Rowan Pennington-Benton

Profile

‘Bright, enthusiastic and committed; a star in the making,’ (Legal 500).

Rowan practises in two main areas – commercial/civil law and public law. He has a busy domestic and international practice. He appears in a variety of courts and tribunals (both foreign and domestic), as well as acting in arbitration and adjudication proceedings. He has a developing practice dealing with crypto-currency and other DLT advisory and litigation work.

Rowan also accepts instructions on a direct access basis. For further information please contact the clerks.

Rowan is a member of the International Committee of the Bar Council.

Commercial/ Civil Law

Arbitration / General Commercial

• Appearing for the successful claimants in high value renewable energy arbitration (LCIA, London) (on-shore run of the river facility in Africa – payment dispute / breach of warranty / output performance).

• Advising, with John Restano QC (also of 3 Hare Court), in a multi-million pound off-shore energy dispute regarding the provision of ad hoc energy supplies to the main grid.

Crypto-currency / Distributed Ledger Technology and Crowd-funding /investment disputes

• Claim against major Market Predictions Platform - loss in investment funds due to alleged leakage of coins, contrary to the vesting schedule. Questions include legal status of White Paper (and representations made therein), and of late amendments to vesting schedules prior to ICO.

• Advising in crypto-currency payments system dispute –major credit card provider terminating its relationship with digital payment provider, resulting in deactivation of hundreds of thousands of pre-paid cryptocurrency cards (which allow customers to make payments and draw money from ATMs in fiat currency, but ultimately drawn from a Bitcoin or other decentralized currency source).

• Other IT-related commercial disputes – e.g. MT Secure v EPG (Supreme Court, Gibraltar) – claim concerning integration of payment gateway services for major online casino (loss caused by fraudulent manipulation of URL payment parameters).

Rowan has established links with central hubs for crypto-currency and other DLT operations. In particular he works with John Restano QC and Darren Martinez of Hassans International Law Firm in Gibraltar (which has a dedicated FinTech /DLT team), and with Pantelis Christofides, partner in the commercial and regulatory team at L Papaphilippou & Co LLC, Cyprus. He also has links with legal teams in Malta and other common law jurisdictions.

Blockchain currencies and DLT delivered financial services are but two examples of a broader and developing framework of decentralised ‘technologies’ – of most relevance is the growing interest in crowd-funding, investment and lending.

Lederer v Allsop LLP [2018] EWHC 1425 (Ch) – order made against Lendy Ltd, for the disclosure of the names of over 4,000 underling lenders signed to Lendy’s crowdfunding platform; part of an on-going dispute concerning the draw-down of development funds under the facility. Thomas Roe QC and Rowan Pennington-Benton acting for the borrowers.

Construction and Adjuciation

• Ansaldo’s Townhouse Ltd v Sharrock Shand Ltd (2017) (Gibraltar Supreme Court: enforceability of an adjudication clause in an amended JCT construction contract)

• Appearing for the successful Respondent, in Hemery v Ramlogan [2017] UKPC 41 (privy Council, Mauritius - construction contract payment dispute, amendments and fair trial issues)

• Appearing for the successful respondent in Arawak Homes Ltd v AG of the Bahamas [2016] 1WLR 5214 (Privy Council, with James Guthrie QC: compulsory acquisition of property / commercial valuation)

Insolvency / Chancery

• Various on-going advisory and trial work for and against IPs (unlawful dividends, breach of fiduciary duty, TUVs, breach of trust etc).

• Reclaim Limited (In Liq) – acting for PWC (claims against ex-directors for breach of fiduciary duty; and against law firm third party trustees in Spain and for unlawful dissipation).

• Advising and acting in a financial regulator’s intervention into a major offshore insurance company (solvency capital requirements imposed under the EC Solvency II Directive (2009/138/EC).

• Regular advisory work for trustees / trust management companies (including off-shore) on issues such as variation of trusts, trustee's disclosure and confidentiality obligations, and beneficiary-trustee disputes.

Public Law

Rowan’s public law practice includes judicial review and constitutional adjudication on a range of issues including planning, local government law, human rights, and immigration and asylum. Examples of work:

• Archie v Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago [2018] UKPC 23 – Privy Council appeal led by Chris Hamel-Smith SC. Judicial Committee upheld the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of a judicial review challenge seeking to supress the Law Association’s investigation into the conduct of the serving Chief Justice. See The Guardian news coverage of the case, here.

• The Estate of Lewis Francis v HM Attorney General (Appeal No. 10 of 2017) – Court of Appeal for Gibraltar (judgment 16 July 2018). With John Restano QC, represented successful appellants in constitutional challenge to rent control legislation (right to property, proportionality/ legitimate aim). See GBC news coverage here.

• Patel v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] 2 All E.R. 1093 (Court of Appeal – challenge, in light of Chavez-Vilchez, to the conventional and restricted understanding of the Zambrano test of being ‘compelled to leave’ the UK; permission granted to appeal to the UK Supreme Court).

 Ahsan v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] EWCA Civ 2009; [2018] H.R.L.R. 5 (Court of Appeal - for the successful appellants in lead case challenging the legality and effectiveness of out-of-country appeals against Home Office removal decisions (TOIEC cases, alleged deception)). See useful FT article here. And Hansard debate on this issue (including this judgment), here.

• R (Khan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] 4 WLR 156 - sole counsel in successful appeal to the Court of Appeal dealing with alternative remedies and discretionary relief in judicial review proceedings.

• Successful appeal on behalf of the government in United Policyholders Group and others v The AG of Trinidad and Tobago [2016] 1 WLR 3383 - Privy Council, with Howard Stevens QC: judicial review, legitimate expectations and ‘promises’ made during a government bailout following the collapse of CLICO, one of the largest insurers in the Caribbean.

Other international work/cases of note:

• R v Jogee; R v Ruddock [2016] UKSC 8; [2017] AC 387 - appeared alongside Howard Stevens QC, in an important joined Privy Council/ UK Supreme Court case changing the law of joint enterprise in murder cases.

• Richard Brown v The Queen [2016] UKPC 6 (Privy Council, Jamaica); appeared, with James Guthrie QC, in an appeal against conviction and sentence primarily on the basis of the appellant's mental health at the time of the alleged offence

• Advising on the continuing application and constitutionality of crown immunity in Gibraltar, where it was relied upon to bar the personal injury claim of a woman employed by the Ministry of Defence: Alvarado v Secretary of State for Defence [2013] 5LRC 410 (Supreme Court); and [2013] 35 BHRC 428 (Court of Appeal).

Legal Directories

Legal 500 2017

‘Bright, enthusiastic and committed; a star in the making.
Administrative and Public Law: Leading Junior

Positions held

Judicial Assistant, Supreme Court / Privy Council

Rowan was seconded to the United Kingdom Supreme Court / Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as Judicial Assistant to Lady Hale. He provided research assistance to Lady Hale and other Justices as required on major Supreme Court and Privy Council cases.

Research Assistant, the Law Commission for England and Wales

Rowan worked at the Law Commission as a research assistant in the public law team working primarily on a project relating to adult social care law, but also on a project considering the award of damages in judicial review proceedings.

Teaching

Rowan has taught administrative law / public law at the Queen Mary University, London and at the University of Essex where he previously taught contract law. He also taught criminal law at the London School of Economics.

Articles / publications / talks

Rowan has had several articles published in the New Law Journal and other publications. For a time he was research assistant to Professor Paul Craig QC, author of the standard textbooks on EU law and administrative law.

See recent examples:

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council - contribution to judicial review and public law (Judicial Review, 2018, 23(1), 65-82)

Legitimate expection as a ground for judicial review (June 2017, 'Outlaw' by Pinsent Masons)

Not all that glitters is gold (Solicitors Journal, 2016, 160(35), 33-24)

In November 2018 he co-presented a paper to the Barbados Bar Association on 'Recent Developments in Commercial and Public Law' .

Scholarships

Queen Mother Scholarship, Middle Temple (BVC);
Freshfields Bruckhaus Scholarship (BCL).

Qualifications

LLB (hons), (First Class), University of Essex;
BCL, (Distinction), St Edmund Hall, Oxford.