Duncan specialises in commercial litigation and arbitration, particularly in the areas of Commercial Law, Civil Fraud, Company Law and Insolvency. Such cases often involve jurisdiction disputes and applications for urgent interim relief.
Duncan also has a strong Chancery background, receiving regular instructions on matters involving partnerships, trusts, estates and real property, as well as intellectual property disputes. He has appeared in tribunals at all levels, including the Supreme Court appeal of FHR European Ventures LLP v Cedar Capital Partners LLC  UKSC 45, now the leading case on bribes and secret commissions taken in breach of fiduciary duty. Duncan’s cases often involve international parties and, having read Chinese at Cambridge, he has extremely rare expertise in relation to China-related disputes and is able to work with untranslated Chinese documents. Duncan has represented and advised a number of extremely high-profile clients including Chelsea FC, the BBC and the Spice Girls, the latter two as sole Counsel.
Duncan’s clients come from diverse industry sectors including: financial services (including funds), media and entertainment, real estate, natural resources, shipping and technology. Duncan has particular expertise in proceedings involving states or state entities, having advised and represented nation states, state-owned bodies and those seeking to make claims against states. Most recently, this has involved advising a state on the possibility of a party being able to enforce against it in the English courts a foreign judgment in excess of £1 billion.
As well as acting as part of a team on larger matters, Duncan is regularly instructed to provide advice and advocacy as sole Counsel. His advocacy has been described as “clear and forceful” by a Judge of the Commercial Court. Duncan has been instructed as the trial advocate for numerous High Court trials, including two multi-day trials against QCs, his client being successful in both actions. Duncan also has particular expertise in urgent injunction applications having appeared led and unled in numerous such applications, both for applicants and respondents. Unled applications in the High Court include successfully applying to the Commercial Court for a without notice freezing injunction against a BVI company in support of an arbitration, and appearing for the successful respondent in an application in the Chancery Division to set aside an interim injunction obtained without notice.
Duncan was Chair of the Young Bar of England and Wales in 2017 and also sits on the Bar Council’s Brexit Working Group. As part of his membership of the latter, Duncan co-authored the Jurisdiction and Judgments section and assisted with the Arbitration section of the, extremely well-received, Brexit Papers. The Jurisdiction and Judgments Brexit Paper was one of only two papers cited by the UK Government in its position paper on the subject.
Duncan read Chinese at St John’s College, Cambridge. His studies included a year abroad in Beijing studying at China’s most prestigious university for the study of the arts, Peking University, as well as two months at Taiwan Normal University in Taipei on a scholarship from the Taiwanese government.
After graduating from Cambridge, Duncan studied for the Graduate Diploma in Law at City University in London gaining the grade of distinction after coming third in the year overall and top of the year in equity and trusts. During that year he also won the Lincoln’s Inn mooting competition. He obtained a number of scholarships for his legal studies including Lord Haldane, Hardwicke and Lord Denning scholarships from Lincoln’s Inn and the McMahon Law Studentship from St John’s College, Cambridge.