Steven Thompson KC
Steven Thompson KC

Steven Thompson KC

Call: 1996 | Silk: 2015

"A hugely experienced, very powerful and persuasive advocate."

Chambers & Partners

Steven has a commercial chancery practice with a particular emphasis on civil fraud actions, company/joint venture disputes, insolvency issues and aviation disputes.

Steven regularly appears in the Business and Property Courts in the Rolls Building (primarily in the Chancery lists and the Commercial Court) as well as overseas.

He has particular experience in the first instance and appellate courts of the British Virgin Islands and the Dubai International Financial Centre and has worked continuously in those jurisdictions since 2000 and 2010 respectively.

He also appears in the courts of Bermuda and the Cayman Islands on large shareholder and fraud disputes, and has advised and assisted in cases in Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, the Turks & Caicos Islands, Hong Kong and Northern Ireland.

Steven is also regularly instructed on international arbitrations and associated Court hearings, in the Far East and in Dubai as well as in London.  He has been nominated, appointed and sat as an arbitrator in an LCIA arbitration which ran to full hearing and final award.

For over a decade Steven served on the International Committee of the Bar Council, including as its Chair in 2019, 2020 and 2021.  He was formerly chair of the Bar’s China Interest Group.

Areas of experience

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  • Arbitration

    Steven has been involved in numerous arbitrations including ones governed by the rules of the ICC, LCIA, Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC), the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, as well as trade associations and ad hoc arbitrations mainly as counsel but also as arbitrator. He advises on cases in his areas of expertise (particularly aviation, company and shareholder disputes and civil fraud) which involve an arbitration clause for dispute resolution.

    He is also regularly instructed to appear in the Commercial Court in arbitration claims. He has both prepared and advised on submissions on points of English law arising in complex disputes as well as appearing in arbitrations as counsel.

    Arbitration work is by its nature confidential. He is currently instructed in various disputes in the aviation and oil and gas sectors which are being resolved by arbitral tribunals as well as others involving commercial and commercial fraud issues.

  • Aviation

    Steven has a well-established practice in aviation law and is one of only a handful of senior members at the Bar who can say that a very significant part of their practice is in aviation-specific disputes.  The Legal 500 says ‘He knows the aviation field better than almost anyone else at the Bar’ whilst previous editions succinctly described him just as ‘brilliant’.  Chambers & Partners reports that clients say of him: ‘he very effectively cross-examines and manages to keep the court’s respect whilst eviscerating the evidence of a particular witness’ and ‘he is very detail-orientated, but is also able to present complex details in a clear and comprehensive manner.’

    He has acted in many pieces of high-value litigation as well as in arbitrations both for and against major operators, maintenance organisations, manufacturers, owners, airports and air traffic control system engineers.  He has developed a particular reputation for his understanding of technical manufacturing and maintenance issues in cases which involved consideration of the condition of aircraft or parts and the nature of manufacturing, maintenance and repair work.

    He has experience in dealing with disputes concerning the manufacture, purchase, sale and leasing of aircraft,  including cases concerning return conditions.  He has also appeared in contractual disputes, product liability cases and negligence actions against maintenance organisations, often following catastrophic failures in flight.  Steven’s first degree in science means that he is comfortable dealing with the complex technical expert issues, including questions of loss and damage, which often arise in this field.

    During the pandemic, Steven advised operators, aircraft and engine lessors, airports and other industry players on their rights and obligations under agreements made before the industry was devasted by the travel restrictions.  Since the resurgence of commercial air travel he has been engaged to advise on the fresh problems faced by the industry including delays in supply and interruptions to businesses as well the fall out from the war in Ukraine and the consequent Russian sanctions.

    His aviation cases include:

    Jet2.com v Tarom [2012] EWHC 622 (QB), [2014] EWCA Civ 87: a dispute involving the rights under a long-term maintenance contract for a low-cost airline. Steven acted for the airline at the trial and in the Court of Appeal.

    Corporate Oil & Gas v Hawker Beechcraft / Marshall Aviation [2015] EWHC 3447 (Comm): Steven acted for the MRO in this dispute which started as a dispute as to ownership of aircraft, but led into a dispute about the works undertaken.

    BOC Aviation v Kingfisher Airlines [2018] EWHC 194 (Comm): Steven acted for a lessor seeking recovery of unpaid debts and damages from a defunct Indian airline.

    Cathay Pacific v Lufthansa Technik [2020] EWHC 1789 (Ch): Steven was instructed by Cathay Pacific in a dispute over a 10-year jet engine maintenance agreement.

    A confidential arbitration (2019-2022) concerning the manufacture in the Middle East of composite parts for commercial aircraft.

    A confidential dispute (2019-2021) concerning the manufacture of electronic components for in-flight refuelling systems.

    AAR CORP (2019-ongoing): Steven has been instructed on behalf of AAR CORP, a US component supply company, in various disputes with operators and suppliers concerning the provision of spare parts.

    Saudi Arabian Airlines v Sprite Aviation (2022, ongoing): Steven acts for the lessee in a dispute involving the reimbursement of maintenance reserves at the end of lease.

    Cargologicair v  WWTAI Airopco 1 (2022,  ongoing): Steven acts for the lessor in a dispute concerning the insolvency of a Russian-owned cargo airline and lease termination since the introduction of sanctions.

  • Civil Fraud, Asset Tracing & Recovery

    Steven has particular experience in multi-jurisdictional civil fraud cases. He is recognised in this area by Chambers & Partners who record that ‘Steven has exceptional attention to detail and an analytical eye’, and as ‘a bright, punchy advocate with real expertise in cross-border fraud work’.  The Legal 500 reports a client saying ‘Steven is real heavyweight in this area with a razor sharp eye for detail and a no nonsense approach.  He has a great advocacy style and his written work is excellent.’

    His recent cases include:

    Arcadia Energy Petroleum v Bosworth and others [2017] EWHC 3160 (Comm): Steven acted for one of the defendants to this claim which sought hundreds of millions of dollars in relation to an alleged fraud in the West African oil trading industry.

    Renova v Emmerson (2017-2018): Steven was instructed by a Cypriot party in this long-running Russian-focussed dispute progressing in the BVI.

    Kazakhstan Kagazy v Arip (2019-2020): Steven was instructed by a defendant accused of knowing receipt of misappropriated funds in this large London fraud case.

    Larmag v First Abu Dhabi Bank [2019] DIFC CFI 054 (August 2021): Steven was instructed in this trial in the DIFC concerning the transfer of corporate bonds.

    Ivanishvili v Credit Suisse(2021 – ongoing): Steven is instructed by the Swiss bank in claim brought in Bermuda by the former prime minister of Georgia arising out frauds committed by a rogue employee.

    Federal Republic of Nigeria v Tibit (2020-ongoing): Steven is instructed in an action in the BVI on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to recover funds allegedly stolen by corrupt former officials and used to purchase an executive jet.

    Briefline v Falin (2022, ongoing): Steven was instructed in BVI court proceedings concerning the transfer of shares in underlying Russian businesses.

  • Commercial Litigation

    As well as the civil fraud cases in which Steven has been instructed, he is often instructed on other commercial disputes both in England and abroad.

    The Legal 500 recommends him for commercial litigation work and quotes a client saying ‘Steven is a truly brilliant advocate. He is always meticulously prepared and is an immaculate court room performer. Exceptional in every way.’  Chambers & Partners also recommend him, saying ‘Steven is a reassuringly measured and experienced presence for both the solicitor and the client.’  Clients comment that ‘Steven is a punchy advocate with real expertise in cross-border work.’

    His experience includes:

    San Leon Energy v Taqa Offshore (2019-2021): Steven was instructed in a claim to recover unpaid oil revenue royalties.  The case settled before trial.

    Hanger Holdings v Perlake (2020-2021): Steven was instructed in an English trial (held entirely remotely) concerning the ownership of a gambling domain name and website.

    IGPL General Trading v Hortin Holdings [2021] DIFC CA 013 & 015 (March 2022): Steven was instructed in the DIFC Court of Appeal in a claim concerning the authority of shareholders to bind a company by informal acts.

    Stormharbour Securities v Noor Bank (2020-2022): Steven was instructed in this claim in the DIFC against a bank which settled on the morning of trial.

    Nest Investments v Deloitte & Touche [2021] DIFC CA 012 & 014 (February 2023): Steven was instructed in the DIFC Court of Appeal in this claim against a Lebanese bank’s auditors.

    Perrucci v Orlean Invest Holdings [2022] EWHC 2038 (Comm): Steven was involved in a many-faceted dispute concerning oil and gas port facilities in Nigeria.

  • Company

    Steven’s company law experience is extensive. He is regularly involved in litigation resulting from disputes between joint venturers and shareholders. He also has particular experience advising on offshore company issues.

    Ciban v Citco [2021] 1 AC 122: Steven was instructed to defend claims of breach of fiduciary duty brought against a professional services company by a shell BVI company.  Steven appeared at trial, before the Court of Appeal and in the Privy Council.  The appellate courts addressed the law of ostensible authority and the Duomatic principle.

    IGPL General Trading v Hortin Holdings [2021] DIFC CA 013 & 015 (March 2022): Steven was instructed in the DIFC Court of Appeal in a claim concerning the authority of shareholders to bind a company by informal acts.

    Steven has also advised on and appeared in several shareholder and company disputes proceeding in the BVI and Cayman Courts which have their commercial origins in the PRC and Hong Kong.

  • Insolvency

    Steven has a wealth of expertise in insolvency matters. His international experience and knowledge makes him particularly suitable in cross-border insolvencies. He has also acquired a strong reputation in aviation insolvency cases. Many of his civil fraud and commercial cases include aspect of insolvency law and insolvency risks which Steven is comfortable to handle in the course of acting.

    He is recommended as a leading silk in The Legal 500 who say ‘Steven is highly experienced in this field and with his offshore expertise is a great asset on any case involving aspects of insolvency.’

    His experience includes:

    Finnan Developments v Finnan [2020] EWHC 1607 (Ch): Steven was instructed by a former member of an insolvent LLP in a claim brought by its liquidator for misfeasance. The case involved novel points of LLP insolvency law, in circumstances where members can also be creditors.

  • International & Offshore

    Steven has particular experience in the first instance and appellate courts of the British Virgin Islands and the Dubai International Financial Centre having undertaken work continuously in those jurisdictions since 2000 and 2010 respectively.

    In addition, he has also appeared in the courts of Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Gibraltar and the Turks & Caicos Islands and assisted in other cases behind the scenes, particularly in large shareholder and fraud disputes.

    He has been instructed and heavily involved in disputes being litigated in Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Cyprus, the Bahamas, Hong Kong and Northern Ireland.

    Steven is also regularly instructed on international arbitrations and associated Court hearings, in the Middle East and the Far East.

    The Legal 500 recommends Steven for offshore work and quotes a client saying of Steven: ‘Robust advocacy, not easily fazed, makes difficult concepts simple to understand, stands up well under pressure even at the highest levels of the court system’.  The Legal 500 also reports that ‘Steven is highly experienced in this field and with his offshore expertise is a great asset on any case involving aspects of insolvency.’

    Particularly in respect of Middle Eastern work, The Legal 500 says ‘Steven is an excellent advocate. He is very detailed-oriented, and is happy to roll up his sleeves and get stuck into the case. He is also a pleasure to work with’.

    His recent cases include:

    (BVI) Renova v Emmerson (2017-2018): Steven was instructed by Cypriot parties in this long-running Russian-focussed dispute in the BVI.

    (Bermuda) re Point Investments Ltd (2020-2021): Steven was involved in litigation concerning the assets of the late Robert Brockman who was, before his death, accused of the largest US tax fraud in history.

    (BVI) Ciban v Citco [2021] 1 AC 122: Steven was instructed to defend claims of breach of fiduciary duty brought against a professional services company.  Steven appeared at trial, before the Court of Appeal and in the Privy Council.  The appellate courts addressed the law of ostensible authority and the Duomatic principle.

    (Bermuda) Ivanishvili v Credit Suisse [2021] SC (Bda) 14 Civ; [2023] CA (Bda) 13 Civ: Steven acts for the Swiss bank in claim brought in Bermuda by the former prime minister of Georgia arising out frauds committed by a rogue employee.

    (DIFC) IGPL General Trading v Hortin Holdings [2021] DIFC CA 013 & 015 (March 2022): Steven was instructed in the DIFC Court of Appeal in a claim concerning the authority of shareholders to bind a company by informal acts.

    (DIFC) Stormharbour Securities v Noor Bank (2020-2022): Steven was instructed in this claim in the DIFC against a bank which settled on the morning of trial.

    (DIFC) Nest Investments v Deloitte & Touche [2021] DIFC CA 012 & 014 (February 2023): Steven was instructed in the DIFC Court of Appeal in this claim against a Lebanese bank’s auditors.

    (BVI) Federal Republic of Nigeria v Tibit (2020-ongoing): Steven is instructed in an action in the BVI on behalf of Nigeria to recover funds allegedly stolen by corrupt former officials and used to purchase an executive jet.

    (BVI) Briefline v Falin(BVIHC (COM) 2020/0223, February 2022 and May 2023): Steven was instructed in BVI court proceedings concerning the transfer of shares in underlying Russian businesses.

    He also appeared in and advised on: RGI International v Synergy (Guernsey), Attorney-General v Robinson (Turks & Caicos Islands), Gudavadze v Carlina (BVI), BTA v Ablyazov (BVI), Asia Cement v China Shanshui Cement (Cayman), Re Mongolian Mining Corp (Cayman), Bubbly Brook v Yingde Gases (Cayman).

    In the DIFC his other reported cases include:  Egan v Eava [2013] DIFC ARB 002Fiske v Firmin [2014] DIFC ARB 001Fletcher v Florance Logistics [2015] ARB 002Fidel v Felecia [2015] DIFC CA 002Brookfield v DIFC Investments [2016] DIFC CFI 20; AF Construction v Power Transmission Gulf (reported only in the JJC as Cassation no. 8 of 2019).

Other information

  • Recommendations

    Aviation

    Chambers & Partners

    Steven Thompson KC acts in aviation cases as a significant part of his broader commercial practice, with disputed leases and maintenance contracts forming the core of his workload. He has a wealth of knowledge in relation to insolvency cases in the aviation sector and has notable expertise in handling complex technical matters. Strengths: “He is very able to handle witnesses, he very effectively cross-examines and manages to keep the court’s respect whilst eviscerating the evidence of a particular witness.” “He is very detail-orientated, but is also able to present complex details in a clear and comprehensive manner.” (2023)

    Steven Thompson QC acts in aviation cases as a significant part of his broader commercial practice, with disputed leases and maintenance contracts forming the core of his workload. He has a wealth of knowledge in relation to insolvency cases in the aviation sector and has notable expertise in handling complex technical matters. Strengths: “Steven has a scientific degree, which really helps when you’re dealing with technical points.” (2022)

    Strengths: “He is highly regarded.” (2021)

    Legal 500

    ‘Steven has a strong intellect and gives clear and robust advice. He knows the aviation field better than almost anyone else at the Bar.’ (2023)

    ‘A great barrister for any commercial or fraud case, Steven has a particular specialism in aviation, and it shows. One of the absolute best that you can instruct on an aviation case.’ (2022)

    ‘He has good aviation knowledge and is very capable on large complex cases.’ (2021)

    Restructuring/Insolvency

    Chambers & Partners

    Silk who has a strong reputation for his effective advocacy style. He frequently advises clients based in the Middle East, and his deft handling of cross-border matters wins notable praise. He is called upon for his expertise in technical matters concerning complex financial transactions. Strengths: “A hugely experienced, very powerful and persuasive advocate.” (2021 – Global)

    Legal 500

    ‘Steven is highly experienced in this field and with his offshore expertise is a great asset on any case involving aspects of insolvency.’ (2023)

    ‘Has an excellent knowledge of insolvency law and a mastermind in this area.’ (2022)

    ‘Good grasp of details and persuasive presentation to the court.’ (2021)

    Fraud: Civil

    Chambers & Partners

    Steven Thompson KC has run a successful commercial practice in silk since being appointed in 2015, appearing in cases arising out of fraud in a number of jurisdictions. He has dealt with various allegations including breach of fiduciary duty and dishonest assistance. He is respected for his international experience in such jurisdictions as Russia, China, the BVI and Switzerland. Strengths: “Steven has exceptional attention to detail and an analytical eye.” (2023)

    Steven Thompson QC has run a successful commercial practice in silk since being appointed in 2015, appearing in cases arising out of fraud in a number of jurisdictions. He has dealt with various allegations including breach of fiduciary duty and dishonest assistance. He is respected for his international experience in such jurisdictions as Russia, China, the BVI and Switzerland. Strengths: “A real performer in this space – he’s fantastic on his feet and is an impressive advocate.” “A very bright barrister who is great at strategy and lovely to work with.” (2022)

    Strengths: “An understated and very clever barrister.” (2021)

    Legal 500

    ‘Steven is real heavyweight in this area with a razor sharp eye for detail and a no nonsense approach. He has a great advocacy style and his written work is excellent.’ (2023)

    ‘Hard working, a team player and great fun, Steven is highly intelligent and enthusiastic too.’ (2022)

    ‘Steven is a confident and assertive advocate who presents well in consultation with clients. Good grasp of details and persuasive presentation to the court: especially orally.’ (2021)

    Commercial Dispute Resolution

    Chambers & Partners

    “Steven is a reassuringly measured and experienced presence for both the solicitor and the client.” “Great at handling witnesses, he very effectively cross-examines and manages to keep the court’s respect whilst eviscerating the evidence of a particular witness.” (2023)

    “Hard-working and motivated, he is someone who is just as keen as you are to win. He is very smart and great to work with.” (2022 – UK and Global)

    “Knowledgeable, commercial and astute.” “He is very good with words, in both the written and verbal form, and is a beguiling presence in court.” (2021 – UK and Global)

    Legal 500

    Steven is a truly brilliant advocate. He is always meticulously prepared and is an immaculate court room performer. Exceptional in every way.’ (2023)

    ‘An awesome talent. Provides excellent advice and does not sit on the fence.’ (2022)

    ‘Fabulous advocate – punches the points home, and really strong analytically, commercial, savvy, subtle, and assertive.’ (2021)

    Offshore

    Legal 500

    ‘Robust advocacy, not easily fazed, makes difficult concepts simple to understand, stands up well under pressure even at the highest levels of the court system.’ (2023)

    ‘He balances a direct no-nonsense approach, with full awareness of legal and strategic nuance.’ (2022)

    ‘Very good at reading judges, he always pitches it just right.’ (2021)

    Middle East: The English Bar – Commercial

    Legal 500

    “Steven is supremely knowledgeable and has excellent analytical skills.  He is creative, commercial and always gets the very best result for his clients.” (2022)

    Leading silks (2021)

    Steven is also recommended for company and partnership and aviation/travel by Who’s Who Legal 2020.

  • Academic history
    • BA (Hons) St. John’s College, Cambridge University (Natural Science)
    • Dip. Law City University, London
  • Appointments & Professional Memberships
    • Chancery Bar Association
    • Bar of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (Virgin Islands)
    • Advocate of the Dubai International Financial Centre