Perry Brown
    Perry Brown
    Senior Practice Manager
    +44 (0)20 7419 6206
    Tommie Drury
    Tommie Drury
    Practice Manager
    +44 (0)20 7419 6203
    Contact the Practice Managers

    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 and is always working on a steady stream of aviation and aviation insolvency 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 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, the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal as well as the Privy Council on BVI disputes.

    He regularly appears in the courts of the Cayman Islands on large shareholder and fraud disputes often involving Chinese / Hong Kong businesses, and has advised and assisted in cases in Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, the Turks & Caicos Islands and Hong Kong.

    He is also registered (under Part II) to appear in the Dubai International Financial Centre, with full rights of advocacy.  He was involved in many of the leading cases on jurisdiction in the DIFC, including the conduit jurisdiction cases both at first instance and on appeal.  He is one of a very few English barristers who has conducted a full trial in the Court of First Instance.

    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 many years Steven has served on the International Committee of the Bar Council, of which he is currently Chair.  He is also chair of the Bar’s China Interest Group.  He is regularly instructed in China-related disputes by Chinese and other 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 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, insolvency, company, partnership law 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.  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 in the substantive arbitration proceedings which concerned a joint venture legal and professional services firm in Kazakhstan.

      Steven has been involved in various arbitrations and numerous high-profile reported arbitration cases 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 reported cases on the jurisdiction of the courts to supervise arbitrations and enforce arbitration awards include:  Egan v Eava [2013] DIFC ARB 002; Fiske v Firmin [2014] DIFC ARB 001; Fletcher v Florance Logistics [2015] ARB 002; Fidel v Felecia [2015] DIFC CA 002; Brookfield v DIFC Investments [2016] DIFC CFI 20; AF Construction v Power Transmission Gulf (reported only in the JJC as Cassation no. 8 of 2019).

      Steven was appointed to sit as a member of an LCIA tribunal in a large international telecom arbitration dispute which ran to a final hearing in 2019.

      He is currently instructed in several disputes in the aviation sector which are being resolved by arbitral tribunals.

    • Aviation

      Steven has a well-established practice in aviation law and is recognised as an experienced practitioner in this field.  The 2020 edition of Legal 500 says He has good aviation knowledge and is very capable on large complex cases whilst previous editions succinctly describes him just as ‘brilliant’.  Chambers & Partners current edition reports that client say of him: “Enormously thorough, prepared to tackle mounds of new information, analytically sound and energetic in his advice and advocacy” and that “Hes a bright, technically able and engaging advocate.”

      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 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.  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.

      Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Steven has advised operators, lessors and other industry players on their rights and obligations under agreements made before the industry was devasted by the travel restrictions.

      His recent 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 (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.

      Cathay Pacific v Lufthansa Technik (2018 – 2020): Steven was instructed by Cathay Pacific in a dispute over a 10-year jet engine maintenance agreement.

      Abbotswood v Air Pacific (Fiji Airways) (2019): Steven was instructed by an operator in relation to the withholding of a deposit for a jet engine.

      A confidential arbitration (2019-ongoing) concerning the manufacture of composite parts for commercial aircraft.

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

      AAR v Enter Air (2019-ongoing): Steven is instructed on behalf of AAR, a US component supply company, in a dispute with a former customer about the provision of spare parts.

      A confidential dispute (2020) concerning a tentative agreement to sell and purchase 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 2020 and is said to be a bright, punchy advocate with real expertise in cross-border fraud work.  Legal 500 reports a client saying An excellent silk refreshingly energetic and optimistic in an increasingly cynical and crowded civil fraud market.

      His recent cases include:

      Arcadia v Bosworth (2015-2018): Steven acted 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 (2017-2018): Steven is instructed by Cypriot professional trustees in this 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 fraud case.

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

      Steven is instructed in relation the New Medical Centre fraud in Dubai, amongst other large fraud disputes with proceedings in the DIFC.

    • 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.

      The current edition of Legal 500 recommends him for commercial litigation work and quotes a client saying He has first-rate analytical skills and is a powerful and persuasive advocate to have in your corner.  Chambers & Partners also recommend him, saying “Steven is a very confident advocate who is very good on his feet in front of courts and tribunals. He’s very to-the-point and he gives it to you straight”, adding “Steven is a punchy advocate with real expertise in cross-border work.”

      His recent cases include:

      Arcadia v Bosworth (2015-2018): Steven acted 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 (2017-2018): Steven was instructed by Cypriot professional trustees in this Russian-focussed dispute progressing in the BVI.

      San Leon Energy v Taqa Offshore (2019-ongoing): Steven is instructed in a claim to recover unpaid oil revenue royalties.

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

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

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

      Steven is instructed in relation the New Medical Centre fraud in Dubai.

    • 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 (2012-2020): 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 appeared before the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council which both upheld the decision of Bannister J, and which considered the principles of ostensible authority and the Duomatic principle.

      Steven has also advised on and appeared in several shareholder and company disputes proceeding in the Cayman Courts which have their 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.

      He is recommended in the current edition of Legal 500 who say He is excellent on his feet and highly persuasive in his oral and written arguments.

      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.

      Finnan Developments v Finnan (2019-ongoing): Steven is instructed by a former member of an insolvent LLP in a claim brought by its liquidator for misfeasance.  The case involves novel points of LLP insolvency law.

    • 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.

      The current edition of Legal 500 recommends Steven for offshore work and quotes a client saying A good choice when a difficult call needs to be made decisive and clear in his advice.

      His recent cases include:

      Ciban v Citco (2012-2020): 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 appeared before the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council which both upheld the decision of Bannister J, and which considered the principles of ostensible authority and the Duomatic principle.

      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, 2017), Re Mongolian Mining Corporation (Cayman, 2016), Bubbly Brook v Yingde Gases (Cayman, 2017), Renova Industries v Emmerson International (BVI, 2017-2019).

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

    • 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 (Cayman, 2017), Re Mongolian Mining Corporation (Cayman, 2016), Bubbly Brook v Yingde Gases (Cayman, 2017), Renova Industries v Emmerson International (BVI, 2017-2019).

    Recommendations

    Steven is recommended by both current editions of Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners for commercial dispute resolution, aviation, civil fraud and restructuring/insolvency and in the Legal 500 for offshore work.

    Enormously thorough, prepared to tackle mounds of new information, analytically sound and energetic in his advice and advocacy. Hes a bright, technically able and engaging advocate.

    The Legal 500 2020 also recommends him for aviation, saying He has good aviation knowledge and is very capable on large complex cases whilst previous editions succinctly describe him just as brilliant.

    The directories quote clients as saying of Steven that he is hands-on, creative and absolutely no-nonsense, a punchy advocate with expertise in cross-border work [who is] great to work with. They describe him as a silk who has a stellar 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.

    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
    • Bar of the Dubai International Financial Centre
    • Chair of the International Committee of The Bar Council