Year of call: 2010
E: pckwee@3vb.com

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JuniorsPMs@3vb.com

Paul Choon Kiat Wee specialises in commercial litigation, international commercial arbitration, and investment treaty / investor-State arbitration. Paul’s clients include governments, corporate clients, financial institutions, and individuals, and Paul has acted on matters arising from a diverse range of sectors including banking and finance, oil and gas, energy and infrastructure, mining and exploration, telecommunications, IT, manufacturing, and entertainment and media.  

Many of Paul’s instructions concern complex and high-profile matters, often with international or multijurisdictional elements. Representative current and recent instructions include:

  • acting for the Russian Federation to oppose the enforcement of highly-publicised USD 50bn arbitral awards obtained by the former shareholders of Yukos under the Energy Charter Treaty (one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2016) (led by Jonathan Gaisman QC, Shaheed Fatima QC, and Christopher Harris);
  • acting for the Respondent in a USD 2bn investment arbitration (UNCITRAL rules) concerning uranium mining concessions (led by Joe Smouha QC and Christopher Harris); 
  • acting for a major Turkish bank in relation to a USD multi-billion telecoms dispute with a Russian entity, involving LCIA arbitration and BVI court proceedings  (led by Ewan McQuater QC); 
  • acting for the Republic of Kazakhstan to oppose the enforcement of a USD 500m arbitral award obtained under the Energy Charter Treaty concerning oil and gas investments in western Kazakhstan – in an important recent decision on issue estoppel and public policy in the enforcement of arbitral awards, the Commercial Court has ordered that Kazakhstan’s claim that the award was procured by fraud should proceed to trial, notwithstanding an unsuccessful challenge to the award in the courts of the seat: Stati v. The Republic of Kazakhstan [2017] EWHC 1348 (Comm), [2017] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 201 (led by Ali Malek QC and Christopher Harris); 
  • acting for the Respondent in a USD 500m ICSID investment arbitration arising from the failure of a gold mining venture (led by Alison Macdonald QC);
  • acting for the Respondent in an ICSID investment arbitration arising from allegations of judicial expropriation of oil industry assets (led by Christopher Harris); 
  • acting for the former shareholders of Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw Limited, an advertising agency, in their successful claim against the Publicis Group arising from Publicis’ acquisition of the agency, heard over 10 days in the Commercial Court: [2017] EWHC 675 (Comm) (led by Andrew Sutcliffe QC); 
  • acting in the long-running Kazakhstan Kagazy plc fraud litigation, including in the Court of Appeal: [2016] EWCA Civ 1036, [2017] 1 WLR 1360 (led by David Head QC); and
  • acting as sole English-law counsel for the Respondent in a USD 170m Singapore-seated ICC arbitration relating to the construction of a power plant in Indonesia. 

Paul additionally has substantial experience of acting as sole counsel. He often appears unled, regularly in the High Court but also in the County Courts, and often against more experienced advocates (including QCs). 

Paul also maintains a keen academic interest in law. He is a contributor to a number of leading practitioner texts, including Paget on Banking and the Encyclopaedia of Banking Law, and has published in areas including banking law, international investment arbitration, equity and trusts, and general contract law.  His published work was cited extensively by the Singapore Court of Appeal in MFM Restaurants v. Fish & Co [2010] SGCA 36, one of the leading cases on contractual remoteness in Singapore.  


“one of the go-to chambers for high-level commercial and banking matters,”

Chambers & Partners UK 2015

‘3 Verulam Buildings is one of the pre-eminent London sets for professional negligence work.’

Chambers & Partners UK 2015

Paul’s arbitration practice encompasses international commercial arbitration, international investment arbitration / investor-State dispute settlement, and arbitration-related court proceedings.

Details of arbitral proceedings in which Paul has acted remain confidential. Representative examples include the following:

  • Paul is acting (led by Joe Smouha QC and Christopher Harris) for the Respondent in a USD 2bn UNCITRAL investment arbitration concerning uranium mining concessions. 
  • Paul is acting (led by Ewan McQuater QC) in LCIA arbitration proceedings for a major Turkish bank in relation to a USD multi-billion telecoms dispute with a Russian entity.
  • Paul is acting (led by Alison Macdonald QC) for the Respondent in a USD 500m ICSID investment arbitration concerning a gold mining venture.
  • Paul acted (led by Christopher Harris) for the Respondent in an ICSID investment arbitration arising from allegations of judicial expropriation of oil industry assets.  
  • Paul was instructed as sole English counsel in connection with a major USD 200m Singapore-seated arbitration under the ICC Rules (administered by SIAC) relating to the construction of a power plant in Indonesia. The dispute was governed by English law, and involved numerous issues of the law of termination and repudiation, and damages for breach of contract. 
  • Paul represented the Respondent in the second phase of a major Paris-seated ICC arbitration concerning the termination of licensing agreements in a developing economy (led by Christopher Harris). 
  • Paul advised (led by Ali Malek QC) in connection with potential Singapore-seated arbitral proceedings under the SIAC Rules arising from the termination of a concession agreement for the development of reclaimed land in the Indian Ocean. The dispute is governed by Singapore law, and involves numerous issues of the law of termination and repudiation, damages for breach of contract, and restitution of unjust enrichment. 

Paul also has substantial experience of heavyweight and multi-jurisdictional arbitration enforcement proceedings, involving close co-operation between lawyers across multiple jurisdictions. Together with Christopher Harris, he has authored the leading publication addressing the enforcement of investment treaty arbitration awards in England. 

  • Yukos v. The Russian Federation: Paul is currently acting for the Russian Federation (led by Jonathan Gaisman QC, Shaheed Fatima QC, and Christopher Harris) to oppose the enforcement of the highly-publicised USD 50bn arbitral awards obtained by the former shareholders of Yukos under the Energy Charter Treaty, and understood to be the largest arbitral awards ever made. The case raises numerous issues, including questions of state immunity and jurisdiction; grounds for refusing to enforce a New York Convention arbitral award (including novel questions concerning the involvement of an administrative assistance to an arbitral tribunal in the drafting of an award); treaty interpretation; issue estoppel; and the possibility of enforcing an arbitral award that has been set aside by the courts of its seat. This case has been named as one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2016. 
  • Stati & ors v. The Republic of Kazakhstan: Paul is currently acting for the Republic of Kazakhstan (led by Ali Malek QC and Christopher Harris) to oppose the enforcement of a USD 500m arbitral award obtained under the Energy Charter Treaty (an award which was, until the Yukos awards, understood to be the largest arbitral award obtained under the Energy Charter Treaty).  The case has raised numerous important issues, including the proper approach to the case management of enforcement proceedings in the light of a pending application to set aside an arbitral award in the courts of its seat, the application of issue estoppel in enforcement proceedings following an unsuccessful challenge to an arbitral award in the courts of its seat, and the circumstances in which an English court should refuse to enforce an arbitral award on public policy grounds where it is alleged that the award was obtained by fraud: see [2015] EWHC 2542 (Comm), and [2017] EWHC 1348 (Comm), [2017] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 201.   

Paul’s commercial litigation practice encompasses both heavyweight and high-value multi-party disputes, together with smaller commercial disputes in which Paul acts as sole counsel. 

  • Sonera Holding BV v. Cukurova Holding AS: Paul is acting (led by Ewan McQuater QC) for TC Ziraat Bankasi AS in BVI proceedings to protect its rights and security interests arising from a USD 1.6bn loan advanced in order to enable the redemption of share charges following a decision of the Privy Council to grant relief from forfeiture. 
  • Kazakhstan Kagazy plc & ors v. Zhunus & ors: Paul is acting (led by Paul Lowenstein QC and David Head QC) for the first defendant to a USD 150m claim brought by entities within a Kazakh paper, recycling, and logistics group alleging misappropriation of corporate funds and sham construction contracts. The case has involved numerous applications for interim relief (freezing injunctions, security for costs, etc), numerous issues of Kazakh and Manx law (including directors’ duties, reflective loss, and limitation), and the circumstances in which contribution claims can properly be brought between co-defendants in fraud litigation (see [2017] EWCA Civ 1036, [2017] 1 WLR 1360).
  • The Former Shareholders of Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw Limited v. Publicis: Paul acted (led by Andrew Sutcliffe QC) for the former shareholders of Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw, an integrated advertising agency, in their successful claim against the Publicis Group arising from the sale of the agency to the Publicis Group. The case involved (inter alia) allegations of breach of warranty based on a failure to disclose known and imminent losses of business, and the claimants succeeded at trial: [2017] EWHC 675 (Comm).    
  • Principal Global Investors LLC v. Dillard & ors: Paul acted (led by Sonia Tolaney QC) for a leading global investment and asset management group in connection with potential proceedings arising from the acquisition of an investment firm against the sellers seeking relief for breach of warranty. 
  • Kyrgyz Mobil Tel v. Bitel LLC & ors: Paul acted (as part of a counsel team led by Stephen Phillips QC) at trial for defendants to a USD 700m claim alleging the fraudulent misappropriation of a leading Kyrgyz mobile telecoms operator. The trial raised widespread allegations of fraud, dishonesty, forgery, and corruption, together with numerous issues of Kyrgyz law and valuation. The case settled mid-trial. 
  • CF Partners v. Barclays Bank plc: Paul acted (as part of a counsel team led by Ewan McQuater QC) for Barclays in defending its investment banking arm against allegations of breach of confidence and breach of contract in relation to an M&A deal in the carbon credit sector.  The case raised numerous issues relating to the alleged misuse of confidential information, including issues as to breach of confidence, inducing of breach of contract, and remedies (account of profits, Wrotham Park damages, loss of a chance damages). 
  • Jukebox LP v. Gudmundsson: Paul acted (led by David Quest QC) for the claimants against two prominent Norwegian businessmen in a payment dispute arising under a capital contribution agreement relating to the operating and acquisition costs of a private jet. The case raised numerous issues including the scope of powers of a liquidator under the Cayman Islands Company Law and the Exempted Limited Parterships Law, including their capacity to bring proceedings in the name of a limited partnership in liquidation, and the availability of any set-off or cross claim. 
  • BP Oil International Limited v. Bankers Petroleum Albania Limited: Paul acted (led by Ali Malek QC and Adam Kramer) for the defendants in a USD 37m claim arising from the termination of a long-term contract for the supply of Albanian crude oil.  
  • Paul recently acted as sole counsel in a payment dispute arising under an agency agreement and a manufacturing agreement relating to the production of chocolate confectionery products. 
  • Paul recently acted as sole counsel for the claimant in a dispute concerning the termination of a joint investment agreement, successfully obtaining summary judgment for the restitution of sums paid to the defendant following its wrongful repudiation. 

Banking and finance disputes form a core part of Paul’s practice. On the academic side, Paul is the editor of the “Guarantees” division of the Encyclopedia of Banking Law (ed. Mr Justice Blair). He is also a contributor to Paget’s Law of Banking (14th edn, ed Ali Malek QC and John Odgers QC). 

  • CF Partners v. Barclays Bank plc: Paul acted (as part of a counsel team led by Ewan McQuater QC) for Barclays in defending its investment banking arm against allegations of breach of confidence and breach of contract in relation to an M&A deal in the carbon credit sector. The case raised numerous issues relating to the alleged misuse of confidential information, including issues as to breach of confidence, inducing of breach of contract, and remedies (account of profits, Wrotham Park damages, loss of a chance damages). 
  • NML Capital Limited v. The Republic of Argentina: Paul advised (led by Ewan McQuater) creditors of the Republic of Argentina in relation to its attempts to avoid payments under multiple syndicated loan facilities and under US and English judgments. 
  • MD Mezzanine SA v. Stabilus GmbH: Paul acted (led by Andrew Sutcliffe QC) in relation to the provision of expert evidence on English law to a German Court concerning the rights and obligations of a security trustee under standard LMA syndicated loan documentation in connection with a non-consensual debt restructuring. 
  • Paul has advised (with Ali Malek QC) a leading private equity firm in connection with the re-pricing of bank debt incurred under an LMA Senior Facilities Agreement. The case raised issues going to the interpretation of standard form LMA syndicated loan documentation, particularly in relation to the scope of the “yank-a-bank” provision. 
  • Paul has acted (led by Richard Salter QC) for claimants in proceedings before the Singapore Courts concerning the alleged mis-selling of financial products including dual currency deposits, accumulator contracts (FX and equities), and FX knock-out / barrier options. 
  • Paul has acted as sole counsel in numerous retail banking and consumer credit disputes.  

Paul’s civil fraud practice encompasses both complex and high-value fraud proceedings, often with international dimensions and involving numerous contested interim applications, as well as smaller-scale asset recovery proceedings in which Paul acts as sole counsel. Representative examples include the following:

  • Kazakhstan Kagazy plc & ors v. Zhunus & ors: Paul is acting (led by Paul Lowenstein QC and David Head QC) for the first defendant to a USD 150m claim brought by entities within a Kazakh paper, recycling, and logistics group alleging misappropriation of corporate funds and sham construction contracts. The case has involved numerous applications for interim relief (freezing injunctions, security for costs, etc), numerous issues of Kazakh and Manx law (including directors’ duties, reflective loss, and limitation), and the circumstances in which contribution claims can properly be brought between co-defendants in fraud litigation (see [2017] EWCA Civ 1036, [2017] 1 WLR 1360).  
  • Kyrgyz Mobil Tel v. Bitel LLC & ors: Paul acted (as part of a counsel team led by Stephen Phillips QC) at trial for defendants to a USD 700m claim alleging the fraudulent misappropriation of a leading Kyrgyz mobile telecoms operator. The trial raised widespread allegations of fraud, dishonesty, forgery, and corruption, together with numerous issues of Kyrgyz law and valuation. The case settled mid-trial. 
  • Kevin John Hellard (as liquidator of Highfield Distribution (UK) Limited) v. Kumar & ors: Paul has been acting since 2011 as sole counsel in long-running enforcement and asset recovery proceedings brought by a liquidator against an uncooperative judgment debtor (being the sole former director and shareholder of the company in liquidation) and associated parties. The case arises from misappropriation of company assets and wrongful trading post-winding-up. The nature of the enforcement proceedings (and the conduct of the judgment debtor and his associates) have resulted in numerous contested hearings in the High Court. These have included interim applications (for injunctions; civil restraint orders; the enforcement of undertakings; the variation of freezing orders; and orders for sale and related consequential orders), trials (for the determination of beneficial ownership disputes), and appeals. 

Paul is regularly instructed on a range of insolvency matters, acting both for and against insolvency practitioners. Highlights of his insolvency practice are set out below. 

  • Pioneer Freight Futures Company Limited (in liquidation) v. Chen Ningning: Paul acted (led by John Jarvis QC) for a former shareholder and director in BVI proceedings concerning a GBP 13m claim by liquidators for insolvent trading. The case raised numerous issues including shadow / de facto directorship, unfair preference, insolvent treating, and general misfeasance and breach of directors’ duties.  
  • Jukebox LP v. Gudmundsson: Paul acted (led by David Quest QC) for the claimants against two prominent Norwegian businessmen in a payment dispute arising under a capital contribution agreement relating to the operating and acquisition costs of a private jet. The case raised numerous issues including the scope of powers of a liquidator under the Cayman Islands Company Law and the Exempted Limited Parterships Law, including their capacity to bring proceedings in the name of a limited partnership in liquidation, and the availability of any set-off or cross claim. 
  • Kevin John Hellard (as liquidator of Highfield Distribution (UK) Limited) v. Kumar & ors: Paul has been acting since 2011 as sole counsel in long-running enforcement and asset recovery proceedings brought by a liquidator against an uncooperative judgment debtor (being the sole former director and shareholder of the company in liquidation) and associated parties. The case arises from misappropriation of company assets and wrongful trading post-winding-up. The nature of the enforcement proceedings (and the conduct of the judgment debtor and his associates) have resulted in numerous contested hearings in the High Court. These have included interim applications (for injunctions; civil restraint orders; the enforcement of undertakings; the variation of freezing orders; and orders for sale and related consequential orders), trials (for the determination of beneficial ownership disputes), and appeals.

Paul accepts instructions across a range of additional practice areas. The following matters illustrate the breadth of his practice. 

Sports Law

Paul acted (led by Ali Malek QC and Michael Lazarus) for the Red Bull Racing Formula One team in its appeal to the FIA International Court of Appeal following Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification from the 2014 Australian Formula One Grand Prix for non-compliance with the fuel flow restrictions introduced into Formula One for the 2014 season. The appeal raised novel questions concerning the interpretation and application of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations and Technical Regulations. The underlying factual issues required detailed and highly complicated technical analysis. The appeal was prepared on an urgent basis, owing to the need to resolve uncertainties over the operation of the new fuel flow restrictions as quickly as possible in order to minimise disruption to the 2014 season. 

Intellectual Property

Paul acted as sole counsel for the defendant to a copyright infringement claim relating to re-issued sound recordings of music from West End musicals. The case raised issues going to authorship and ownership of copyright in sound recordings under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Government Work and Public Law

Paul was instructed in connection with the Harris Review, an independent review into self-inflicted deaths in custody of 18-24 year olds.   

BVC (The City Law School) - Outstanding (ranked 2nd in year) (2010)

BCL (Keble College, Oxford) - Distinction (2009)

BA (Hons) in Jurisprudence (Keble College, Oxford) (2008)

Pegasus Scholar (Inner Temple, 2012)

Atkin Scholarship (Gray's Inn, 2010)

Prince of Wales Scholarship (Gray's Inn, 2009)

Barstow Scholarship (The City Law School, 2010)

The Worshipful Company of Arbitrators Prize (The City Law School, 2010)

College Scholarship (Keble College, 2005)

[2007] LMCLQ 455 'Distribution of assets on relationship breakdown'

[2010] LMCLQ 150 'Contractual interpretation and remoteness'

Encyclopedia of Banking Law (ed. Mr Justice Blair) - editor of "Guarantees"

Paget's Law of Banking (14th edn, ed. Ali Malek QC and John Odgers QC)

Key Authorities in Banking Law (ed. Sonia Tolaney QC)

Enforcement of Investment Treaty Arbitration Awards (with Christopher Harris) (ed. Julien Fouret)

Gray's Inn

COMBAR