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

He has been instructed in some of the largest civil fraud cases of recent years, both in London and overseas.

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

He has particular experience in the British Virgin Islands where he lived for a period in 2000 whilst on secondment to a local law firm. He was called to the Bar of Supreme Court of the Eastern Caribbean that year and has since appeared in both the BVI High Court and the Court of Appeal in various disputes. He regularly appears in the courts of the Cayman Islands on large shareholder and fraud disputes often involving Chinese / Hong Kong businesses.

He is also registered (under Part II) to appear in the Dubai International Financial Centre, with full rights of advocacy. He was involved in one of the leading cases on jurisdiction in the Court of Appeal of the DIFC, and has conducted a full trial in the Court of First Instance.

Steven is also regularly instructed on international arbitrations and associated Court hearings, particularly in the Far East and in Dubai as well as in London.

For many  years Steven has served on the International Committee of the Bar Council, of which he is Chair.  Steven is the Bar Council’s representative on the cross-profession Brexit Law Committee set up by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice and he is also currently the chair of the Bar’s China Interest Group.  He is regularly instructed in China-related disputes by Chinese and other firms.

Thompson, Steven The Legal 500 - The Clients Guide to Law Firms

Areas of experience

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  • Arbitration

    Steven has been involved in a number of arbitrations including ones governed by the rules of the 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. 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. His involvement in arbitration work which is in the public domain includes:

    Danone v Wahaha (2008/2009) Stockholm, China, BVI, Samoa, California: Steven was instructed by Wahaha, the Chinese partner in a soft drinks joint venture in China with the French company Danone. The case was one of the largest ever involving a Chinese company. There were elements of the dispute fought in Stockholm, China, BVI, Samoa and California. Steven was instructed in relation to the main arbitrations proceeding in the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.

    Emmott v Michael Wilson & Partners (No 2) [2009] 1 Lloyds LR 233; [2009] Bus LR 723 which resulted from applications to the Commercial Court under sections 42, 44 and 67 of the Arbitration Act 1996. The Court held that the proper role of the Court was to support arbitration proceedings and accordingly it should be slow to review the reasons behind a tribunal’s peremptory order and willing in most cases to assist enforcement of such an order. Steven was counsel (with Philip Shepherd QC and Adam Cloherty) in the substantive arbitration proceedings which concerned a joint venture legal and professional services firm in Kazakhstan.

    Steven has been involved in numerous high-profile reported cases (some reported anonymously) in the courts of the Dubai International Finance Centre on the jurisdiction of those courts, including the so-called “conduit jurisdiction”, concerning the enforceability of international arbitration awards in the UAE and the Middle East.

    His recent cases include:

    Corinth v Barclays Bank [2011] DIFC CA 002, Fiske, Firmin v Firuzeh ARB 001/2014,

    Fidel v Felecia, Faraz [2015] DIFC CA 002,

    Gulf Navigation v Jinhai Heavy Industries (in the DIFC Courts not the Joint Judicial Decision Committee)

    Brookfield Multiplex Constructions v DIFC Investments and DIFC Authority [2016] DIFC CFI 020.

  • Aviation

    Steven has a well-established practice in aviation law and is recognised as an experienced practitioner in this field. The 2018 edition of Legal 500 succinctly describes him just as ‘brilliant‘. He has acted in many pieces of high-value litigation both for and against major operators, maintenance organisations, owners, airports and air traffic control system engineers. He has developed a particular reputation for his understanding of technical maintenance issues in cases which hinge on the condition of aircraft and the nature of maintenance and repair work.

    He has experience in dealing with disputes concerning the sale of aircraft, aircraft leasing, return conditions and repossession. He has also appeared in contractual disputes, product liability cases and negligence actions against maintenance organisations, often following catastrophic failures in flight. He has been instructed for operators in high-profile coroners’ inquests.  Steven’s first degree in science means that he is comfortable dealing with the complex technical expert issues which often arise in this field.

    Steven’s experience in insolvency means he is regularly instructed to advise and act in aviation industry insolvency cases and he has developed a reputation for dealing with the aviation industry’s financial problems on behalf of creditors and debtors.

    His recent cases include:

    Eagle Aircraft Leasing v Air France (2009-2010) Steven was instructed by Air France in a dispute involving the sale by Air France of 6 Boeing 747s, which involved the detailed analysis of the state of the aircraft and documentation within an expedited trial timetable.

    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 (2009-2016): 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 (2014-2018): Steven acted for a lessor seeking recovery of unpaid debts and damages from a defunct Indian airline.

    Re Monarch Airlines (2017): Steven was instructed by airports in relation to unpaid charges owing on the insolvency of Monarch Airlines.

    National Air Services v HiFly Transportes Aeros (2015-2018): Steven was instructed by a Saudi airline in a dispute with a Portuguese lessor of several aircraft.

  • Civil Fraud, Asset Tracing & Recovery

    Steven is known for his ability to handle large, high profile and complicated litigation covering a wide range of subject areas from joint venture disputes to private equity litigation. He has particular experience in multi-jurisdictional civil fraud cases, many of which start with worldwide freezing injunction applications. He is recognised in this area by Chambers & Partners 2017 and is said to be ‘a bright, punchy advocate with real expertise in cross-border fraud work‘.

    His recent cases include:

    Alliance Bank v Aquanta [2011] EWHC 3281 (Comm), [2012] 1 Lloyds Rep. 181: Steven was instructed in this Kazakh bank fraud case on behalf of the First and Second Defendants.

    Attorney-General of the Turks & Caicos Islands v Robinson (2010 – 2013) Turks & Caicos Islands: In this recovery action by the Government, Steven appeared at trial in the Turks and Caicos Island for the estranged wife of a man accused of fraudulently acquiring Crown land in the period of the old administration.

    Gudavadze v Carlina (2012): Steven acted for the claimants in this dispute over an oil terminal, which followed the death of the Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili.

    VTB v Parline (2013-2015): Steven acted for the defendants to a claim by a Russian bank alleging a conspiracy to harm.

    Arcadia v Bosworth (2015, ongoing): Steven acts for a defendant to this claim which seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in relation to an alleged fraud in the oil trading industry.

    Renova v Emmerson (2017, ongoing): Steven is instructed by Cypriot professional trustees in this Russian-focussed dispute progressing in the BVI.

  • Commercial Litigation

    Steven has built up a well-deserved reputation for handling large, high profile and complicated international matters covering a wide range of subject areas from hedge fund litigation to asset recovery and freezing injunctions. He has particular experience in multi-jurisdictional civil fraud cases, many of which start with large scale freezing injunction applications.   His recent cases include:

    Alliance Bank v Aquanta [2011] EWHC 3281 (Comm), [2012] 1 Lloyds Rep. 181: Steven was instructed in this Kazakh bank fraud case on behalf of the First and Second Defendants.

    RGI International Ltd v Synergy Classic Ltd and others (2010-2012): With David Brownbill QC and Andrew Holden, Steven acted for the majority shareholder and for a director in proceedings in the Commercial Court, with parallel arbitration proceedings and proceedings in Guernsey. The dispute started as a claim against a minority shareholder for misuse of confidential information, and developed into a hard-fought case of inducement of breaches of contract and conspiracy.

    Mahmood v Mitsubishi (2011 – 2013): Steven acted for Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, at first instance and on appeal, in a claim for commission in relation to the construction of the Dubai Metro System, in which Steven’s clients were part of the main consortium.

    VTB v Parline (2013-2015): Steven acted for the defendants to a claim by the Russian lender for money lost when a Russian transport company fell insolvent.

    Sheikh Mohamed bin Issa Al Jaber v Sheikh Walid bin Ibrahim al Ibrahim (2015 – ongoing): Steven acts for the First Defendant in this dispute over a large payment made between Saudi sheikhs.

    Barnett v Creggy (2011 – 2016): Steven acted at first instance and on appeal in this dispute between Canadian brothers and their former solicitor over moneys held on trust.

    Hamilton v Hamilton (2013-2017): Steven acted for a brother in dispute with his sister over assets held in a Liechtenstein entity set up by their late father.

    The Engineering Equipment and Materials Users Association v JT Limited (2014-2017): Steven acted for the vendors of a business in a dispute about the consideration payable.

    Arcadia v Bosworth (2015, ongoing): Steven acts for a defendant to this claim which seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in relation to an alleged fraud in the oil trading industry.

    Renova v Emmerson (2017, ongoing): Steven is instructed by Cypriot professional trustees in this Russian-focussed dispute progressing in the BVI.

  • Company

    Steven’s company experience is extensive. He is regularly involved in litigation resulting from disputes between joint venturers and shareholders, such as petitions brought under Section 994 of the Companies Act 2006 for unfair prejudice. He also has particular experience advising on offshore company issues, when the local legislation is similar to the English law.

    Steven has drafted articles of association and other documentation in conjunction with leading tax counsel in tax avoidance schemes. Steven was recently involved in a dispute in the Companies Court concerning the validity of a call and the consequent forfeiture of the shares, which led to a claim for rectification of the register.

    Danone v Wahaha (2008/2009) Stockholm, China, BVI, Samoa, California: Steven was instructed by Wahaha, the Chinese partner in a soft drinks joint venture in China with the French company Danone. The case was one of the largest ever involving a Chinese company. There were elements of the dispute fought in Stockholm, China, BVI, Samoa and California. Steven was instructed in relation to the main arbitrations proceeding in the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.

    Ciban v Citco (2012): Steven defended claims of breach of fiduciary duty brought against a professional services company by a shell BVI company. At trial, the Court laid down some important guidance for the duties owed by professional trustee companies in the BVI.

    Steven has also advised on and appeared in several shareholder and company disputes proceeding in the Cayman Courts which have there commercial origins in China 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 court of acting.

    Steven has advised directors, companies and office-holders on corporate insolvency matters particularly in the Companies Court, ranging from issues about statutory demands, winding-up petitions and administrations through to problems with the dissolution and restoration of companies, vacation of offices, and bona vacantia.

    His recent cases include:

    VTB v Parline (2013-2015): Steven acted for the defendants to a claim by the Russian lender for money lost when a Russian transport company fell insolvent.

    Gate Gourmet v Morby (2014-2016): Steven appeared in a dispute with the vendor of a business specialising in airline catering, which developed into a bankruptcy dispute.

  • International & Offshore

    Steven Thompson has particular experience in the British Virgin Islands where he lived for a period in 2000 whilst on secondment to a local law firm. He was called to the Bar of Supreme Court of the Eastern Caribbean that year and has since appeared in both the BVI High Court and the Court of Appeal in various disputes.  He also regularly appears in the courts of Cayman.

    In addition to appearing in the courts of BVI, Cayman he has also appeared in the courts of Gibraltar and the Turks & Caicos Islands.  He has been instructed and heavily involved in disputes being litigated in Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Cyprus, the Bahamas and Hong Kong, acting for trust company directors in cases of breach of fiduciary duty and fraud measured in tens of millions of dollars.

    Many of Steven’s cases have an international aspect, be that a hearing overseas, a foreign client, an offshore company structure or some connected litigation in another part of the world. Such cases require particular expertise in ensuring that the English litigation is conducted effectively for the client under the principles of private international law.

    His recent cases include Ciban v Citco (BVI), 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, 2017, ongoing), Re Mongolian Mining Corporation (Cayman, 2016), Bubbly Brook v Yingde Gases (Cayman, 2017), Renova Industries v Emmerson International (BVI, 2017, ongoing).

  • Partnership and Joint Ventures

    Steven has advised and acted in numerous joint venture disputes, usually involving the use of a corporate vehicle, and often with a foreign or international flavour. He has particular expertise in unfair prejudice complaints concerning quasi-partnerships and in international inbound investment disputes using offshore structures. He also has experience advising on LLP (Limited Liability Partnership) disputes.

    His recent caseload in this area includes:

    Danone v Wahaha (2008/2009) Stockholm, China, BVI, Samoa, California: Steven was instructed by the Chinese partner, Wahaha, in a joint venture dispute with the French company Danone. The case centred on arbitrations in the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, but also engendered litigation in many other jurisdictions. The soft drinks joint venture in China between Wahaha and the Danone ended in “an acrimonious public dispute”, as the Economist reported it, before settling amicably in 2010.

    Other recent cases include RGI International v Synergy (Guernsey),

    Asia Cement v China Shanshui Cement Group (Cayman, 2017, ongoing),

    Re Mongolian Mining Corporation (Cayman, 2016),

    Bubbly Brook Holdings v Yingde Gases Group (Cayman, 2017),

    Renova Industries v Emmerson International (BVI, 2017, ongoing).