Hugo Leith

Year of Call: England & Wales: 2013; (New York: Not Practising) 2013; Western Australia: 2008


Clerk: Julian Hawes

Hugo Leith

Year of Call: England & Wales: 2013; (New York: Not Practising) 2013; Western Australia: 2008


Clerk: Julian Hawes


Hugo practises in all areas of Chambers’ work.   He is currently instructed in a number of matters before the Commercial Court and Chancery Division, the Competition Appeals Tribunal and in arbitration, including Sainsbury’s v MasterCard and Morrison’s v MasterCard (The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases for 2016).  He acts and advises on a range of commercial issues including banking, insolvency, insurance, and the conflict of laws, and on competition and EU law matters ranging from follow-on damages, to State aid, and pharmaceuticals regulation.  Hugo is interested in asylum and refugee law, and legal responses to climate change, and acts pro bono for several NGOs in these fields.

Prior to transferring to the bar, Hugo was as an Associate in the London office of Dechert LLP, in the International Disputes section, with an extensive practice in complex trans-national commercial litigation and arbitration.  Hugo originally qualified in Western Australia, where he regularly appeared in superior courts, including the High Court of Australia. 

Hugo is a Visiting Lecturer in Transnational Litigation at King’s College London.

practice areas

Hugo practices in Commercial, EU/Competition, and Public Law.


Hugo has broad experience of commercial litigation and arbitration and of advising on commercial matters. 

He has acted in a broad range of commercial disputes including:

  • Blue Tropic Ltd v Chkhartishvili – a dispute action in the Chancery Division over asset transfers between offshore companies (led by Jonathan Crow QC and Stephen Midwinter).
  • An LCIA arbitration involving issues of state immunity, choice of law, and breach of fiduciary duties (led by Mark Howard QC).
  • A range of contractual claims in the County Court.
  • UBS AG v KWL: defence of a high-value claim against a municipal authority under collateralised debt obligations (as a pupil, assisting Stephen Midwinter).
  • Ageas v Kwik-Fit: a claim for breach of warranties under a share purchase agreement (as a pupil, assisting David Scannell).
  • Barclays Private Bank & Trust Ltd v Olswang: defence of a professional negligence action against solicitors arising from a share purchase deal (as a pupil, assisting Stephen Midwinter).

Hugo regularly advises on commercial law issues.  Recent instructions have included advising on:

  • Defences to the enforcement of foreign judgments in England and Wales (with Mark Howard QC).
  • Validity of standard form terms in banking agreements.
  • Exclusion clauses in P&I insurance for shipowners.
  • The enforcement of guarantees and the conflict of laws in banking law disputes.
  • Disputes concerning the sale of allegedly defective goods.


Hugo is regularly instructed to advise and act on EU and competition matters, contentious, regulatory and non-contentious.  With Kelyn Bacon QC he is the author of the chapter “Litigating Decisions of Regulatory Authorities” in Manley and Vickers, Navigating European Pharmaceutical Law (OUP, 2015).  

Notable litigation instructions include:

  • Tesco v Mastercard, Morrison’s v MasterCard and Sainsbury’s v Mastercard (among The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases for 2016): follow-on damages claims in the CAT and the Commercial Court relating to credit card interchange fees (acting for MasterCard, led by Mark Hoskins QC).
  • Micula v Romania: proceedings in the Commercial Court to enforce an ICSID arbitral award said by the European Commission to involve State aid (led by Marie Demetriou QC).
  • Emerald Supplies Ltd v British Airways: a damages claim in the Chancery Division, acting for Lufthansa and Swiss Air (led by Kelyn Bacon QC).
  • GTS Gaz Turbines v Rolls Royce: a claim concerning alleged dominance in the aftermarket.
  • Skyscanner v CMA: proceedings in the CAT concerned with the online hotel bookings market (as a pupil, assisting Kelyn Bacon QC).
  • AbbVie v EMA: an appeal to the Court of Justice concerning an order giving access to a pharmaceutical company’s dossier on its products to competitors (as a pupil, assisting David Scannell).
  • Eventech v TfL: a reference to the Court of Justice on the application of State aid rules to London’s bus lane policy (as a pupil, assisting Kelyn Bacon QC).

Hugo regularly advises on EU and Competition law issues, including pharmaceutical regulation, state aid, and the EU and UK consumer rights regimes.  Recent matters include:

  • Advising a major UK bank on compliance with EU rules concerning unfair contractual terms (with Mark Howard QC).
  • Advising on compliance with EU sanctions rules.
  • Advising on compliance with the Commercial Agency Regulations.
  • Advising a consortium of bondholders on EU law issues arising from the restructuring of a bank (with Kelyn Bacon QC).
  • Advising on the effect of the collective actions regime under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
  • Advising on challenges to decisions of pharmaceutical regulators.
  • Advising regulators and business on the application of EU rules on consumer protection and freedom of establishment to online traders (with Kelyn Bacon QC).

Public Law

Hugo has experience of a range of public law matters. These include: 

  • A judicial review in Jersey concerning cross-border tax investigations, raising issues under the privilege against self-incrimination (with Paul Bowen QC).
  • An appeal against penalties imposed under the Aviation Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (with Martin Chamberlain QC).
  • Eventech v Parking Adjudicator & TfL, a judicial review application, appealed to the Court of Appeal and then referred to the Court of Justice (as a pupil, assisting Kelyn Bacon QC).

Hugo’s practice in government service in Australia frequently involved public law issues or proceedings, and included appearances as counsel in:

  • AW v Rayney: acting for the police before the High Court of Australia in seeking to lift suppression orders on court proceedings.
  • Seiffert v Prisoners Review Board: successful defence of a judicial review application before the Court of Appeal seeking to quash orders regarding parole.

Education & Qualifications

Professional experience

2013-14   Pupillage, Brick Court Chambers

2012-13   Associate, International Disputes, Dechert LLP (London)

2010-11 & 2007-09   Solicitor and Articled Clerk, State Solicitor’s Office of Western Australia

2005-6   Professional Research Assistant to the State Solicitor and the State Counsel for Western Australia


2011-2012   BCL (Distinction), University of Oxford

2009-2010   LL.M, Yale University Fulbright Scholar

1999-2006   LL.B (Hons, 1st class), B.A. in History (Hons, 1st class), University of Western Australia

Professional qualifications

2013   Call to the Bar of England and Wales

2013   Attorney and Counselor-at-Law, State of New York

2008   Admission in Western Australia and in Australian Federal courts


Kelyn Bacon QC and Hugo Leith, “Litigating Decisions of Regulatory Authorities”, in Manley and Vickers, Navigating European Pharmaceutical Law (OUP, 2015).

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