Gautham Chandrakumar

Associate, London



Gautham is a senior commercial litigation and international arbitration lawyer. He focuses on financial services, energy, and antitrust disputes, with significant trial experience in over a decade of practice.

Gautham has a broad financial services disputes practice. He acts for financial institutions, including banks, investment firms (across multiple alternative asset classes), collateral managers and bondholders. His experience includes disputes concerning interest rate swaps and futures following major economic events (testing ISDA contractual architecture in unprecedented circumstances), enforcement of terms in security documentation (including in distressed situations), misrepresentation claims relating to complex recapitalisation procedures, jurisdiction disputes arising from cross-border fraudulent schemes, shareholder disputes, and post-acquisition litigation (including seeking mandatory injunctions in performance of SPAs). Gautham also advises investment firms on litigation risk and liability regarding portfolio companies. In recent years, he has been involved in complex bankruptcy and restructuring litigation following high-profile insolvencies in the Middle East (including litigation arising from the Abraaj Group and NMC Health insolvencies).

In the energy space, Gautham has acted for state-owned oil & gas companies, mining conglomerates, and commodity trading groups in cross-border mandates. He has acted in international arbitrations arising out of the performance of drilling contracts and joint-operating agreements, with associated High Court and Court of Appeal litigation. He has also acted for listed mining corporates in arbitration relating to the performance of supply contracts, prospecting and mining option agreements, mining waste disposal agreements, and supply contracts. These cases again involved Court proceedings, including seeking or opposing applications for interim relief (including applications for worldwide freezing injunctions). Gautham's energy background has resulted in mandates advising on trade finance issues and associated litigation under collateral management agreements relating to the supply of commodities. He is currently defending Vale S.A. in TCC litigation following the 2015 Fundão Dam collapse in Brazil, considered to be the largest group action ever brought in the English High Court.

Gautham's expertise in antitrust litigation ranges from ad-hoc pre-action mandates advising potential claimants and defendants on competition law breaches to complex follow-on damages litigation in the High Court and Competition Appeal Tribunal. These cases involved economic cartels in the automotive and maritime industries with concurrent proceedings in Europe and the US (thus requiring effective coordination of competition litigation proceedings in jurisdictions globally). In recent years, he has been involved in structuring class actions under the opt-out regime.

As well as his core practice areas, Gautham has developed a niche contentious trusts practice, recently successfully defending the trustees of Dame Zaha Hadid's Estate in Chancery litigation arising from a claimant trustee's removal application. This was achieved whilst concurrently implementing the administration of the Estate in line with Dame Zaha's Will and Letter of Wishes, with the final agreement seeing the bulk of Dame Zaha's assets being transferred to the Zaha Hadid Foundation, a charitable body focused on supporting architectural education for young people.

Prior to joining White & Case in 2021, Gautham was a senior associate at the London office of another prominent US firm.

Bars and Courts
England and Wales
BPP Law School
Maîtrise en Droit
University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne
Licence en Droit
University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne
Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
King's College London


Examples of contentious mandates include:

Município de Mariana & Ors v BHP Group (UK) Limited & Ors: Defending Vale S.A. in relation to the 2015 Fundão Dam collapse in Brazil. Largest ever group action brought in High Court by over 700,000 claimants and valued at an estimated GBP36bn. Reported judgments: [2022]; EWHC 1646 (Ch); [2022] EWHC 2249 (Ch).

Re Vue International Bidco Plc: Acted for Vue in a scheme of arrangement / financial restructuring to implement amendments to existing senior finance documents to enable the group to raise interim liquidity on a super senior basis. Reported judgment: [2022] EWHC 2681 (Ch).

Re Nostrum Oil & Gas Plc: Acted for Nostrum, a UK-listed oil and gas company engaged in the production, development and exploration of oil and gas in the pre-Caspian Basin in Kazakhstan, in a scheme of arrangement / financial restructuring concerning USD1.125 billion senior notes. Reported judgment: [2022] EWHC 1646 (Ch); [2022] EWHC 2249 (Ch).

Hungry Panda Limited v Yan Liu & Ors: Represented an international food delivery business as buyer of assets under an Asset Purchase Agreement in circumstances where seller refused to transfer such assets in breach of contract. Seeking urgent injunctive relief in the Commercial Court compelling seller to transfer all withheld assets.

Neoma Manager (Mauritius) Limited, in its capacity as the manager of Neoma Private Equity Fund IV L.P. v Abraaj ABOF IV SPV Limited & Ors: Acted for newly appointed manager of a Cayman Islands established private equity fund (NPEF IV) seeking declarations in relation to capital account balances. Litigation arising out of the collapse of the Abraaj Group, the largest private equity firm in the Middle East with an estimated USD14 billion of assets under management. Reported judgment: [FSD CAUSE NOs: 322 of 2020 (RPJ)].

Re NMC Healthcare Ltd: Acted for administrators of NMC in ADGM proceedings in post-administration litigation. This was following initial representation of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), NMC's largest creditor, in High Court (Chancery Division) proceedings for recognition of a foreign administration order granted by the ADGM Court of First Instance. Reported judgments: [2020] ADGMCFI 0008; [2021] EWHC 1806 (Ch).

Estate of Dame Zaha Hadid: Represented defendant trustees of Dame Zaha Hadid's estate in Chancery Court litigation in relation to claimant trustee's claim for the removal of defendant trustees under section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985. Reported judgments: [2019] EWHC 1031 (Ch); [2020] EWHC 3358 (Ch); [2020] EWHC 3381 (Ch).

Daimler AG v MOL (Europe Africa) Ltd & Ors: Represented Daimler AG against thirteen defendants claiming damages for loss arising from the defendants' alleged participation in a price-fixing and market-sharing cartel relating to the provision of roll-on / roll-off cargo services contrary to competition law. Reported judgment: [2019] EWHC 3197 (Comm).

PCP Capital Partners LLP v Barclays Bank Plc: Represented PCP in Commercial Court litigation arising from the recapitalisation of Barclays during the global financial crisis in late 2008 by Qatar's sovereign wealth entity. Representing PCP in misrepresentation claims against Barclays totalling GBP1.6bn. Reported judgment: [2021] EWHC 307 (Comm).

JSC Commercial Bank PrivatBank v Kolomoisky & Ors: Represented Ukrainian bank PrivatBank in Court of Appeal litigation concerning the interpretation of Article 6(1) of the Lugano Convention and the sole object test on matters of jurisdiction. Substantive litigation concerned the bank's claim against the defendants for the alleged fraudulent misappropriation of USD1.9bn. Reported judgments: [2018] EWHC 3308 (Ch) and [2019] EWCA Civ 1708.

Invista Textiles (UK) Ltd & Anor v Botes & Ors: Represented Invista Textiles (UK) Ltd, a subsidiary of US conglomerate Koch Industries, Inc. in Chancery Court litigation in relation to claims for breach of contractual and equitable obligations of confidence, tortious interference of contract, breach of non-solicitation obligations, and orders for delivery up and destruction of confidential information. Reported judgments: [2018] EWHC 1329 (Ch); [2019] EWHC 58 (Ch); [2019] EWHC 1087 (Ch).

Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. v PetroSaudi Oil Services (Venezuela) Limited: Represented PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil and gas company, in an UNCITRAL arbitration against PetroSaudi arising out of the performance of a drilling and exploration services contract. Related High Court and Court of Appeal proceedings on the fraud exception to the autonomy principle of letters of credit. Reported judgments: [2016] EWHC 2456 (Comm); [2017] EWCA Civ 32.

DMS Maritime Pty Ltd (DMS Maritime) v Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance Plc (RSA): Represented liability insurers against DMS, an international defence contractor, and the Commonwealth of Australia, in a dispute concerning the measure of damages under Australian law following the loss of a prominent Royal Australian Navy vessel. Reported judgment: [2018] QSC 303.

Asia Islamic Trade Finance Fund Ltd v Drum Risk Management Limited & Ors: Represented defendant collateral managers in eight separate claims across several jurisdictions (including the Commercial Court) following the disappearance of c. 35,000 metric tonnes of coal held as security for sums advanced under a Murabaha Financing Agreement. Reported judgment: [2015] EWHC 3590 (Comm).

Konkola Copper Mines Plc (KCM) v U&M Mining Zambia Ltd: Defended KCM against claims worth USD75 million in consolidated LCIA arbitration proceedings and concurrent High Court proceedings (including opposing the continuation of an ex parte worldwide freezing order granted against KCM). Reported judgment: [2014] EWHC 3250 (Comm).

Confidential instruction on behalf of tobacco distributor against an international tobacco conglomerate: Acting for a French distributor against an international tobacco company in a mediation regarding alleged breaches of a distribution agreement, specifically arising out of non-payment of distributor's margin.

Examples of advisory mandates include:

Advised a state-owned commercial bank in relation to potential claims in respect of swap transactions affected by the market price for the May 2020 WTI crude oil contracts falling below USD0 on 20 April 2020. Advising bank on contractual interpretation of relevant ISDA Master Agreements and ISDA 2005 Commodities Definitions and Annexes, breaches of express and implied terms, Market Disruption Events and Market Manipulation under the agreements and improper exercise of discretion by calculation agents in determining transaction settlement prices.

Advised certain international mining and natural resources conglomerates on interpretation and practical effect of provisions in shareholders' agreements, including issues arising out of drag-along and tag-along rights, rights of first refusals, valuation questions, and general contractual interpretation.

Advised a prominent international digital rail technology platform on potential disputes with a rail industry membership body under contract, judicial review and competition law. Provided ad-hoc advice on an on-going basis, with specific focus on potential judicial review application arising out of public character of defendant entity.

Advised on a confidential basis a non-party seeking to set aside an enforcement order in relation to an arbitration award procured through fraud. Advising in addition on merits of potential civil claims in England against parties involved in the fraud.

Advised an international rolling stock and rail transport manufacturer in relation to disputes with operators following non-acceptance of units, breaches of contract, defence strategies in relation to payments under on-demand bonds, and judicial review following alleged interference by certain government bodies.

Advised a major UAE fashion retailer providing regular advice on prospects of cancelling existing payment obligations under a distribution agreement following cash-flow issues resulting from government authorities' decision to close retail outlets during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Advised an investment management fund on potential legal liability of manufacturer of cladding used at Grenfell Tower. Fund held significant equity stake in the manufacturer and sought advice whether such stake should be liquidated.

Advised the United States Office of European Litigation and specifically the US Navy on whether a liquidated damages provision for delays in a charterparty could be interpreted as a penalty clause. Prevailing circumstances related to delays during evacuation of US citizens from Libya during 2011 revolution.

Advised liability insurers on applicable sanctions in circumstances where an indemnity was paid to Cuban entities. Advising on US sanctions regime and the applicability of the EC Blocking Regulation / UK Protection of Investment and Trade Act.

Advised geophysical service provider on potential avenues for recovery of pure economic loss, following damage to geo-seismic streamers used for data mapping of subsea oil reserves. Advised on structuring contracts to maximise recovery, bailment, relational losses in tort and contractual indemnities.

Advised war risks insurers following confiscation of insured vessel by Guinean customs authorities due to the discovery of narcotics in cargo holds.

Advised war risk insurers on illegality defence under a war risks policy. Factual background concerned the total loss of a vessel in the Gulf of Aden, following detonation of explosives by pirates.