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Poonam Melwani KC

Head of Chambers
Quadrant Chambers

Poonam Melwani KC is Head of Quadrant Chambers. She is a commercial silk who practises across the full spectrum of commercial, insurance, energy and shipping law, providing advisory and advocacy services. Praised as “clever, imaginative and user-friendly … diligent and fights very hard for her clients.” (Chambers UK) Poonam has been ranked as a ‘Leading Silk’ over many years by the Legal Directories and was shortlisted for Shipping Silk of the Year at the Chambers & Partners UK Bar Awards 2020. She represents clients in a wide variety of jurisdictions and arbitral regimes including ICC, LCIA, LMAA and ad hoc, as well as English High Court Litigation, mainly in the Commercial Court and the Appellate Courts.

Poonam’s clients want her for their “difficult cases” where innovative thinking and oversight of a large team, complex issues and multi-strands are necessary. This year Poonam’s work has included ships detained due to sanctions issues, a complex arbitration concerning the fitness of chemical tankers, ship-building arbitrations in relation to 22 new builds and two large drug-smuggling disputes. In UK P&I Club NV v Venezuela [2022] EWHC 1655 Poonam successfully over-turned the grant of the first anti-suit injunction against a State with both sides being granted leapfrog certificates to the Supreme Court from the first instance judge. Poonam’s long-running leadership in the action of Zumax v FCMB has continued. Centring on the imposition of trusts/equitable obligations in the context of international bank transfers involving correspondent banks, Poonam successfully overturned the trust declaration in the Court of Appeal, in a claim pleaded at over US$210 million [2019] EWCA Civ 294 and then successfully struck the entire action out for failure to comply with peremptory orders [2020] EWHC 1852. Judgment in relation to a second action where Poonam has alleged abuse of process is currently awaited.

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