One of his key attributes is his ability to, with great wit and charm, metaphorically fix his hands around the throat of an opponent and slowly strangle them. He's quite beguiling, and also has a very, very detailed grasp of the facts and a thorough understanding of the law. Everything he does is done with charm, grace and style. (Chambers & Partners 2017)
Harry Matovu is a noted advocate, “the consummate cross-examiner; superb on his feet” and “a brilliant legal mind and a strategist who thinks two steps ahead” (Legal 500). He has a wide-ranging and high-profile commercial practice, both domestically and abroad, including energy and natural resources, civil fraud, finance, insurance/reinsurance and international arbitration. Historic cases of note have included Excalibur Ventures LLC v Texas Keystone Inc (a US$1.7 billion dispute over oil exploration rights in Iraqi Kurdistan); Mbasogo v Logo Ltd (major conspiracy claim arising out of an attempted coup against the Government of Equatorial Guinea); and R (Luton BC and others) v Secretary of State for Education (judicial review of the decision to cut the government’s Building Schools for the Future programme).
Harry Matovu is a noted advocate, “a consummate cross-examiner, who's great on his feet" and “tremendously tenacious and committed, he's an absolute team player" (Chambers & Partners). He has a wide-ranging and high-profile commercial practice, both domestically and abroad, including energy and natural resources, civil fraud, finance, insurance/reinsurance and international arbitration. Historic cases of note have included Excalibur Ventures LLC v Texas Keystone Inc (a US$1.7 billion dispute over oil exploration rights in Iraqi Kurdistan); Mbasogo v Logo Ltd (major conspiracy claim arising out of an attempted coup against the Government of Equatorial Guinea); and R (Luton BC and others) v Secretary of State for Education (judicial review of the decision to cut the government’s Building Schools for the Future programme).
Harry Matovu is a leading silk for Africa-related disputes. He is currently instructed by the Federal Government of Nigeria in a high-profile claim in the English courts to enforce a US$6.5 billion arbitration award against it (one of the largest commercial arbitration awards ever made). He has also acted and appeared before the Courts of Tanzania in a major international energy dispute, which is the largest and most high-profile piece of litigation heard by those courts. The dispute has connections with the biggest corruption scandals to have hit Tanzania. He has also recently acted on a major tax appeal before the courts of an African state, and he has acted and advised in a number of energy, natural resources and infrastructure disputes in jurisdictions across sub-Saharan Africa.
His banking and fraud work includes cases as varied as a billion-dollar Kazakh bank fraud claim and a substantial longevity swaps dispute between a Swiss investment fund and a leading global investment bank. He is "strong on cross-border jurisdictional issues" (The Legal 500), and has expertise in AIFMD matters and passporting issues in relation to offshore funds, and also in investment funds and complex financial products.
Harry Matovu also has a substantial international arbitration practice, acting both as counsel and as arbitrator (party appointments and appointments as tribunal chairman), under LCIA, ICC, UNCITRAL and ARIAS Rules, as well as ad hoc references. He is instructed as Leading Counsel in major oil and gas, natural resources, infrastructure and insurance/reinsurance disputes; and he has recently been appointed as arbitrator/presiding arbitrator in a wide range of disputes, including claims concerning the control of a leading energy conglomerate in Africa, a major telecoms dispute in Tanzania, the sale of a significant energy interest in Gabon and large infrastructure projects in Zambia and Mozambique.
Harry Matovu was nominated as Silk (QC) of the Year for International Arbitration in the Legal 500 Awards 2020.
"He is a really classy performer", "consistently first-rate" (Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500).
Harry Matovu has detailed knowledge of the oil and gas exploration business; of liquefied natural gas (LNG) trading and shipping; and of the financing, acquisition, transfer (including farm-ins) and valuation of oil and gas assets and businesses using sophisticated valuation methodologies such as discounted cashflow using discount rates based on the weighted average cost of capital. In relation to the financing, acquisition and disposal of oil and gas assets, Harry has a detailed understanding of corporate finance, including in particular fundraising through private placements and funds, via merchant banks and investment banks, and on public exchanges such as AIM in London and the TSXV in Toronto.
Harry has also acted in disputes concerning complex oil services technology for offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, which required a detailed understanding of oil drilling and drilling rigs, including technical, marine and geological risks and hazards, and industry standards, practices and regulatory requirements (including BSEE requirements).
In relation to other natural resources disputes, Harry has recently acted or advised on disputes concerning gold mining in Tanzania and Kazakhstan, diamond mining in Southern Africa, coal mining in Indonesia and bauxite mining in Saudi Arabia. He has lectured on resource nationalism.
He was nominated for Silk (QC) of the Year (Projects and Energy) in the Legal 500 Awards 2014.
Several of the energy and natural resources disputes in which Harry has been instructed have been the subject of confidential arbitrations. Significant court cases include:
Excalibur Ventures LLC v Texas Keystone Inc  EWHC 2767 (Comm),  EWHC 1624 (Comm) – A very substantial and high-profile action concerning oil exploration in Iraqi Kurdistan, which culminated in a 5-month trial in the Commercial Court. The action concerned a claim for US$1.6 billion in relation to a stake in various oil exploration blocks, and it resulted in an outright victory for his clients on all points. It was listed by The Lawyer magazine as one of the top 20 cases for 2012.
The case involved a dispute about rights and obligations under a joint bidding agreement to acquire a production sharing contract. It required a detailed understanding of the following:
VIP Engineering & Marketing Ltd v Standard Chartered Bank and Others – Harry is also currently engaged in a long-running and very substantial international energy dispute before the Courts of Tanzania. It arises out of a power project in that country, and is the largest and most high-profile dispute that has come to trial before those Courts. The case, which concerns a claim in excess of half a billion US dollars, requires a detailed understanding of:
In addition, the case requires an understanding of the procedural law of Tanzania. In this connection, Harry has been granted special rights of audience by the Chief Justice of Tanzania to appear before the High Court and Court of Appeal of Tanzania. He has argued and led the case on behalf of his client at trial in the High Court, and in ongoing proceedings in the Court of Appeal of Tanzania on an important revision application.
Teekay Corporation v Diamond Pacific International Corporation – Harry was also instructed in a major LNG shipping dispute, in which the principal issue was the valuation of a LNG shipping tanker business. The case was settled just before trial in 2014 after the preparation of substantial expert shipping and valuation evidence, and opening submissions. The dispute required a detailed understanding of:
African Barrick Gold PLC v Commissioner-General (Tanzanian Revenue Authority) – Harry is currently engaged in a very substantial dispute in Tanzania involving a demand for withholding tax of US$41.25 million against a major UK holding company with gold-mining subsidiaries in Tanzania. The matter has attracted huge political and public interest, and it is currently on appeal before the Court of Appeal of Tanzania.
International commercial arbitration is a significant part of Harry Matovu’s practice, and he is regularly instructed as counsel and accepts appointments as arbitrator. Harry is a member of the ICC and the LCIA, and a member of the International Panel of arbitrators of the Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa (AFSA). He was nominated as Silk (QC) of the Year for International Arbitration in the Legal 500 Awards 2020.
Harry is very familiar with all aspects of the English Arbitration Act 1996, the Bermuda International Arbitration and Conciliation Act and various arbitration codes, including the ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL and ARIAS Rules and the UNCITRAL Model Law. In addition to acting as counsel in major international and domestic arbitrations, he is instructed in court applications and appeals involving all aspects of arbitration law, including:
Arbitrations in which Harry has been involved as counsel include several multi-million-dollar disputes in Bermuda and England arising out of the US personal accident reinsurance spiral, which raised issues of fraud, non-disclosure, misrepresentation and coverage; a long-running dispute concerning a major legal expenses insurance business, which led to a favourable award that was upheld on appeal to the English Commercial Court; the successful defence of a major reinsurance claim by a foreign state insurance company against Lloyd's reinsurers, which raised complex issues of public and private international law; and the successful defence of a US$300 million political risk insurance claim concerning mining interests in Indonesia (see above under Mining Resources).
Harry’s court cases arising out of arbitration disputes have a similarly broad spread. They include:
Process & Industrial Developments Ltd v Federal Republic of Nigeria  EWHC 2241 (Comm) (application for permission to enforce a US$6.5 billion arbitral award against the Government of Nigeria);
Hiscox Dedicated Corporate Member Ltd v Weyerhaeuser Company  EWHC 2671 (Comm) (successful application for an anti-suit injunction application to enforce arbitration provisions in an insurance policy between UK-based insurers and a US-based insured over where a dispute as to arbitrability and substantive coverage disputes should be resolved);
Excalibur Ventures LLC v Texas Keystone Inc  EWHC 1624 (Comm),  1 All E.R. (Comm) 933 (successful application to the English Commercial Court for a rare anti-arbitration injunction to restrain a foreign arbitration);
IRB Brasil Resseguros SA v CX Reinsurance Co Ltd  EWHC 974 (Comm),  Lloyd's Rep. IR 560 (successfully upholding a major insurance arbitration award on appeal to the English Commercial Court); and
Caisse Nationale de Prévoyance v Croft (2009) (a successful application to the English Commercial Court for the removal of an arbitrator on grounds of apparent bias).
Harry has been nominated and appointed as arbitrator (including Presiding Arbitrator) in several major international commercial arbitrations under ICC, LCIA and AFSA (Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa) Rules. The nominations and appointments in the last 12 months have concerned disputes involving parties in a wide number of jurisdictions, including Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritius, Gabon, Mozambique, Panama and the British Virgin Islands.
Harry lectures on arbitration law generally, including arbitration in Africa and the OHADA arbitration regime. Recent papers and presentations include:
Harry Matovu is regularly instructed in civil fraud cases, which often involve cross-border claims and jurisdictional issues. He is experienced in handling expert evidence of foreign law, and he is very familiar with all aspects of ancillary relief in fraud proceedings, including:
Harry is currently engaged in a long-running and very substantial international energy dispute before the Courts of Tanzania (VIP Engineering & Marketing Ltd v Standard Chartered Bank and Others), which raises allegations of fraud and conspiracy, and involves a claim in excess of half a billion US dollars. The case has connections with one of the biggest corruption scandals to have hit Tanzania. The trial commenced in February 2016, and the matter is ongoing before the High Court and the Court of Appeal of Tanzania.
Other cases before the English courts include acting for a claimant in relation to a major art market fraud (ongoing); a successful challenge to jurisdiction and a worldwide freezing order in a billion-dollar claim by a Kazakh bank which alleged a fraudulent conspiracy against its former chairman and shareholders (Alliance Bank JSC v Aquanta Corporation  EWCA Civ 1588,  1 All E.R. (Comm) 819 (Court of Appeal);  EWHC 3281 (Comm);  1 Lloyd's Rep. 181 (Burton J); a successful High Court action on behalf of a leading pharmaceutical company against a senior manager and several offshore Panamanian companies with Swiss bank accounts (AAH Pharmaceuticals Ltd v Birdi  EWHC 1625 (QB); a successful High Court action by financial services companies in UK and Ireland against a fraudulent former adviser and chief operating officer successful applications for freezing injunctions and search and seizure orders against the administrators of a major ATE insurance scheme (Aeropay Ltd v Bentolila  EWHC 3057 (QB)); and successful applications for freezing injunctions and search and seizure orders against the administrators of a major ATE insurance scheme.
Harry Matovu has a substantial insurance/reinsurance practice, in which he has acted in numerous cases for and against insurers and insureds, reinsurers and brokers across almost all classes of business in the London Market. His cases have included major litigation and arbitrations in England and Bermuda, including the Lloyd's Litigation in the 1990s; various international disputes arising out of the US personal accident spiral; and international disputes involving energy insurance, construction all risks business, professional indemnity insurance, bankers' blanket bond business, credit insurance, aviation insurance, reinsurance of US casualty business and reinsurance of life business.
Reported insurance/reinsurance cases include:
Berriman v Rose Thomson Young (Underwriting) Ltd. LRLR 426 (Lloyd’s Litigation arising out of the LMX Spiral);
Charterhouse Development (France) Ltd v Sharp  Lloyds Rep IR 266 (bankers’ blanket bond and professional indemnity insurance claim);
FIGRE Ltd v Mander  Lloyds Rep IR 193 (late payment of premium);
Bank of Scotland v Euclidian (No.1) Ltd  EWHC 1732 (Comm) (claim arising out of failure of a major ATE insurance scheme);
Temple Legal Protection Ltd v QBE Insurance (Europe) Limited  EWHC 843 (Comm),  EWCA Civ 453 (dispute in relation to a binding authority for an ATE insurance scheme); and
IRB Brasil Resseguros SA v CX Reinsurance Co Ltd  Ll. Rep. IR 560 (coverage dispute in relation to reinsurance of US casualty business).
Harry Matovu has extensive experience of litigation and advisory work in relation to finance, having acted for several of the leading lenders and providers of business finance. His work has covered corporate finance and other City matters, including acting for a leading investment bank in relation to a DTI Inquiry following a major UK corporate collapse; and advising on split capital investment trusts. He has acted for both purchasers and sellers in disputes arising out of share purchase agreements, including warranty and ‘earn-out' claims. He has recently led a successful multi-million pound action for damages against sellers and insurers in a share purchase dispute, which confirmed important principles for the assessment of damages in such cases (Ageas (UK) Ltd. v Kwik-Fit (GB) Ltd.  EWHC 2178 (QB)). His practice also includes advice and advocacy in relation to credit insurance issues and disputes.
Harry Matovu has recently advised and acted successfully for defendants to a billion-dollar fraud claim brought by a major Kazakh retail bank (Alliance Bank JSC v Aquanta Corporation  EWCA Civ 1588,  1 All E.R. (Comm) 819 (Court of Appeal);  EWHC 3281 (Comm);  1 Lloyd's Rep. 181 (Burton J). He has also acted on behalf of a Swiss claimant investment fund in the successful resolution of a substantial dispute against a leading global investment bank arising out of a longevity swap agreement.
Harry Matovu has a detailed knowledge of complex financial instruments and cross-border jurisdictional issues, and he lectures and advises on hedge funds, private equity funds and the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD). He has recently advised on passporting issues in relation to offshore funds under the AIFMD, and he has successfully acted for the manager of an offshore fund in relation to a claim arising out of a UK property investment scheme.
Harry Matovu has been involved in major cases raising substantial issues of public international law. In particular, he appeared as Junior Counsel for the President of Equatorial Guinea (led by Sir Sydney Kentridge QC) in a high-profile conspiracy claim arising out of an attempted coup d'etat alleged to involve English conspirators, which proceeded through the High Court and Court of Appeal to the House of Lords. The appeal raised issues about the justiciability in the English courts of a claim in conspiracy against the alleged perpetrators of the attempted coup. Given the importance of the issues raised, the appeal was heard by a panel of nine Law Lords. However, the action was settled before Judgment in the House of Lords. This was listed by The Lawyer magazine as one of the top 20 cases for 2006, 2007 and 2008 – Mbasogo v Logo Ltd (2008) House of Lords;  EWCA Civ 1370 (Court of Appeal);  UKPC 7 (Privy Council);  EWHC 2034 (Davis J).
Harry has also acted on behalf of a foreign state insurance company in arbitral proceedings concerning a reinsurance dispute which raised issues of state immunity and the justiciability of allegations about state policy and the management of the company. The reinsurers settled the claim and the arbitration shortly after an application to strike out their case.
Harry has also recently advised a major international organisation in relation to a complex and high-profile State Treaty dispute.
Harry Matovu has experience in aviation matters, including aviation insurance, political risk and US sanctions law, and other matters such as advising on issues arising out of extreme weather conditions and the application of force majeure provisions. He is also experienced and regularly involved in jurisdictional disputes.
Harry Matovu has considerable experience of administrative law and the workings of Government, having served as Deputy Counsel to the long-running BSE Inquiry (1998-2000). He was also instructed as Leading Counsel by Kent County Council in a high-profile and successful judicial review of the Government's decision to stop the current scheme for funding building projects for secondary schools in England. This was listed as one of the top 20 cases for 2011 by The Lawyer magazine – Kent County Council v Secretary of State for Education  EWHC 217 (Admin).
King's Scholarship, Eton College (1976)
Brackenbury Open Scholarship in Classics, Balliol College, Oxford (1981)
BA (Hons) Literae Humaniores, Oxford (1985)
Dip.Law, University of Westminster (1986)
Called to the Bar by the Inner Temple (1988)
Pupillage at Brick Court Chambers (1988-1989)
Queen's Counsel (2010)
Master of the Bench, Inner Temple (2012)
International Bar Association
Member, London Court of International Arbitration
Commercial Bar Association
London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association
Bar Council Professional Standards Committee 2005 – 2006
Bar Council Professional Conduct and Complaints Committee 1996 – 1998
Trustee, The Personal Support Unit (independent charity providing advice and support to litigants in person and members of the public attending court) 2008 – 2014.