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Harriet Thornton

Senior Associate

Harriet is an experienced commercial lawyer with a particular specialism in shipping and commodities disputes. Harriet has a broad range of litigation (Chancery, High Court and the Appellate Courts) and arbitration experience (including LMAA, LCIA and ad hoc regimes) regularly acting for commodity trading companies, shipowners, operators, charterers, P&I Clubs and banks.

Harriet spent a year on secondment at one of the world's largest energy and commodity trading companies and a shorter period at a commodity merchandising and investment company, which focuses on opportunities in the physical commodities markets.

Through these secondments Harriet has developed her understanding of the commercial realities of her clients' businesses and gained invaluable experience of the commercial and operational decisions required during the ‘live’ stages of a dispute. Harriet also regularly advises on the drafting of charterparties, sale and purchase contracts, off take, processing, storage and stock management agreements and other project based and commercial documents.

Harriet's most recent and ongoing experience includes:

  • Advising a major Nigerian bank relating to the imposition of trusts/equitable obligations in the context of international bank transfers involving correspondent banks, in which judgment entered against the bank was successfully overturned in a claim pleaded at over US$210 million (FCMB v Zumax [2019] EWCA Civ 294).
  • Obtaining summary judgment against a trading company that took delivery of a cargo of gasoil but failed to honour its payment obligations under the sale contract and advising on subsequent enforcement steps, including a Part 71 application to cross examine a director of the defendant about the judgment debtor's means.
  • Advising a charterer and cargo owner in London arbitration proceedings commenced under the bill of lading and charterparty in respect of the confiscation of a gasoil cargo worth over US$20 million, resulting from the shipowner's alleged breaches of the UN Security Council Resolution on the blockade of Yemen.
  • Advising a global commodities trader in LCIA arbitration proceedings commenced to recover damages for non-performance of sale and purchase contracts for aluminium and selenium and to recover VAT on the supplies that were made.
  • Representing a mining company in an ad hoc arbitration claim brought in relation to sums allegedly due under a "take or pay" handling agreement for the transhipment of coal.
  • Defending charterers in an LMAA arbitration relating to damage caused following two collisions during ship-to-ship transfer operations off Cotonou, West Africa.