Matthew has a civil practice focusing on maritime disputes. For over 20 years Matthew was a superyacht captain and bridge officer. He has comprehensive knowledge and experience of the maritime industry, both as operational captain and overseeing major new shipbuilding and renovation/refit projects.

Matthew’s specialist practise focuses on commercial issues which arise at sea – from contractual disputes over the fit out (refit) of superyachts, to employment issues relating to crew and staff. His experience of the maritime industry, coupled with his legal expertise, particularly arbitration, mean that he is ideally placed to advise yacht owners, builders, captains and crew on any legal issues which arise. He is able to advise and represent clients in court or arbitration proceedings, as well as acting as an arbitrator.

Matthew has a professional demeanour and is very good at remaining calm under pressure. He is efficient, commercially pragmatic in his advice and good at building effective working relationships.

Arbitration and Contractual disputes

Many commercial disputes are referred to arbitration rather than court proceedings, and Matthew is experienced with the process and able to advise and represent clients. Building on his experience, he is actively looking for appointments as an arbitrator particularly in maritime cases.

Matthew acts in many contractual disputes, particularly ones that relate to yacht construction and refurbishment. His experience of commercial arbitration combined with his experience supervising yacht building and refitting means that he understands the standards expected in these cases enabling him to advise clearly on breaches, or potential breaches, of contract. He is also able to advise on sale and purchase of yachts, and charter contracts.

Matthew acts for a wide range of people in relation to maritime contracts including entrepreneurs, high net-worth individuals, superyacht builders, designers, banks and owners.



Matthew has experience in employment disputes acting for employers and employees. He is able to advise on the full range of employment disputes from wrongful and unfair dismissal to complex discrimination claims. He is also able to act for yacht captains and other contractors who are self-employed and acting in accordance with a service contract rather than being employees.

Matthew is aware of the issues and pressures which arise for employees based offshore, particularly in respect of health and safety. He is able to advise employers on the extent to which English law governs their contracts and their consequent responsibilities, as well as advising employees on their rights.

Matthew is also happy to accept instructions from those based on shore and to act in traditional employment disputes including those involving allegations of discrimination, bullying and whistleblowing.

Personal injury

Matthew is instructed in disputed liability RTAs and other accidents and represents both claimants and insurers on the small claims and fast track at all hearings up to and including trials. He is also happy to accept instructions arising out of accidents at sea, and is aware of the different rules governing those cases.

Matthew is fully conversant with the procedural and costs regimes in Part 8 proceedings involving personal injury infant approvals and Stage 3 oral hearings.

In credit hire cases, Matthew is familiar with the arguments raised on both sides (particularly relating to proportionality and fundamental dishonesty) and can quickly assess the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position. He is very good at cutting to the heart of a case and providing pragmatic advice.


In January 2022, Matthew was interviewed by the Solicitors Journal for an article about his move to the Bar "Plain Sailing: From Yacht Captain to the Bar".


To instruct Matthew, please contact Rob Johnstone or Ollie Waite.


  • Master's (LLM), Legal Practice, BPP Law School, Distinction
  • Post Graduate Certificate in International Law, Bristol Law School
  • Bachelor of Laws (LLB), BPP Law School


  • British Maritime Law Association
  • Associate Fellow, Nautical Institute
  • Supporting Member, London Maritime Arbitrators Association
  • Professional Yachting Association
  • Bar Yacht Club
  • American Bar Association

Notable Cases

Shipyard v Yacht Owner [2022]: Appointed by the respondent as an arbitrator on this high value yacht refit dispute. Non-UK, common law jurisdiction. Matthew’s combined experience, especially his extensive experience in shipyards, was put to its full use during these proceedings where the dispute was of a very technical nature concerning the quality of the work, and whether it conformed to the terms of a standard form MYBA contract. Proceeded to a full hearing with a finding of split liability.

SE v Large Yacht Management [2021]: Advised a crew member regarding a claim for wrongful/unfair dismissal, English jurisdiction. Settled prior to Tribunal hearing.

Captain v Yacht Yard [2022]: Advised a captain regarding a PI claim. Claim followed a serious injury caused by a faulty deck hatch, in the Bahamas. Vessel was still under warranty from the builder. English Jurisdiction. Claim settled.

A v UK Banks: (small claims / fast track) Successfully represented private individuals in a number of separate claims against UK’s major banks. Claims arising out of undisclosed commission on PPI policies, pursuant to s140 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

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