Helen Pugh

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Helen specialises in general commercial litigation, civil fraud, contentious insolvency and company law issues, and professional negligence.

Her practice has a strong international element with an expertise in jurisdictional disputes and conflict of law issues, including as they arise at an interim stage in applications for worldwide freezing orders and service out applications or on the substantive claim, and in the cross-border insolvency context.


Helen has a busy commercial and civil fraud practice with an increasing amount of work with a cross-border element. She has particular knowledge of cryptocurrency disputes and the particular issues arising in connection with these disputes over digital assets.

She is ranked in Commercial Litigation in Legal 500. “A tenacious, confident advocate who is incredibly switched on. Clients appreciate Helen’s determination, and her commitment to their case.”

Notable Commercial & Civil Fraud cases

Ellis v Babushkin & ors; Ellis v Digit Europe Ltd

A multi-million pound bitcoin fraud against foreign-domiciled parties identified as potential recipients of the misappropriated bitcoin followed a disputed tracing exercise by blockchain analysis experts (sole counsel).

Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn v Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn

A claim for repayment of a series of loans made to the defendant raising a variety of issues including the meaning of delivery of a deed, the scope of a purported settlement and limitation (sole counsel).

A £5m claim by a US company against an English company with high profile and high value IP rights concerning breach of warranty, breach of fiduciary duty and the fraudulent dissipation of monies (led by Aidan Casey QC)

A multi-party fraud action said to arise out of the misappropriation of luxury cars worth c£1.5m at a prominent London hotel and their unauthorised transfer to Switzerland (sole counsel).

Advising upon force majeure construction issues in light of Covid-19 in the context of a substantial long-lease of equipment in the Bahamas.

Baxendale-Walker v APL Management Ltd

A summary judgment matter involving a high-net worth individual concerning a £3.7m loan and issues of mistake, illegality, misrepresentation, res judicata and abuse of process. (led by Jonathan Seitler QC)

An arbitration concerning the supply of commodities in South America (led by Richard Samuel)

A claim by a Jordanian company against the supplier of nanotechnology for fraudulent misrepresentation (led by James Guthrie QC)

Helen has substantial experience of all aspects of company and contentious insolvency matters, including shareholder disputes, derivate actions, directors’ disqualification proceedings, misfeasance/breach of fiduciary duty claims, unlawful distribution claims, antecedent transaction challenges, beneficial ownership disputes and other proceedings under the Insolvency Act such as petitions, annulment applications, and applications for examinations.

Helen is ranked as a leading junior in the Legal 500 (2022 edition) and described as having “an enviable ability to grasp large amounts of information quickly and draft claims logically, thoroughly and with precision.”

Notable Company & Insolvency cases

A successful application to serve a winding up petition out of the jurisdiction on an overseas company in respect of debts owed to another overseas company and on the just and equitable ground.

Holland v Revenue and Customers Commissioners (Re. Paycheck Services 3 Ltd)

The leading Supreme Court case on de facto directors (led by Peter Knox QC).

Instructed in a double derivative claim for which permission is sought for members of a large pension scheme to bring an action against the directors of a corporate trustee of a pension scheme.

A complex unlawful dividend and misfeasance claim against a former director of an insolvent company raising issues which include directorial responsibility where a company falls victim to a fraud.

Advising in conjunction with local lawyers on winding up proceedings in the Isle of Man on the grounds of a petition debt based on an Indian arbitration award undergoing challenge in the Delhi Supreme Court.

An unfair prejudice petition arising out of an acrimonious breakdown of trust at a construction company.

Advising on restrictive covenants in the context of a shareholder-employee relationship.

Helen undertakes a range of financial services and banking work as part of her broad commercial practice. In addition to guarantee disputes and other contractual claims, Helen’s expertise in insolvency and civil fraud is a considerable asset in this area. She has also been instructed in a number of professional negligence cases against financial and insurance intermediaries.

Helen is regularly invited to speak on topics related to banking and finance, including Quincecare claims and cryptocurrency. She has been published on a range of topics in the Journal of International Banking and Financial Law and other leading publications. Helen is a member of Chancery Bar Association, Commercial Law Bar Association, the Professional Negligence Bar Association, Thought Leaders 4 Fraud, Insolvency, Recovery and Enforcement and the Female Fraud Forum.

Notable Banking & Finance cases

Advising a finance company upon the enforceability of its loan agreement and associated guarantees against husband and wife co-directors. The case raises a number of issues not atypical in cases where the debtor company is a family-run business, including questions of authority and forgery.

Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn v Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn [2021]

Acting for a high profile, high net worth individual in an action to recover a significant loan raising issues including the validity of a deed, promissory estoppel and limitation.

Advising a high net worth foreign national in connection with a claim against his former solicitors arising out of multi- million losses due to issues relating to deeds of priority and the registration of charges between competing lenders, and a claim against another lenders.

Advising the former spouse of a company director upon the validity and enforceability of an all-monies guarantee provided to an institutional lender to secure her former spouse’s failing business.

Acting for a client in an action for breach of MCOB rules in a typical ‘interest-only’ mortgage mis-selling case.

Helen has extensive experience across the breadth of professional negligence actions including firms of solicitors, surveyors and valuers, insurance and other brokers or intermediaries, and accountants. Helen is regularly named in the Professional Negligence category of Chambers & Partners and Legal 500, and is currently ranked in the Legal 500 [2022] edition as a leading junior in this area “Helen has a fantastic grasp of the intricacies of professional negligence, and an approachable and understanding demeanour which helps to build a quick rapport with clients.”

Notable Professional Negligence cases

Symrise AG v Baker & McKenzie

A commercial court trial against a city law firm arising out of negligent Mexican tax advice (led by William Godwin QC).

A claim against an accountant for various breaches of duty, including a failure to implement a tax efficient members’ voluntary liquidation in advance of an adverse change in entrepreneur’s relief.

A claim against a firm of solicitors for a failure to register a lender’s charge and a failure to advise on the meaning and effect of an inter-lender deed of priority.

A claim against a mortgage broker for misselling an interest only mortgage in breach of the then applicable MCOB rules.

A claim against conveyancing solicitors arising out of a planning permission defect.

Related updates

Helen Pugh is regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and holds a current practising certificate. If you are not satisfied with the service provided, please click here.

"Helen has a fantastic grasp of the intricacies of professional negligence, and an approachable and understanding demeanour which helps to build a quick rapport with clients."

Professional Negligence, Legal 500 2022

"A tenacious, confident advocate who is incredibly switched on. Clients appreciate Helen's determination, and her commitment to their case."

Commercial Litigation, Legal 500 2022

"Has an enviable ability to grasp large amounts of information quickly and draft claims logically, thoroughly and with precision."

Insolvency, Legal 500 2022

"She is very bright and able."

Legal500 2019

"She is extremely able and highly regarded."

Legal500 2019

"She has excellent attention to detail and offers very good tactical advice."

Chambers and Partners 2019

"Her written advice is always well argued and thought out, and she is a persuasive advocate."

Chambers and Partners 2019

To find out more, contact Matt Sale +44 (0)20 7427 4910 for a confidential discussion.

Our dedicated practice management team can help you identify the right barrister for your case.

  • COMBAR (Commercial Bar Association)
  • ChBA (Chancery Bar Association)
  • PNBA (Professional Negligence Bar Association)
  • Female Fraud Forum
  • R3 (the Association of Business Recovery Professionals)
  • Thought4Leaders FIRE Community Member

  • Basic – conversational German and French

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