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Portrait of Phillip Ashley

Phillip Ashley


CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
Cannon Place
78 Cannon Street
United Kingdom
Languages English

Phillip Ashley is a partner who "specialises in contentious matters relating to the oil and gas and power sectors" and has advised on "matters relating to oil and gas investments in every continent except Antarctica" (Global Arbitration Review).

He has “extensive experience of ICC and LCIA arbitrations, as well as court proceedings, concerning both oil and gas and conventional power assets” (Chambers Global). As a solicitor-advocate and regularly appears as counsel in significant energy related commercial arbitrations and expert determinations, including relating to LNG and natural gas sales agreements, joint operating agreements, transportation agreements, hydrocarbon ownership rights and FPSO charters. He is has appeared as counsel in energy related disputes in the High Court in London.    

He is internationally recognised as being a specialist in high value energy disputes, including "energy pricing disputes, acting in a series of natural gas and liquefied natural gas price review arbitrations seated in London and Geneva, which were worth around US$10 billion" and "a US$16 billion pricing dispute over a long-term crude oil supply contract" (Global Arbitration Review). He is author of “Natural Gas Price Reviews: Past, Present and Future” (Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, 2012).

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"Phillip Ashley is regularly instructed by high-profile energy clients for representation in disputes pertaining to pricing structure, design defects and delay costs, among other issues. He has extensive experience of ICC and LCIA arbitrations, as well as court proceedings, concerning both oil and gas and conventional power assets. "He is an excellent disputes lawyer who is full of pragmatism and has a fantastic knowledge of upstream oil and gas matters." "He combines a forensic approach with knowledge of the black letter law and understanding of the industry."

Chambers, 2021

"Phillip Ashley routinely represents clients on contractual disputes revolving around the construction of nuclear power plants and oil and gas infrastructure. A market insider describes him as an "oil specialist," while a client praises his ability to "answer any request in a very quick and efficient manner."

Chambers, 2020

"He provides very sound advice and is a good lateral thinker, seeking solutions to avoid costly litigation,"

Chambers, 2019

“CMS is, according to one client, ‘the best oil and gas practice in the UK’….”

“Phillip Ashley is recommended for disputes”

“Phillip Ashley ‘gets to the heart of a dispute without taking unnecessarily bullish positions”

Legal 500

Relevant experience

  • International oil companies in approximately US$12 billion of arbitrations relating to the pricing of natural gas an LNG.
  • A leading state-owned company in a pricing dispute regarding a long-term crude oil supply contract with a sum in dispute in excess of US$16 billion.
  • The non-operators in the forced removal of an operator under a joint operating agreement by vote (TAQA Bratani Ltd & Ors v Rockrose UKCS8 LLC [2020] EWHC 58 (Comm))
  • An operator in two LCIA arbitrations concerning unpaid cash calls relating to operations in Angola with a value of approximately US$80 million, including various counterclaims concerning allegations operator performance.  
  • An independent power producer in an LCIA arbitration concerning the pricing of natural gas in Israel. 
  • Marathon Oil, TAQA Bratani, Centrica and JX Nippon in relation to consent to the sale of transportation and processing assets, including issues concerning pre-emption and reasonable assurances for transfer (Apache Beryl I Ltd v Marathon Oil UK LCC & Ors [2017] EWHC 2258 (Comm)). 
  • Rosneft Marine UK Ltd in an oil products sale and purchase case that Lloyd’s List described as “the most spectacular shipping legal imbroglio so far this century” (PST Energy 7 Shipping LLC v OW Bunker Malta Ltd [2015] EWCA Civ 1058).
  • Baker Hughes Limited in relation to successfully resisting an application to stay High Court proceedings pursuant to section 9, Arbitration Act 1996 (Baker Hughes Limited v Steadfast Engineering Company Limited [2009] EWHC 3123 (QB)).
  • An oil company in relation to delay and liquidated damages concerning the fabrication of the topsides for the Cygnus project (Heerema Hartlepool Limited v Neptune E&P UK Limited [2018] EWHC 2217 (TCC)).
  • A manufacturer in a London Chamber of Commerce Arbitration concerning the Angra III Nuclear Reactor in Brazil.   
  • A Brazilian oil field service company, and FPSO owner, in relation to the termination of three FPSO charters and injunctive proceedings in the English High Court commenced by a facility agent and security trustee concerning terms of a of US$420 loan agreement and security documents. 
  • An international oil company on the impact of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 483 (2003), 1546 (2004), 1637 (2005), 1723 (2006), 1859 (2008), 1905 (2009) on a contract with the Government of Iraq.
  • A Swiss mining company in relation to two sale and purchase agreements and one guarantee, governing gold mining interests in the Russian Federation.
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  • Dispute Resolution Clauses, Oil and Gas Contracts: Principles and Practice (Second Edition, 2019)
  • Default clauses in joint operating agreements: recent guidance from the English courts (International Energy Law Review, 2016) 
  • Enforceability of Take-or-Pay Provisions in English Law Contracts (Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, 2013)
  • Natural Gas Price Reviews: Past, Present and Future (Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, 2012)
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  • University College London, Masters Degree in Law (Distinction) and Sir Jack Jacob Prize for Civil Justice, London
  • University of Greenwich, LLB (Hons) Law, London
  • Inns of Court School of Law, Bar Vocational Course
  • Called to the Bar by the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn
  • Admitted to the Roll of Solicitors
  • Solicitor-Advocate (Higher Courts Criminal Proceedings)
  • Solicitor-Advocate (Higher Courts Civil Proceedings)
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Show only
30 March 2021
Oil and Gas Dis­putes Sur­vey: Man­aging dis­putes risk – the in-house per­spect­ive
The CMS Oil and Gas Dis­putes Sur­vey ex­amined the key drivers of dis­putes and dis­pute man­age­ment in the oil and gas in­dustry, and how sec­tor par­ti­cipants are mov­ing to­wards new ap­proaches to min­im­ise con­flicts and dis­putes. Based on more than 50 re­sponses from seni­or leg­al man­agers and seni­or in-house coun­sel in the oil and gas in­dustry across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pa­cific, Africa and Lat­in Amer­ica, it provides in­ter­est­ing in­sights in­to how dis­putes arise and are man­aged around the globe.Even be­fore the on­set of the COV­ID-19 pan­dem­ic, the oil and gas in­dustry was fa­cing con­sid­er­able chal­lenges, not least a pro­longed peri­od of re­l­at­ively low oil prices and a glob­al fo­cus on lower­ing car­bon emis­sions and “green” en­ergy.Com­pared with the heights of 2008, pri­or to the glob­al fin­an­cial crisis, when in­ter­na­tion­al oil prices peaked at over US$140 a bar­rel, the US$55 bar­rel price for Brent Crude in late Janu­ary 2021 still looked re­l­at­ively low, des­pite the re­cent par­tial re­cov­ery. Those weak prices con­tin­ue to place con­sid­er­able pres­sures on in­dustry play­ers that are now of­ten op­er­at­ing on his­tor­ic­ally low mar­gins of prof­it­ab­il­ity.It was not al­ways this way. As ver­tic­ally in­teg­rated gi­ants, oil and gas ma­jors were tra­di­tion­ally con­sidered well able to ab­sorb down­sides with­in a broad port­fo­lio of rev­en­ues and part­ner­ships, but today many in­dustry play­ers no longer have that lux­ury. A num­ber of geo­graph­ic mar­kets that were pre­vi­ously dom­in­ated by a few large up­stream oil com­pan­ies have transitioned through di­vest­ments to own­er­ship by a lar­ger group of smal­ler in­de­pend­ent play­ers with more fo­cused port­fo­li­os and a range of fin­an­cial mod­els. With more op­er­at­ors and par­ti­cipants in many oil and gas geo­graph­ic mar­kets, it seems likely that the op­por­tun­it­ies for dis­putes are in­creas­ing. CMS Oil and Gas Dis­putes Sur­vey in­dic­ates that more could be done to pre­vent and mit­ig­ate against ex­pens­ive time-con­sum­ing dis­putes.
26 March 2021
Oil & Gas / Ship­ping – The Ever Giv­en
The Suez Canal opened in 1869. Along with the Panama Canal, it is one of the most im­port­ant mari­time “short­cuts” ever built. Today, the canal is 193km (120 miles) long and is one of the busiest wa­ter­ways...
11 March 2021
En­ergy: When is an ex­per­t's er­ror a 'mani­fest er­ror'?
In Flow­group plc v Co-op­er­at­ive En­ergy Ltd [2021] EWHC 344 (Comm), the Com­mer­cial Court dis­missed a chal­lenge to an ex­pert de­term­in­a­tion on an al­leged ‘mani­fest er­ror’. As ex­pert de­term­in­a­tion clauses...
09 March 2021
Oil & Gas: No dam­ages awar­ded for breach of ca­pa­city ob­lig­a­tion in take...
In Brit­ish Gas Trad­ing Lim­ited v Shell UK Lim­ited & An­or [2020] EW­CA Civ 2349, the Court of Ap­peal con­sidered the ‘ramp down’ pro­vi­sions of two ‘take or pay’ long term gas sales agree­ments. Al­though...
March 2021
CMS Oil and Gas 2020 An­nu­al Re­view Pod­cast
Wel­come to the CMS Oil and Gas 2020 An­nu­al Re­view pod­cast and video series. In this series we dis­cuss the latest de­vel­op­ments in Eng­lish Oil and Gas law and what it means for the in­dustry. Top­ics in­clude:Joint...
14 January 2021
The rise of the glob­al ex­pert ser­vices prac­tice: Court of Ap­peal guid­ance...
A Court of Ap­peal de­cision earli­er this week has up­held an in­junc­tion gran­ted by the TCC pre­vent­ing an in­ter­na­tion­al ex­pert ser­vices firm from act­ing for more than one party to an in­ter­na­tion­al con­struc­tion...
21 December 2020
Oil & Gas: OGA’s role in M&A trans­ac­tions – let­ters of com­fort and ju­di­cial...
In R (on the ap­plic­a­tion of Thornton) v OGA [2020] EWHC 2615 (Ad­min)  the Eng­lish courts con­sidered, for the first time, wheth­er a ‘let­ter of com­fort’ giv­en by the Oil and Gas Au­thor­ity (“OGA”)...
December 2020
In­ter­na­tion­al Dis­putes Di­gest - Winter Edi­tion 2020
Wel­come to the winter edi­tion of the CMS In­ter­na­tion­al Dis­putes Di­gest, the bi­an­nu­al pub­lic­a­tion of CMS’ Dis­pute Res­ol­u­tion prac­tice fea­tur­ing ana­lys­is and com­ment­ary on the ma­jor trends shap­ing the...
09 December 2020
Oil & Gas / Ship­ping – Black Holes and Rev­el­a­tions
In Dr Jones Yeovil Ltd v The Step­ping Stone Group Ltd [2020] EWHC 2308 (TCC), the Tech­no­logy and Con­struc­tion Court has raised the  spectre of oil and gas com­pan­ies not be­ing able to re­cov­er full dam­ages...
October 2020
An­nu­al Re­view of de­vel­op­ments in Eng­lish oil and gas law 2020
Wel­come to the 2020 edi­tion of the CMS An­nu­al Re­view of de­vel­op­ments in Eng­lish oil and gas law, fea­tur­ing com­ment­ary and ana­lys­is on the latest de­vel­op­ments in Eng­lish oil and gas law. This year’s...
12 October 2020
Oil & Gas / Ship­ping: what loss does de­mur­rage li­quid­ate?
In K Line Pte Ltd v. Pri­minds Ship­ping (HK) Co Ltd (Etern­al Bliss) [2020] EWHC 2373 (Comm), the Com­mer­cial Court has taken the op­por­tun­ity to re­solve a “long-stand­ing un­cer­tainty on a point of law”...
29 September 2020
Ac­cept­ance test­ing and the de­fer­ral of ter­min­a­tion rights
A re­cent TCC de­cision has con­sidered the abil­ity of an em­ploy­er to de­fer ex­er­cising rights of ter­min­a­tion in the event a con­tract­or fails to sat­is­fy ac­cept­ance test­ing cri­ter­ia. It is of­ten as­sumed that...