Photo of Stuart Benzie

Stuart Benzie

Call 2002

sbenzie@2tg.co.uk

+44 (0)20 7822 1200

"A very persuasive and tenacious cross-examiner"

Legal 500

"He always helps to overcome difficult issues"

Legal 500

"Very commercial and creative"

Chambers UK

"He is not afraid to think outside the box"

Chambers UK

"He's very personable, and he interacts well with clients"

Chambers UK

"Clients like his tough but pragmatic approach"

Chambers UK

Practice Overview

Stuart is an experienced commercial advocate who has represented commercial clients in the Commercial Court, Chancery Division, Court of Appeal and in arbitration matters in disputes covering a broad spectrum of commercial law. He is recommended in Chambers UK under Commercial Dispute Resolution, noted for being “very personable” and that he “interacts well with clients” who like his “tough but pragmatic approach”.

Stuart was employed as a strategy consultant by McKinsey & Company and as a senior member of HSBC’s London based securitisation team.  Consequently, he combines his extensive legal skills and experience with a real understanding of the commercial needs and objectives of his clients.

Stuart’s practice covers a wide range of areas of commercial law and as well as his extensive experience of commercial, contractual disputes, he has significant experience of disputes in areas such as commercial agency, commercial fraud, , restrictive covenants and restraint of trade (in commercial agreements and in contracts of employments), shareholder disputes, financial products, credit and security, professional negligence, construction (especially fraud in the construction industry) and disputes with government agencies and local authorities.

Stuart is a true specialist in dealing with urgent interim application, including freezing and search orders, springboard injunctions, gardening leave injunctions and other prohibitory and mandatory orders (Stuart has appeared in the Queen’s Bench and Chancery Division applications courts on over 50 occasions in the last three years).  As a consequence of this specialisation, Stuart has extensive experience of committal applications and has appeared in several applications (for applicants) in cases which resulted in sentences from suspended sentences of imprisonment to a Respondent who was imprisoned for 20 months.

Stuart is the author on the Chapter on ‘Sale of Goods on Credit’ in Christou “Sale of Goods” (Second Edition. Sweet & Maxwell) and is currently engaged in writing an updated version of a practitioner work on Freezing and Search Orders and contributing to a book on property damage.

Arden Motorsport v Erickson (2018 QBD ongoing) Stuart acts for Arden Motor Sport in relation to a dispute with a FIA GP2 driver, Jimmy Erikson. The case turns on issues relating to the agreements between Arden Motorsport, the driver and his sponsor. The dispute includes issue relating to the terms of the agreements and technical issues relating to the performance of the team and the driver during the FIA GP 2 season (instructed by 7 Legal)

Aquinas Education Ltd v. Miller and others [2018] EWHC 404 (QB): Stuart acted for the new employer of two former employees of the Claimant (represented by Adam Tolley QC and Simon Paul) and the managing director of the new employer (Co-defending with Ruth Kennedy). 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 (Instructed by Freeths LLP).

Sports Invest Limited v. Letang (Unreported QBD December 2017).  Stuart acted for Olivier Letang, the former director of football at Paris St Germain successfully resisting an urgent application made by Sports Invest (represented by Paul Gilroy QC) for a ‘garden leave’ injunction to restrain him from commencing employment with Stade Rennais FC another French League One football club (instructed by Gateley LLP).

Southern Drivers Direct Limited v. Eddie Stobart Limited (unreported Commercial Court July 2017) Stuart acted for the well-known haulage company Eddie Stobart in a dispute as to whether a rogue employee had entered into a high value contract with the Claimant (represented by Gerrard McMeel).  Stuart successfully defended the claim, which involved a number of difficult issues relating to agency, contractual construction and acceptance by conduct (instructed by Freeths LLP)

Fieldfisher LLP v. Persons Unknown (Unreported December 2017).  Stuart acted for a City law firm that had been the victim of fraud where funds had been dishonestly transmitted to a bank in Turkey (leading Emily Albou).  Stuart appeared before Phillips J and sought one of the first worldwide freezing orders obtained against persons unknown.  This case is one of a number of cases in 2017 where Stuart has acted in what are known as ‘push payment’ frauds or ‘Friday afternoon’ frauds. (instructed by Mills & Reeve LLP).

The English Electric Company Limited v. Alstom UK Limited [2017] EWHC 1748 (QB) (Mercantile Court HHJ Waksman QC). Stuart acted for the Defendant against the Claimant (represented by David Lewis QC and Thomas Corby) in a further claim made pursuant to a chain of indemnities going back to the early 1970s.  The case involved issues relating to the construction of contractual agreements, the various rules of construction and detailed examination of historic documents. (Instructed by Pinsent Masons LLP).

The English Electric Company Limited v. Alstom UK Limited [20016] EWCA Civ 1314.  Stuart acted for the Appellant (with James Drake QC) in this appeal against the Judgment of HHJ Mackie QC insofar as it related to his approach to contractual construction.  The Appellant argued that the Judge was wrong to depart from the natural and ordinary meaning of the language of a record of an indemnity to give effect to what he found to be the commercial purpose of the parties (Instructed by Pinsent Masons LLP).

International Arbitration (Confidential July 2016).  Stuart appeared (leading Emily Albou) in a US$350 million fraud claim conducted under the rules of the London Maritime Association.  Stuart acted for the Applicant and succeeded in a case which related to the ownership of a vessel which was in the possession of the Defendant (represented by Nicholas Vineall QC). The case involved cross-examination of witnesses by video-link from Mexico (Instructed by Laytons LLP).

Commercial Dispute Resolution

Stuart is a very experienced commercial advocate who has represented clients in numerous High Court matters in disputes covering a range of areas of law. Areas where Stuart has particular expertise include:

  • Commercial agency.
  • General agency, particularly with regard to finance transactions.
  • Guarantees and indemnities.
  • Breach of distribution agreements.
  • Breach of covenant cases in business sale agreements.
  • Matters involving complex expert evidence.

Stuart has also acted in the TCC in a number of construction and engineering disputes and recently appeared (leading Will Clerk of 2TG) in a three week TCC trial which was the first major commercial trial to hear concurrent expert evidence (“hot-tubbing”) (Brookhouse Engineering (Evesham) Ltd v. Willbros Construction (U.S.) LLC [2013] (TCC London October 2013 Judge Waksman QC)

Sport

Stuarts current practice includes acting for clubs, national bodies and individual athletes in a range of contractual, regulatory and disciplinary matters.

Stuart previously advised on a number of high-value finance transactions for sports bodies.  Stuart advised on various issues including the FIA rules and other contractual and insolvency issues in the US$1.4 billion bond issue (Formula 1 Finance BV) and thereafter has advised investors on the structure of proposed investments relating to promotion rights and television rights in other areas of Formula 1 and the World Rally Championship.  Stuart has also advised drivers in other areas of motorsport in relation to sponsorship and other contracts.

Stuart has recently advised a number of Premiership football clubs and an Italian Serie A club in relation to funding (and refinancing) structures for stadia. Such advice included consideration of the relevant FA and Premiership rules and regulations as well as the contractual and company law issues.

 

 

Stuart’s other cases include:


  • Football
  • X v. Y (Present)
    Stuart is currently advising a Premier League football club in relation to a dispute with an Italian Serie A club.  The advice relates to contractual issues, the interaction of the transfer agreement with the player’s Premier League Contract and the relevant parts of the FIFA Status and Transfer of Players Regulations.
  • West Ham United v. Viagogo (2014/2015):
    Stuart acted for West Ham in a dispute with Viagogo relating to the sponsorship agreement between the parties and ticketing arrangements.
  • West Ham United v. Morrisons (2014/2015):
    Stuart acted for West Ham in a dispute with Morrisons in relation to the aborted purchase of the Boleyn Ground by Morrisons.
  • AFC Bournemouth v. Swanage Town FC (2009):
    Stuart acted for AFC Bournemouth in a dispute with a shareholder of the club.  The dispute primarily related to breaches of the FA Rules on club ownership and Stuart advised on the FA Rules and related contractual issues.
  • Charlton Athletic v. Llanera (2008):
    Stuart acted for Charlton Athletic in a dispute with a former sponsor in relation to a promotion offered to season ticket holders.
  • Rugby Union
  • Heineken Cup Dispute (2014/2015):
    Stuart represented the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) in relation to the dispute as to the future of the Heineken cup.  Stuart advised in relation to the enforceability of the existing contract with Sky television, the extent to which French clubs could participate in any future contract with BT Sport and the relevant IRB (now World Rugby) Rules.
  • Leicester Tigers v. Various (2007):
    Stuart acted in an application for an urgent injunction to prevent certain trading concessions from continuing to trade at their Welford Road ground.
  • X v. RFU (1994):
    Stuart advised a grass roots player in relation to allegations of serious misconduct heard by an RFU Disciplinary Panel.  Stuart advised the player in relation to the rules of the RFU, evidential matters and prospects for judicial review.
  • Motor Sport
  • Ross Gunn:
    Stuart advised Ross Gunn in relation to his BRDC Formula 4 driving contract and  agreements (2014) and subsequently in relation to his driving contract with Beechdean Aston Martin Racing in the British GT Championship (2015).
  • Other
  • Jockey Club Racecourses Limited v. Amlin (2015/Present)
    Stuart acts for an insurer in a dispute relating to damage to a stadium at Epsom Racecourse.
  • Stuart is a member of the panel of Honorary Legal Advisors to the Alpine Club
Commercial Fraud

Stuart has acted in numerous commercial fraud matters and is able to advise at all stages from the initial investigation, the obtaining of disclosure and other interim relief (particularly freezing and search orders) through to the management of proceedings, trial (or settlement) and enforcement. Many of these cases have been multi-jurisdictional in nature and Stuart has advised in cases involving parties or assets in numerous jurisdictions including Switzerland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, USA, Iran and Iraq.

Stuart has also acted in a number of cases involving breaches of restrictive covenants by employees, where the employee has misused confidential information to assist a competitor or to go into competition with the employer.

Recent instructions include acting for a major London property company in relation to a fraud committed by a senior employee, acting for the victim of a fraud committed by a group of employees against a major Midlands housing association and a case involving the protracted investigation of the misuse and conversion of equipment belonging to a major UK gas supplier (which resulted in the court granting a committal order against the Defendants).

Stuart has also developed particular expertise in dealing with committal applications arising out of commercial fraud cases and has acted in a number of cases where applicants have succeeded in having respondents committed to prison.  His recent cases include the leading case on sentencing of F.W Farnsworth Ltd & Anor v. Lacy & Ors  [2013] EWHC 3487 (Ch).

Stuart also regularly advises solicitors and other professionals in relation to money laundering and issues emanating from the Bribery Act 2010. Stuart speaks regularly at conferences and other events on issues relating to the investigation and prevention of commercial fraud.

Property Damage

Stuart is an experienced commercial litigator with extensive experience of property damage cases particularly in the TCC.  He has acted in cases involving floods, fires, defective design, product liability and subsidence.

Stuart recently represented the Claimant in a three week trial which was the first major TCC trial to hear concurrent expert evidence (“hot-tubbing”) Brookhouse Engineering (Evesham) Ltd v. Willbros Construction (U.S.) LLC. Stuart brings a wealth of experience from his broader commercial practice and is particularly experienced in dealing with complex expert evidence.

Stuart’s current cases include a series of claims relating to fires caused by defective electrical equipment and a claim relating to damage to the roof of a major sports stadium.

Employment

Stuart’s employment practice is focused on commercial disputes between employers and employees with a strong emphasis on restrictive covenants, confidential information and breaches of fiduciary and directors’ duties.

Stuart acted for the employer in FW Farnsworth Ltd v Lacy and others  [2013] IRLR 2830 (Ch); an important decision in relation to the incorporation of employment contracts by implied consent (see Harvey Bulletin 412 November 2012).  Stuart’s employment practice often overlaps with his sport practice where he has advised a number of Premier League football clubs in relation to contractual disputes with players.

Stuart is highly experienced in applying for urgent interim relief to enforce restrictive covenants and the unlawful use of confidential information.  He has also appeared in a number of committal applications where employees have been sentenced for breach of such injunctions including F.W Farnsworth Ltd & Anor v. Lacy & Ors [2013] EWHC 3487 (Ch) a leading case on sentencing for committal.

Insurance & Reinsurance

Stuart has been involved in insurance law for in excess of 20 years.  Stuart is regularly instructed in disputes arising from all policy types (e.g. professional indemnity, public liability and employers’ liability). He deals with construction and coverage disputes, subrogation issues, non-disclosure, brokers’ negligence, and fraudulent claims.

Stuart acts for insurers in the specialist field of sports law (where Stuart is a recognised leading practitioner), recently advising MS Amlin in relation to coverage issues following storm damage to a stand at the Epsom racecourse and advising in relation to the potential liabilities of a Premier League football club in relation to a player with serious health issues.