Stuart Benzie is a senior and experienced commercial advocate who advises and represents commercial clients in the High Court and Court of Appeal. He also acts in arbitration matters under a variety of rules (LCIA, DIAC, ICC etc).
He is recommended in Chambers UK, Chambers Global and Legal 500 for commercial dispute resolution, commercial fraud, and sport. Clients’ comments include “Stuart is utterly brilliant – an iron fist in a velvet glove.” (Chambers & Partners 2023) and “an intellectual heavyweight” (Legal 500 2023).
Stuart qualified as a solicitor with Clifford Chance (1999) and was subsequently employed as a strategy consultant by McKinsey & Company, and as a senior member of HSBC’s London based securitisation team. Stuart is valued for his commercial experience and insight and client comments include, “…he is very responsive, very commercial and popular with clients” (Chambers & Partners 2023) and “…incredibly commercially-minded” (Legal 500 2021).
Stuart has a broad commercial practice with a particular focus on complex commercial fraud, shareholder disputes and High Court employment disputes (relating to restrictive covenants, confidential information, and unlawful competition). Stuart also provides non-contentious advice in relation to business protection, including the drafting of enforceable restrictive covenants and effective protection of confidential information.
Stuart is a true specialist in dealing with urgent interim applications, including freezing and search orders, springboard injunctions, gardening leave injunctions and other prohibitory and mandatory orders. As a consequence of this specialisation, Stuart has extensive experience of committal applications and has appeared in several applications (primarily for applicants) in cases which resulted in significant prison sentences.
- Last Bus Ltd (t/a Dublin Coach) v Dawsongroup Bus and Coach Ltd (formerly Dawson Rentals Bus and Coach Ltd)  EWHC 2971 (Comm); Stuart acted for Dawsongroup in a £12m Commercial Court claim brought by a Dublin based coach operator (represented by Nigel Jones KC) in relation to the supply of allegedly defective coaches by Daimler-Benz (the second defendant represented by Daniel Shapiro KC). Stuart acted in successful summary judgment application and acted in the subsequent Court of Appeal hearing relating to the approach of exclusion clauses in commercial contracts (judgment awaited) (Instructed by Freeths LLP).
- J Wanstall & Sons v Fridays Ltd  EWHC 2579 (TCC); Stuart acted for the Defendant in this complex claim relating to outbreaks of a novel strain of salmonella between 2017 and 2020. Stuart acted for Fridays, one of the UK’s largest producers and packers of eggs, in a summary judgment/strike-out hearing relating to the existence of a settlement agreement that was said to exist between the parties (Instructed by Freeths LLP).
- Equitas Ltd v Sande Investments Ltd  EWHC 631 (Comm); Stuart acted for Equitas in this Commercial Court Claim brought against a Lloyds’ Broker in relation to monies that were collected by that broker following the Lloyds Market reconstruction and then not paid over to Equitas. The case was a high-profile and legally complex Commercial Court trial (Instructed by DWF).
- Patel v Parker (and others)  EWHC 1979 (Ch); Stuart currently acts (with David Turner KC) for the Claimant in relation to an alleged fraud carried out in relation to the construction and establishment of a bariatric hospital in Battersea, south-west London. The case is complex and Stuart has acted as junior counsel in a series of applications relating to disclosure, joinder, amendment and strike-out. The case is currently proceeding to trial (instructed by Laytons LLP).
- Coveris Flexibles v Simon Brears and others  EWHC 1594 QB; Stuart acted for the Claimant in this case concerning a significant alleged fraud committed by a former senior employee. The case commenced with a search order which was frustrated by the First Defendant and following a number of further acts of contempt Stuart acted in committal hearing that resulted in a 14-month prison sentence. The case applied the sentencing guidelines from F.W Farnsworth Ltd & Anor v. Lacy &Ors  EWHC 3487 (Ch) a case where Stuart acted for the successful applicant (instructed by Gateley Legal PLC).
- Freeths LLP v Revolut Limited (unreported 2021); Stuart acted for Freeths LLP in Part 8 Application for a Norwich Pharmacal Order. The application was heard remotely and unknown to the parties a journalist was on the call who subsequently intended to report the case. Stuart then appeared in an urgent application pursuant to the Section 4(2) Contempt of Court Act 1981 to restrain publication of any report of the NPO application (Instructed by Mills & Reeve LLP).
- Stephen Smith v JSA Education Group Limited (Companies Court) (unreported 2022); Stuart acted for one of the founders of a London based fashion college (‘JCA Fashion Academy’), founded by a joint venture by investors including the well-known shoe designer Professor Jimmy Choo. The claim involved disputes between the UK education specialists, Professor Choo, and a Chinese investor. The claim was challenging and involved issues relating to the regulation of UK higher education providers and also the extent to which parties to a JV agreement owed each other duties of good faith or fiduciary duties (Instructed by Myerson Solicitors LLP).
- TT Partnership Limited (and others) v Tanya Field (and others) (unreported 2022); Stuart acted (leading Will Clerk) for the Petitioner in this unfair prejudice claim against a former LLP partner (represented by Tom Poole KC). Stuart acted at the Companies Court trial that involved extensive cross-examination of a number of witnesses and detailed submissions in relation to the Section 994 Companies Act 2006 jurisdiction (Instructed by Laytons LLP).
- Homes of England Ltd v Horsham Holdings Ltd  EWHC 1175 (Ch); Stuart acted for a number of the Defendants (Zachary Kell acted for the remaining Defendants) in a series of applications and at trial. The applications included an application for an injunction made by the Claimant (represented by Angharad Start) attempting to restrain payment between companies until the determination of two unfair prejudice petitions including the question of whether the application had to satisfy the test for a freezing injunction (cited in the recent 7th Ed. of Gee on Commercial Injunctions) (Instructed by Laytons LLP)
Stuart started his career as an insolvency and restructuring lawyer at Clifford Chance and has been involved in insolvency disputes and advisory work for over 20 years. Recent cases include:
- Alpha Insurance A/S (In Bankruptcy acting by its court appointed attorney Boris Frederiksen) v. Intercede 2408 Limited : Stuart acted for the Danish trustee in bankruptcy of Alpha Insurance A/S in claims to recover unpaid amounts of £4.3m due from an English company than had been struck-off the register. (Instructed by DWF).
- Pall-Ex (UK) Limited v. Logistics (Brighton) Limited  Stuart acted for an applicant in an application to restrain a winding-up petition in relation to a claim of £3m. Stuart successfully obtained an injunction and advised in relation to the eventual resolution of the dispute (Instructed by Gateley Law PLC).
- Alpha Insurance A/S (In Bankruptcy acting by its court appointed attorney Boris Frederiksen) v. J&M Insurance Services UK Limited . Stuart acted for the Danish trustee in bankruptcy of Alpha Insurance in claims to recover amounts of £4.5m of premia from a UK agent that had been collected pursuant to a binding authority agreement (Instructed by DWF).
Stuart also provides insolvency and restructuring advice including corporate and securities transactions and he has extensive experience of securitisation, covered bonds and other capital markets products. Stuart was previously a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company and brings commercial as well as legal experience to his insolvency and restructuring practice.
- DIAC arbitration – 2022; Stuart acted for the large Middle East based conglomerate in DIAC arbitration relating to the fraudulent preparation of accounts and other fraudulent misrepresentation made in connection with the acquisition a major telecommunications company in the GCC region. Stuart acted at the final hearing of a claim that had a value of in excess of US$30m. (Instructed by Kennedys)
- LCIA arbitration – 2023; Stuart acts for a US based investor in an LCIA arbitration relating to investments in telecommunications operators in the Balkan region. This is a complex, high value dispute that involves a major international bank, issues of sovereign immunity and evidence from parties based in a number of European jurisdictions (Instructed by Laytons LLP).
- LMMA arbitration; Stuart appeared (leading Emily Albou) in a US$350 million LMAA arbitration relating to the wrongful (and fraudulent) detention of two vessels in Mexican waters related to the high profile Oceanografia fraud. Stuart acted for the Applicant and succeeded in a case which established the ownership of a vessel which was in the possession of the Defendant (represented by Nicholas Vineall KC). The case involved cross-examination of witnesses by video-link from Mexico (Instructed by Laytons LLP).
- Preson v Preson  EWHC 1486 (Ch); Stuart acted for the Claimants in a claim relating to the purchase of a farm in Leicestershire and the extent to which the Claimants were entitled to a beneficial interest in land owned by the Defendants (represented by Nicholas George). Stuart successfully argued that the land was held subject to a common interest constructive trust following a trial that involved extensive cross-examination relating to the relationship between the parties over a period of 20 years (Instructed by Freeths LLP).
- Gokani v Gokani (Unreported 2021); Stuart acted for the Defendants in a dispute as to the ownership of a large portfolio of commercial and residential properties that had been acquired during a period of about 40 years. The case was commenced in the Lands Tribunal as an application to amend the titles to various properties and was (following a successful application) transferred to the Chancery Division to deal with the dispute as to the whether the Defendants held the properties on trust for the Claimants pursuant to a common interest constructive trust or as a consequence of proprietary estoppel. The case settled at mediation (instructed by Freeths LLP).
- JD Classics Limited (in Administration) (2020); Stuart acted for a high profile, US based high net worth individual in relation to the ownership of a number of classic vehicles including a Jaguar owned by Clark Gable and a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB that had a value of several million dollars. The case involved a significant fraud and the extent to which title to the vehicles had been transferred to the alleged fraudster and the extent to which such vehicles were held on trust. Stuart advised and assisted in the drafting of documents that resulted in the administrators (represented by Quinn Emanuel) agreeing to return the vehicles to Stuart’s client (Instructed by Laytons LLP).
- Aquinas Education Ltd v Miller and others  IRLR 518; Stuart acted for the new employer of two former employees of the Claimant (represented by Adam Tolley KC and Simon Paul) and the managing director of the new employer. The claim involved the Claimant’s attempt to seek a ‘springboard injunction’ against the two former employees who had commenced employment with a competitor. Stuart was successful in persuading the Judge to discharge a ‘springboard injunction’ which had been granted at an earlier hearing and the case is now a leading authority on the evidence required to obtain a ‘springboard injunction’ (Instructed by Freeths LLP).
- FW Farnsworth Ltd v Lacy and others  IRLR 2830 (Ch); Stuart acted for the Claimant in a case against a group of former employees (represented by James Laddie KC) who had committed various unlawful acts before going on to join a competing company. Stuart appeared in a committal hearing and in the hearing of a preliminary issue in the Chancery Division which is a leading case on the incorporation of contracts of employment (instructed by Freeths LLP).
- Libran Laminations Limited v. Druces (2023); Stuart acted for Claimant (and another company) in a claim against Druces in relation to alleged negligence in the conduct of the sale and purchase of commercial property shortly before the pandemic. Stuart acted for the Claimant in earlier proceedings against the intended purchaser, and has since been instructed in the claim against Druces (Instructed by Freeths)
- Thompson v Beckingtons (2022); Stuart acted for the Defendant firm of accountants in relation to allegedly negligent tax advice concerning the Claimant’s operations in Italy. Stuart advised the Defendants, drafted pleadings (that involved complex issues of Italian tax law), advised on disclosure and settlement discussions. The matter subsequently settled (Instructed by Phillips Law).
- Gateley Legal PLC v Clyde & Co; Stuart acted for the Claimant law firm in a claim against Clyde & Co in relation to allegations of negligence in relation to the conduct of a professional negligence claim against Gateley. Gateley instructed Stuart to advise, draft proceedings and represent Gateley at a mediation where the dispute was settled (Instructed by Gateley Legal)
Stuart provides advice and drafts documents in relation to a wide range of non-contentious issues, including:
- Advice of finance and banking documents: Stuart drafted all of the finance documents for well-known auction house and has drafted a range of documents in relation to the financing of high value works of art.
- Advice on the drafting of restrictive covenants in commercial agreements and the employment contracts of senior executives.
- Advice provided to a number of law firms (including a Magic Circle law firm) on the extent to which their terms of business were compliant with the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
- Advice in relation to the contractual provisions contained in contracts for the transfer of footballers, including the standard Premier League contracts and bespoke provisions to deal with players with specific injury issues and illnesses.
- Stuart has extensive experience of securitization, covered bonds and other structured products and can advise on the various issues that arise in relation to such products (including insolvency related issues).
- Last Bus Ltd (t/a Dublin Coach) v Dawsongroup Bus and Coach Ltd (formerly Dawson Rentals Bus and Coach Ltd) – Court of Appeal (awaiting judgment)
- Patel v Parker  EWHC 1979 (Ch)
- Preson v Preson  EWHC 1486 (Ch)
- LCIA arbitration (2023)
- Last Bus Ltd (t/a Dublin Coach) v Dawsongroup Bus and Coach Ltd (formerly Dawson Rentals Bus and Coach Ltd)  EWHC 2971 (Comm)
- J Wanstall & Sons v Fridays Ltd  EWHC 2579 (TCC)
- DIAC arbitration (2022)
- Coveris Flexibles v Simon Brears and others  EWHC 1594 QB
- Stephen Smith v JSA Education Group Limited (Companies Court) (unreported 2022)
- TT Partnership Limited (and others) v Tanya Field (and others) (unreported 2022)
- Equitas Ltd v Sande Investments Ltd  EWHC 631 (Comm)
- Freeths LLP v Revolut Limited (unreported 2021)
- Aquinas Education Ltd v Miller and others  IRLR 518
- F.W Farnsworth Ltd & Anor v Lacy & Ors  EWHC 3487 (Ch)
- FW Farnsworth Ltd v Lacy and others  IRLR 2830 (Ch)
- “Stuart is an excellent senior junior. He is very responsive, very commercial and popular with clients.” “Stuart is utterly brilliant – an iron fist in a velvet glove.” (Chambers UK Bar 2023)
- “Stuart has tremendous attention to detail, prepares thoroughly for all hearings and clients like his commercial approach.” “An intellectual heavyweight, but not one who sits in an ivory tower, making him go-to counsel.” “Silk quality for junior money.” (Legal 500 2023)
- “Bright, sharp of mind and someone with a nice demeanour.” (Chambers UK Bar 2022)
- “Responsive and practical, gives sensible commercial advice and always available and on hand to deal with queries.” “Stuart is a proper fighter – excellent for those difficult cases. He knows freezing orders inside out.” “Stuart brings incredible commercial nous and skill to every sports case. He is especially good at urgent, challenging injunctive work.” (Legal 500 2022)
- “Stuart is a creative, persuasive and forceful advocate who always thinks outside the box to achieve the desired result.” “His greatest asset is his commercial awareness, and he is very good at navigating legal complexity.” “He is commercial, tactically astute and creative.” (Chambers UK Bar 2021)
- “He is an excellent team player who knows his way round the commercial court.” “Incredibly commercially-minded, he has great expertise in sports law.” (Legal 500 2021)
- “Stuart is a creative, persuasive and forceful advocate who always thinks outside the box to achieve the desired result” “His greatest asset is his commercial awareness, and he is very good at navigating legal complexity” (Chambers UK Bar 2020)
“Bright, authoritative and great on his feet” (Legal 500 2020)
“Stuart Benzie is very commercial and creative” “He is not afraid to think outside the box” “He’s very personable, and he interacts well with clients” “Clients like his tough but pragmatic approach” (Chambers UK Bar 2019)
“A very persuasive and tenacious cross-examiner” (Legal 500 2018)
“He always helps to overcome difficult issues” (Legal 500 2017)
“He is responsive, attentive to detail and generous with his time” (Legal 500 2016)
- 1996 Queen Mary, University of London, Bachelor of Laws (First Class)
- Chancery Bar Association