Contact details

Stephen Ashley

T: +44 20 7809 2362 Email Stephen | vCard Office: London

Awards

Public international law

Public international law

Stephen Ashley Of counsel

Contact details

Stephen Ashley

Stephen Ashley
Of counsel

T: +44 20 7809 2362 Email Stephen | vCard Office: London

Stephen is a member of our commercial litigation department, working on a wide range of matters. He has market-leading experience and expertise in relation to EU and UK sanctions. Stephen has a particular focus on matters relating to Iran and he was a founding member of the firm's Iran group.
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Stephen is a renowned specialist in sanctions, in particular legal challenges to sanctions in the EU and UK Courts. He represented Bank Saderat Iran, Persia International Bank Plc and National Iranian Tanker Company in their successful challenges to EU sanctions. He also acted for Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG in its challenge, which resulted in the UK changing its licensing policy.

Stephen also advises international businesses on sanctions interpretation and compliance, particularly sanctions against Iran and Russia. He is recognised by Chambers UK 2016 for his impressive international sanctions practice, with clients praising his "impressive knowledge" of the area.

Aside from his sanctions practice, Stephen advises on a broad range of complex commercial disputes. He has particular experience with financial litigation and arbitration, particularly the enforcement of foreign arbitration awards.

Stephen has advised Nigeria's national oil company in a long-running case in the Commercial Court in London: IPCO (Nigeria) Ltd v Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. This is the leading case on the enforcement of New York Convention arbitration awards in England and Wales.

Although Stephen has a particular focus on matters relating to Iran, his international experience also includes matters relating to the wider Middle East, Africa (particularly Nigeria), India, the EU and the US.

He is praised by clients for his "outstanding contributions to matters" (Chambers UK 2015), and is described as “outstandingly good” (Legal 500 UK 2015). He is further highlighted for his excellent insight into the EU judicial system.

"Stephen Ashley is always the first choice of instructing solicitor for any complex sanctions case."
The Legal 500 UK 2020

  • International arbitration
  • Finance litigation
  • Commercial litigation
  • Sanctions

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation

Advising Nigeria's state oil company on its defence to attempts to enforce a Nigerian arbitration award. This is the leading case on the enforcement in England of a New York Convention award.

Enforcement of New York Convention award

Advising an Iranian entity in relation to the enforcement of a €100 million award against a large UK company.

LCIA arbitration

Advising an African logistics company on a US$1.5 million arbitration whilst the underlying contract continued to run and the parties' relationship was continuing.

UNCITRAL arbitration

Advising in relation to an UNCITRAL arbitration worth in the region of US$4billion.

LCIA arbitration

Advising a West African company on an arbitration involving fraud allegations by both parties.

More: International arbitration

Melli Bank Plc and Persia International Bank Plc

Obtained summary judgments for these two UK subsidiaries of Iranian banks in disputes concerning monies owed to them under financial agreements. The defendants argued that they were precluded from paying because of EU sanctions.

Iranian, European and Asian banks

Advising various banks on the interpretation of EU and UK sanctions against Iran in relation to finance transactions, including acceleration of loan facilities and enforcement.

Iranian and Iranian owned financial institutions

Advising clients in relation to US claims under anti-terrorism legislation worth more than US $1 billion.

More: Finance litigation

Major UK accountancy firm

Advising in relation to a major failure of a new IT system which caused serious issues for the client's IT team and its business.

Nigerian entity

Advising on a global settlement relating to a number of joint projects in the energy sector with a major European oil and gas industry contractor.

EU trader

Advising in relation to a conspiracy to use the client's company as part of a missing trader intra-community tax fraud. 

Central bank

Advising in relation to the enforcement of US judgments.

West African bank

Advising in relation to a worldwide freezing order in support of local proceedings against a defaulting borrower.

More: Commercial litigation

Sanctions challenges in EU courts

Representing various other commercial companies (including National Iranian Tanker Company, Bank Saderat Iran and Persia International Bank Plc), related individuals and other businessmen challenging Iranian and Syrian sanctions in the General Court and Court of Justice.

EU subsidiary of an Iranian bank

Representing our client in a claim for compensation of more than €130 million in relation to EU sanctions against Iran.

Managing director and a former director of a British-Iranian bank

Advising these individuals on their legal challenges to sanctions in national and EU Courts. As well as securing the swift lifting of the sanctions, we obtained formal apologies from the EU member state that proposed them. 

Iranian, European and Asian banks

Advising our clients on the interpretation of EU and UK sanctions against Iran in relation to existing and proposed finance transactions, including restructuring and acceleration of loan facilities and enforcement.

UK hedge fund

Advising our client on complex international issues involving UN, EU, UK, Dutch, Swiss and offshore sanctions against Libya.

More: Sanctions
  • Banks and banking

British-Iranian banks

Providing a range of advice including in relation to sanctions and regulatory compliance and commercial disputes in the UK and other jurisdictions.

EU subsidiary of an Iranian bank

Representing our client in a claim for compensation of more than €130 million in relation to EU sanctions against Iran. 

Iranian, European and Asian banks

Advising our clients on the interpretation of EU and UK sanctions against Iran and Russia in relation to existing and proposed business and transactions.

Iranian and Iranian owned financial institutions

Advising our clients in relation to US claims under anti-terrorism legislation worth more than US$1 billion.

More: Banks and banking
  • CIS and CEE
  • Western Africa

European and Asian banks

Advising our clients on the interpretation of EU and UK sanctions against Iran and Russia in relation to proposed finance transactions.

More: CIS and CEE

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation

Advising Nigeria's state oil company on its defence to attempts to enforce a Nigerian arbitration award. This is the leading case on the enforcement in England of a New York Convention award.

Nigerian entity

Advising on a global settlement relating to a number of joint projects in the energy sector with a major European oil and gas industry contractor.

West African bank

Advising in relation to a worldwide freezing order in support of local proceedings against a defaulting borrower.

LCIA arbitration

Advising a West African company on an arbitration involving fraud allegations by both parties.

More: Africa

Awards

Public international law

Public international law

Latest news & insights

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From Insights

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15 Jul 2022

From Insights

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29 Jun 2022

From Insights

EU sanctions: European Commission guidance on trusts measures

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16 Jun 2022

From Insights

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09 Jun 2022

From Insights

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The 'sixth package' of EU sanctions against Russia was adopted on 3 June 2022. While the sanctions on Russian oil have grabbed the headlines, the EU has also taken th..

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10 May 2022

From Insights

EU sanctions: application of trusts measures outside the private trusts sphere

As noted in our recent article, the 'fifth package' of EU sanctions against Russia adopted on 8 April 2022 introduced a notable addition to Regulation (EU) No 833/2014..

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18 Mar 2022

From Insights

Key changes to UK sanctions regime - The Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022

On 15 March 2022, the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act (the "ECA") received Royal Assent after being fast-tracked through Parliament in response to th..

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09 Feb 2022

From Insights

Limitation on summary determination: Libyan Investment Authority v Credit Suisse & Ors

In Libyan Investment Authority ("LIA") v Credit Suisse International ("Credit Suisse") & Ors the court considered the scope of s32 of the Limitation Act 1980 (the "Act..

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08 Feb 2022

From Insights

Judging the EU Sanctions Blocking Regulation: Bank Melli v Telekom Deutschland

Following Advocate General Hogan's opinion in Bank Melli Iran v Telekom Deutschland GmBH, the Court of Justice of the European Union ("CJEU") has now given judgment.

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23 Aug 2021

From Insights

No skirting service on sovereign states: General Dynamics v Libya

The Supreme Court recently handed down judgment in General Dynamics United Kingdom Ltd v Libya, reversing the Court of Appeal's 2019 decision that would have paved the..

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16 Jun 2021

From Insights

Sanctions wave intensifies compliance headaches

In an article published by The Banker, Stephenson Harwood of counsel Stephen Ashley shares his insights on the difficulties faced by banks in complying with sanctions ..

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