Total drops Grabiner for Milligan on Buncefield

French oil giant Total has swapped One Essex Court’s Lord Grabiner QC for 20 Essex Street’s Iain Milligan QC to lead its Supreme Court case over liabilities spinning out of the Buncefield oil explosion.


Grabiner was instructed by Davies Arnold Cooper (DAC) partner Nick Young to represent Total on its £100m legal battle with Shell over whether the ­company could be held ­vicariously liable for the explosion at the plant.

In March the Court of Appeal ruled against Total, leaving it open to claims from its former business partner.

The case is set to be heard next March, but Total has instructed Stephenson Harwood partner Paul Thwaite to replace DAC and he has brought in Milligan to lead Essex Court Chambers’ David Foxton QC and Crown Office Chambers’ Alexander Antelme. Total legal chief Lee Young said he felt a “fresh team” was needed for the Supreme Court.

Milligan, who is head of chambers, is rapidly gaining status as one the country’s top silks.

A statement from DAC said the firm “continues to represent Total on all ­outstanding quantum claims with the exception of the Shell appeal”.