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Thomas Munby QC

Call: 2006 | Silk: 2022

Overview

Thomas’ practice covers a broad range of commercial and chancery disputes, both in litigation and arbitration.

Consistently recommended by the leading directories for Commercial Litigation, Commercial Chancery, Civil Fraud and Company Law, Thomas has been described in Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners as “absolutely fantastic, great to deal with and seriously clever”, “exceptional on his feet”, “outrageously clever and always calm”, “known for his intellectual firepower”, “doughty and determined in court” and “a really powerful advocate”; someone who “has strong international expertise and handles the most complex matters with ease and confidence” and “speaks a language the client can understand” while “his advocacy is always very thorough and complete, and judges trust him”. Prior to taking silk, he combined his general practice with membership of the Attorney General’s “A” Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown, dealing with the most complex cases on behalf of the UK government.

In the litigation context, Thomas practices across the English court system, most often in the Commercial Court, Chancery Division and Court of Appeal (although he has also appeared in the Family Division, Administrative Court and a variety of Tribunals). He also has experience in many of the leading offshore jurisdictions, and is admitted to the Bar of the British Virgin Islands.

In the arbitration context, Thomas has acted in arbitrations under a variety of arbitral rules, often in the LCIA. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and happy to accept suitable appointments as arbitrator.

 

Much of Thomas’ time is spent on heavy international business disputes, including cases with specialist civil fraud, banking / financial services, company law, professional negligence and jurisdiction / conflict of laws issues. He also enjoys a longstanding practice in more traditional chancery areas including trusts, estates, insolvency, partnerships and real property. Freezing orders and other interim relief have been a significant part of his practice for many years, as have disputes concerning legal professional privilege.

Alongside work for private individuals, he has handled cases arising in a wide variety of industries including: aviation, banking, financial services, IT, accountancy/audit, media & entertainment, mining & minerals, oil & gas, private client / wealth management, shipping and property development.

Terms of Business 

The clerks are happy to discuss the basis on which Thomas will act in any given matter. In the absence of express written agreement otherwise, the terms under which Thomas accepts instructions are The Standard Contractual Terms for the Supply of Legal Services By Barristers to Authorised Persons as published on the website of the Bar Council, modified by the addition of clause 10.1.14 as follows “[10.1 Subject to Clause 10.2 below, the Barrister is not liable: …] 10.1.4 for loss in excess of the Barrister’s professional indemnity insurance applicable to any claim in respect of such loss at the time the claim is made”.

Education

Before being called to the Bar, Thomas read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford and graduated at the top of his year, with a Congratulatory First and prizes for the best performances across the university in both philosophy and comparative philology. He took the CPE at City University, where he won the Tort Law Prize, and then the Bar Vocational Course at the Inns of Court School of Law, where he was classed as Outstanding and won a Van Der Heyden Prize and the OUP Advocacy and Procedure Prize. He was awarded the Princess Royal Scholarship and then the Stephen Chapman Scholarship by the Inner Temple.

Publications and Articles

“Civil Fraud: Law Practice & Procedure” (2018, Sweet & Maxwell), Contributor

“Thomas has first-rate analytical skills. He immediately gets to the heart of any legal issue and identifies arguments that others would miss. He is also very tactically astute and immensely hard-working and professional.” (2022)

Chambers UK
Chancery: Commercial

“Fantastic to deal with, he displays a willingness to talk through issues, and is calm, collected, and really clear in his thinking. Thomas has a prodigious knowledge of the law, and is a fighter but in a measured way.” (2022)

Chambers UK
Commercial Dispute Resolution

“Exceptional on his feet. A really powerful advocate with an authority in court well beyond his year of call. His written work is excellent and his judgment is sound. All in all hugely impressive.” (2022)

Legal 500 UK
Commercial Litigation

“He is highly in demand having become a prominent figure in his field. Extremely bright, works brilliantly within a team. His advocacy is also first class. ” (2022)

Legal 500 UK
Fraud: Civil

“Knows the law inside out and is most eloquent in front of the appellate courts. ” (2022)

Legal 500 UK
Company

Expertise

Overview

Thomas acts regularly in heavy Commercial Court litigation, arbitrations and other commercial disputes, covering a wide variety of business arrangements and industries including: aviation, banking, financial services, IT, accountancy / audit, media & entertainment, mining & minerals, oil & gas, private client / wealth management, shipping and property development.

Notable Cases

  • Palmali Shipping SA v Litasco SA [2021] EWHC 1161 (Comm); [2018] EWHC 2634 (Comm) A high value claim by a shipping company for alleged breach of a contract of affreightment
  • Acting in numerous claims by lessors of Boeing and Airbus passenger aircraft against lessee airlines (including applications to obtain interim mandatory orders for preservation and delivery up of aircraft)
  • State of Qatar v Banque Havilland SA & anr [2021] EWHC 2127 (Comm): A high value claim concerning alleged conspiracy to manipulate financial markets, with heavy interlocutory issues as to legal professional privilege and disclosure
  • Bugsby Property LLC v LGIM Commercial Lending Limited & anr [2021] EWHC 1054 (Comm) High value claim arising from alleged breaches of exclusivity and breaches of confidence in relation to a major London property acquisition, with heavy interlocutory issues as to third party disclosure and confidentiality clubs
  • Acting in a confidential and high value dispute over interpretation of pricing mechanisms in a multi-year procurement contract
  • UC Rusal PLC v Crispian Investments Limited and Whiteleave Holdings Limited [2019] BCC 237: a shareholder dispute under an English law shareholder agreement concerning the proposed c.US$1.5bn sale of a minority stake in one of the world’s leading nickel companies
  • Acting in an LCIA arbitration on behalf of an international group of lenders seeking to recover over US$750 million from a group of borrowers and guarantors largely located in CIS jurisdictions
  • Maximov v Novolipetsk Steel [2017] 2 Lloyds Rep 519: Acting in Commercial Court proceedings successfully resisting claims for the enforcement in England of a c.US$150million arbitration award set aside by the Russian courts
  • FBN Bank (UK) Ltd v Leaf Tobacco A Michailides SA [2017] EWHC 3017 (Comm): Acting for a bank obtaining judgment seeking judgment in relation to c.€160m outstanding borrowing from a group of borrowers and guarantors in Greece, Bulgaria and Albania
  • Acting for one of the “big four” accountancy firms against another in disputes arising out of a merger between affiliates
  • Islamic Investment Company of the Gulf (Bahamas) Limited v Symphony Gems & ors Acting for judgment creditors seeking to commit a judgment debtor to prison for contempt in relation to asset disclosure under CPR Part 71 in this high value and long running litigation
  • Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Company & anr v Majid Al Refai & ors: acting for a Bahraini bank and Saudi property development company in a major Commercial Court dispute in conspiracy, breach of confidence and blackmail.
  • Acting for a claimant seeking to enforce significant entitlements under OTC coffee derivatives against a South American counterparty
  • Acting for Lady Bracewell-Smith in her high profile dispute with Alistair Barclay
  • Acting for claimant trustees in professional negligence claims against a range of property and planning professionals in relation to a substantial proposed development in the Isle of Wight.
  • Acting in claims between the beneficial owners of a freehold office-block in the City of London in relation to the contractual and other arrangements for distribution of the proceeds of sale of the property
  • Photolibrary Group Ltd & ors v Burda Senator Verlag GMBH [2008] 2 All E.R. (Comm) 881:  acting for a German magazine publisher defending contract and bailment claims brought by a group of professional photographers following the loss in transit of a large number of photographic negatives
  • Apvodedo NV v Terry Collins [2008] EWHC 775 (Ch):  claims relating to the attribution of losses among the victims of the “Ritz Hotel fraud”, involving issues of common law mistake in the context of finance documentation.

Overview

Thomas has wide experience of civil fraud litigation involving (among other causes of action) deceit, conspiracy, the economic torts, bribery, breach of fiduciary duty, dishonest assistance, knowing receipt, trust / tracing claims, s90A FSMA 2000 and frauds under a variety of foreign laws.

He has appeared in numerous cases seeking or resisting fraud-related injunctive relief, including freezing orders, search orders, disclosure orders, Norwich Pharmacal / Bankers Trust orders and orders in support of foreign litigation / arbitration under s.25 CJJA 1982 and s.44 AA 1996; as well as the range of further orders which can flow from such injunctions. Thomas is equally familiar with the complexities of post-judgment asset recovery in the fraud context, including enforcement of foreign judgments. His experience also extends to cases involving professionals and other third parties caught up, in one way or another, in alleged fraud; and he is familiar with many of the issues which arise in that context.

He is also one of the authors of Grant & Mumford, Civil Fraud: Law, Practice & Procedure (Sweet & Maxwell), a leading civil fraud textbook.

Notable Cases

  • State of Qatar v Banque Havilland SA & anr [2021] EWHC 2127 (Comm): A high value claim concerning alleged conspiracy to manipulate financial markets
  • WWRT Limited v Tyshchenko [2021] Bus. L.R. 972: Claims arising from an alleged £65m fraud on a Ukrainian bank, with heavy interlocutory jurisdictional and freezing order disputes
  • FRB v DCA [2020] Fam 211: The leading case on tort claims for so-called “paternity fraud” in the context of high value divorce proceedings
  • [2020] Ch 243; [2020] EWHC 238 (Ch) acting against a firm of solicitors in a claim brought by investors in an allegedly fraudulent investment scheme, with heavy interlocutory disputes in relation to legal professional privilege
  • Islamic Investment Company of the Gulf (Bahamas) Limited v Symphony Gems & ors:  acting for judgment creditors seeking to commit a judgment debtor to prison for contempt in relation to asset disclosure under CPR Part 71 in this high value and long running litigation
  • Acting for defendants to a claim brought by a liquidator of a company alleged to have been involved in a high value MTIC fraud in the electricity market
  • Advising and settling proceedings for a claimant in a very high value fraud claim brought in an “offshore” jurisdiction against the managers of a corporate / partnership trust structure
  • Alliance Bank JSC v Aquanta Corp & ors [2013] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 819:  acting for the principal defendant on applications to challenge the jurisdiction of the Court and set aside billion-dollar freezing orders in litigation brought by a Kazakh bank against various of its former shareholders and management.
  • Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Company & anr v Majid Al Refai & ors:  amajor Commercial Court dispute involving allegations of conspiracy, breach of confidence and blackmail.
  • Re D:  applications (in private) in the Administrative Court for discharge of worldwide freezing relief and interim receivership orders worth billions of dollars (pursuant to the restraint order jurisdiction under the Criminal Justice Act 1988).
  • Cadogan Petroleum Plc & ors v Tolley & ors:  fraud, conspiracy and constructive trust claims by a LSE listed petroleum company against its former CEO and others for alleged bribery
  • Irish Response Ltd v Direct Beauty Products & Simon Gook [2011] EWHC 37 (QB):  acting, initially in a successful 7-day application to discharge freezing / search orders and subsequently at trial, in a claim for alleged inducement of breach of contract in relation to hair-loss products
  • Wirecard Bank v Scott & ors:  acting for the successful claimants in relation to a wide range of enforcement and post-judgment injunction applications in this high profile fraud case arising out of ticket sales for the 2008 Beijing Olympics
  • Belletti v Morici [2010] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 412:  challenges to the jurisdiction of the Court in relation to freezing orders granted in support of foreign fraud proceedings under s.25 Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982.

Overview

Thomas has significant experience as counsel in domestic and international arbitrations; as well as arbitration-related proceedings before the English courts, including in relation to ancillary injunctions, enforcement of awards, appeals and stay applications.

Thomas is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb); and is happy to accept suitable appointments as arbitrator.

Notable Cases

  • Acting in five linked LCIA arbitrations (and assisting in related offshore proceedings) in a shareholder dispute concerning a very substantial trading business in a CIS state
  • Acting in four linked LCIA arbitrations on behalf of an international group of lenders seeking to recover over US$750 million from a group of borrowers and guarantors largely located in CIS jurisdictions
  • Maximov v Novolipetsk Steel [2017] 2 Lloyds Rep 519: Acting in Commercial Court proceedings successfully resisting claims for the enforcement in England of a c.US$150million arbitration award set aside by the Russian courts
  • Acting in an LCIA arbitration in relation to the finance arrangements for a property development project in a CIS state
  • Acting on applications, in private, for injunctive relief pursuant to s.44 Arbitration Act 1996 to preserve shares held subject to a complex off-shore escrow regime pending a London-seated arbitration
  • Acting in an LCIA arbitration arising out of complex settlement agreements in relation to challenges to the jurisdiction of the tribunal
  • Acting to obtain permanent stays of proceedings brought in the Chancery Division in breach of arbitration clauses contained in some (but not all) of the documents in a suite of finance documentation.

Overview

Thomas acts for and against major financial institutions in a broad range of situations, alongside cases involving smaller regulated and unregulated financial services entities.

He has acted in domestic and international disputes arising out of a wide variety of finance and security structures; bank instruments; OTC derivatives and other complex financial arrangements.

He has also advised upon and litigated numerous issues arising under different parts of the UK regulatory regime, in particular under FSMA and related parts of the Consumer Credit Acts; as well as the common law and equitable duties of banks, mortgagees, intermediaries and financial advisers.

Notable Cases

  • State of Qatar v Banque Havilland SA & anr [2021] EWHC 2127 (Comm): A high value claim concerning alleged conspiracy by banks to manipulate financial markets
  • Acting for a mortgage lender in High Court proceedings concerning the scope of the “second charge business loan” exemption
  • Acting in an LCIA arbitration on behalf of an international group of lenders seeking to recover over US$750 million from a group of borrowers and guarantors largely located in CIS jurisdictions
  • FBN Bank (UK) Ltd v Leaf Tobacco A Michailides SA [2017] EWHC 3017 (Comm): Acting for a bank obtaining judgment seeking judgment in relation to c.€160m outstanding borrowing from a group of borrowers and guarantors in Greece, Bulgaria and Albania
  • Panagopoulos v Lloyds Bank plc: a complex and high value claim alleging swaps mis-selling
  • Acting for claimants seeking to enforce significant entitlements under OTC coffee derivatives against a South American counterparty
  • Re Allanfield Property Insurance Services Limited [2016] Lloyd's Rep. I.R. 217: acting for administrators in a case concerning the interpretation of the regime under CASS5 within the FCA Handbook for the maintenance of client money by insurance intermediaries.
  • Advising a lender in relation to claims alleging the payment of undisclosed commissions to brokers
  • Advising and acting for numerous banks in relation to claims to enforce and recover a wide variety of secured and unsecured business lending.

Overview

Thomas has longstanding expertise in the range of laws which govern the life and death of commercial organisations: company law, LLP law, partnership and LP law, corporate insolvency and bankruptcy law.

In the company and LLP context, Thomas’ experience covers disputes over such matters as: interpretation of articles, shareholder / members agreements; exit and buy-out / sell-out / ROFR rights; invalidity and ultra vires of meetings or corporate acts; pre-incorporation contracts; validity of company charges; voting and financial rights of different classes of shareholders / members; status of shareholders /directors / members; dividends and wrongful distribution of capital; rectification of registers; directors’ duties and misconduct; unfair prejudice; just and equitable winding up; and corporate dissolution and bona vacantia.

Likewise, in relation to partnerships and LPs, he has experience of disputes involving partnership deeds, partners’ duties, partnership property, dissolution and accounts. 

In relation to insolvency, he has experience of cases involving winding up, CVLs, MVLs, administration, investment bank special administration, CVAs, bankruptcy and IVAs; as well as cross-border situations under the EU Insolvency Regulation, the Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations and the court’s other powers. That experience includes disputes over entry into insolvency, claims by office-holders against directors / third parties, disputes between proofs and priorities, and applications for directions. Thomas also has experience of difficult issues which can arise where an insolvent company held client money under the CASS rules or otherwise acted as a trustee.

Notable Cases

  • Wingfield-Digby v Melford Capital Holdings LLP [2021] 1 WLR 1553: complex membership dispute in relation to LLP and LP investment funds, giving rise to a leading appeal on costs of interim injunctions
  • Advising liquidators of insolvent financial services entities as to distribution of client money under CASS7 and otherwise
  • [2020] Ch 243: probably the leading case on legal professional privilege and bona vacantia when an overseas company is dissolved
  • UC Rusal PLC v Crispian Investments Limited and Whiteleave Holdings Limited [2019] BCC 237 a shareholder dispute as to the operation of “right of first refusal” provisions in an English law shareholder agreement in respect of a prominent Russian company
  • Koza Ltd v Akcil & ors [2018] 1 B.C.L.C. 591 acting in an appeal in relation to the proper operation of the exclusive jurisdictional provisions for corporate disputes under the EC Regulation on Jurisdiction and Judgments
  • Acting in five linked LCIA arbitrations (and assisting in linked offshore proceedings) in a substantial shareholder dispute concerning control of a bank
  • Re Allanfield Property Insurance Services Limited [2016] Lloyd's Rep. I.R. 217:  acting for administrators seeking directions in relation to the proper distribution of client money held by insolvent insurance intermediaries pursuant to CASS5
  • Advising offshore redeemable preference shareholders in relation to a host of issues arising out of the failure of a fund vehicle
  • Acting for administrators pursuing recovery of a portfolio of valuable Central London properties subject to allegedly sham leases
  • Advising and settling proceedings for a claimant in a very high value fraud claim brought in an “offshore” jurisdiction against the managers of a corporate / partnership / trust structure
  • Acting for defendants to a claim brought by a liquidator of a company alleged to have been involved in a high value MTIC fraud in the electricity market
  • Acting for administrators in relation to issues arising from the collapse of an FSA-regulated group dealing in structured financial products
  • Acting for a liquidator investigating a significant international fraud in relation to various applications for recognition and assistance
  • Dominion Petroleum Limited v Carlo Seidel:  complex shareholder dispute within an AIM-listed petroleum company, involving parallel proceedings in England and Bermuda.

Overview

Thomas has longstanding and significant experience across the core Chancery areas of:

  • Trusts, including disputes over the creation of express, resulting, Quistclose and constructive trusts; trustees’ duties and misconduct; breaches of trust; interpretation of trusts; distribution issues and access to trust documents
     
  • Estates, including disputes as to wills, contentious probate and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
     
  • Real property, including disputes as to title, registration, trusts of land, easements / covenants, adverse possession, leaseholds, mortgages, bona vacantia and other matters

Notable Cases

  • Wilkinson & ors v JS Property Holdings & ors [2018] 4 WLR 41:  Appearing for the successful appellants in the Court of Appeal in an appeal concerning the creation of express trusts of investments in a technology development business
  • Acting in litigation over the bona vacantia status of high value leasehold property following the dissolution and restoration of a foreign company lessee
  • Advising and acting both for active parties and for executors in relation to high value claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
  • Acting for a claimant in a major fraud claim brought in an “offshore” jurisdiction against the managers of a trust structure
  • Advising in relation to ownership of prime London freehold property in the context of potentially falsified trust documentation
  • Acting for minor and unborn beneficiaries upon a claim to rectify a trust of a long-established family farming and property business in the west of England
  • Advising beneficiaries in relation to rights to information and documents from trustees acting as directors of substantial “family” companies
  • Re Allanfield Property Insurance Services Limited [2016] Lloyd's Rep. I.R. 217:  applications for directions as to distribution of client money held on trust by insolvent insurance intermediaries
  • Obtaining Re Benjamin orders to permit distribution of trust funds where the family tree of potential beneficiaries was uncertain
  • Acting in multi-million pound proceedings between former romantic partners involving allegations of express and constructive trusts, undue influence and related proprietary tracing claims
  • Acting for claimant trustees in professional negligence claims against a range of property and planning professionals in relation to a substantial proposed development in the Isle of Wight
  • Acting in claims between the beneficial owners of a freehold office-block in the City of London in relation to the contractual and other arrangements for distribution of the proceeds of sale of the property
  • Advising and acting in a wide variety of landlord and tenant, 1954 Act, easement, boundary dispute, title to land and other real property disputes.

Directory quotes

Who's Who Legal
Fraud: Civil

“A wonderfully clever civil fraud junior who works on a number of offshore matters involving high-value claims.” (2019)

Who's Who Legal
Fraud: Civil

“An extremely clever barrister with very thorough knowledge of fraud work.” (2018)

Who's Who Legal
Fraud: Civil

“Has strong international experience and “handles the most complex matters with ease and confidence.” (2018)

 

Chambers UK
Chancery: Commercial

“Thomas has first-rate analytical skills. He immediately gets to the heart of any legal issue and identifies arguments that others would miss. He is also very tactically astute and immensely hard-working and professional.” (2022)

Chambers UK
Chancery: Commercial

“He is a serious brain and a great person to work with. He is a real stickler for detail, works extremely hard, and he knows his stuff.” (2021)

Chambers UK
Chancery: Commercial

“Has encyclopaedic knowledge and is impressively on top of huge bodies of material. He has gravitas beyond his years, and is very measured and sensible in what he says." "His advocacy is always very thorough and complete, and judges trust him.” (2019)

Chambers UK
Chancery: Commercial

“A very strong all-round performer, whose written work is excellent. He's doughty and determined in court, and he can come up with an angle on something that gives you a new view on the case." "Very personable to deal with and clearly very bright.” (2018)

Chambers UK
Chancery: Commercial

“Known for his "intellectual firepower"” (2017)

Chambers UK
Chancery: Commercial

“Absolutely fantastic, great to deal with and seriously clever.” (2017)

Chambers UK
Chancery: Commercial

“He has phenomenal intellectual capability.” (2017)

Chambers UK
Fraud: Civil

“Thomas has first-rate analytical skills - he immediately gets to the heart of any legal issue and will identify arguments that others would miss. He is also very tactically astute, immensely hard-working and professional." "He has a really measured and likeable advocacy style.” (2022)

Chambers UK
Fraud: Civil

“He is a serious brain, a real stickler for detail and he works extremely hard." "He is technically excellent and tactically astute.” (2021)

Chambers UK
Commercial Dispute Resolution

“Fantastic to deal with, he displays a willingness to talk through issues, and is calm, collected, and really clear in his thinking. Thomas has a prodigious knowledge of the law, and is a fighter but in a measured way.” (2022)

Chambers UK
Commercial Dispute Resolution

“An incredibly hard-working junior who is an asset to any team. His written advocacy is consistently impressive." "He is an experienced and effective junior who is extremely user-friendly.” (2021)

Legal 500 UK
Fraud: Civil

“He is highly in demand having become a prominent figure in his field. Extremely bright, works brilliantly within a team. His advocacy is also first class.” (2022)

Legal 500 UK
Fraud: Civil

“A pleasure to deal with and a key member of the team.” (2021)

Legal 500 UK
Fraud: Civil

“Highly recommended.” (2020)

Legal 500 UK
Fraud: Civil

“First port of call with complex matters requiring a junior who will get into the fine detail.” (2019)

Legal 500 UK
Fraud: Civil

“He speaks a language that clients understand and is excellent at distilling advice down.” (2019)

Legal 500 UK
Commercial Litigation

“Exceptional on his feet. A really powerful advocate with an authority in court well beyond his year of call. His written work is excellent and his judgment is sound. All in all hugely impressive.” (2022)

Legal 500 UK
Commercial Litigation

“Very smart and his written work is excellent, he is excellent on his feet, and often outperforms more senior advocates.” (2021)

Legal 500 UK
Commercial Litigation

“A standout senior junior.” (2020)

Legal 500 UK
Commercial Litigation

“Very bright and hardworking and has a great eye for detail.” (2019)

Legal 500 UK
Company

“Knows the law inside out and is most eloquent in front of the appellate courts.” (2022)

Legal 500 UK
Company & Partnership

“He is excellent on his feet and often out performs more senior advocates.” (2021)

Legal 500 UK
Company & Partnership

“He is exceptionally bright, and brings a depth of technical analysis to any case on which he is instructed.” (2020)

Legal 500 UK
Company & Partnership

“Perfect for complex matters requiring a junior who will get into the fine detail.” (2019)

Legal 500 UK
Company & Partnership

“He has a truly superior intellect.” (2017)

Memberships

  • Chancery Bar Association
  • COMBAR
  • Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb)

Recent Publications

 clerks@maitlandchambers.com                                                                  

  +44 (0)20 7406 1200

Thomas Munby QC

Call: 2006 | Silk: 2022

tmunby@maitlandchambers.com

“Thomas has first-rate analytical skills. He immediately gets to the heart of any legal issue and identifies arguments that others would miss. He is also very tactically astute and immensely hard-working and professional.” (2022)

Chambers UK

Chancery: Commercial

Overview

Thomas’ practice covers a broad range of commercial and chancery disputes, both in litigation and arbitration.

Consistently recommended by the leading directories for Commercial Litigation, Commercial Chancery, Civil Fraud and Company Law, Thomas has been described in Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners as “absolutely fantastic, great to deal with and seriously clever”, “exceptional on his feet”, “outrageously clever and always calm”, “known for his intellectual firepower”, “doughty and determined in court” and “a really powerful advocate”; someone who “has strong international expertise and handles the most complex matters with ease and confidence” and “speaks a language the client can understand” while “his advocacy is always very thorough and complete, and judges trust him”. Prior to taking silk, he combined his general practice with membership of the Attorney General’s “A” Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown, dealing with the most complex cases on behalf of the UK government.

In the litigation context, Thomas practices across the English court system, most often in the Commercial Court, Chancery Division and Court of Appeal (although he has also appeared in the Family Division, Administrative Court and a variety of Tribunals). He also has experience in many of the leading offshore jurisdictions, and is admitted to the Bar of the British Virgin Islands.

In the arbitration context, Thomas has acted in arbitrations under a variety of arbitral rules, often in the LCIA. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and happy to accept suitable appointments as arbitrator.

Much of Thomas’ time is spent on heavy international business disputes, including cases with specialist civil fraud, banking / financial services, company law, professional negligence and jurisdiction / conflict of laws issues. He also enjoys a longstanding practice in more traditional chancery areas including trusts, estates, insolvency, partnerships and real property. Freezing orders and other interim relief have been a significant part of his practice for many years, as have disputes concerning legal professional privilege.

Alongside work for private individuals, he has handled cases arising in a wide variety of industries including: aviation, banking, financial services, IT, accountancy/audit, media & entertainment, mining & minerals, oil & gas, private client / wealth management, shipping and property development.

Terms of Business 

The clerks are happy to discuss the basis on which Thomas will act in any given matter. In the absence of express written agreement otherwise, the terms under which Thomas accepts instructions are The Standard Contractual Terms for the Supply of Legal Services By Barristers to Authorised Persons as published on the website of the Bar Council, modified by the addition of clause 10.1.14 as follows “[10.1 Subject to Clause 10.2 below, the Barrister is not liable: …] 10.1.4 for loss in excess of the Barrister’s professional indemnity insurance applicable to any claim in respect of such loss at the time the claim is made”.

Education

Before being called to the Bar, Thomas read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford and graduated at the top of his year, with a Congratulatory First and prizes for the best performances across the university in both philosophy and comparative philology. He took the CPE at City University, where he won the Tort Law Prize, and then the Bar Vocational Course at the Inns of Court School of Law, where he was classed as Outstanding and won a Van Der Heyden Prize and the OUP Advocacy and Procedure Prize. He was awarded the Princess Royal Scholarship and then the Stephen Chapman Scholarship by the Inner Temple.

Publications and Articles

“Civil Fraud: Law Practice & Procedure” (2018, Sweet & Maxwell), Contributor

Memberships

  • Chancery Bar Association
  • COMBAR
  • Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb)

Commercial Disputes

Thomas acts regularly in heavy Commercial Court litigation, arbitrations and other commercial disputes, covering a wide variety of business arrangements and industries including: aviation, banking, financial services, IT, accountancy / audit, media & entertainment, mining & minerals, oil & gas, private client / wealth management, shipping and property development.

  • Palmali Shipping SA v Litasco SA [2021] EWHC 1161 (Comm); [2018] EWHC 2634 (Comm) A high value claim by a shipping company for alleged breach of a contract of affreightment
  • Acting in numerous claims by lessors of Boeing and Airbus passenger aircraft against lessee airlines (including applications to obtain interim mandatory orders for preservation and delivery up of aircraft)
  • State of Qatar v Banque Havilland SA & anr [2021] EWHC 2127 (Comm): A high value claim concerning alleged conspiracy to manipulate financial markets, with heavy interlocutory issues as to legal professional privilege and disclosure
  • Bugsby Property LLC v LGIM Commercial Lending Limited & anr [2021] EWHC 1054 (Comm) High value claim arising from alleged breaches of exclusivity and breaches of confidence in relation to a major London property acquisition, with heavy interlocutory issues as to third party disclosure and confidentiality clubs
  • Acting in a confidential and high value dispute over interpretation of pricing mechanisms in a multi-year procurement contract
  • UC Rusal PLC v Crispian Investments Limited and Whiteleave Holdings Limited [2019] BCC 237: a shareholder dispute under an English law shareholder agreement concerning the proposed c.US$1.5bn sale of a minority stake in one of the world’s leading nickel companies
  • Acting in an LCIA arbitration on behalf of an international group of lenders seeking to recover over US$750 million from a group of borrowers and guarantors largely located in CIS jurisdictions
  • Maximov v Novolipetsk Steel [2017] 2 Lloyds Rep 519: Acting in Commercial Court proceedings successfully resisting claims for the enforcement in England of a c.US$150million arbitration award set aside by the Russian courts
  • FBN Bank (UK) Ltd v Leaf Tobacco A Michailides SA [2017] EWHC 3017 (Comm): Acting for a bank obtaining judgment seeking judgment in relation to c.€160m outstanding borrowing from a group of borrowers and guarantors in Greece, Bulgaria and Albania
  • Acting for one of the “big four” accountancy firms against another in disputes arising out of a merger between affiliates
  • Islamic Investment Company of the Gulf (Bahamas) Limited v Symphony Gems & ors Acting for judgment creditors seeking to commit a judgment debtor to prison for contempt in relation to asset disclosure under CPR Part 71 in this high value and long running litigation
  • Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Company & anr v Majid Al Refai & ors: acting for a Bahraini bank and Saudi property development company in a major Commercial Court dispute in conspiracy, breach of confidence and blackmail.
  • Acting for a claimant seeking to enforce significant entitlements under OTC coffee derivatives against a South American counterparty
  • Acting for Lady Bracewell-Smith in her high profile dispute with Alistair Barclay
  • Acting for claimant trustees in professional negligence claims against a range of property and planning professionals in relation to a substantial proposed development in the Isle of Wight.
  • Acting in claims between the beneficial owners of a freehold office-block in the City of London in relation to the contractual and other arrangements for distribution of the proceeds of sale of the property
  • Photolibrary Group Ltd & ors v Burda Senator Verlag GMBH [2008] 2 All E.R. (Comm) 881:  acting for a German magazine publisher defending contract and bailment claims brought by a group of professional photographers following the loss in transit of a large number of photographic negatives
  • Apvodedo NV v Terry Collins [2008] EWHC 775 (Ch):  claims relating to the attribution of losses among the victims of the “Ritz Hotel fraud”, involving issues of common law mistake in the context of finance documentation.

Civil Fraud & Asset Recovery

Thomas has wide experience of civil fraud litigation involving (among other causes of action) deceit, conspiracy, the economic torts, bribery, breach of fiduciary duty, dishonest assistance, knowing receipt, trust / tracing claims, s90A FSMA 2000 and frauds under a variety of foreign laws.

He has appeared in numerous cases seeking or resisting fraud-related injunctive relief, including freezing orders, search orders, disclosure orders, Norwich Pharmacal / Bankers Trust orders and orders in support of foreign litigation / arbitration under s.25 CJJA 1982 and s.44 AA 1996; as well as the range of further orders which can flow from such injunctions. Thomas is equally familiar with the complexities of post-judgment asset recovery in the fraud context, including enforcement of foreign judgments. His experience also extends to cases involving professionals and other third parties caught up, in one way or another, in alleged fraud; and he is familiar with many of the issues which arise in that context.

He is also one of the authors of Grant & Mumford, Civil Fraud: Law, Practice & Procedure (Sweet & Maxwell), a leading civil fraud textbook.

  • State of Qatar v Banque Havilland SA & anr [2021] EWHC 2127 (Comm): A high value claim concerning alleged conspiracy to manipulate financial markets
  • WWRT Limited v Tyshchenko [2021] Bus. L.R. 972: Claims arising from an alleged £65m fraud on a Ukrainian bank, with heavy interlocutory jurisdictional and freezing order disputes
  • FRB v DCA [2020] Fam 211: The leading case on tort claims for so-called “paternity fraud” in the context of high value divorce proceedings
  • [2020] Ch 243; [2020] EWHC 238 (Ch) acting against a firm of solicitors in a claim brought by investors in an allegedly fraudulent investment scheme, with heavy interlocutory disputes in relation to legal professional privilege
  • Islamic Investment Company of the Gulf (Bahamas) Limited v Symphony Gems & ors:  acting for judgment creditors seeking to commit a judgment debtor to prison for contempt in relation to asset disclosure under CPR Part 71 in this high value and long running litigation
  • Acting for defendants to a claim brought by a liquidator of a company alleged to have been involved in a high value MTIC fraud in the electricity market
  • Advising and settling proceedings for a claimant in a very high value fraud claim brought in an “offshore” jurisdiction against the managers of a corporate / partnership trust structure
  • Alliance Bank JSC v Aquanta Corp & ors [2013] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 819:  acting for the principal defendant on applications to challenge the jurisdiction of the Court and set aside billion-dollar freezing orders in litigation brought by a Kazakh bank against various of its former shareholders and management.
  • Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Company & anr v Majid Al Refai & ors:  amajor Commercial Court dispute involving allegations of conspiracy, breach of confidence and blackmail.
  • Re D:  applications (in private) in the Administrative Court for discharge of worldwide freezing relief and interim receivership orders worth billions of dollars (pursuant to the restraint order jurisdiction under the Criminal Justice Act 1988).
  • Cadogan Petroleum Plc & ors v Tolley & ors:  fraud, conspiracy and constructive trust claims by a LSE listed petroleum company against its former CEO and others for alleged bribery
  • Irish Response Ltd v Direct Beauty Products & Simon Gook [2011] EWHC 37 (QB):  acting, initially in a successful 7-day application to discharge freezing / search orders and subsequently at trial, in a claim for alleged inducement of breach of contract in relation to hair-loss products
  • Wirecard Bank v Scott & ors:  acting for the successful claimants in relation to a wide range of enforcement and post-judgment injunction applications in this high profile fraud case arising out of ticket sales for the 2008 Beijing Olympics
  • Belletti v Morici [2010] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 412:  challenges to the jurisdiction of the Court in relation to freezing orders granted in support of foreign fraud proceedings under s.25 Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982.

International Arbitration

Thomas has significant experience as counsel in domestic and international arbitrations; as well as arbitration-related proceedings before the English courts, including in relation to ancillary injunctions, enforcement of awards, appeals and stay applications.

Thomas is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb); and is happy to accept suitable appointments as arbitrator.

  • Acting in five linked LCIA arbitrations (and assisting in related offshore proceedings) in a shareholder dispute concerning a very substantial trading business in a CIS state
  • Acting in four linked LCIA arbitrations on behalf of an international group of lenders seeking to recover over US$750 million from a group of borrowers and guarantors largely located in CIS jurisdictions
  • Maximov v Novolipetsk Steel [2017] 2 Lloyds Rep 519: Acting in Commercial Court proceedings successfully resisting claims for the enforcement in England of a c.US$150million arbitration award set aside by the Russian courts
  • Acting in an LCIA arbitration in relation to the finance arrangements for a property development project in a CIS state
  • Acting on applications, in private, for injunctive relief pursuant to s.44 Arbitration Act 1996 to preserve shares held subject to a complex off-shore escrow regime pending a London-seated arbitration
  • Acting in an LCIA arbitration arising out of complex settlement agreements in relation to challenges to the jurisdiction of the tribunal
  • Acting to obtain permanent stays of proceedings brought in the Chancery Division in breach of arbitration clauses contained in some (but not all) of the documents in a suite of finance documentation.

Banking & Financial Services

Thomas acts for and against major financial institutions in a broad range of situations, alongside cases involving smaller regulated and unregulated financial services entities.

He has acted in domestic and international disputes arising out of a wide variety of finance and security structures; bank instruments; OTC derivatives and other complex financial arrangements.

He has also advised upon and litigated numerous issues arising under different parts of the UK regulatory regime, in particular under FSMA and related parts of the Consumer Credit Acts; as well as the common law and equitable duties of banks, mortgagees, intermediaries and financial advisers.

  • State of Qatar v Banque Havilland SA & anr [2021] EWHC 2127 (Comm): A high value claim concerning alleged conspiracy by banks to manipulate financial markets
  • Acting for a mortgage lender in High Court proceedings concerning the scope of the “second charge business loan” exemption
  • Acting in an LCIA arbitration on behalf of an international group of lenders seeking to recover over US$750 million from a group of borrowers and guarantors largely located in CIS jurisdictions
  • FBN Bank (UK) Ltd v Leaf Tobacco A Michailides SA [2017] EWHC 3017 (Comm): Acting for a bank obtaining judgment seeking judgment in relation to c.€160m outstanding borrowing from a group of borrowers and guarantors in Greece, Bulgaria and Albania
  • Panagopoulos v Lloyds Bank plc: a complex and high value claim alleging swaps mis-selling
  • Acting for claimants seeking to enforce significant entitlements under OTC coffee derivatives against a South American counterparty
  • Re Allanfield Property Insurance Services Limited [2016] Lloyd's Rep. I.R. 217: acting for administrators in a case concerning the interpretation of the regime under CASS5 within the FCA Handbook for the maintenance of client money by insurance intermediaries.
  • Advising a lender in relation to claims alleging the payment of undisclosed commissions to brokers
  • Advising and acting for numerous banks in relation to claims to enforce and recover a wide variety of secured and unsecured business lending.

Company, Partnerships & Insolvency

Thomas has longstanding expertise in the range of laws which govern the life and death of commercial organisations: company law, LLP law, partnership and LP law, corporate insolvency and bankruptcy law.

In the company and LLP context, Thomas’ experience covers disputes over such matters as: interpretation of articles, shareholder / members agreements; exit and buy-out / sell-out / ROFR rights; invalidity and ultra vires of meetings or corporate acts; pre-incorporation contracts; validity of company charges; voting and financial rights of different classes of shareholders / members; status of shareholders /directors / members; dividends and wrongful distribution of capital; rectification of registers; directors’ duties and misconduct; unfair prejudice; just and equitable winding up; and corporate dissolution and bona vacantia.

Likewise, in relation to partnerships and LPs, he has experience of disputes involving partnership deeds, partners’ duties, partnership property, dissolution and accounts. 

In relation to insolvency, he has experience of cases involving winding up, CVLs, MVLs, administration, investment bank special administration, CVAs, bankruptcy and IVAs; as well as cross-border situations under the EU Insolvency Regulation, the Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations and the court’s other powers. That experience includes disputes over entry into insolvency, claims by office-holders against directors / third parties, disputes between proofs and priorities, and applications for directions. Thomas also has experience of difficult issues which can arise where an insolvent company held client money under the CASS rules or otherwise acted as a trustee.

  • Wingfield-Digby v Melford Capital Holdings LLP [2021] 1 WLR 1553: complex membership dispute in relation to LLP and LP investment funds, giving rise to a leading appeal on costs of interim injunctions
  • Advising liquidators of insolvent financial services entities as to distribution of client money under CASS7 and otherwise
  • [2020] Ch 243: probably the leading case on legal professional privilege and bona vacantia when an overseas company is dissolved
  • UC Rusal PLC v Crispian Investments Limited and Whiteleave Holdings Limited [2019] BCC 237 a shareholder dispute as to the operation of “right of first refusal” provisions in an English law shareholder agreement in respect of a prominent Russian company
  • Koza Ltd v Akcil & ors [2018] 1 B.C.L.C. 591 acting in an appeal in relation to the proper operation of the exclusive jurisdictional provisions for corporate disputes under the EC Regulation on Jurisdiction and Judgments
  • Acting in five linked LCIA arbitrations (and assisting in linked offshore proceedings) in a substantial shareholder dispute concerning control of a bank
  • Re Allanfield Property Insurance Services Limited [2016] Lloyd's Rep. I.R. 217:  acting for administrators seeking directions in relation to the proper distribution of client money held by insolvent insurance intermediaries pursuant to CASS5
  • Advising offshore redeemable preference shareholders in relation to a host of issues arising out of the failure of a fund vehicle
  • Acting for administrators pursuing recovery of a portfolio of valuable Central London properties subject to allegedly sham leases
  • Advising and settling proceedings for a claimant in a very high value fraud claim brought in an “offshore” jurisdiction against the managers of a corporate / partnership / trust structure
  • Acting for defendants to a claim brought by a liquidator of a company alleged to have been involved in a high value MTIC fraud in the electricity market
  • Acting for administrators in relation to issues arising from the collapse of an FSA-regulated group dealing in structured financial products
  • Acting for a liquidator investigating a significant international fraud in relation to various applications for recognition and assistance
  • Dominion Petroleum Limited v Carlo Seidel:  complex shareholder dispute within an AIM-listed petroleum company, involving parallel proceedings in England and Bermuda.

Trusts, Real Property and Other Chancery Litigation

Thomas has longstanding and significant experience across the core Chancery areas of:

  • Trusts, including disputes over the creation of express, resulting, Quistclose and constructive trusts; trustees’ duties and misconduct; breaches of trust; interpretation of trusts; distribution issues and access to trust documents
     
  • Estates, including disputes as to wills, contentious probate and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
     
  • Real property, including disputes as to title, registration, trusts of land, easements / covenants, adverse possession, leaseholds, mortgages, bona vacantia and other matters
  • Wilkinson & ors v JS Property Holdings & ors [2018] 4 WLR 41:  Appearing for the successful appellants in the Court of Appeal in an appeal concerning the creation of express trusts of investments in a technology development business
  • Acting in litigation over the bona vacantia status of high value leasehold property following the dissolution and restoration of a foreign company lessee
  • Advising and acting both for active parties and for executors in relation to high value claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
  • Acting for a claimant in a major fraud claim brought in an “offshore” jurisdiction against the managers of a trust structure
  • Advising in relation to ownership of prime London freehold property in the context of potentially falsified trust documentation
  • Acting for minor and unborn beneficiaries upon a claim to rectify a trust of a long-established family farming and property business in the west of England
  • Advising beneficiaries in relation to rights to information and documents from trustees acting as directors of substantial “family” companies
  • Re Allanfield Property Insurance Services Limited [2016] Lloyd's Rep. I.R. 217:  applications for directions as to distribution of client money held on trust by insolvent insurance intermediaries
  • Obtaining Re Benjamin orders to permit distribution of trust funds where the family tree of potential beneficiaries was uncertain
  • Acting in multi-million pound proceedings between former romantic partners involving allegations of express and constructive trusts, undue influence and related proprietary tracing claims
  • Acting for claimant trustees in professional negligence claims against a range of property and planning professionals in relation to a substantial proposed development in the Isle of Wight
  • Acting in claims between the beneficial owners of a freehold office-block in the City of London in relation to the contractual and other arrangements for distribution of the proceeds of sale of the property
  • Advising and acting in a wide variety of landlord and tenant, 1954 Act, easement, boundary dispute, title to land and other real property disputes.