse; jurisdiction of House of Lords to assess damages; substitution of £1 for jury award of £85,0000. 


Richard has extensive and wide-ranging knowledge and experience of commercial law. His practice includes fraud, tracing, insurance, reinsurance, banking, and gaming contracts; and in his capacity as an arbitrator and a deputy High Court judge sitting in the Chancery Division he has considered and determined disputes concerning the interpretation and performance of contracts, employment, insolvency, shareholders’ rights, directors’ duties, trusts, injunctions, and jurisdictional issues.   

Cases of note

  • Ivey v Genting Casinos UK Ltd (t/a Crockfords Club) [2018] AC 291 (Supreme Court) - cheating at gambling; test for dishonesty.
  • Fairstar Heavy Transport NV v Adkins [2014] EMLR 312 (CA) - whether principal has a proprietary right to emails sent and received by agent; whether principal entitled to inspect and copy such emails.
  • Independent Trustee Services Ltd v GP Noble Ltd [2012] Ch 91(CA) - tracing claim; loss of bona fide purchaser for value defence by the wife of a constructive trustee who set aside a matrimonial consent order in her favour.
  • Papamichael v National Westminster Bank Ltd [2003] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 341 (Commercial Court) - banking; SWIFT stating 2 billion Greek drachmas remitted for “further credit” of claimant; bank allowing claimant’s husband to use monies as collateral for forex trading; monies lost; whether claimant entitled to succeed against bank in claims for restitution, dishonest assistance and unconscionable receipt.
  • Athletic Union of Constantinople v National Basketball Association [2002] 3 All ER 987 (CA) - whether Court of Appeal has jurisdiction to grant permission to appeal from High Court decision on a challenge to an arbitration award on grounds of lack of jurisdiction.
  • Kazakstan Wool Producers (Europe) Ltd v NCM [2000] All ER 708 (Comm Cas) (CA) - insurance; construction of contract for export credit insurance.
  • C v S [1999] 2 All ER 343 (CA) - civil fraud/tracing; Norwich Pharmacal/Bankers Trust Orders; production of documents by bank; risk of prosecution for “tipping off”; procedure to be followed.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Richard has been nominated by a party in several LCIA arbitrations, appointed by the LCIA as the sole arbitrator in one further LCIA arbitration, and nominated by one of the parties in two WIPO arbitrations. All of the party nominated matters were very substantial, and involved large sums of money, complex factual and legal issues, and a significant international element. The LCIA appointment related to determination of a jurisdictional issue, after which the matter did not proceed. Further details cannot be given due to the confidentiality attaching to these matters.


Richard has appeared in a number of important cases relating to sports law, and has acted in many media cases involving a sports law element. He has also appeared before regulatory and disciplinary panels, including the Football Association and the British Boxing Board of Control, and has provided expert evidence in arbitrations involving the National Basketball Association.  

Cases of note

  • Ivey v Genting Casinos UK Ltd (t/a Crockfords Club) [2018] AC 291 (Supreme Court) - whether the technique of “edge-sorting” constituted cheating at gambling; legal test for dishonesty.
  • BBC v Harpercollins [2011] EMLR 103 (Morgan J) - confidential information; identity of “The Stig”; injunction. 
  • Armstrong v Times Newspapers Ltd [2006] 1 WLR 2462 (CA) - claim by Lance Armstrong concerning allegations of doping; court’s power to order different questions of fact to be tried by different modes of trial; judge’s decision that issue of meaning should be tried by judge alone upheld. 
  • Jockey Club v Buffham [2003] QB 462 (Gray J) - whether final order for injunction operative against third party on “Spycatcher” principle; whether public interest in publication of material relating to performance of regulatory role of Jockey Club outweighed by Jockey Club’s right of confidence.
  • R v Jockey Club ex p Aga Khan [1993] 1 WLR 909 (CA) - judicial review; tribunal decision to disqualify racehorse; leading case on whether decisions of the Jockey Club amenable to judicial review. 
  • R v Jockey Club ex p RAM Racecourses Ltd [1993] 2 All ER 225 (Divisional Court) - judicial review; whether Jockey Club report raised legitimate expectation as to grant of fixtures to applicant; whether decision of the Jockey Club amenable to judicial review. 
  • Warren v Mendy [1989] 1 WLR 853 (CA) - restraint of trade; whether boxing manager entitled to injunction to restrain new management).