Peter de Verneuil Smith is a leading commercial junior well known for his advocacy and excellent client skills. He specializes in complex commercial matters, banking and financial services, commercial fraud, insurance and reinsurance, company & partnership disputes, professional negligence and international arbitration.
He has extensive trial experience and is a qualified arbitrator. He is recognised by Chambers and Partners as a leading junior in Commercial Dispute Resolution and “a very robust and able advocate”. He is ranked in the Legal 500 as a leading junior in banking and finance, commercial litigation, civil fraud, arbitration and insurance & reinsurance and is said to be “one of the brightest juniors at the Bar, a very able lawyer indeed”. Peter is the senior junior representing the Signature Law Group in the £4bn group action regarding the RBS Rights Issue which is due to commence a 6 months trial in 2017.
“He has the ability to surgically dismantle even an opponent’s best points”
Chambers & Partners UK 2014
“A go-to junior for finance and complex multi-jurisdictional commercial litigation.”
Legal 500 2016
General: detailed knowledge of contractual construction and project dispute issues such as; force majeure, enforceability of liquidated damages, recoverability of consequential losses, misrepresentation, bias/duty to act fairly of a contract administrator, delay and disruption, extensions of time clauses, time at large and challenge to expert determination. Familiar with interim remedies and relief in the context of on-going arbitration proceedings and enforcement of arbitration awards.
Construction/Property: $10M concrete plant dispute concerning definition of “material default” and notice clauses (ICC, London seat), $100M Ukrainian property fund dispute (LCIA, London seat and Jersey Law), €10M Greek construction project dispute involving construction of notice of default clause, share sale valuation and waiver (UNCITRAL, London seat and English law), $223M guarantee dispute concerning Russian property investments (LCIA, London seat and English law), $10M back to back subcontract concerning the construction of a sulphur extraction plant in Abu Dhabi (ICC- Sharia law), acted for the employer in a £30M claim regarding a major dual carriageway construction (1996 Arbitration Act- English law).
Energy: $1.3bn dispute concerning credit support obligations and the principle of rebus sic stantibus in respect of a thermoelectric power plant in Rio de Janeiro (UNCITRAL and AAA, London seat and Brazilian law); $200M dispute regarding the fairness of the employer's representative's award of an extension of time in a turnkey thermoelectric power plant located in the Philippines (ICC- English law).
Qualified arbitrator (FCIArb).
S90 FSMA claim: Senior junior representing the Signature Law Group in the RBS Rights Issue litigation which is a £5bn group action due to commence the 6 months trial on liability in 2017.
Mis-selling: interest rate swaps (£15M structured collar mis-selling) and CDO mis-selling claims (€40M CDO claim), negligent categorization of intermediate customer under FSMA.
Investment Schemes: closed and open ended investment schemes (calculation of NAV and discretion to refuse redemptions), claims against investment managers (breach of investment criteria and un-suitability of products) including a $2M claim negligent investment into a Madoff feeder fun.
Mortgages: charges, power of sale and enforcement. $360M syndicated loan dispute concerning ship finance and the meaning of "payment due date".
Guarantees: enforcement and defence of guarantee claims ($50M ship financing/guarantee, £5M export guarantee dispute, £2.7M interest guarantee dispute, and provision of expert banking evidence to a Ukrainian Court). Defences of illegality, frustration, undue influence, misrepresentation and consumer based defences.
ISDA master agreements: termination payments and meaning of "due date".
Money Laundering: acted for and against banks in money laundering and POCA related matters, advised British Banking Association as to the interpretation and impact of Part VII of POCA 2002.
Fraud remedies: banker trust disclosure orders, tracing claims and freezing injunctions. Claims against banks for gross negligence, dishonest assistance and knowing receipt claims against banks (in England, Singapore and the Cayman Islands), negligence and fraud claims against a Bermudian credit card processor.
Performance bonds: advising on and appearing in respect of disputes as to the legality of calling upon bonds, injuncting the proceeds of bonds and setting aside injunctions.
Third party debt orders: $20M claim against a Nigerian entity and setting aside an injunction of the calling of a $20M performance bond.
Sanctions: application of sanctions regimes to banks and bank payments (structuring £10m transfer of funds).
Judicial review: judicial review claims against HMRC, SOCA and the Financial Services Ombudsman.
Contributor to Paget's Law of Banking (4th Edition) and the Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents (Banking) 6th Edition (2008).
Rated in Legal 500 2014 as a leading junior in Banking & Finance
In depth experience of high value commercial fraud: defending a Swiss bank in respect of a €100M fraud claim based on vicarious liablity, insurance/re-insurance underwriting fraud ($1bn exposure), bribery in the context of oil trading ($5M claim), pension fraud, £200M mortgage fraud, asset stripping of companies to avoid enforcement of arbitration awards (freezing injunctions and disclosure order both pre and post permission to enforce arbitration awards), MTIC and carousel fraud, dishonest fiduciaries and employees (accountants, bank managers, estate agents & account managers), conspiracy to defraud and transactions defrauding creditors. Expertise in urgent remedies to protect and trace assets; freezing injunctions, search orders, bankers trust orders, Norwich Pharmacal relief (counsel in the leading decision of NML v Chapman Freeborn Holdings) and orders for the appointment of a receiver. Very familiar with dishonest receipt and constructive trust remedies. Experienced in seeking and obtaining committal orders for breach of freezing injunctions.
Rated in Legal 500 2014 as a leading junior in Civil Fraud.
Complex contractual disputes including international sale of goods and services ($248M dispute concerning export of combustion turbine generator units), exclusive distribution agreements (formula 1 racing, building cradle units and DRUPS), sole distribution agreements ($50M dispute involving the Middle East Aston Martin network and $10M distribution agreement dispute relating to Brazilian bus fare validators), software licencing disputes, transportation contracts (£5M white goods dispute), enforceability of exclusion clauses/liquidated damages clauses, conflicts of laws (in particular the Brussels Regulation), anti-suit injunctions, Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993, mistaken payments and restitutionary remedies (including bank payments made in error and £1.2M claim for overcharging of building works). Shipbuilding contracts ($30m defective welding and third party settlements), $58M claim arising from repudiatory breach of charterparty and recovery in Korean restructuring (including application of the Cross Border insolvency Regulations 2006). Oil and gas disputes (off-take agreements, drilling errors, calculation of AQ values, and liquidated damages). Economic duress (£2M claim including tort of intimidation), frustration of contracts due to illegality (money laundering and EU sanctions context). Experience in drafting international supply contracts (£10M sale of uninterruptible power supply engines). Expert in interlocutory applications: pre-action disclosure, third party disclosure, third party debt orders, security for costs applications (including in the Cayman Islands) and injunctive relief (including anti-suit injunctions).
Rated in Chambers & Partners 2015 and Legal 500 2014 as a leading junior in Commercial Litigation.
Company litigation: derivative actions for breach of fiduciary duty by directors ($800M claim concerning property rights to rare earth minerals and s263 CA 2006), unfair prejudice/derivative claims in Guernsey ($1bn CDO Master fund claim - the first decision under the (Guernsey) Companies Law 2008, Rule 3.01 of the Authorised Closed Ended Investment Scheme Rules 2008, and s34 of the Protection of Investors (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 1987), unfair prejudice claims in Jersey ($100M dispute regarding the management of a property investment fund with Ukrainian assets), and in unfair prejudice/derivative actions in Singapore (s 216 Companies Ac involving misappropriation of maturing corporate opportunities). Experienced in injunctions preventing the expenditure of company funds on litigation, share sale agreements (€15M dispute over the scope of Trade Debt, Inter-Company Trading Debt and calculation of closing statements, $200M dispute concerning Indian mobile phone tower providers, disputes over payment clauses and completion accounts), breach of warranty claims (£250M dispute as to Earn Out Payment for breach of warranties regarding continuation of the ordinary course of business), breach of shareholder agreements, joint venture disputes (£20M property investment), share transfers, schemes of arrangement, winding up, breach of confidence, breach of fiduciary duty, spring board injunctions and restraint of trade.
Partnership disputes: breach of fiduciary duties, holding out, valuation of goodwill and winding up accounts.
Limited partnership disputes (£100M dispute as to scope of a limited partner's right to obtain books and records under the Limited Partnership Act 1903).
Policy construction, avoidance/repudiation due to non-disclosure, misrepresentation, duty of utmost good faith, breach of warranties, discharge through frustration, and financial guarantees. $15M dispute as to the scope of the Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (2001) and whether sanctions led to the frustration of P&I cover for pollution. Particular experience of disputes over credit risk insurance ($1bn exposure), reinsurance brokerage, issues of holding out between London placing brokers and Chilean producing brokers, brokers' negligence, fire claims (for and against insurers), subrogation claims (third party settlements which are not bona fide in the interests of the insurer) and contribution proceedings against co-insurers. The extent of fiduciary duties owed by claims handlers to insurers (including the duty to validate, equitable accounts and the duty to provide records concerning claims).Litigation concerning insurance fraud (by brokers, underwriters and insurers) and the use of the Financial Services Ombudsman.
Rated in Legal 500 2014 as a leading junior in Insurance & Reinsurance.
General: detailed knowledge of forum and substantive law disputes, challenges to English jurisdiction, forum conveniens stays (including unfair trial in Ukraine in a $1bn dispute regarding ownership of an iron ore company), exclusive jurisdiction clauses (anti-suit injunctions in support), Brussels Regulations issues: Article 22(2) (validity of corporate organ decisions) and (3) (validity of public registers regarding Ukrainian mining corporation), Article 6(3) (third party and contribution proceedings in respect of Part 20 defendants in respect of a $100M claim), Articles 27 and 28 (related actions in The Netherlands, Ukraine, Italy). Disputes over applicable law (Rome Convention, Article 6(3) of the Brussels Regulation and the applicable law of trusts).
Interim measures: freezing injunctions in support of foreign proceedings (S 25 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982).
Service out of the jurisdiction, setting aside service out of the jurisdiction, setting aside registration of court approved settlements and foreign judgments (Articles 33-37 of the Brussels Regulation), applications to stay proceedings and applying for/resisting enforcement of arbitration awards.
Commercial Agents expertise: (Council Directive) Regulations 1993 and mandatory rules of community law overruling arbitration awards.
Guernsey expertise: extensive experience of litigation proceedings in Guernsey (closed ended investment disputes, company law proceedings, injunctive relief, and partnership disputes).
Assistant editor "European Civil Practice" 2nd Edition.
Co-author of "Reflections on Owusu: The Radical Decision in Ferrexpo"  JPIL vol 8 no 2 389.
Banks: gross negligence claims in the context of fraud and credit card processing.
Fund Managers: negligence and breach of mandate in respect of investments in Madoff controlled hedge funds (issues of time bar, existence of fiduciary duties, market knowledge regarding Madoff).
Trustees: negligence in respect of equalisation of normal retirement ages post Barber and strike out for limitation bar.
Insurance brokers: claims concerning failure to advise as to reasonable precautions, to disclose convictions and to obtain appropriate cover.
Independent financial advisers: issues of due diligence and suitability and breach of COB rules in the offering of IPO and pre-IPO share investments.
Accountants: acted for and against accountants in cases involving share valuation, partnership goodwill valuation, and correct treatment of VAT reclaims subject to extended verification.
Valuers: multiple valuer negligence claims in respect of residential mortgages and significant commercial property claims (€54 & €60Mnegligent valuations in respect of securitised commercial property in Germany).
Solicitors: conveyancing related negligence (failure to complete before releasing monies), and failure to identify fraudulent borrowers.
Auditors: claims concerning failure to identify fraud within group of companies and failure to identify fraudulent trading.
Construction professionals: claims against architects regarding improper certification, EOT, against contractors regarding defective piling and roofing, surveyors in respect of overvaluation also claims against estate agents
RBS Rights Issue Group Litigation [2015 and continuing] acting as senior junior counsel for the Signature Group in the ongoing £4bn claim against RBS due for a 6 months trial in 2017 (instructed by Signature Law)
Group Seven Ltd v Nasir  EWHC 620 (Ch) junior counsel for the Swiss bank in a leading costs management decision (instructed by Pinsent Masons LLP)
Capita ATL Pension Trustees Ltd v Sedgwick Financial Services Ltd  EWHC 214 (Ch) lead counsel in a successful summary judgment application of a £10 million pension claim against a pensions administrator (instructed by Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP)
Titan Europe 2006-3 plc v Colliers International UK Plc (in liquidation)  PNLR 7 junior counsel in the land mark decision as to whether a CMBS issuer can recover damages on against a valuer (instructed by Rosling King LLP)
IOT Engineering Projects Ltd v Dangote Fertilizer Ltd  EWCA Civ 1348 junior counsel for the respondent in successfully setting aside the injunction of a US$20 million performance guarantee and a freezing injunction against a Nigerian construction company (instructed by Pinsent Masons LLP)
Seton House Group Ltd v Mercer Ltd  EWHC 4234 (Ch) counsel for the successful pensions administrator in a summary judgment against a £5 million claim (instructed by Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP)
DVB Bank SE v Shere Shipping Co Ltd & Ors  EWHC 2321 (Ch) counsel for the defendant borrowers/guarantors in decision concerning the enforcement of $50 million loans/guarantees and involving issues of illegality under EU sanctions (Regulation 267/2012), suspension of loan agreements, the scope of EU derogation, subrogation and the Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943 (instructed by Holman Fenwick Willan LLP)
NML Capital Ltd v Chapman Freeborn Holdings Ltd & Ors  EWCA Civ 589 counsel at first instance and in the Court of Appeal in the successful defence of a Norwich Pharmacal application which considered and clarified the jurisdictional limits of such applications (instructed by Taylor Wessing LLP)
Blemain Finance Ltd v Esurv Limited  EWHC 3654 (TCC) counsel for the lender in the first reported decisions (see linked decision of Webb Resolutions Ltd v Esurv Limited  EWHC 3653 which have considered the prudence of mortgage and second charge lending pre-credit crunch in mid-2007 including issues such as LTV ratios, high credit defaults and CCJS, and incompleted/inaccurate application forms (instructed by Rosling King LLP)
Elektromotive Group Ltd v Christopher Pan  EWHC 2742 (QB) counsel for the fraud victim in a heavy application to set aside a freezing injunction on the grounds of material non-disclosure, misrepresentation and absence of merits (instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
Salkeld Investments Ltd v West One Loans Ltd  EWHC 2701 (QB) counsel for the bridging lender in a summary judgment application involving scope of agency, incorporation of terms and construction of absolute warranties in a professional retainer (instructed by CKFT)
Inversiones Friera SL v Colyzeo Investors ll LP  EWHC (Ch) 1450 (Ch) counsel for the limited partner in respect of an application for inspection and copying of the books and records of the limited partnership, issues as to the scope of section 6(1) of the Limited Partner Act 1907 and the partnership deed (instructed by SCAndrew LLP)
Ferrexpo AG v Gilson Investments Limited & Ors  EWHC 721 (Comm) junior counsel for the defendants in a leading decision as to the scope of Owusu v Jackson and the ability of an English court to say proceeding in favour of a non-Member state (instructed by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP)
Stratford Coin & Bullion Inc v Youssry Henien & Ors  EWHC 2552 (Comm) counsel for claimant in respect of successful summary judgment in respect of misallocation of funds by banking fiduciaries (instructed by Ince & Co LLP)
John Youngs Insurance Services Ltd v Aviva Insurance Services UK Ltd  EWHC 1515 (TCC) counsel in a preliminary issues hearing concerning the scope of a claims handler's fiduciary duties including the duty to account and whether a full and final settlement excluded claims for breach of fiduciary duty (instructed by Berrymans Lace Mawer LLP)
Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines v Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association (Bermuda) Ltd & HM Treasury  EWHC 2661 (Comm) - junior counsel led by Christopher Butcher QC in a claim concerning whether the designation of IRISL under the Financial Restrictions (Iran) Order 2009 frustrated or otherwise discharged cover required by the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution (2001) in respect of subsequent $15m casualty (instructed by Holman Fenwick Willan LLP)
DRL Limited v Wincanton Group Ltd  EWCA Civ 839 counsel in a two week trial over a £5m commodities dispute concerning the incorporation and application of RHA Conditions, UKWA Conditions, estoppel by convention and rectification and subsequent appeal (instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
Shell International Trading & Shipping Co Ltd & Ors v Evgeny Tikhonov & Ors  EWHC 1399 (QB) counsel in a successful two week trial concerning a $3m bribery and breach of fiduciary duty claim against an oil trader involving issues of the applicable law of employment contracts in Russia, tracing through international funds and sham corporate entities (instructed by Clifford Chance LLP)
ABC & Ors v CDE & Ors  EWCA Civ 533 counsel in a successful appeal of a suspension of a custodial sentence imposed for contempt of a freezing injunction (instructed by Clifford Chance LLP)
Bank Mellat v HM Treasury  EWCA Civ 483 junior counsel led by Andrew Fletcher QC for the intervening party in an appeal to determine the disclosure rights of designated person under the Financial Restrictions (Iran) Order 2009 made pursuant to the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 Sch. 7 (instructed by Holman Fenwick Willan LLP)
Dunfermline Building Society v AIG Global Real Estate Investment Corp (2010 QBD) junior counsel led by Stephen Phillips QC in a two week trial of an interest guarantee claim of £2.7m with issues concerning the meaning of capitalized interest, the calculation of default interest and the enforceability of a perpetual guarantee (instructed by Dundas & Wilson)
Cummins Power Generation Ltd v. Cummins Sales & Service (Pakistan) Ltd (2009-10) (Comm. Crt) junior counsel led by Paul Lowenstein QC in an anti-suit injunction against Pakistani distributor of power equipment (IBB Law)
Iesini & Ors v Westrip Holdings Ltd & Ors  EWHC 2526 (2009 Ch) counsel in a five day permission hearing of a $800m derivate action against directors for alleged conspiracy assets striping of rare earth mineral licences; this is currently a leading decision in respect of s 263 of the Companies Act 2008 (instructed by SC Andrew LLP]
Accentuate v Asigra  EWHC 2655 (2009 QBD) counsel for a software manufacturer in an appeal concerning the application of regulation 17 of the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993, whether the English Court had jurisdiction notwithstanding a binding arbitration decision and whether a stay should be ordered pursuant to section 9 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
Middle East Aston Martin FZCO v Aston Martin Lagonda Limited (2008 Comm. Crt) junior counsel led by Michael Black QC in a US$50m claim for breach of a distribution agreement in Dubai and parallel proceedings in London seeking a mandatory injunction to continue to supply vehicles pending the outcome of an arbitration pursuant to section 44(3) of the 1996 Arbitration Act and s 25 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 (instructed by Fichte & Co Dubai)
TCB Creditor Recoveries Ltd v Arthur Anderson LLP (Grand Court of the Cayman Islands 2008) junior counsel in a $800m auditor's negligence claim against Arthur Anderson (instructed by Simmons Cooper Andrew LLP) GFI v HSBC Bank Cayman Ltd (2008 Grand Court of the Cayman Islands) $10m custodian's negligence claim against HSBC (instructed by Simmons Cooper Andrew LLP)
R (on the application of UMBS Online Ltd) v Serious Organised Crime Agency & Revenue & Customs  1 All ER 465 junior counsel in the first Court of Appeal decision in which SOCA was judicially reviewed over a failure to grant consent to the transactions sought by an offshore banking entity (instructed by Malletts)
First Atlantic Commerce Limited v Bank of Bermuda Limited(2007 Supreme Court of Bermuda November) junior counsel for the claimant in a $8m credit card processing dispute involving gross negligence by the bank (instructed by Attride Stirling & Woloniecki)
Charter Construction PLC v Sparkwell Developments Ltd & Ors (2007 Ch. Div.) counsel in a case involving transactions defrauding creditors contrary to 423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 and freezing injunctions in support of an arbitration award (instructed by Pinsent Masons LLP)
Shepherd Homes Ltd v Encia Remediation Ltd  All ER (D) 334 (Jul) counsel for the defendant in a four week trial concerning defective piling of a site with 94 properties worth £17m (instructed by Hill Dickinson LLP) R (on the application of Just Fabulous (UK) Ltd) v HMRC  EWHC 521 (admin) junior counsel led by Rupert Anderson QC in the first decision in which a High Court determined that investigations by HMRC into ‘contra trading' MTIC fraud were lawful (instructed by Treasury Solicitor)
Re K Limited  2 Lloyd's Rep 569 junior counsel led by Andrew Mitchell QC in the Court of Appeal decision as to the meaning of "suspicion" in Part VII of POCA 2002 and a bank's duty to freeze bank accounts whilst investigations are carried out by SOCA/HMRC (instructed by Treasury Solicitor)
Squirrell Ltd v National Westminster Bank Plc (2005) 2 Lloyd's Rep 374 counsel in the first case defining the impact of section 328(1) of POCA 2002 upon the obligations of banks to freeze accounts without notice and the duty to avoid tipping off (instructed by DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary)
TCF v Bilgin  EWHC 2732 (Comm crt) junior counsel in a 5 day trial of a £5 million guarantee claim involving a freezing injunction against Isle of Man company based on the Chabra jurisdiction and the appointment of a receiver (instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
Longstaff v Baker & Mckenzie (a Firm)  1 WLR 2917 (QBD) counsel in a security for costs application concerning the effect of an undertaking given by a parent company in respect of a subsidiary company's net asset position (instructed by McClure Naismith)
Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
Member of the Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR)
Member of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA)
Member of the Young International Arbitrators Group (YIAG)
Member of the Commercial Fraud Lawyers Association (CFLA)
London Common Law & Commercial Bar Association (LCLCBA)
Professional Negligence Bar Association (PNBA)
2009 Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
2009 Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration (CIArb)
2003 Pegasus Scholarship (Melbourne, Australia)
1997 Lincoln's Inn Megarry Scholar
1997 BA Cantab (First Class) Law with European Law