Stephen Smith is renowned for his work in civil fraud litigation (typically claims for breach of fiduciary duty, deceit and misrepresentation), especially in connection with freezing injunctions, asset tracing, disclosure orders, jurisdictional and forum disputes, sham trusts and committals to prison for contempt of court. He also has vast experience in insolvency cases and general commercial litigation. He is a part time judge of the Chancery Division of the High Court.
Stephen has over 30 years’ experience as a barrister in England, for more than half of which he has been a QC. He has also been called to the Bar (or licensed to practise as an advocate) in the British Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the Isle of Man and the Cayman Islands, and he has frequently advised in respect of cases proceeding in other jurisdictions (such as Bermuda, Hong Kong and the Channel Islands). He has appeared in the Supreme Court and Privy Council on more than 15 occasions.
Stephen was at the forefront of the development of the worldwide freezing order, having been junior counsel for the claimants in the groundbreaking case of Derby v. Weldon. Since then he has been involved in many leading freezing order cases both in England and abroad, including FBME Ltd v. Hadkinson, JSC BTA Bank v. Solodchenko, JSC BTA Bank v. Ablyazov and JSC Mezhdunarodniy Promyshlenniy Bank v. Pugachev. Each of the mentioned cases went to one or more appellate courts: Stephen has appeared on appeals on more than 50 occasions, in England and several overseas jurisdictions (especially the Eastern Caribbean).
Many of Stephen’s cases (including arbitrations) go to trial, or involve a trial, and require extensive cross examination. The JSC BTA Bank involved two heavy trials, the first, for the committal of Mukhtar Ablyazov, lasted some 3 weeks; the second, on the substantive merits of 3 sets of proceedings, lasted for 44 days and resulted in a judgment for in excess of US $1.5bn. More recently, the trial of the allegations of contempt against Sergei Pugachev in the Mezhprom litigation resulted in sentences totalling 8 years and 11 months being imposed for 11 different contempts; the trial of the substantive claims (to bust the discretionary trusts) lasted almost 1 month.
The last 3 years have been a particularly busy period for Stephen (He was recorded by the lawyer magazine as the UK’s “Most popular” (ie busy) barrister in 2018).
A list of reported and recent cases is available at www.erskinechambers.com/barrister/stephen-smith-qc/.