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

Steven’s mathematical and scientific training before he came to the Bar give him a particular advantage in dealing with complex financial transactions and technical expert issues.

He regularly appears in the Chancery Division and Commercial Court as well as overseas.  Steven 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 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.

He is actively involved in the International Committee of the Bar Council, of which he is Vice-Chair, particularly in China and the Far East. 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. Some of his recent arbitration work 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.

    Papas Olio v Grains & Fourrages [2009] EWCA Civ 1401, [2010] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 152, an arbitration claim, heard by the High Court and the Court of Appeal, concerning the service of an arbitration award under FOSFA rules.

    Recently he has been instructed on behalf of parties in arbitrations in the LCIA, the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC) and the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC).

    Arbitration work is by its nature confidential. However, if you would like to discuss Steven’s experience in this area, please contact Daniel Wilson for further information.

  • Aviation

    The current editions of Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners both recommend Steven in this area, Legal 500 describing him as “a team player with an aggressive tactical side and an instinctive feel for the other side’s weak spots in commercial cases”. Chambers and Partners quote clients as saying that Steven “gets on really well with the clients”, and “when he is dealing with something for you as he goes out of his way to help you”. He also comes across really well in court – he has such a good manner that the judges respect him and will listen to him. Right up there as a top choice for difficult contractual issues – I really rate him highly.” His relaxed manner and easy style belie his incisive approach. He performs excellently in court.”

    Steven has a well-established practice in aviation law and is recognised as an experienced practitioner in this field. 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. 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.

    Jet Finance v Hawker Beechcraft (2009-2010): Dispute as to ownership of aircraft. Steven was instructed by the MRO with actual possession of the aircraft in dispute.

    Re MK Airlines (2010). Steven appeared for creditors, including an aircraft lessor, of this cargo airline and successfully challenged a Company Voluntary Arrangement which, the Court found, had been approved after material irregularities at a creditor’s meeting. The airline had been insolvent for some time and Steven’s understanding of insolvency law enabled him to assist the clients when considering their options.

    UB Air v Raytheon (2009 – 2011): Dispute concerning the discovery of corrosion in a corporate jet. Steven was instructed by the MRO.

    Close Brothers v Pearce [2011] EWHC 298 (QB): Bank claim on a guarantee following the repossession and sale of aircraft.

    In an inquest (2012): Steven was instructed by the airline to appear at the inquest after the loss of flight KQ507.

    Jet2.com v Tarom [2012] EWHC 622 (QB) [2014] EWCA Civ 87: 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.

  • 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 both Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, who report that he is “roundly praised by solicitors and peers”.

    His recent cases include:

    Michael Wilson & Partners v Emmott (an arbitration – 2008-2009): A multi-million pound dispute concerning a joint venture BVI legal services company operating in Kazakhstan which led to a very complicated and hard fought arbitration, with various applications to the Commercial Court. Mr Emmott was accused of making secret profits.

    Standard Chartered Bank v GVEC (2009): BVI, California, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China: Steven was instructed by the bank in this multi-jurisdiction dispute concerning suspected wrong-doing in private equity funds administered by the late Danny Pang’s group of companies. Steven was involved in the bank’s efforts to secure assets at risk, including the appointment of a provisional liquidator in the BVI.

    BTA Bank v Ablyazov (2009) BVI and England: Steven was instructed in an application to the BVI Court for emergency freezing order relief in a case of alleged misappropriation of assets by the former board of the bank.

    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.

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

    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.

    Barnett v Creggy (2011 and ongoing): Steven acts for the claimants in a claim against a former solicitor for breach of trust and misappropriation of millions of dollars.

    VTB v Parline (2013, ongoing): Steven acts for the defendants to a claim by a Russian bank alleging a conspiracy to harm.

  • 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.

    Some of his recent cases include:

    Michael Wilson & Partners v Emmott: A multi-million pound dispute concerning a joint venture BVI legal services company operating in Kazakhstan which led to a very complicated and hard fought arbitration, with various applications to the court.

    Standard Chartered Bank v GVEC (2009): BVI, California, Hong Kong: appointment of provisional liquidator in case of suspected wrong-doing in private equity fund.

    BTA Bank v Ablyazov (2009) BVI and England: Steven was instructed by a Kazakh bank in an application to the BVI Court for emergency freezing order relief.

    Alliance Bank v Aquanta [2011] EWHC 3281 (Comm), [2012] 1 Lloyds Rep. 181: Steven was instructed in this, another, 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, ongoing): Steven acts for the defendants to a claim by the Russian lender for money lost when a Russian transport company fell insolvent.

  • 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.

    St George v Haywood (2008/2009) Cayman Islands/Bahamas: Steven was involved in this high profile cross-border dispute over ownership of the city of Freeport in the Bahamas which was held in a particularly complicated trust and company structure. Steven advised in relation to Cayman and Bahamian group company matters in various interrelated claims in both jurisdictions.

    IIH v Westminster Oil (2008/2009) BVI: This was a dispute between joint venture partners in a project to develop a Kazakhstan oil field. Steven acted for an Abu Dhabi investor in a BVI holding company. He was instructed by both London lawyers as well as BVI lawyers on urgent interim applications to the High Court in the BVI.

    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.

  • Insolvency

    Repeatedly recommended in Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners for 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. Chambers and Partners report that he is “praised for his first-rate advocacy skills” and quote his clients saying that he is “a particularly adept advocate, who is responsive, makes himself available, and is highly commercial [with] great advocacy skills”. Clients told Legal 500 that Steven’s intellect and demeanour in court mark him out’.

    Steven advises 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 equally comfortable dealing with bankruptcy matters and has been instructed in many cases concerning bankruptcy assets, the matrimonial home, officeholders’ remuneration and annulment.

    His recent cases include:

    Re Power Builders (Surrey) Ltd; Power v Petrus Estates [2008] EWHC 2607 (Ch); [2009] 1 BCLC 250; [2010] BCC 11, concerning a challenge to the appointment of a liquidator and disputes over the conduct of creditors’ meetings.

    In the matter of MK Airlines (2010). Steven appeared for creditors and successfully challenged a CVA on the grounds of material irregularity. Steven’s aviation experience meant he was familiar with the technical aspects of the case, including issues relating to the valuation of parts and third-party claims which the airlines appeared to own.

    Cork v Norris (2008-2011): Steven defended a claim brought by a liquidator against a former director and a related group company under sections 238 and 423 of the Insolvency Act.

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

  • International & offshore

    Steven Thomson 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.

    In addition to appearing in the BVI, he has also been heavily involved in cases being litigated in Jersey, the Isle of Man, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands, acting for trust company directors in cases of breach of fiduciary duty and fraud measured in tens of millions of dollars. He is regularly instructed by major offshore law firms in the BVI, Cayman Islands and Channel Islands.

    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.

    Some examples of his recent cases include:

    • Ashley v Ashley (2008) BVI: Steven appeared in the BVI High Court in this dispute involving the validity of a directors meeting called without notice and the validity of the resolution passed at that meeting.
    • UCC v Bender (2007 – 8) Jersey: £100m hedge fund dispute brought by a New York corporation against Jersey trustees and others. The case engendered a great deal of satellite litigation. Steven acted for the fund manager.
    • St George v Haywood (2008/2009) Cayman Islands/Bahamas: Steven was involved in this high profile cross-border dispute over ownership of Freeport in the Bahamas. He advised in relation to Cayman and Bahamian company law matters in various interrelated claims.
    • IIH v Westminster Oil (2008/2009) BVI: This was a dispute between joint venture partners in a Kazakhstan oil field. Steven acted for an Abu Dhabi investor in a BVI corporate structure. He was instructed by both London and BVI lawyers.
    • Danone v Wahaha (2008/2009) Stockholm, China, BVI, Samoa, California: Steven was instructed in relation to the arbitrations proceeding in the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce. The dispute concerned a joint venture between Danone and Wahaha in China.
    • Standard Chartered Bank v GVEC (2009): BVI, California, Hong Kong: Steven was instructed by the Bank to seek appointment of a provisional liquidator over a BVI company.
    • BTA v Ablyazov (2009) BVI and England: Steven was involved in an application to the BVI Court for emergency freezing order relief.
    • Re Dragon Healthcare (2009): Steven was instructed by a BVI company who assets were frozen by Order of the English Family Division Court during a divorce case.
  • 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.

    Emmott v Michael Wilson & Partners (No 2) [2009] 1 Lloyds LR 233: A multi-million pound arbitration dispute concerning a joint venture BVI legal services company operating in Kazakhstan which led to complicated and hard fought arbitration, with several applications to the Commercial Court in London.

    IIH v Westminster Oil (2008/2009) BVI: a dispute between UK and UAE joint venture partners in a Kazakhstan oil field. Steven acted for an Abu Dhabi investor in a BVI corporate structure. He was instructed by both London and BVI lawyers.

    St George v Haywood (2008/2009) Cayman Islands, Bahamas: Steven was involved in this high profile cross-border dispute over ownership of the city of Freeport in the Bahamas. He advised in relation to Cayman and Bahamian company law matters in various interrelated claims.

    Re: Seven Holdings, London [2011] EWHC 1893 (Ch); [2011] All ER (D) 108 (Jun): Steven advised and appeared in a contested application for permission to continue a derivative action under the new provisions in Part XI of the Companies Act 2006.

    Steven has also been instructed to advise and settle shareholder agreements for joint venturers.

  • Real Estate Litigation

    Steven’s property experience extends over issues concerning proprietary estoppel, constructive trust disputes, restrictive covenants, easements, conveyancing and notices to complete.

    Recent cases include:

    Midill (97PL) v Park Lane Estates [2008] EWCA Civ 1227; [2009] 1 WLR 2460; [2009] 2 All ER 1067: This case concerned the return of a deposit after the purchaser failed to comply with a notice to complete. Steven acted for the Defendants at trial and in the Court of Appeal.

    Petrou v Papargyrou (2008): An action for specific performance of a contract for the sale of land defended on the basis of undue influence, non est factum, mistake and unconscionable bargain, and involving a third party professional negligence claim against solicitors.

    Steven appeared in Bank of Scotland v Stadler (2008) resisting a possession claim on the bases of undue influence and misrepresentation by the borrower.

    Steven’s practice also includes landlord and tenant disputes, both in relation to commercial premises (such as actions under the 1954 Landlord and Tenant Act) and private sector residential tenancies including long-leasehold and management problems.

    He regularly advises in professional negligence actions both for and against solicitors involving property transactions including conveyancing mistakes, often at the stage of or before the Letter of Claim is sent out under the Pre-action Protocol.