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Stephen Ryan

Call 2016
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Stephen was called to the bar in 2016 and completed his pupillage at Brick Court Chambers in July 2017. He became a tenant at Three Stone in December 2017.

Stephen has gained experience in an array of disputes, both in English courts and in international arbitrations, involving issues of commercial law and commercial chancery, including all aspects of the law of contract, company law, trusts, banking and finance, insurance, insolvency and the administration of estates. He also has experience in dealing with issues of jurisdiction, private international law, EU law, intellectual property law and public law, and has gained advocacy experience in applications, trials and appeals, acting as both sole and junior counsel.

Stephen accepts instructions in a range of chambers’ work, with particular focus on commercial and commercial chancery disputes.

Prior to being called to the bar, Stephen completed his articles at ENSafrica, Cape Town, from 2011-2013, where he gained experience in commercial litigation, company and trusts law, and public law. After qualifying as an Attorney of the High Court of South Africa in 2013, Stephen practiced as an attorney in the litigation department at ENSafrica, before working as a research assistant to Professor Reinhard Zimmermann at the Max Plank Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in 2014. Stephen also worked as a stipendiary lecturer in Private Law at St Anne’s College, Oxford, from 2015-2016.

  • Cases of interest
    • 365 Business Finance Ltd v Bellagio Hospitality WB Ltd; Court Enforcement Services Ltd v Marston Legal Services Limited (formerly Burlington Credit Limited) [2020] EWCA Civ 588: Sole counsel for Marston, who succeeded in the High Court and subsequently in the Court of Appeal against Court Enforcement Services in a dispute concerning competing writs of control (formerly writs of fieri facias) in favour of different creditors in respect of the assets of the same debtor. The central issue was whether priority was to be afforded to the creditor whose writ was first received by a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO), as Burlington contended, or the creditor whose HCEO was first to receive the fruits. The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s finding that Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 preserves the long established principle that a debtor’s goods became bound by the writ from a particular point in time, and that although the same goods could be bound by multiple writs, it was only once the first writ was satisfied out of proceeds that the surplus (if any) could be applied to the second writ, and so on, in accordance with writ priority. Although this ‘principle of priority’ was established in cases going back to the 1700s, there was, prior to this decision, no authority on whether the principle continued to apply under the present legislative framework. Lord Leggatt’s judgement in the Court of Appeal deals with a number of other issues arising in the case, including the application of the principle in Ex Parte James concerning the Court’s jurisdiction over officers of the court, and the tort of conversion.
    • Hotel Portfolio II UK Ltd (in Liquidation) v Ruhan [2020] EWHC 233 (Comm), [2020] Costs LR 205. Application in the Commercial Court, successfully obtaining a multi-million pound order for security for costs. The application raises issues of stifling and whether an After-The-Event Insurance policy provided sufficient protection. The application was made in respect of ongoing Commercial Court proceedings on which Stephen is instructed as junior counsel, concerning the sale of hotels in London, raising allegations of breaches of fiduciary duties, bribery and conspiracy.
    • Candey Ltd v Crumpler [2020] EWCA Civ 26, [2020] Costs LR 131: Junior counsel for Candey Ltd in various proceedings in the High Court and in respect of an appeal to the Court of Appeal, concerning a dispute between a firm of solicitors and the Liquidators of a BVI company acting under the Cross Border Insolvency Regulations, raising various issues relating to a solicitor’s lien over a fund, the recovery of success fees, and the valuation of services given in consideration for floating charges under s.245 of the Insolvency Act 1986.
    • Rossendale BC v Hurstwood Properties (A) Ltd [2019] EWCA Civ 364: Junior counsel for Rossendale BC and Wigan Council (as test cases in a number of similar proceedings pending in the High Court) in a dispute between the Councils and property development companies concerning a scheme which by the use of leases granted to SPV companies sought to avoid the incidence of National Non-Domestic Rates. The dispute raises issues of the modern application of the doctrine of piercing the corporate veil following Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd [2013] UKSC 34 and the ‘Ramsay’ principle of statutory construction (WT Ramsay Ltd v Inland Revenue Commissioners [1982] AC 300). The Councils have been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, with the appeal to be heard in October 2020.

    Junior counsel in an ongoing International Arbitration concerning a multi-million dollar ‘Bermuda Form’ insurance dispute

    Sole counsel in ongoing High Court bankruptcy proceedings concerning a petition debt of over £100 million

    Junior counsel in ongoing High Court proceedings concerning joint ventures and commercial trusts

    Sole counsel in ongoing proceedings in a dispute between trade mark attorneys and a former client involving issues of contract and restitution

  • Education
    • Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws (Distinction): University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
    • Bachelor of Civil Law (Distinction), Master of Philosophy (Distinction): University of Oxford
    • Skye Foundation Scholarship
    • Commonwealth Scholarship
    • Bowman Gilfillan Prize in Insurance Law
    • DLA Cliff Dekker Hofmeyr Prize in the Law of Business Entities
  • Languages
    • Spanish, Afrikaans (working knowledge)
    • German, French (basic)
  • Publications
    • ‘The balance between certainty and flexibility in horizontal and vertical stare decisis: Bosch v Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service: notes South African Law Journal 132 (2015), 230.
  • Memberships
    • Lincoln’s Inn

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Three Stone have taken immediate measures to maintain our impressive chancery commercial services and our clerking team will provide their usual high standard of service whilst ensuring the safety of our clients, staff and members during this dynamic period.