Elizabeth Blackburn QC has been in practice as a specialist shipping and maritime barrister at the Commercial and Admiralty Bar since 1980 and took silk in 1998. She is one of the most experienced and respected QCs at the Bar in the field of large scale casualty and collision work where there are related conflict of laws and jurisdictional issues, and complex expert issues relating to naval architecture, hydrography, geo-technology and meteorology.
She also has particular expertise in off-shore work and was invited to prepare a paper for the prestigious Ninth Annual International Colloquium of the Institute of International Shipping Trade Law (which related to Off Shore Contracts and Liabilities) on the topic of “Wilful Misconduct and Gross Negligence in “Knock for Knock” Provisions in Offshore Contracts”. The paper was published in “Offshore Contracts and Liabilities”  Informa Publishing.
Her range of work covers arbitration, shipping and the international carriage of goods; international trade and associated finance; surety, guarantee and performance bond disputes; marine insurance; P&I Club issues; marine pollution; collision, salvage and towage disputes; shipbuilding, particularly superyacht construction where Elizabeth has particular expertise; damage to marine/off shore installations; maritime limitation of liability; maritime International Law and Treaty Obligations; and maritime heritage and wreck law.
She was part of the UK Delegation at the May 2003 IOPC Supplementary Fund Diplomatic Conference, and was also involved in the finalising and implementation of the Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention 2007. She was also the legal member of the Department of Culture’s Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites.
Elizabeth Blackburn also has a significant practice as an ICC Arbitrator, specialising in commercial contracts, such as large scale supply contracts in the energy section, shipbuilding contracts and international trade disputes. She has been appointed as both Chairman and sole Arbitrator in a number of such disputes by the ICC International Court of Arbitration on the recommendation of the UK National Committee. She is a panel member of HKIAC & KLRCA, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), the Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA), the Pacific International Arbitration Centre (PIAC) and the Panel of Experts of the International Malaysian Society of Maritime Lawyer. She sits in SIAC arbitrations as an arbitrator. She has been a LOF Salvage Arbitrator since 2009. She is also on the panel of the Electricity Arbitration Association. Elizabeth is also a member of the Shanghai International Arbitration Center’s (SHIAC) panel of foreign arbitrators.
Elizabeth is a Member of the Baltic Exchange, the Executive Committee of the British Maritime Law Association and chairs the Pollution Law Sub Committee; a member of the Commercial Bar Association; and a Supporting Member of the London Maritime Arbitrators’ Association. Elizabeth Blackburn is a Bencher of the Middle Temple and is also actively involved in the London Shipping Law Centre and is a member of the Steering Committee.
In June 2013 Elizabeth was named best in Shipping & Maritime at the LMG Euromoney Europe Women in Business Law Award. She is recommended as a top-tier leading shipping silk in The Legal 500, as a leading shipping and commodities silk in both the Chambers & Partners UK Bar and Global guides, and as a leading shipping silk in Who’s Who Legal: UK Bar.
International maritime and commercial arbitration
Lloyds Form Salvage Arbitration
Electricity Arbitration Association
- International Trade & Finance:
FOB/CIF sale contracts
Documentary credits & associated finance.
Surety, guarantee and performance bond disputes.
- Insurance and Reinsurance:
Disputes as to coverage and non-disclosure
Construction of policies
P&I Club issues
Charterparty and bill of lading disputes, unseaworthiness claims; unsafe port disputes
Collision, Salvage, Towage disputes
The Law of Wreck
Shipbuilding and shiprepair disputes, in particular delay and disruption claims
Ship sale and ship mortgage
- Offshore Contracts:
Damage to marine/offshore installations
Marine limitation of Liability
EC Shipping Law
- Marine Pollution:
CLC and IOPC Fund Compensation and Supplementary Compensation Fund
Hazardous and Noxious Substances
Intervention Convention 1969 and the 1973 Protocol
- Conflict of Laws /Jurisdiction:
International Law: United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982
- Maritime Heritage:
European Convention on the Protection of the Archaelogical Heritage (Valletta Convention, and the UNESCO Convention
on Underwater Cultural Heritage 2001
Protection of Wrecks Act 1973, Ancient Monuments and Archaelogical Areas Act 1979; and Protection of Military Remains
The NORDLAKE INS VINDHYAGIRI
Advising the Owners of the Nordlake in this major maritime casualty in India involving multi-ship liability, and appearing for them in the Admiralty Court collision action.
The *** (ongoing)
Acting for respondents in an unsafe port commercial arbitration, leading James Shirley. Claims in excess of US$50 million and involving complex expert issues.
The *** (2016)
Acted as LOF arbitrator in a salvage case which raised fundamental privity issues.
The KOTA KADO (ongoing)
Acting for the Ship Respondents in this very large scale salvage case.
The *** (ongoing)
Acting for claimants in commercial arbitration concerning the carriage of wet process phosphoric acid, and involving complicated corrosion expert evidence.
The YUSHO REGULUS/COAL HUNTER (ongoing)
Acting for the owners of YR in this case concerning the interaction between the wash of COALHUNTER at a berth in Brazil. Claims in excess of US$50 million and involving complex hydrodynamic expert issues.
The MOL COMFORT (ongoing)
Instructed in this very large scale marine casualty involving a laden container ship which split in two off Socotra in June 2013.
The *** (2015)
Acted as LOF arbitrator in a very large scale salvage case lasting 5 days and involving numerous issues for decision. This was one of the most complicated salvage cases in recent times.
The *** (2010 to 2013)
Acting for the Purchaser of a multi-million euro mega yacht in a major and long running shipbuilding arbitration with disputes involving contractual interpretation; alleged costs over runs; time delays; and disputes relating to alleged modifications and redelivered condition.
The Corvus J/Baltic Ace (2014)
Appeared in the Isle of Man Courts on a jurisdictional challenge arising out of this major collision in the North Sea.
The *** (2014)
Acting for the owner of a superyacht in a defects and redelivered condition dispute.
The *** (2014)
Acting for the lending bank in another superyacht case relating to a loan and sale dispute.
The RENATE SCHULTE /MARTI PRINCESS (2013)
Acting for the owners of RS in this tri-partite collision action.
The “***” (2013)
Advising on various commercial issues, including withdrawal, arising from a long term charterparty, with very substantial sums involved.
The BARELI (2012 and ongoing)
Advising on various issues arising out of this very large scale grounding casualty in China.
The FLASH (2012 and ongoing)
Continuing to advise on various charterparty issues arising out of the grounding off Tunisia.
The MSC CHITRA (2011)
Advising the Owners of the MSC Chitra in this major maritime casualty in India.
The OLIVA (2011)
Advising the Owners in a major environmental casualty leading from a grounding in St Helena.
The KAMINESAN: HYUNDAI NO 105: MAMITSA (2004-2014)
Advised the owners of the VLCC KAMINESAN in this major tri-partite collision in the Singapore Strait with claims in excess of US$100 million and associated ongoing limitation action in Singapore brought under the 1957 Limitation Convention. This was the largest casualty worldwide in 2004 leading to major litigation in Singapore.
*** v *** (2011)
Chairing ICC arbitration arising out of the supply of an off-gas treatment plant in one of the Baltic States.
The ROCKNES (2009 to 2011)
Complicated salvage case dealing with the valuation of a rock dumping vessel and the assignment of an Article 13 award to a SCOPIC insurer.
The *** (2010)
Advising in relation to various insurance and contractual issues arising out of a collision with an offshore FPSO Vessel leading to substantial losses of production.
Micoperi 30 (2008)
Substantial Commercial Court dispute relating to the pulling over of an offshore structure during installation in the Turkish Akcakoca Fields, acting for the owners and operators of the field. Expert evidence was wide ranging, including offshore engineering and construction issues, the safe working practices of the offshore industry and the insurances available in the market to cover offshore construction projects and well drilling.
Superyacht dispute (2008)
Advising builders on and preparing for a mediation relating to delay, change of specification and alleged breach of confidentiality issues in Superyacht dispute during Spring 2008.
A Turtle  EWHC 3034;  1 Lloyd’s Rep 177
Acting for Tugowners in this key decision on “knock for knock” clauses.
The Sea Angel; Tasman Spirit  2 Lloyd’s Rep 517 (2003 to 2007)
Alleged frustration of time charterparty arising out of the salvage of this large scale pollution casualty in Pakistan, acting for the successful owners of the SEA ANGEL at first instance and in the Court of Appeal.
The Cristoforo Colombo (2004 to 2007)
Acting for shipowners in this major grounding casaulty in the Sakhalin area of Russia. Complex expert issues relating to naval architecture, hydrography, meteorology and geo-technology.
Grenco BV v J&E Hall Limited, Jackstone Froster Limited (2005/7)
Substantial Commercial Court claim for breach of contract and/or negligence concerning amongst other things the design and supply of aluminium freezer plates. Numerous points arising for consideration and advice in relation to expert issues of plate susceptibility to corrosion, corrosion inhibitors, design and integrity of marine freezer systems, weld procedures and general causation.
The Tricolor and Kariba (2003)
Major maritime casualty and wreck removal in English Channel, involving jurisdictional and worldwide limitation issues, acting for Owners of KARIBA, claims in excess of US$100 million.
Princesca Oceanica v Merrion Insurance (2003)
Commercial Court trial concerning a series of performance bonds and reinsurance cut through endorsements; worldwide freezing orders leading to committal and sequestration of directors’ assets.
The Palvia (2003)
Advising on potential claims for breach of Article 10EC via European Commission in relation to national state breaches of recent EC Directives and Regulations on maritime safety within the EC.
The Ievoli Sun (2000 to 2003)
Total loss of chemical carrier in the English Channel, carrying bunkers, hazardous and noxious substances. Acting for Shipowners.
The Gudermes and the St Jacques II:  1 Lloyd’s Rep 203
Collision and limitation action involving laden tanker in English Channel in April 2001. First case in which a claim to limit under the 1976 Limitation Convention was allowed to proceed to trial.
The Nakhodka (1997 to 2002)
Total loss of laden tanker, leading to major maritime disaster in Japan, acting for shipowners. Claim by the IOPC Fund in excess of £189 million; involved litigation in both Japan and UK. Along with the PRESTIGE and ERIKA (in which Elizabeth has also advised), the NAKHODKA is one of the largest oil pollution cases ever dealt with by the IOPC Fund. Also raised issues on the international law of the Sea, treaty obligations, carriage of goods and marine insurance.
City of London School for Girls
University of Manchester