Poonam Melwani QC is a commercial silk who practises across the full spectrum of commercial, insurance, energy and shipping law, providing advisory and advocacy services. Praised as “…always in demand, she is as good on her feet as she is adept at mastering complex legal, factual and expert material….” (Chambers UK), Poonam has been ranked as a ‘Leading Silk’ over many years by the Legal Directories. She represents clients in a wide variety of jurisdictions and arbitral regimes including ICC, LCIA, LMAA and ad hoc, as well as English High Court Litigation, mainly in the Commercial Court and the Appellate Courts. Poonam has been shortlisted for Shipping Silk of the Year at the Legal 500 UK Awards 2020.
Poonam’s clients want her for their “difficult cases” where innovative thinking and oversight of a large team, complex issues and mult-strands are necessary. In Commerzbank v Pauline Shipping  1 WLR 3497, Poonam successfully argued that asymmetrical jurisdiction clauses, prevalent in banking agreements, are exclusive jurisdiction clauses for the purposes of Brussels 1 Recast, an issue and judgment which has attracted widespread attention. She concluded the CSAV v Hin Pro Litigation  2 Lloyds Rep 1 (Court of Appeal) and  1 Lloyds Rep 301 where a new approach to damages for breach of exclusive jurisdiction clause was adopted. Poonam recently concluded Latin American Investments v Maroil Trading involving joint venture shareholders of a fleet of vessels and complex allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, secret profits and fraud and where Poonam successfully obtained a WWFO of over US$60 million. Poonam led an entirely new team in the action of Zumax v FCMB on the imposition of trusts/equitable obligations in the context of international bank transfers involving correspondent banks, successfully overturning the judgment entered against the bank, in a claim pleaded at over US$210 million.
Poonam has also acted on an enormous amount of marine insurance work and significant re-insurance work. Cases include: The US$20 million reinsurance dispute of Beazley Underwriting Ltd v Al Ahleia Insurance Co  Lloyds Rep I.R. 561 where Poonam successfully represented insurers and made new law and two recent confidential scuttling cases.