Home Barristers Gabriella McNicholas

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Gabriella McNicholas

Call 2013


Gabriella specialises in commercial and chancery litigation. Her practice includes a large variety of contractual disputes, jurisdictional challenges and conflicts of laws issues, civil fraud and asset tracing claims, shareholder and partnership disputes, breach of fiduciary duty claims and corporate and personal insolvency applications. She is also experienced in obtaining and resisting urgent applications for injunctive relief, including freezing orders and ancillary orders, in the Chancery Division.

Thanks in part to her international background, covering Sweden, the US, Spain and the Netherlands, she has a creative spark which enables her to bring fresh ideas to difficult problems and she is frequently instructed to advise across the legal areas within her practice.

Gabriella is a strong and passionate advocate who appears regularly as sole counsel in the High Court and in the County Courts. She is also frequently instructed as a junior to leading counsel and accepts instructions to act as part of a larger team. During 2016 and 2017, she was instructed as part of the junior counsel team for the Libyan Investment Authority (a sovereign wealth fund) in respect of its US$2 billion claim against the French bank Société Générale. The LIA alleged that several trades and derivative options were procured via a fraudulent and corrupt scheme, as a result of which they were either void, voidable or unenforceable for want of authority, breach of fiduciary duty and illegality. The case was selected as a top 20 case of 2017 by The Lawyer.

Commercial Litigation

Gabriella is regularly instructed to advise, draft pleadings and appear both led and as sole counsel in relation to a variety of commercial matters. Examples include:

  • Urgent injunctive relief, including applications to obtain, continue, vary and discharge freezing injunctions
  • Jurisdictional challenges and conflicts of laws issues
  • Enforcement and recognition of foreign judgements
  • Commission claims pursuant to joint ventures
  • Miss-selling claims against financial institutions, including in respect of interest rate swaps and mortgages
  • A wide variety of contractual claims, including under contracts of guarantee    

Company and Partnerships

Gabriella is experienced in advising on and appearing in a wide range of company and shareholder matters, including unfair prejudice petitions, claims of breach of duty against directors, director disqualification proceedings and applications to restore dissolved companies to the register.

She also has experience in advising on partnership disputes, including issues regarding beneficial ownership and division of profits, disclosure, dissolution and associated relief, such as freezing injunctions to avoid dissipation of partnership assets (see e.g. Campbell v Campbell [2017] EWHC 2747 (Ch)). Gabriella was recently instructed in a long-running partnership dispute in the Isle of Man, which culminated in a week-long High Court trial before Deemster Rosen QC in November 2019, in which allegations of fraud were successfully defended and a mandatory injunction secured to compel compliance with a partnership deed (CHP 18/0065 Boca Limited v Volaw Trustee Limited and Soberano Limited) .


Gabriella is instructed to advise in respect of a great variety of insolvency related matters and she appears regularly in the High Court and the County Court in both corporate insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings. Examples include:

  • Advising on and appearing in contested winding-up and bankruptcy petitions
  • Advising on and appearing in applications to lift the statutory moratorium upon administration under para 43(6)(b) of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986
  • Advising on and appearing in applications for and against validation orders under s 127 of the Insolvency Act 1986
  • Advising on and appearing in applications both challenging and supporting the appointment, conduct, remuneration and removal of insolvency practitioners
  • Applications under s 236 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (inquiry into company's dealings)
  • Advising insolvency practitioners in respect of misfeasance, wrongful trading and preference claims against directors and others

Civil Fraud

Gabriella has been instructed in a number of claims which involve allegations of civil or commercial fraud. The most notable is the Libyan Investment's Authority's claim against Société Générale, to which reference is made above. This long-running litigation, which settled in May 2017 on the eve of the three-month trial, included allegations of bribery, claims in knowing receipt and damages for fraud.

Gabriella is regularly instructed to advise on claims involving allegations of fraudulent misrepresentation, dishonest assistance, unlawful means conspiracy and claims pursuant to the Insolvency Act 1986, including wrongful and fraudulent trading and claims under section 423 (transactions defrauding creditors).

The clerks are happy to discuss the basis on which Gabriella will act in any given matter. In the absence of express written agreement otherwise, the terms under which Gabriella accepts instructions are The Standard Contractual Terms for the Supply of Legal Services By Barristers to Authorised Persons 2012 (as updated from time to time) referred to in the BSB Handbook.

Education and Qualifications
BCL (Oxon)
BA (Jurisprudence) Magdalen College, Oxford: First Class
BPTC, City University

Gabriella’s undergraduate degree included a fourth year abroad at Leiden University in the Netherlands, focused on European law as well as Private and Public International law.

She subsequently stayed on at Oxford for another year to complete the Bachelor of Civil Law (a masters level degree), taking papers in Conflict of Laws, Restitution of Unjust Enrichment, Advanced Property and Trusts and Medical Law and Ethics.

Denning Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn
Hardwicke Entrance Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn
Demyship and Scholar, Magdalen College, Oxford
Cum Laude, Department of Moot Court and Advocacy at Leiden University

Swedish (native)
Spanish (intermediate)

Chancery Bar Association
Young Fraud Lawyers Association

Beyond wrongful trading – remaining risks and responsibilities” (2020) 6 JIBFL 359

Insolvency remoteness – a holy grail or indirectly achievable?” (2019) 7 JIBFL 444

Contributor to the sections on money-laundering and whistle-blowers in MacDonald on the Law of Freedom of Information (3rd Ed)