- Commercial Team Leader
- Called: 1994
"A formidable advocate and a must-have part of our litigation arsenal." "Not only does he know his stuff, but he's also good on his feet and he thinks outside the box."
Chambers & Partners
Simon Mills is an experienced commercial law barrister specialising in banking & commercial finance, insolvency and asset recovery. As our Commercial Team Leader he is committed to providing a modern litigation and advisory service across all these areas. Simon worked in business for 10 years before going to university, which gives him a solid grounding in the real-world challenges facing modern businesses.
Simon is known for his user-friendly service and practical approach to helping his clients who are mainly banks, financial institutions, companies and insolvency practitioners.
Simon has acted as an expert on the effect of VAT and the characterisation of invoice discounting agreements in Ireland, and on proprietary rights and insolvency in sale of goods transactions in a case in Russia.
Directories rate Simon Mills as a leading junior barrister in Commercial Litigation, commenting that he is “A formidable advocate and a must-have part of our litigation arsenal” and “Brilliant at devising strategies and commercial solutions to the most complex issues.”
Simon has long-understood the requirements of commercial clients, and works almost exclusively in the specialist fields of:
- Banking (including debentures, loans, guarantees, securities, cheque and mortgage disputes)
- Factoring, invoice discounting and trade finance
- Commercial fraud and tracing remedies
- Corporate insolvency (administrations, receiverships and liquidations)
- Interim and urgent injunctions (particularly asset-freezing orders and proprietary freezing orders, and post-judgment enforcement)
- Sale of goods (domestic and international), agency and bailment
“He is the first point of call for highly technical contract disputes and any litigation requiring the touch of a master strategist.” “A formidable yet polite practitioner, he’s very down-to-earth and absolutely outstanding on his feet.”
Chambers & Partners 2017
“A formidable advocate and a must-have part of our litigation arsenal.” “Not only does he know his stuff, but he’s also good on his feet and he thinks outside the box.”
Chambers & Partners 2016
“He is “technically brilliant and is a master tactician. In court, he is a fighter, and he’s a barrister you always want on your side, rather than against you”
Chambers & Partners 2015
“He has an eye for detail and a fantastic understanding of how judges look at things.”
The Legal 500 UK 2017
“He gets things right and gives calm and considered advice.”
The Legal 500 UK 2016
Simon is consistently recommended in Chambers UK as a leading member of the Bar in the field of Commercial Dispute Resolution. He is “technically brilliant and is a master tactician. In court, he is a fighter, and he’s a barrister you always want on your side, rather than against you” (2015); “an established name who “always delivers quality work,” sources … applaud his “commercial awareness and tactical brilliance” and confirm that he consistently” adds value and achieves results” (2013).
Sources say he “puts his heart and soul into his work and is intensely competitive, whilst always remaining realistic about the likely success of a case” (2011), he is an “excellent communicator” with “specialist expertise in banking, corporate insolvency, … injunctions and commercial fraud and tracing remedies” (2012) and is “charming, extremely knowledgeable and thoughtful” (2014).
Simon is regularly invited to speak on banking and finance law. He has addressed the annual conference of the Insolvency Lawyers’ Association on “Title Financing and Invoice Discounting Meets Insolvency”, and has presented “Secured Creditors’ Rights: Proprietary Rights in Corporate Insolvency” for R3.
Simon is also the lead presenter for MBL’s highly-regarded “Factoring and Invoice Discounting Conference” and has been asked to deliver a regular seminar on civil fraud.
Simon is consistently recommended in the leading directories in the fields of Banking and Finance and Commercial Dispute Resolution.
Wolfson College Cambridge – History MA (Cantab)
Simon is the author of two of the most respected and widely-read commercial law publications:
“Salinger on Factoring” (5th ed., Sweet & Maxwell 2016). This is recognised as the leading textbook on receivables financing. Simon was primarily responsible for rewriting the new edition.
“Goode on Proprietary Rights and Insolvency in Sales Transactions” by Prof. Sir Roy Goode (3rd ed., 2009) (sole editor). This important book deals with the nature of proprietary rights that can arise in the context of contracts for the sale of goods, both domestic and international. The five chapters contain a penetrating analysis of the following topics: (i) Concepts of ownership, possession and sale, (ii) Acquiring title to oil, gas, minerals and precious metals, (iii) Buying through an agent, (iv) Dealings in warehoused goods and goods in transit, (v) Reservation of title and tracing rights in goods, products and proceeds.
He is also joint editor of “Atkin’s on Sale and Supply of Goods and Services” (2017).
Case: BHL v Leumi ABL Ltd  EWHC 1871 (HHJ Waksman QC)
Subject: Invoice discounting; collection fees; contractual discretion; penalties; mistake and unjust enrichment.
Summary: High profile and important case in which the Mercantile Court held that a factor’s collection fees of £1.2m plus VAT were not payable. Although the factor had a contractual discretion to determine the amount of the collection fee, it had not exercised that discretion or, if it did exercise a discretion, it was wholly arbitrary, irrational, and manifestly failed to take into account important factors. The indemnifier, BHL, was entitled to restitution on the grounds that it had paid £735,000 by mistake. Instructed by Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP.
Case: Stanley Houghton v PB Donoghue (Construction) Ltd  EWHC 1475 (Ch) (Murray Rosen QC)
Subject: Contract formation; royalties and agent’s commission; joint venture and property management agreements; 8-day trial.
Summary: C claimed £3m royalties or commission allegedly payable under four oral agreements made with the defendant waste management and recycling company. D contended that C had been paid all he was entitled to be paid many years previously. Murray Rosen QC dismissed C’s case, stating that some of the claims “were so fantastic as to verge on the delusional”. Instructed by BP Collins LLP.
Case: Stanley Houghton v PB Donoghue (Construction) Ltd  EWHC 1738 (Ch) (Morgan J)
Subject: Discretion to grant C permission to accept D’s Part 36 offer while the trial was in progress; CPR r.36.11(3)(d).
Summary: At the end of day 2 (Friday) of an 8-day trial, and after Simon had conducted a robust cross-examination of C, the proceedings were adjourned early in order for C’s witnesses to attend. The next day C served a notice of acceptance of Ds’ Part 36 offer. C’s application for permission to accept the offer was heard and dismissed by Morgan J, sitting as the applications judge, on the grounds that there had been a material change of circumstances that would make it unjust to grant the permission sought. Instructed by BP Collins LLP.
Case: Kevin Murphy as TiB for Mohammed Afzal v Abdullah and Interpoise Ltd  (ChD) 16/01/17 (Robert Miles QC).
Subject: Legal and beneficial title to shares; trust of shares; gratuitous transfer of shares; invalid allotment of shares; director’s fiduciary duties; forged documents.
Summary: The case involved a number of purported transfers and allotments of shares of a hotel group: a transfer by the initial subscribers to two transferees, one of whom became bankrupt and purported to transfer his share to a third party, then an apparent allotment of new shares to dilute interests of shareholders. The TiB also maintained that the Rs had caused to be created a number of forged documents and none of the shares or allotments were effective. The case settled on the first day during Simon’s opening speech.
Case: Bibby Factors Northwest Ltd v HFD Ltd  1 Lloyd’s Rep 517
Subject: Assignment; rebates and early settlement; equitable set-off and estoppel; factoring.
Summary: Court of Appeal held that where a factor sought payment from customers in respect of debts which it had bought, the customers were entitled to rely on the right of equitable set-off in respect of their right to a rebate for every supply, and for debit notes raised for defective performance. The close connection could not be severed by the customers’ failure to inform the factor about the rebate as they had been under no obligation to do so, even though they had trade for 13 years. Instructed by Bermans LLP.
Case: Capital for Enterprise Fund & Maven Capital Partners LLP v Bibby Financial Services Ltd  6 Costs L.R. 1059
Subject: Conspiracy by unlawful means; costs budgets and interim payments.
Summary: Important case on cost budgeting. High Court held there was no jurisdiction to amend an approved costs budget after trial; that was a matter for a costs judge. The court might have jurisdiction to give an indication that it would be appropriate to depart from an approved costs budget, but if it did so, the jurisdiction should be exercised only in exceptional circumstances and only where the parties expressly or impliedly agreed that it was appropriate to do so. Instructed by Shoosmiths.
Case: Capital for Enterprise Fund & Maven Capital Partners LLP v Bibby Financial Services Ltd  EWHC 2593 (Ch)
Subject: Conspiracy by unlawful means; enterprise loan and share warrants; pre-pack administration; invoice finance.
Summary: Claim for £2m for losses arising when Bibby put oldco into administration, and funded oldco and newco. Pelling QC dismissed the claim because any acts of Bibby caused no loss, as oldco was hopelessly insolvent. Instructed by Shoosmiths.
Case: Kowalishin v Roberts & Tech21 UK Ltd  LTL 19/05/15
Subject: Intention to create legal relations; share purchase; unjust enrichment.
Summary: A claimant who had invested £50,000 in a company was not entitled to a shareholding because he had paid the money in advance of a binding agreement to that effect. The parties had not intended to be contractually bound at least until heads of terms had been agreed. The court also rejected an exceptional alternative claim for “subjective re-valuation” of the money transferred, and made an award equal to £50,000 plus compound interest since the date of payment. Instructed by Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP.
Case: ABN Amro Commercial Finance plc v McGinn  2 Lloyd’s Rep. 333
Subject: Confidential Invoice discounting; guarantees and indemnities; losses under indemnity.
Summary: Claim for £9m against directors. Court held the directors had signed contracts of indemnity rather than guarantee, so they could not rely upon defences of their company, and any alleged failure to collect debts did not give rise to a defence of failure to mitigate under a contract of indemnity. Instructed by Squire Sanders (UK) LLP.
Case: Capita Trust Ltd v Optical Service (UK) Ltd  EWHC 991 (Ch)
Subject: Loans; accounting, pension and tax records; two-day summary judgment.
Summary: Summary judgment was entered in full against a company that denied owing unpaid bonus payments to a deceased employee. Rose J. rejected the defence and unsupported assertions of the officers of the company as so incredible that they could properly be described as fanciful. Instructed by Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP.
Case: Butterfield Bank (UK) Ltd v Philip  EWHC 1305 (Comm)
Subject: Banking and finance; guarantees; transactions at an undervalue.
Summary: Summary judgment was entered in full against a guarantor of a bank facility where the guarantor had failed to establish that the sale of security by LPA receivers had been at an undervalue, and any asserted new claims against the bank were precluded under the terms of the guarantee. Instructed by Judge Sykes Frixou.
Case: Prima Equity Ltd v West Bromwich Commercial Ltd  EWHC 1450
Subject: Banking and finance; capital; default; facility letters.
Summary: Defendant financier was not entitled to make demand for £8.5m, as it had, at the time of the demand, held excess funds that had been wrongly deducted as capital repayments from a borrower’s bank account, which meant that no sums were in fact due at the relevant time. Against Mark Cunnningham QC. Instructed by Shoosmiths.
Case: Valley Grown Salads v Bassini  EWHC 1304 LTL March 21, 2013
Subject: Banking and finance; loan agreements; freezing injunctions; summary judgment.
Summary: Defending application for summary judgment on claim for repayment of various loans amounting to £4.5m on the grounds that the sums were paid as part of a covert share sale to circumvent the Stock Market Rules on the takeover of Watford Football Club. Judgment only given for £950,000, and freezing order reduced from £4.5m to £1m. Against Nicholas Stewart QC. Instructed by BP Collins.
Case: RBS Invoice Finance Ltd v Dymond & others  LTL February 9, 2012
Subject: Invoice discounting; guarantees and indemnities; sale at an undervalue by administrators.
Summary: Appeal dismissed on the grounds that the Defence was “thin” and would probably not succeed, so the Defendant would have permission to defend on condition that they pay a substantial sum into court. Instructed by Mishcon de Reya.
Case: Uddington Business Ltd v Anthony Browne & John Maxwell  LTL December 9, 2011
Subject: Property investment; commercial fraud and tracing; freezing orders and security for costs.
Summary: Chancellor held that where there had been persistent flouting of freezing and proprietary injunctions and other orders, the court had jurisdiction to make an order striking out a defence, or to order that the defendants should provide security for the claim. The defendants only served evidence purporting to comply with the orders the day before the hearing so the court made a stringent unless order and ordered them to pay costs on an indemnity basis. Instructed by Mishcon de Reya.
Case: Barnett & Henley Estates Ltd v Rose, Jackaman & Bales  LTL September 21, 2011
Subject: Bankruptcy; operation of pre-emption machinery in articles of association on minority shareholders; validity of appointment as statutory auditor; effect of collusion and bias on expert determination.
Summary: High Court held that an accountant’s certificate as to the fair value of a bankrupt’s shares was not binding on the trustee because he was not the statutory auditor, as required by the company’s articles of association. The Court also found that the certificate would not have been binding on the grounds that the accountant had colluded with, and was biased in favour of, the majority shareholders in order intentionally to produce a certificate with a low value. Instructed by BP Collins LLP.
Case: Anglo-Irish Asset Finance Ltd v Flood & Riddell  EWCA Civ 799
Subject: Banking; guarantees and indemnities; fresh evidence; security for costs.
Summary: Court of Appeal dismissed Defendants’ appeal from the decision of the Commercial Court (see below). The Court allowed fresh evidence in relation to the new coalition Irish Government’s policy towards the Irish banking system and the EU/IMF bail-out, and upheld the Judge’s decision that it would not be just to make an order for security in favour of the Defendants because the claim and counterclaim raised the same issues, and ordering the lender to give security would have the effect of giving the Defendants’ security for the costs of their own counterclaim. Instructed by Mishcon de Reya.
Case: Anglo-Irish Asset Finance Ltd v Flood & Riddell (unreported) March 4, 2011
Subject: Banking; guarantees and indemnities; security for costs.
Summary: Acted as sole counsel for Irish lender in security for costs application. Claim for £35m on limited guarantees against directors, who brought a counterclaim for £220m and sought security for costs. The Commercial Court concluded that there was reason to believe that the lender would be unable to pay the Defendants’ costs if ordered to do so (because of political and economic uncertainty), but the judge declined to order security on the basis that the counterclaim raised substantially the same issues as the claim.
Case: Close Invoice Finance Ltd v Korpal  LTL November 2, 2009
Subject: Invoice discounting; guarantees and indemnities.
Summary: Court held that a short-form warranty given by an individual to a discounter was analogous to a performance bond, that a certificate of conclusive was not contrary to public policy and bound the surety both as to liability and quantum. Instructed by Hammonds LLP.
Case: Fairfax Gerrard Holdings Ltd v Rickson & Flanagan [December 22, 2008]
Subject: Trade finance; fraudulent misrepresentation; sale by receivers at an undervalue.
Summary: High Court rejected defence by guarantors that a trade financier had sold assets at an undervalue.
Case: Dashfield & Shepherd v Davidson & Ruddy (2008) BCC 662;  1 BCLC 220
Subject: Joint venture company articles of association; fiduciary duties; s.459
Summary: Lewison J held that a company’s articles contained a mutually enforceable obligation to buy and sell the shares of a deceased shareholder, and it was implied that upon his death, the company was obliged to take reasonable steps to procure that its accounts for the last completed financial year were audited before the auditors certified the value of the deceased’s shares. Instructed by Paul Davidson Taylor.
Case: Fairfax Gerrard International Ltd v Capital Bank Plc  1 Lloyd’s Rep 297
Subject: Trade finance; international sale of goods; conversion.
Summary: Court of Appeal construed a trade finance agreement and trust receipt, particularly a retention of title clause, to determine whether a company specialising in the international purchase and sale of machines had express authority to pass title of the machine in question before going into liquidation. Instructed by BP Collins.
Case: Vaughan v Von Essen Hotels 5 Ltd  EWCA Civ 1349
Subject: Service provision in a share sale agreement.
Summary: Court of Appeal upheld the judge’s decision that the relevant provisions of a clause in a share sale agreement relating to deemed service were mandatory rather than directory such that the hotels’ warranty claims under the agreement were not served timeously. Instructed by Paul Davidson Taylor.
Case: Quest 4 Finance Ltd v Maxfield  2 CLC 706
Subject: Commercial finance guarantees; fraudulent misrepresentation; non-reliance clause.
Summary: Court held that documents described as “Warranties” were properly characterised as guarantees, and that company directors that had been induced by misrepresentations to execute the Warranties were not estopped by declarations of non-reliance from alleging that they had relied on the misrepresentations and had been induced by them.
Case: Sinclair Investment Holdings SA v Versailles Trade Finance Ltd  2 All ER Comm 993
Subject: Trade finance; fraud; breach of fiduciary duties, tracing.
Summary: High Court considered whether there is a proprietary claim in respect of £29 million profit made by the fraudulent director of Versailles Trade Finance who had dishonestly assisted in a breach of trust. Instructed by Sinclair.
Case: Fairfax Gerrard International Ltd v Capital Bank Plc  1 Lloyd’s Rep. 171;  BPIR 330
Subject: Trade finance; international sale of goods; reservation of title; buyer in possession; conversion.
Summary: Commercial Court rejected defences based on an agent’s authority to sell, mercantile agency and sale by a buyer in possession and held that by leasing an asset to its client, a Bank had converted a trade financier’s interest in a machine.
Case: Vaughan v Von Essen Hotels 5 Ltd  EWCA Civ 1349
Subject: Service provision in a share sale agreement.
Summary: Etherton J held that the relevant provisions of a clause in a share sale agreement relating to deemed service were mandatory rather than directory such that the hotels’ warranty claims under the agreement were not served timeously.
Case: Colwill & Martin v Avraamides  BLR 76
Subject: Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.
Summary: The first time the Court of Appeal considered the 1999 Act, holding that a contract could not be enforced under s.1(1)(b) where the third party was not expressly identified, and that the use of the word “express”, did not allow a process of construction or implication. Instructed by Goodman Derrick LLP.
Case: Paul Davidson Taylor v White  Rep PN 7;  PNLR 15
Subject: Professional negligence (solicitors).
Summary: Court of Appeal criticised the distinction drawn in professional negligence cases between negligently failing to give proper advice and negligently giving incorrect advice, stating every case of giving incorrect advice necessarily involves failing to give proper advice.
Case: Hussain v Bahadir  All ER (D) 208 (Nov)
Subject: Rectification of a commercial lease.
Summary: High Court found convincing evidence of mutual mistake and ordered that a lease be rectified.
Case: Venture Finance Plc v Mead & McCarrick  3 Costs LR 389
Subject: Debt finance; construction of costs provision in a guarantee.
Summary: Court of Appeal considered the proper order to make, where guarantors were severally liable for costs of enforcement. Instructed by Hammonds.
Case: Re:Time Facilities Maintenance Ltd (In Liquidation) v Potential Finance Ltd  Ch.D; LTL 28/2/05
Subject: Factoring; s.236 application by liquidator.
Summary: Court held that parties to a factoring agreement had frequently varied the agreement by a course of conduct, thereby abandoning or waiving a clause requiring variations to be in writing. Instructed by Paul Davidson Taylor.
Case: Yorkshire Bank Plc & Clydesdale Bank Plc v RDM Asset Finance Ltd  Leeds Mercantile Court; LTL 16/9/04 (Judge Langan QC)
Subject: Costs award upon failure to mediate.
Summary: High Court reduced the discount to which a successful bank’s costs would otherwise have been subject because the unsuccessful party had unreasonably refused to engage in mediation. Instructed by Paul Davidson Taylor.
Case: Fairfax Gerrard Holdings Ltd v Yazdi & Talab  EWHC 2079 QBD; LTL 7/9/04 (Andrew Smith J)
Subject: Trade finance; sheriff’s enforcement of writ of fi fa.
Summary: High Court rejected an interpleader claim as dishonest and based upon fraudulent evidence. Instructed by BP Collins.
Case: Murphy Shipping & Commercial Services Ltd v Burt  All ER (D) 287 (Nov)
Subject: Company law; fiduciary duties; freezing order.
Summary: Successfully defended two directors against an application for a worldwide freezing order.
Case: Yorkshire Bank Plc & Clydesdale Bank Plc v RDM Asset Finance Ltd  Leeds Mercantile Court 7/4/04 (Judge Langan QC)
Subject: Asset-based lending; sale of goods; buyer in possession; mercantile agency; conversion.
Summary: Claim by banks against agent who had repossessed various coaches following termination of lease agreements. Instructed by Paul Davidson Taylor.
Case: Commissioners of the Inland Revenue v Verral  EWCA Civ 3083 (Ch);  BPIR 456
Subject: Bankruptcy procedure.
Summary: Appeal against bankruptcy order.
Case: Fairfax Gerrard Holdings Ltd v Zargaran & Zargaran & Zargaran London Ltd  EWHC 3017 QBD 15/12/03 (Keith J)
Subject: Sheriff’s enforcement of writ of fi fa.
Summary: High Court held that interpleader claimant’s claim had been debarred and the conditions laid down by the judge for the setting aside of the debarring order had not been complied with and it was not just to grant an extension of time. Instructed by BP Collins.
Case: Bunn & Bunn v Rees & Parker  EWHC QBD 16/4/03 (Nigel Teare QC)
Subject: Specific performance of a share sale agreement.
Summary: High Court upheld claim for specific performance of an agreement for the sale and purchase of 100% of the shareholding of a company. Instructed by Paul Davidson Taylor.
Case: Alamo Housing Co-operative Ltd v Meredith  HLR 62
Subject: Construction of a commercial lease.
Summary: Court of Appeal held that a housing association retained a right of possession of residential property after their own tenancy had been terminated by notice to quit.
Case: Henderson & Ors v Ralph Davis  QBD (Comm) 30/4/01 (Colman J)
Subject: Constitution of a club.
Summary: Court upheld claim for declaration by members of association formed to defend the claims of Lloyds against Names, who maintained that those members who had entered into a compromise with Lloyds had impliedly resigned their membership. Instructed by various Lloyds’ names.
- Successfully opposed an application for security for costs in the Commercial Court made against an Irish bank (instructed by Mishcon de Reya)
- Obtaining worldwide freezing and proprietary injunctions for the owner of a large property portfolio against directors of its managing agent, on the grounds of fraudulent misapplication of client monies in breach of trust (instructed by Mishcon de Reya)
- Acting for an Irish bank on its guarantee claim for £35m and its defence to a £230m counterclaim arising out of the collapse of a substantial property development (instructed by Mishcon de Reya)
- Advised whether a set-off clause in a factoring agreement was unenforceable by reason of the anti-deprivation principle (instructed by Charles Russell LLP)
- Advised on transactional documents relating to a £400m refinancing package for the UK dealership of a major car manufacturer
- Advising a clearing bank upon the final iteration of its new invoice finance agreement
- Advising a bank in a priority dispute with another bank with competing rights to a fund constituting the proceeds of debts (instructed by Eversheds LLP and Kennedys Law LLP)
- Advising and representing a finance company in administration on matters arising out of its recovery program on a collection ledger of 137 actions against its clients (instructed by Hammonds LLP)
- Advising an introducing broker whether it owed a duty to disclose to its customer the fees paid to it by the financier upon a successful introduction (instructed by Charles Russell LLP)
- Advising various American factors upon the structure and terms of their UK agreements
- Advising a creditor in respect of a multi-million pound equitable tracing claim against one of the UK clearing banks and an international firm of accountants arising out of the collapse of an English Plc engaged in providing commercial finance
- Advising and representing various financiers against administrators or liquidators who held the proceeds of assigned debts on trust
- Acting for two directors in a dispute with their previous logistics company, which alleged that their conduct in relation to an international network of related companies was in breach of fiduciary duty, and successfully defending an application for a worldwide freezing order
- Advising a number of factors on the provision of credit insurance and the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000
- Acting for an asset-finance company in an action involving bailment and agency issues arising out of the repossession of coaches
- Acting for and against various factors in relation to claims that their “administration charge” payable upon a termination event under their agreements constitute a penalty
- Acting for the Sheriff of Greater London and a trade financier in relation to three interpleader claims concerning assets seized by the Sheriff
- Drafting all the finance documents for a trade finance company (including trade finance, factoring, and inter-factor factoring agreements)
- Acting for an asset-finance company in action involving issues of priority of securities and rectification of the Land Register
Simon regularly assists clients during the process of mediation.
He is an active member of the Commercial Bar Association and he is a member of the London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association.