Brick Court Chambers

Stephen Ruttle KC

Stephen Ruttle KC

YEAR OF CALL: 1971    YEAR OF SILK: 1997

‘Easily the best mediator on the circuit‘
Legal 500 2022
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Stephen has been in practice at Brick Court Chambers since 1978. For the past 21 years he has worked full-time as a commercial mediator. By June 2022 he had mediated over 1,700 business, legal and governmental disputes of every legal type including many of the largest and most sensitive in the UK and across the world. Over the course of lockdown in 2020/2021 he conducted nearly 100 virtual mediations. He practises mainly in London but mediates regularly in other parts of the UK and in many jurisdictions abroad.

Stephen has consistently featured in The Legal 500 and Chambers as a top-ranked commercial mediator. For three years he was listed as one of the top 10 commercial mediators in the world by WWL, which in 2018 also listed him as one of seven UK, and one of 15 worldwide “Thought Leaders” in mediation.

Stephen has been in practice at Brick Court Chambers since 1978.  He stopped practising as a barrister and KC in 2002 and since then has worked full time as a Commercial Mediator.  By January 2019 he had mediated nearly 1500 cases of nearly every legal type from both public and private sectors.  Most of these disputes have involved seven or eight figure sums; but Stephen regularly mediates larger cases where hundreds of millions and occasionally billions are at stake.  He practises mainly in London, but mediates regularly in other parts of the UK and Ireland and in many jurisdictions abroad.  For many years he has been rated as one of the leading mediators in the UK. In 2017 he featured in a new list, Who’s Who Legal “Thought Leaders: Mediation” as one of only five in Europe and 16 in the world.

Stephen is increasingly active as a mediator of community and faith-based disputes. He is currently involved in projects that aim to train a new generation of peacemakers and to use faith-group buildings as places from which community mediation services can operate as neighbourhood reconciliation centres.

In 2020 Legal 500 included Stephen in its Mediator Hall of Fame which recognises individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence over many years.

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  • Mediation M

    For the last 15 years Stephen has consistently featured as one of the Top 10 and Tier 1 Commercial Mediators practising in the United Kingdom; and for four of the last five years Who’s Who Legal has rated him as among the top ten/ top sixteen in the world.

    Initially the bulk of the disputes that Stephen mediated stemmed from the shipping, insurance and reinsurance markets which were his areas of expertise as Counsel. He still mediates more maritime disputes than any other particular class of dispute and has probably mediated most of the larger shipping disputes that have come to mediation in the last ten years or so. However his practice as a mediator has spread very widely over the years and the disputes that he now mediates come from all areas of practice comprising all types of legal problems apart from technical family law disputes. In reality his expertise is now as a mediator rather than as a mediator of a particular sort of case. Typically he mediates two or three days a week; but save in exceptional circumstances will not mediate separate disputes“back-to-back”.

    The sums of money in issue have ranged from a few thousand pounds to as much as £4 billion but are typically in the millions. A large proportion of the work he mediates is international in nature and many disputes involve parties who are not based in the UK. Most of his mediations take place in London, but he regularly mediates elsewhere in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and has mediated in the United States, Greece, the Gulf, the Caribbean and Hong Kong and has been put forward as a mediator for disputes in many other world-wide jurisdictions. He has mediated a number of sensitive, high profile Governmental disputes. Along with many other Commercial mediators he has noticed a trend in the last few years for an increasing proportion of those disputes that do settle (about 80% in his experience) to settle after the mediation day. This frequently involves extensive on-going contact between himself, the parties and their legal advisers.

    In all larger disputes that he now mediates his strong preference is for an initial meeting between himself and the legal advisers at the very beginning of the mediation process in the course of which agreement can be reached about the “shape” of the mediation and the detailed process to be employed.

    Stephen regularly speaks, presents and lectures on mediation both in the UK and worldwide. He has been involved as a trainer on mediation and mediation-awareness courses. Since about 2000 Stephen has been heavily involved with community mediation. He is Chair of Trustees of Wandsworth Mediation Service (“WMS”) a registered charity that provides community mediation services in the London Borough of Wandsworth, training local people as mediators and developing initiatives to promote peace in the community. He is currently seeking to design a pilot project aimed at developing a national network of peace centres backed by panels of mediators competent to mediate different types of legal and non legal dispute. He delivered the 2013 Roebuck lecture for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in which he set out his ideas on the wider social impact (and opportunities) of mediation under the title “Mediation: A Social Antibody?”.

    In the last 5 years or so Stephen has mediated an increasing number of disputes within his faith group, the Church. He was on the planning committee for the 2013 Faith in Conflict conference at Coventry Cathedral and is an active member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s facilitation team. He is a member of a number of working parties and groups, including the recently established charity BIMA, the object of which is to promote mediation and peace-making initiatives more widely both within communities and within and between faith groups. He is a co-author, along with his wife Fiona and Bill Marsh, of the training programme “Waging Peace” which he is seeking to promote more widely as a means of training a new generation of peacemakers. He is heavily involved in a project that seeks to use local faith-group owned buildings as places from which community mediation services can operate at low cost as neighbourhood conflict transformation centres.

  • Arbitration M

    The balance of his practice is as a Commercial Arbitrator. He now arbitrates primarily in international commercial disputes as well as in the insurance, reinsurance and general commercial fields regularly sitting as Sole Arbitrator or as the Chairman of the Panel. He has arbitrated many disputes subject to ICC and LCIA rules.

  • Publications M

    Lecturer at numerous Insurance, Reinsurance and Mediation Seminars.

    Co-Author of "Insurance Brokers" section in Professional Negligence and Liability, LLP 2000.

    Contributor to Butterworths, "Mediators on Mediation, Leading Mediator Perspectives on the Practice of Commercial Mediation" 2005.

    "ADR in Business". ICC publication; Kluwer 2000. Co-Author of Chapter 9; "Better Dispute Resolution - The Development and Practice of Mediation in the United Kingdom between 1995 and 2005".

    Contributor to “Good Disagreement?”.  Lion Hudson 2015.  Author of final chapter “Mediation and the Church’s Mission”

  • Education & Qualifications M

    Westminster School  Queen’s Scholar 1966-1971.

    Queens’ College Cambridge 1971- 1975.  B.A.Honours Degree in English Literature/Law.

    Bencher Gray's Inn 2004

    Accredited and Registered by CEDR as a Mediator 1998

    Member of the Civil Justice Council ADR Committee 2000-2006

    Member of the Bar Council ADR Committee 2000 - 2007

    Board Member of Mediation UK 2001- 2005 (Vice-Chair 2004 – 2005)

    Founder Director and Chair of Trustees  Wandsworth Mediation Service 2002-

    Independent Mediator Board Member of the Civil Mediation Council 2003-2005

    Member: Panel of Independent Mediators (PIM) 2005

    Accredited Mediator at Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre 2006-

    Distinguished Fellow of the International Academy of Mediators 2007-

    Lieutenant-Bailiff Guernsey 2008-

  • Directory Quotes M

    "He's a very good mediator. He's clever, he never gives up and he has the ability to wangle a deal." (Chambers & Partners 2024)

    "Stephen is a very experienced mediator." (Chambers & Partners 2024)

    "Calm, very clever and utterly charming, he is a soothing presence when things get tough." (Chambers & Partners 2023)

    "Stephen goes above and beyond in terms of making the clients comfortable, and inspiring confidence and trust. He is fully prepared; invests considerable time and energy in understanding the issues and the case; and is not afraid to give an honest and frank opinion so that each party sees the other’s point of view."  (Legal 500 2023)

    "Easily the best mediator on the circuit‘, Brick Court Chambers‘ Stephen Ruttle KC ‘brings to bear a unique combination of skills – formidable technical expertise, a deep understanding of people and business motivations, and a genuine passion for finding creative ways of resolving disputes‘.  (Legal 500 2022)

    "He’s a very helpful mediator who is very good at getting people engaged, persistent in difficult situations and uses his personality to help cut through antagonism between the parties." (Chambers & Partners 2021)

    "He is an exceptional mediator, who is easily at the top of the list for any difficult dispute. This is because he is passionate about resolving disputes and creative in the way he does so, always tailoring his approach to the precise circumstances of the case." (Legal 500 2021)

    Stephen Ruttle KC is “a strong mediator” and “extremely skilful in the way he deploys numerous mediation strategies”. (Who's Who Legal - UK Bar: Mediation 2020)

    Commended by clients for being a “fantastic mediator who doesn’t leave his expertise at the door, he can both facilitate and take control when needed” and who "comes in with real energy and a determination to get to a deal." He mediates a broad range of high-value commercial cases both in the UK and internationally, and is a thought leader in community and faith-based disputes. (Chambers & Partners 2020)

    Brick Court Chambers' Stephen Ruttle KC regularly mediates large cases where high values are at stake, and he is increasingly active as a mediator of community and faith-based disputes. He practices mainly in London but also mediates in other parts of the UK and Ireland, as well as many jurisdictions abroad. Recent matters include a large construction dispute between high-profile entities, a dispute over the ownership of valuable personal assets and various shipping claims. (Legal 500 2020)

    “I thought the way he handled the two sides showed inspiring mastery and was a joy to watch”

    Stephen Ruttle KC is “a hugely well-known mediator who is brilliant at finding ways to unlock negotiations, and who has a high success rate”, say peers. They note, “His particular strengths are his charm and intelligence which he uses to great effect.” (Who's Who Legal - UK Bar: Mediation 2019)

    Stephen Ruttle KC (Brick Court Chambers) is a standout mediator who "is really on the ball. He can get into a party's mind, find out what they care about, then get them over the line and find a resolution.” He is often appointed in commercial disputes in the banking, insurance and shipping sectors, and is developing a unique skill set as a mediator of community and faith-based disputes. (Chambers & Partners 2019)

    Brick Court Chambers's Stephen Ruttle KC 'brings the experience that clients would expect from one of the top mediators in the business and clients are left impressed'. Ruttle practises predominantly in London, but also mediates regularly in other parts of the UK and Ireland and in several jurisdictions abroad; and he is increasingly active as a mediator of community and faith-based disputes. Recent highlights include mediating a large construction dispute between high-profile Asian entities; he also mediates a high proportion of large shipping disputes. (Legal 500 2018-19)

    Stephen Ruttle KC is “highly regarded” for his vast experience handling high-value mediation proceedings and continues to impress market sources who describe him as “absolutely outstanding” and “the best there is”. (Who's Who Legal - UK Bar: Mediation 2018)

    The “always excellent” Stephen Ruttle KC is “outstanding” and has nearly 20 years of experience as a mediator on an array of matters across the public and private sector. (Who's Who Legal - UK Bar: Mediation 2018)

    Stephen Ruttle KC is a "hugely likeable and enthusiastic" mediator who attracts acclaim for his experience handling high-value commercial disputes, particularly those involving high net worth individuals. He is often appointed in banking, insurance, shipping and construction disputes. One commentator says: "He not only understands the legal issues but also the underlying emotional issues. He can work with those to significantly move parties closer together in situations in which that had not been thought possible." (Chambers & Partners 2018)

    Stephen Ruttle KC is singled out by sources as being "in the top echelons of mediators in the country." Fellow legal professionals note his expertise in insurance and professional negligence disputes and he has additional experience in construction, banking and shipping matters. (Chambers & Partners 2017)

    "Stephen Ruttle KC is “superb, one of the best mediators in the country, and a really lovely human being”. He has an international commercial practice and has mediated cases in both the public and private sectors." (Who's Who Legal - UK Bar: Mediation 2017)

    "Stephen Ruttle is singled out by sources as a 'first class mediator' who 'instils trust and confidence' in parties. He brings to bear substantial expertise in shipping and reinsurance, and has additional capabilities in construction, banking, and professional negligence disputes." (Chambers & Partners 2016)

    "Stephen Ruttle KC at Brick Court Chambers is ‘hugely likeable and enthusiastic’. Ruttle has successfully mediated nearly 1000 high-value commercial disputes." (Legal 500 2016)

    "For many respondents, Stephen Ruttle KC is "a truly sensational mediator" and is admired for his "instinctive and intuitive nature" when dealing with disputes in both the public and private sector." (Who's Who Legal - UK Bar: Mediation 2016)

    “The ‘highly-accomplished and well-regarded’ Stephen Ruttle KC at Brick Court Chambers is ‘among the best in the country’. Ruttle is noted for his particular expertise in shipping-related mediations, which account for around 30% of his workload, and is also recognised as an excellent choice for construction, banking, professional negligence, insurance, environmental and company disputes” (Legal 500 2015)

    "Stephen Ruttle KC comes highly recommended for his “superb handling” of disputes across a broad range of industries." (Who's Who Legal - UK Bar: Mediation 2015)

    "Stephen Ruttle KC at Brick Court Chambers is ‘superb at focusing minds away from emotions to practicalities, and stays the course with all parties, but doesn ’t get tired or frustrated’. About a third of his workload covers shipping-related mediations, and he is considered to be ‘an incredibly astute mediator who cuts to the chase', ‘one of a select few who can be effective on complex international disputes ’." (The Legal 500 2014)

    "Stephen Ruttle KC at Brick Court Chambers enjoys an excellent reputation. Clients commend him as being ‘well prepared and able to draw on his considerable experience of complex litigation’. ‘He lays out the ground very clearly at the start, and continues to help the parties after the mediation if it is not possible to reach a settlement on the day’. He is unrivalled for shipping-related mediations, which make up around 30% of his practice." (Legal 500 2013)

    ""An outstanding figure," observers note, Stephen Ruttle KC is praised for his strong track record for resolving marine, insurance and other commercial disputes. With great gravitas and the "weight of authority behind him," he authoritatively steers parties towards a settlement, say sources." (Chambers & Partners 2013)

    Stephen Ruttle KC of Brick Court Chambers has built upon his strong background as a commercial barrister to develop a significant shipping, insurance and reinsurance mediation practice. Sources say: He gets to the heart of a problem quickly" and "remains affable whilst also challenging the parties' positions and expectations." " Chambers & Partners 2012)

    "Considered by clients to be ‘very good indeed’. (Legal 500 2011)

    "He is an outstandingly nice man who is also extremely commercial and able to drive parties towards successful resolutions," say market commentators. (Chambers & Partners 2011)

     "Stephen Ruttle KC of Brick Court Chambers has long been a senior figure in mediation, and one of the Brick Court triumvirate who dominate high-value and complex commercial mediation. Clients find him ‘quick, bright and on top of all the issues’. He projects an ‘air of authority’ but does so ‘without appearing aloof’. He has ‘great people skills’ and ‘a sincere commitment to the process’." (Chambers & Partners 2010)

    “Stephen Ruttle KC  is in great demand for complex, cross-border and multi-party cases. He has the clout and gravitas of a high-end commercial silk, combined with great courtesy, people and communication skills”. (Legal 500 2010).

    "Combines the kudos and acumen of a top commercial silk with strong people skills," "a good listener" with "great empathy" and "immense reserves of patience" Legal 500 (2008)

    “For big, important disputes I always go to Ruttle. He has wonderful presence and is brilliant at narrowing down the issues quickly and getting parties to focus on their specific problems”. (Chambers & Partners 2008)

    "the person for shipping and insurance" "an absolute natural mediator, it is clear he really does know his stuff" "immediately impresses, makes any party feel comfortable" "he always does a good job" Chambers & Partners (2007)

    "His reputation for commercial mediation continues to rise. His "light touch", "robust charm" and sense of humour has found appeal outside his acknowledged specialist areas of insurance, reinsurance and marine work. Clients warm to his "facilitative negotiating style", "clear distillation of the issues" and ability to sustain dialogue against the odds. He "doesn't spent hours dancing around the daffodils" and instead "cuts to the chase", "baring his teeth where necessary". Legal 500 (2006)