Stephen has a commercial disputes practice with a focus on international arbitration, litigation, and financial services. His international work is predominantly based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the wider GCC region, where he regularly appears in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Courts across a number of practice areas, as well as representing parties in arbitrations under a number of institutional rules, including the ICC, DIAC, DIFC-LCIA and ADCCAC.
Stephen is ranked as a Tier 1 Junior by the Legal 500 (The English Bar: Commercial in the Middle East) and as an “Up and Coming” Junior Chambers & Partners Global 2022.
Legal 500: “Stephen is a pleasure to work with. He is commercially minded, reliable and also delivers a calm and considered approach to advocacy.”
Chambers & Partners: “Stephen Doherty is a very hard-working advocate and he knows his DIFC law really well.” “He has a phenomenal understanding of local laws. He is excellent on regulatory investigations. I would highly recommend him.”
Stephen has been instructed as sole counsel in numerous multi-million dollar disputes, encompassing general commercial work (civil fraud, shareholder disputes, joint ventures, freezing injunctions etc.), as well as disputes within the fields of banking and financial services, and construction. He has also been instructed in respect of a number of regulatory investigations by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (including investigations concerning the Abraaj Group), and has previously spent time on secondment at various regulatory authorities, including both the Enforcement and General Counsel’s Division of the Financial Conduct Authority, and the Pensions Regulator.
Stephen has a first-class degree in History from Oxford University. He completed his Graduate Diploma in Law with distinction and achieved an outstanding grade in the Bar Professional Training Course. He is also a contributing author to Atkin’s Court Forms issue on Pensions.
Stephen has a substantial commercial disputes practice with a strong emphasis on international matters particularly in Middle-East with experience of advising and representing clients before the DIFC and ADGM Courts, and advising on jurisdictional and other issues that arise in the UAE.
He is often instructed instructed to advise and appear in court in a range of other complex contractual and commercial disputes including a professional negligence, shareholder disputes, and civil fraud. Within his commercial disputes practice, Stephen is often instructed on banking and financial services matters , including in only the second ever successful claim for breach of the Quincecare Duty. He also regularly appears before the Courts in applications for injunctions, summary judgment / strike out, freezing orders, pre-action disclosure, Norwich Pharmacal orders, interim payments, and other forms of interlocutory relief.
Stephen also has experience in regulatory investigations, and has been instructed in the high-profile actions brought by the DFSA arising from the collapse of the Abraaj Group. At the Financial Conduct Authority, Stephen was also involved in a high profile investigation of a retail bank and has advised on numerous issues relating to pensions scams, authorisation of firms, passporting, and the scope of the FCA’s powers under FSMA. He also has experience of a high profile criminal investigation, conducted by the Serious Fraud Office, into allegations of corruption and bribery against a large UK bank.
Examples of recent instructions include:
• Maasun v Mousi & Ors  DIFC CA 004: successful appeal in a $30 million civil fraud case, leading to the substantive claim being dismissed.
• Rahamtalla v Expresso Telecom Group  DIFC CA 002: DIFC Court of Appeal case concerning the application of penalties under the DIFC Employment Law, and limitation periods in the DIFC Court.
• Lakhan v Lamia  DIFC CA 001: Landmark case before the DIFC Court of Appeal leading to a shift in the interaction between the DIFC Court’s and the Joint Judicial Committee (led by James Counsell QC)
• Aegis v Union Bank of India  DIFC CFI 004: Successful claim against a bank for breach of the Quincecare Duty, in the context of online phishing fraud. A novel application of the Quincecare Duty to cyber-crime committed by third-parties, and only the second ever successful application of the duty which was established over thirty years ago.
• IGPL General Trading v Hortin Holdings & Ors  DIFC CA 015: Court of First Instance and Court of Appeal proceedings concerning the application of the Duomatic principle of Company Law in the DIFC Courts.
• Kaamil v Kaawa & ors  CFI 032: Successful application (for the first time) of the rule against reflective loss in the DIFC Court, confirming that the rule applies notwithstanding assets being held in complex corporate and trust structures. The case concerns a $30+ million civil fraud dispute.
• Erik Rubingh v Veloqx RSC  ADGMCFI 0006 (ADGM) which is an employment dispute in which Stephen obtained judgment for $1 million, that has also raised novel issues in respect of the ADGM’s enforcement procedures that have previously been untested.
• Al Soor Investments LLC & Ors v Julius Baer (Middle East) Limited & Ors  CFI 088: Proceedings concerning the scope of the DIFC Court’s jurisdiction on an application for pre-action disclosure.
•DFSA v KPMG: Acting as sole counsel in a high-profile regulatory investigation in the DIFC concerning the role of the auditors of the Abraaj Group.
• Acting in a c. £80 million dispute in the UK High Court, including applications for freezing injunctions and disclosure orders at an interlocutory stage.
• Acting in a £2+ million High Court claim for a property developer in a claim brought by an investor, raising issues of breach of contract, unlawful means conspiracy, knowing receipt / dishonest assistance, and fraudulent misrepresentation.
• Obtaining judgment for £350,000 in a summary judgment application before the High Court. Successfully resisting summary judgment in High Court commercial dispute.
• Advising and drafting pleadings in a £500,000 breach of a supply agreement. Advising in relation to a £250,000 dispute regarding breach of a loan agreement.
• Advising and drafting pleadings in relation to the clawback of commission by an FCA regulated firm in relation to a number of insurance products.
• Advising on a claim for unliquidated damages in a complex international dispute.
• Representing a client in an application for injunctive relief in support of related arbitral proceedings.
Stephen has substantial experience of international arbitration, particularly in respect of disputes in the Middle-East, where he spent approximately two years on the ground in Dubai working at a leading UAE law firm, as lead advocate for their international arbitrations. In recent years he has acted as sole counsel, frequently against and before leading silks in the field, in a number of high-value and complex arbitrations, including disputes arising from major infrastructure projects (e.g. the construction of the Doha metro) and other unrealised commercial developments (e.g. stalled projects in major real estate developments).
Stephen also has experience of advising on, and appearing before Tribunals and Courts in respect of matters ancillary to arbitral proceedings, including jurisdictional challenges, applications for injunctive and other interim relief, applications for interim payments, disclosure applications, and other preliminary issues.
Stephen has experience of conducting arbitration disputes under some of the core arbitral rules including DIAC, ADCCAC, DIFC-LCIA, LCIA, SIAC and ICC Rules.
Some examples of recent cases include:
Stephen spent time on secondment to the Pensions Regulator, where he was involved in a range of Determinations Panel, Upper Tribunal and High Court litigation, and other advisory work. Stephen has experience of issues relating to pension scams, misuse and misappropriation of pension scheme assets, defined benefit scheme funding, scheme governance, and the prohibition of scheme trustees. Whilst seconded to the Financial Conduct Authority, Stephen has gained further experience of pensions scams, the regulation of personal pension schemes, and issues relating to the suitability of advice provided to pension schemes.
Stephen regularly advises pension scheme members in relation to a variety of complaints to the Pensions Ombudsman and through internal dispute resolution procedures (IRDPs). This includes complaints of maladministration through the provision of incorrect pension benefit quotations, misrepresentation, breach of contract, claw back of overpaid benefits, and complaints relating to the retention of Mental Health Officer (MHO) and Special Class (SC) status in the NHS Pension Scheme.
Stephen has experience in respect of both Part 7 and Part 8 pensions actions, as well as having appeared before the Determinations Panel of the Pensions Regulator. Examples of cases in which Stephen has acted include:
Stephen also undertakes a range of advisory work, including:
Stephen Doherty 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.
‘Stephen is simply superb. He is able to absorb huge amounts of detail extremely quickly and give very sensible, pragmatic and commercial advice.‘
Middle East- Commercial, Legal 500, 2024
'Stephen is phenomenally clever and can absorb huge quantities of information and documentation extremely quickly. He is very good tactically and his advocacy is impressive.'
Commercial Litigation, Legal 500, 2024
‘Stephen is fiercely bright and can absorb enormous quantities of information and documentation extremely quickly.’
Banking & Finance, Legal 500, 2024
"Stephen is a pleasure to work with. He is commercially minded, reliable and also delivers a calm and considered approach to advocacy."
Middle East - Commercial, Legal 500 2023
To find out more, contact Sam Carter on +44 (0)203 989 6669 for a confidential discussion.
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