Matthew Cropp

Legal Director

Commercial Litigation
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Construction: advising homeowners, contractors, sub-contractors, architects and developers on projects including consultant appointments, contracts and ancillary documentation and drafting the same; related planning issues; disputes in relation to delay, non-compliance with specification, funding, contractor insolvency, procurement issues, defects, damage, sub-standard workmanship all in relation to both residential and commercial property. Conducting court, arbitration and adjudication proceedings and mediations.

Commodities: advising international merchants on contracts for the sale and purchase of raw cotton worldwide; conducting commodities arbitration disputes (specifically before the International Cotton Association); conducting arbitration appeals in the Commercial Court.

Commercial disputes/advice in a variety of contexts.

Recent Experience

  • Successfully bringing interim injunction proceedings against an arbitral institution to prevent threatened restraint of trade against an arbitrator and later conducting of proceedings in the Commercial Court against the arbitral institution seeking to overturn arbitration rule changes directed at implementing restraints on arbitrators; clarifying the law on the powers of arbitral institutions in such instances.
  • On behalf of Japanese interests, successfully opposing an appeal against an English commodities arbitration award by Thai interests in the Commercial Court.
  • Conducting numerous arbitrations on behalf of an Indian trading house for recovery of sums due under contracts for the sale and purchase of raw cotton from Chinese buyers after international market volatility caused widespread breaches.
  • Recovery of substantial fees due to an architect from recalcitrant employers on a high quality, residential restoration and redevelopment project in central London.
  • Advice to a contractor carrying out works on a complicated, listed building project in relation to the excessively harsh implementation of contract terms so as to defend and rebut unjustified allegations of contractual default made by employers and project managers.
  • Pursuit of claims arising out of solicitor defalcations from vulnerable elderly person’s estate; investigations into the estate’s assets and affairs; conducting High Court proceedings for the recovery of monies and an account of assets and monies; formulating allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, undue influence and negligence; effecting recovery.

Career History

Matthew qualified as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 1985, and thereafter practised in Auckland until 1989. Prior to it, he obtained a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

He qualified as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales in 1992 and practised in London, most recently with Stitt & Co., solicitors as a partner.

He joined Wedlake Bell LLP as a partner in July 2018 on their merger with the former practice of Stitt & Co.

Reported Cases

  • Puzitskaya v St Paul’s Mews (Islington) Ltd| [2017] EWHC 905 (Ch); [2017] 4 WLUK 457. Chancery Division (Companies Court). Residents sought to obtain control of an estate management company and its assets from a developer by the exercise of disputed voting rights, by changing the company’s constituting documents and overturning reservations in their purchase agreements. The developer succeeded in resisting the challenge on voting rights but the residents prevailed on the other issues.
  • Wells v Devani [2016] EWCA. Civ 1106; [2017] Q.B. 959; [2017] 2 W.L.R. 139; B2/2015/0597 Court of Appeal (Civil Division)[1]. An estate agent invoked the Estate Agents Act 1979 where he sought enforce a contract and claim a commission but had not given all required details to the client seller. The client contended there was no contract and the court refused to imply terms to remedy deficiencies. The claimed commission was not therefore payable.
  • Aldcroft -v- The International Cotton Association Limited [2017] EWHC 642 (Comm). Queen’s Bench Division (Commercial Court). An arbitrator in the international raw cotton trade resisted a rule change by an arbitral institution, the International Cotton Association. The change had the effect of restricting the number of repeat appointments arbitrators might accept. The arbitrator argued it was an unjustifiable restraint of trade. The Association was permitted to make the change.
  • (on the application of Eliterank Ltd) v Kensington and Chelsea RLBC [2015] EWHC 220 (Admin); [2015] 2 WLUK 256; [2015] A.C.D 71; [2105] P.T.S.R D18. Queen’s Bench Division (Administrative Court). A developer built partly into a garden square relying on rights apparently conferred by a lease and a planning permission. The local authority relied on the London Squares Preservation Act 1931 (“the Act”) to resist the encroachment despite its earlier permission. It was found that the development was not authorised for the purposes of the Act.
  • Uzinterimpex JSC v Standard Bank Plc. [2008] EWCA Civ 81915; [2008] Bus. L.R. 1762; [2008] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 456; [2008] 7 WLUK 421; [2008] 2 C.L.C 80; Times, August 12, 2008. Court of Appeal (Civil Division). A state owned trading company obtained an advance payment guarantee granted by National Bank of Uzbekistan for US$65,000,000. It was part of a transaction involving substantial contracts for the sale of cotton by the company. The buyer’s bank, which had taken possession of certain of the cotton, made a demand under the guarantee. The issue was whether the buyer’s bank had done so deceitfully for an exaggerated amount. The court declined to go behind the demand.

[1] This decision was made on an appeal from the a lower court. A decision of the Supreme Court on a further appeal is currently awaited.

Additional Information

  • Preparing and delivering submissions on behalf of commercial fishing interests to the Parliamentary sub-committee on Maori Fishery Rights (first people/ indigenous rights).
  • Conducting proceedings in the Privy Council on appeal from New Zealand (Ancare New Zealand Ltd v. Fort Dodge New Zealand & Anor (New Zealand) [2002] UKPC 8 (6 February 2002)) (patents) and Canterbury Golf International Ltd v Yoshimoto, 2002, [2002] UKPC 40 (planning/share sales).
  • Representing a state-owned enterprise of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the Commercial Court, London (Uzinterimpex JSC v Standard Bank Plc [2008] [2007] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 187, EWCA Civ 819 [2008] Int.Com.L.R. 07/15) (international commodity contracts/trade performance guarantees).
  • Representing a senior commodities arbitrator in proceedings brought against an arbitral institution in the Commercial Court concerning issues of potential institutional overreach in relation to its rules and its code of conduct; whether a provision restricting appointments was void and unenforceable as an unreasonable restraint of trade. (Aldcroft -v- The International Cotton Association Limited [2017] EWHC 642 (Comm).
  • Representing an Indian trading house in numerous commodities arbitrations under the aegis of an international arbitration body.
  • Successfully appealing to the Court of Appeal on issues arising under the Estate Agents Act 1979; whether the Court will imply a term into an incomplete estate agent’s commission contract; whether there was a legally binding contract in existence and whether the implied term contended for was reasonable and necessary: Wells v Devani [2016] EWCA.


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