Tom has a broad commercial and chancery practice across the range of chambers’ work. Prior to joining XXIV, Tom was an associate at a boutique law firm, Omnia Strategy LLP, where he specialised in arbitration (both investment treaty and commercial) and public international law.

Tom’s experience includes general commercial disputes (both litigation and arbitration), trusts and estates litigation, company and insolvency law, banking and financial services disputes, aviation, EU law and public international law. Tom has a particular interest in complex multi-jurisdictional disputes, whether for companies, private clients or states, which involve multiple forums and different systems of law.

Tom appears in both court proceedings (in the UK and offshore) and in arbitration. He is happy to be instructed on his own or as part of a larger team. Tom has recently appeared unled against QCs in four significant hearings in the English High Court and in the DIFC Courts.

As well as acting as counsel, Tom accepts appointments as a tribunal secretary in commercial and investment treaty arbitrations under a variety of institutional rules or ad hoc.

Tom is registered to appear as an advocate before the DIFC Courts and has a busy practice before those courts. He has also recently acted or advised in relation to matters in Jersey, Guernsey, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, Hong Kong, the onshore UAE courts, and in ICC, LCIA, DIFC-LCIA and ICSID arbitrations.

Full details of Tom’s experience are set out in the practice area categories below. A selection of current and recent cases includes:

  • Acting for the State of Libya in Cengiz İnşaat Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S v. Libya (ICC Case No. 21537/ZF/AYZ), a USD 300 million investment treaty arbitration arising out of two large infrastructure projects which ceased after the Libya revolution and civil war (with Oliver Assersohn and instructed by MS-Legal)
  • Acting for a Dutch property investor in Larmag Holding B.V. v First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC & Others [2019] DIFC CFI 054, a claim before the DIFC Courts arising out of the fraudulent acquisition of USD 70 million corporate bonds (with Michael Black QC and instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
  • Acting in a large and complex trusts dispute before the DIFC Courts, which concerned, inter alia, the arbitrability of trust disputes and capacity to litigate (with David Brownbill QC and Tom Montagu-Smith QC and instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
  • Acting as sole counsel in four pending DIFC-LCIA arbitrations in the energy sector (instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP)
  • Acting for the owner of a corporate jet in a pending EUR 3.1 million claim for damage to an aircraft whilst under the custody of another party
  • Advising on a proposed USD 600 million claim against an African state (with Tom Montagu-Smith QC and instructed by Omnia Strategy LLP)
  • Acting for Air Canada in Varano v Air Canada (QB-2020-001410), a test case in the High Court concerning the proper jurisdictional scope of an EU regulation (Regulation (EC) No 261/2004) in accordance with customary international law limits on the EU’s legislative competence (instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright LLP)
  • Advising a Middle Eastern bank on recovery of significance unpaid credit facilities owed by a large, and potentially insolvent, debtor company (instructed by Trowers & Hamlins LLP)
  • Acting for a Kuwaiti company in Arabian Construction Company WLL v Credit Suisse Bank [2019] DIFC CA 008 (29 March 2020), the first DIFC Court of Appeal case considering the circumstances in which foreign judgments can be enforced under the Riyadh Convention or the GCC Convention (with Michael Black QC and Matthew Watson and instructed by Global Advocacy and Legal Counsel)
  • Acting in Tabari v Tabarak Investment LLC [2018] DIFC CFI 016, a case concerning the costs consequences of a late application to the Joint Judicial Committee (with Tom Montagu-Smith QC and instructed by Addleshaw Goddard (Middle East) LLP)
  • Acting for a major trusts and corporate services provider in Liga Lemberga v Serillo (PTC) Limited & Others (2019/ORD/40), a claim by a beneficiary in the Gibraltar Court of Appeal which concerns the proper scope of the court’s supervisory jurisdiction over trust administration (with David Brownbill QC and instructed by Signature Litigation LLP)
  • Acting for a trusts and corporate services provider in resisting urgent interim relief in the English courts by a beneficiary (with Edward Cumming QC and instructed by Withers LLP)
  • Acting in a DIFC-LCIA arbitration in the telecommunications sector (with Tom Montagu-Smith QC and Matthew Watson and instructed by Dentons)
  • Acting in a Commercial Court claim arising out of the sale of an aircraft (instructed by King & Spalding LLP)
  • Acting as sole counsel in an LCIA arbitration in the technology sector
  • Acting in an LCIA arbitration between CIS parties (with Marcus Staff and instructed by Carter Perry Bailey LLP)
  • Acting for a US financial institution in a USD 1 billion claim against a UK bank (with Stephen Cogley QC, Turlough Stone and Matthew Watson and instructed by Gateley Plc)
  • Acting for a prominent international businessman in a potential claim between parties to a joint venture (with Edward Cumming QC and instructed by RPC)
  • Acting for a South American state in ICSID award enforcement proceedings in England and Wales (with Stephen Cogley QC and instructed by Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP)

Areas of experience

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  • Arbitration

    Arbitration and arbitration-related court applications are a central focus of Tom’s practice.

    Recent instructions include:

    • Representing the State of Libya in Cengiz İnşaat Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S v. Libya (ICC Case No. 21537/ZF/AYZ), a USD 300 million investment treaty arbitration arising out of two large infrastructure projects which ceased after the Libya revolution and civil war (with Oliver Assersohn and instructed by MS-Legal)
    • Acting as sole counsel in four pending DIFC-LCIA arbitrations in the energy sector (instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP)
    • Acting in a DIFC-LCIA arbitration in the telecommunications sector (with Tom Montagu-Smith QC and Matthew Watson and instructed by Dentons)
    • Acting as sole counsel in an LCIA arbitration in the technology sector
    • Acting in a large and complex trusts dispute before the DIFC Courts, which concerned, inter alia, the arbitrability of trust disputes (with David Brownbill QC and Tom Montagu-Smith QC and instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
    • Acting in a LCIA arbitration between CIS parties (with Marcus Staff and instructed by Carter Perry Bailey LLP)
    • Acting for a South American state in ICSID award enforcement proceedings in England and Wales (with Stephen Cogley QC and instructed by Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP)
    • Advising on security/conditional orders in the enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards

     

    Previously, Tom has been a member of teams:

    • Representing the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Province of Balochistan in parallel ICSID and ICC arbitrations in relation to a copper and gold mining licence over significant deposits
    • Representing the Government of an Eastern European State in an ICC arbitration brought in respect of a major infrastructure project
    • Advising, at a preliminary stage of proceedings, multiple States on their responses to recently-registered investment arbitration claims
    • Advising, at pre-action stage, potential claimant investors under bilateral Investment Treaties
    • Advising an Asian Government on minimising its risks from investment treaty arbitrations, including reviewing existing bilateral investment treaties
    • Advising a financial sector institution on potential financial products designed to support investment arbitration claimants

     

    Tom has also:

    • Assisted with making and defending various applications to recognise and enforce arbitral awards under the New York Convention
    • Drafted witness evidence in support of an application to adjourn or set aside the recognition and enforcement of an arbitral award on costs
    • Assisted with the preparation of potential grounds to annul an arbitral award
    • Drafted written submissions in support of an application for strike out/summary judgment of court proceedings on the same subject matter as a pending arbitration claim
  • Aviation

    Aviation forms a significant part of Tom’s practice and he has recently acted for:

    • Several major international airlines (British Airways, Air Canada, Emirates, easyJet, Jet2, Wizz Air, LOT Polish Airlines)
    • The owner of a corporate jet
    • A major ground handling company
    • A major private aviation services provider

     

    Recent instructions include:

    • Acting for the owner of a corporate jet in a pending EUR 3.1 million claim for damage to the aircraft when under the custody of another party
    • Acting for Air Canada in Varano v Air Canada (QB-2020-001410), a High Court test case concerning the proper jurisdictional scope of an EU regulation (Regulation (EC) No 261/2004) in accordance with customary international law limits on the EU’s legislative competence (instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright LLP)
    • Acting in a Commercial Court claim arising out of the sale of an aircraft (instructed by King & Spalding LLP)
    • Appearing (at both first instance and on appeal) for major airlines in hearings of claims for compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004 (instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, Clyde & Co LLP and DLA Piper). Tom is one of the most experienced junior counsel at the English Bar in claims under EU Regulation 261/2004, having appeared in nearly 100 hearings for most of the major UK carriers and for several foreign carriers
    • Acting for a major ground handling company in a claim by the employee of another aviation services company (instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
    • Acting for a major international airline in a claim by the employee of another aviation services provider (instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
    • Drafting defences to claims made by passengers for compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004
    • Drafting written submission on costs (and in lieu of an oral hearing) in EU Regulation 261/2004 claims

     

    Tom has also drafted particulars of claim in relation to aircraft leasing issues.

  • Banking and Financial Services

    Current and recent instructions include:

    • Advising the FCA on a major potential change to its regulatory framework
    • Acting for a Dutch property investor in First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC v Larmag Holding B.V [2019] DIFC CA 010, an important case defining the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts over international financial institutions which offer limited financial services in the DIFC (with Michael Black QC and instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
    • Acting for a US financial institution in a USD 1 billion claim against a UK bank (with Stephen Cogley QC, Turlough Stone and Matthew Watson and instructed by Gateley Plc)
    • Acting for a financial institutions in a claim involving issues of contractual indemnities, remediation, mis-selling, breach of warranty and misrepresentation
    • Advising on a potential claim under the new Financial Markets Test Case Scheme

     

    Tom has also:

    • Represented a client in relation to a potential class action claim against a hedge fund which involved related criminal and regulatory investigations in the US and the UK
    • Assisted with the preparation of written submissions and expert evidence in a claim for consequential loss under the FCA’s Interest Rate Hedging Products review scheme
    • Drafted particulars of claim in a swaps mis-selling claim against a bank
    • Prepared research notes in relation to a potential claim against a bank for breach of mandate
  • Commercial Litigation

    In addition to general commercial disputes, Tom has a particular interest in commercial cases which include areas of chancery practice, such as trusts or company law.

    Current and recent instructions include:

    • Acting for a Dutch property investor in Larmag Holding B.V. v First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC & Others [2019] DIFC CFI 054, a claim before the DIFC Courts arising out of the fraudulent acquisition of USD 70 million corporate bonds (with Michael Black QC and instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
    • Advising on a proposed US$600 million claim against an African state (with Tom Montagu-Smith QC and instructed by Omnia Strategy LLP)
    • Advising a Middle Eastern bank on recovery of significance unpaid credit facilities owed by a large, and potentially insolvent, debtor company (instructed by Trowers & Hamlins LLP)
    • Acting for a Kuwaiti company in Arabian Construction Company WLL v Credit Suisse Bank [2019] DIFC CA 008 (29 March 2020), the first DIFC Court of Appeal case considering the circumstances in which foreign judgments can be enforced under the Riyadh Convention or the GCC Convention (with Michael Black QC and Matthew Watson and instructed by Global Advocacy and Legal Counsel)
    • Acting in Tabari v Tabarak Investment LLC [2018] DIFC CFI 016, a case concerning the costs consequences of a late application to the Joint Judicial Committee (with Tom Montagu-Smith QC and instructed by Addleshaw Goddard (Middle East) LLP)
    • Acting for a prominent international businessman in a potential claim between parties to a joint venture (with Edward Cumming QC and instructed by RPC)
    • Appearing for a claimant seeking permission to serve out in a claim in support of foreign proceedings
    • Appearing for judgment creditors in multiple CPR Part 71 hearings for the examination of foreign judgment debtors
    • Drafting a defence and counterclaim in a claim for alleged unpaid fees arising out of a contract for the provision of financial technology services
    • Advising on potential pre-action disclosure and Norwich Pharmacal applications in relation to letters of credit issued in support of transactions with a Middle Eastern government
    • Advising on security for costs against foreign resident companies
    • Assisting in the preparation of witness evidence for a claim by an insured against an insurance broker

     

    Tom has also:

    • Drafted grounds of appeal and a skeleton argument for permission to appeal a judgment rejecting a stay on forum non conveniens grounds (involving issues of Saudi law)
    • Assisted in the preparation for a jurisdiction hearing involving challenges to jurisdiction on the basis of defective service abroad and forum non conveniens (involving issues of Saudi law)
    • Drafted research notes, in relation to the enforcement of a foreign judgment in the DIFC, on service out where there is an applicable bilateral service treaty and the requirements for enforcement of a foreign judgment at common law
    • Assisted in the preparation of particulars of claim for a potential misrepresentation claim in relation to intellectual property rights
    • Prepared an opinion on the merits of a substantial claim for Wrotham Park damages, involving issues of foreign applicable law (UAE and DIFC)
    • Prepared a speaking note, draft order and research notes in support of applications to set aside examination and committal orders
    • Drafted an opinion on the enforcement of foreign ancillary relief orders in a common law jurisdiction
    • Drafted a defence to a claim by an insurance company against the lender to an insured
    • Drafted a skeleton argument in support of applications to set aside alternative service outside the jurisdiction and to challenge jurisdiction to enforce a foreign judgment at common law
    • Drafted an opinion on the merits of a potential claim for breach of contract, quantum meruit and disgorgement of unjust enrichment in relation to unpaid commission fees for substantial property developments
    • In relation to a civil fraud claim, drafted requests for further information and research notes on setting aside a freezing injunction
    • Drafted advice on the discharge of a freezing order on the grounds of delay in prosecuting a claim
  • Company

    Many of Tom’s cases involve aspects of company law.

    Recent experience of standalone company law work includes advising on potential claims in relation to directors’ duties and the preparation of accounts.

    Tom has also:

    • Drafted a skeleton argument in support of applications for declarations that a gift of shares should be set aside for mistake and that purported resolutions converting non-voting shares into voting shares were invalid
    • Drafted advice on a proposed merger by way of share exchange
    • Drafted advice on whether an English court would exercise its jurisdiction to wind up a BVI company
    • Drafted advices on the pre-merger requirements for several proposed cross-border mergers under the Companies (Cross-Border Mergers) Regulations 2007
  • Insolvency

    Tom is regularly instructed to advise on and appear in the High Court and County Court and offshore in insolvency matters.

    Current and recent instructions include:

    • Advising a Middle Eastern bank on recovery of significance unpaid credit facilities owed by a large, and potentially insolvent, debtor company (instructed by Trowers & Hamlins LLP)
    • Acting for petitioning creditors and debtors in relation to winding-up petitions
    • Acting for petitioning creditors and debtors in relation to bankruptcy petitions, including applications set aside statutory demands and contested petition hearings
    • Advising on potential applications for validation orders
    • Advising on potential claims for malicious and unreasonable commencement of bankruptcy proceedings

     

    Tom has also:

    • Drafted a skeleton argument in support of applications for a declaration that purported resolutions placing a company into liquidation were invalid and for rectification of the register under s 125 of the Companies Act 2006
    • Drafted advice on a potential contribution claim by a partner against bankrupt ex-partners
    • Drafted advice on whether an English court would exercise its jurisdiction to wind up a BVI company
    • Drafted advice on a petitioning creditor’s prospects of successfully defending an application for an injunction restraining presentation of a petition
  • International & Offshore

    Tom has experience of contentious and advisory work involving public international law issues. Current and recent instruction include:

    • Acting for the State of Libya in Cengiz İnşaat Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S v. Libya (ICC Case No. 21537/ZF/AYZ), a USD 300 million investment treaty arbitration arising out of two large infrastructure projects which ceased after the Libya revolution and civil war (with Oliver Assersohn and instructed by MS-Legal)
    • Advising on state immunity issues in the context of a proposed USD 600 million claim against an African state (with Tom Montagu-Smith QC and instructed by Omnia Strategy LLP)
    • Advising on the public international law aspects of a proposed transaction with a state entity, including applicable sanctions regimes (instructed by Omnia Strategy LLP)

     

    At a previous law firm, Omnia Strategy LLP, Tom was a member of teams:

    • Representing the Government of a South Asian state in English High Court proceedings to set aside a default judgment entered against the state, which involved issues of state immunity
    • Advising a state, at pre-action stage, on a maritime boundary dispute with a neighbouring state
    • Advising parties on the application of economic sanctions regimes
    • Advising a Central Asian Government on minimising its risks from investment treaty arbitrations, including reviewing existing bilateral investment treaties
  • Partnership and Joint Ventures

    Tom’s experience includes:

    • Acting for a prominent international businessman in a potential claim between parties to a joint venture
    • Drafting advice on a potential contribution claim by a partner against now bankrupt ex-partners
    • Drafting advice on a draft limited partnership agreement
  • Trusts, Probate & Estates

    Trusts and estates disputes form a major part of Tom’s practice. In addition to his practice at XXIV, Tom spent time on secondment in the trusts and succession disputes groups at Mishcon de Reya LLP and whilst there advised on numerous large trusts and succession disputes.

    Recent instructions include:

    • Acting in a large and complex trusts dispute before the DIFC Courts, which concerned, inter alia, the arbitrability of trust disputes and capacity to litigate (with David Brownbill QC and Tom Montagu-Smith QC and instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
    • Acting for a major trusts and corporate services provider in a claim by a beneficiary in the Gibraltar Court of Appeal which concerns the proper scope of the court’s supervisory jurisdiction over trust administration (with David Brownbill QC and instructed by Signature Litigation LLP)
    • Acting for a trusts and corporate services provider in resisting urgent interim relief in the English courts by a beneficiary (with Edward Cumming QC and instructed by Withers LLP)
    • Acting in a family dispute before the Isle of Man Courts concerning a complex trust and corporate structure (with Elspeth Talbot Rice QC and instructed by Simcocks)
    • Acting in relation to a Hong Kong law trust in a dispute concerning control over and ownership of a major public company (instructed by Mishcon de Reya LLP)
    • Advising on the preparation of witness evidence for major offshore pension trust litigation (with Andrew Holden and instructed by Walkers (Guernsey) LLP)
    • Appearing for a claimant seeking permission to serve out for a claim in support of offshore pension trust litigation (with Edward Knight and instructed by Blake Morgan LLP)
    • Advising on various aspects of the administration of an estate, including potential claims against the estate and options for the intervention in the administration of the estate
    • Disclosure and document review exercises in relation to offshore trust litigation

     

    Tom has also:

    • Assisted in the preparation for trial (including opening skeleton argument, notes for oral opening and cross-examination notes) of a 1975 Act claim and proprietary estoppel claims against the deceased’s estate
    • Assisted in the preparation for trial (including opening skeleton argument, notes for oral opening and cross-examination notes) of a claim challenging the validity of a will for lack of testamentary capacity and want of knowledge and approval
    • Drafted advice on methods of varying a trust, whether by way of an application under the Variation of Trusts Act 1958 or an IRC v Pilkington style settled advance
    • Drafted advice, in relation to two will trusts, on the domicile of a beneficiary and donee of a power of appointment and the law applicable to the legitimation of the beneficiary/donee’s children (including consideration of renvoi)
    • Drafted advice on the proper interpretation of a will trust involving consideration of whether an interest under the trust was vested in possession or vested in interest
    • Drafted a claim form and witness statement in support of a Beddoe application relating to proposed foreign litigation

Academic History

BA Classics – Jesus College, Cambridge

GDL (Distinction, top 5 overall) – City University, London

BPTC (Outstanding) – City University, London

Professional Memberships

Commercial Bar Association

Chancery Bar Association

LCIA Young International Arbitration Group

Young ICCA

Young ICSID

ICC Young Arbitrators Forum

Part II Registered Practitioner before the DIFC Courts

Publications

“Central banks or sovereign wealth funds as investment treaty arbitration claimants?” [2016] 10 JIBFL 592 (co-authored with Lucas Bastin).

Lectures and Seminars

Tom provides lectures and seminars on topics within his practice areas. He has recently given talks on: (1) full protection and security claims arising out of civil wars; (2) the law of state immunity in England and the DIFC; (3) the development of the common law in English and international commercial courts; (4) allegations of corruption in investment arbitration; (5) the effect of post-breach benefits on the quantum of damages in commercial litigation; (6) freezing orders and anti-suit injunctions before the DIFC Courts; and (7) the interaction between trust litigation and matrimonial finance disputes.

Business Details

VAT Number: 257034316
Registered name: Thomas William Stewart Coats