Tom Stewart Coats
Tom Stewart Coats

Tom Stewart Coats

Call: 2014

"As reliable as he is talented, Tom is emerging as a powerful advocate and has a glittering future ahead"

The Legal 500

Tom has a broad commercial and chancery practice. He is described in the legal directories as emerging as a powerful advocatewith a glittering future ahead(The Legal 500 UK Bar 2024), a “highly intelligent and effective advocate” (Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2024), “a truly excellent barrister” who can manage large cases very well(The Legal 500 UK Bar 2023),an exceptionally effective advocate (Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2023), a highly intelligent and effective litigator(The Legal 500 UK Bar 2022),enjoyable to work with and a first-choice junior(Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2022), an “effective advocate with a really impressive level of detail and expertise” (Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2021), and as having an exceptional knowledge of the law(The Legal 500 UK Bar 2021).

Tom’s experience includes general commercial disputes (both litigation and arbitration), banking and financial services disputes, aviation, trusts and estates litigation, company and insolvency 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 appeared unled against KCs in numerous significant hearings in the English High Court and in the DIFC Courts.

Tom regularly appears in applications for urgent injunctive relief, including for pre- and post- judgment freezing orders, proprietary injunctions, Norwich Pharmacal and Bankers Trust orders, and passport orders.

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

Tom is ranked in the legal directories for arbitration, aviation and public international law.

Areas of experience

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  • Arbitration

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

    The Legal 500 (UK Bar 2024) recommends Tom as a leading junior in the International Arbitration: Counsel category. It is said that Tom is as “reliable as he is talented” and that he “is emerging as a powerful advocate and has a glittering future ahead”.

    The Legal 500 (UK Bar 2023) also recommended Tom as a leading junior in the International Arbitration: Counsel category where he was described as “a truly excellent barrister who has been doing a good volume of arbitration work, and has established his name in this field”. It was also said that Tom “can manage very large cases very well”.

    Recent instructions include:

    • Investor v African State (ongoing): Acting for an African state in a USD 100 million investment treaty arbitration arising out of widescale civil unrest. Arbitration seated in Geneva and governed by the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.
    • Arbitration in the energy sector in East Africa (ongoing): Acting for a local party in a shareholders’ dispute arising out of a project to run a power plant in East Africa (instructed by Steptoe & Johnson LLP). Arbitration seated in New York and governed by the AAA Commercial Arbitration Rules.
    • Arbitration in the oil and gas sector (ongoing): Acting for a state development fund in a shareholders’ dispute arising out of a project in the oil and gas sector in East Africa (instructed by Michelmores LLP). Arbitration seated in London and governed by the LCIA Arbitration Rules.
    • Confidential matter in the DIFC Courts (ongoing): Acting for a major bank in resisting the recognition and enforcement of an award rendered in a DIFC-seated arbitration governed by the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Rules (instructed by HFW Middle East LLP).
    • Arbitration in the financial services sector (ongoing): Acting for a venture capital fund in an arbitration in the financial services sector (instructed by Tribonian Law Advisors). Arbitration seated in the ADGM and governed by the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.
    • Cengiz İnşaat Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S v. Libya (ICC Case No. 21537/ZF/AYZ): Acted for the State of Libya in 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, instructed by MS-Legal).
    • Investor v Central Asian State: Advised a litigation funder on the enforcement of a potential investment treaty arbitration award against a Central Asian State (instructed by Omnia Strategy LLP).
    • Cesfin Ventures LLC v Al Ghaith Holding Company PJSC [2020] DIFC ARB 017 (24 March 2022): Acted for a bank, in proceedings to enforce of an arbitral award, in relation to a contempt application against its customer for breach of a DIFC Court freezing order (instructed by HFW Middle East LLP).
    • Sole counsel in substantial dispute in the energy sector subject to DIFC-LCIA arbitration (instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP).
    • Junior counsel in a US$4 million DIFC-LCIA arbitration in the telecommunications sector (with Tom Montagu-Smith KC and Matthew Watson, instructed by Dentons & Co)
    • Confidential matter in the DIFC Courts (2018 to 2019): Junior counsel (with David Brownbill KC and Tom Montagu-Smith KC, instructed by Clyde & Co LLP) in a large and complex trusts dispute before the DIFC Courts, which concerned, inter alia, the arbitrability of trust disputes.
    • Acted for a South American state in ICSID award enforcement proceedings in England and Wales (with Stephen Cogley KC, instructed by Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP.
    • Junior counsel in an LCIA arbitration between CIS parties (with Marcus Staff, instructed by Carter Perry Bailey LLP).
    • Sole counsel in an LCIA arbitration in the technology sector.
    • Advising on security/conditional orders in the enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards.

     

    Previous experience includes:

    • Tethyan Copper Company Pty Limited v Islamic Republic of Pakistan, ICSID Case No. ARB/12/1: 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.
    • Mid-East Sales v United Engineering and Trading [2014] EWHC 1457 (Comm): Represented Pakistan in English High Court proceedings to set aside a default judgment entered against the state.
    • Advising an Asian Government on minimising its risks from investment treaty arbitrations, including reviewing existing bilateral investment treaties.
    • 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 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. He has been ranked in the legal directories for aviation work for several years.

    Chambers and Partners (UK Bar 2024) recommends Tom as a leading junior in Aviation work. He is described as handling “a range of complex disputes in the aviation industry”. An aviation client reported that “Tom’s written work is very good and he is equally strong on his feet”. Another aviation client said that “Tom is a joy to work with”, describing him as a “highly intelligent and effective advocate”.

    The Legal 500 (UK Bar 2024) recommends Tom as a “rising star” in Aviation. He is described as a “high effective advocate” with “an exceptional depth of experience and expertise in the aviation sector”.

    Current and recent instructions include:

    • Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation v Sprite Aviation No. 6 Designated Activity Company (Claim No. CL-2022-000384) [2023] EWHC 1758 (Comm) (ongoing): Acting for Saudia, the Saudia Arabian flag carrier, in a USD 10 million claim in the Commercial Court to recover maintenance reserves under an aircraft lease agreement (with Steven Thompson KC, instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright LLP)
    • Jet2.com Limited v Smartlynx Airlines SIA (Claim No: CL-2023-000254) (ongoing): Acting for Jet2.com in a claim in the Commercial Court against two lessors for substantial indemnities and/or damages arising out of the lease of four aircraft to support Jet2.com’s operations (with Edward Cumming KC, instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright LLP)
    • AELF MSN 242, LLC v Surinam Airways [2021] EWHC 3482 (Comm); [2022] EWHC 544 (Comm): Sole counsel for Surinam Airways in a USD 7 million claim in the Commercial Court arising out of an aircraft lease agreement, which generated two important judgments on submission to the jurisdiction and service of proceedings on a state-owned carrier under the State Immunity Act 1978 (instructed by Bird & Bird LLP)
    • AMRA Leasing Ltd v DAC Aviation (EA) Ltd [2022] EWHC 1718 (Comm): Sole counsel for a Kenyan company specialising in humanitarian air services in an application in the Commercial Court to set aside a US$12 million default judgment arising out of various aircraft leases (instructed by Bird & Bird LLP)
    • Varano v Air Canada [2021] EWHC 1336 (QB); [2020] EWHC 1859 (QB): Sole counsel (instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright LLP) for Air Canada in a test case concerning the proper jurisdictional scope of the EU flight delay regulation based on customary international law limits on the EU’s legislative competence
    • Acting for the owner of a corporate jet in a potential EUR 3.1 million claim for damage to the aircraft when under the custody of another party
    • Spyropoulos v easyJet (BL-2020-000736): Sole counsel (instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright LLP) for easyJet in a test case concerning the interaction between airline terms and conditions, the assignability of the right to compensation under the EU flight delay regulation, and a solicitor’s equitable lien
    • Acting for the seller of a corporate jet in a US$2.5 million claim in relation to the deposit for the aircraft after the sale had fallen through (instructed by King & Spalding LLP)
    • Sole counsel at both first instance and on appeal (instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, Clyde & Co LLP and DLA Piper UK LLP) for major airlines in hearings of claims for compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004. 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)
  • Banking and Financial Services

    Banking and financial services work is a major part of Tom’s practice.

    Current and recent instructions include:

    • Al-Saqabi v Merrill Lynch International [2021] DIFC TCD 006 (1 June 2022): Sole counsel for Merrill Lynch in the successful strike out of a USD 120 million claim by a Kuwaiti businessman (instructed by HFW Middle East LLP)
    • Cesfin Ventures LLC v Al Ghaith Holding Company PJSC [2020] DIFC ARB 017 (24 March 2022): Acted for a bank in relation to a contempt application against its customer for breach of a DIFC Court freezing order, successfully resisting an application for joinder and document production (instructed by HFW Middle East LLP)
    • Larmag Holding B.V. v First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC [2019] DIFC CFI 054 (30 August 2021); [2019] DIFC CFI 054 (2 September 2022): Acting for a Dutch property investor in a successful claim before the DIFC Courts arising out of the fraudulent acquisition of USD 70 million corporate bonds. The Court has made a proprietary injunction, pre and post-judgment freezing orders, and a passport order in support of the claim and has recently made a debarring order against the fraudulent defendant (with Michael Black KC, instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
    • Confidential matter (2020 to 2021): Advised a syndicate of banks on a claim to recover USD 1.5 billion in sums owed under restructured facility agreements (with Tom Montagu-Smith KC, instructed by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP)
    • Advising the FCA on a major potential change to its regulatory framework
    • Advised on the duties of banks and bond issuers in relation to the issue of green bonds: Instructed to provide a detailed advice for a think tank regarding the duties of bond issuers and underwriters (and the directors of both) in two scenarios: (i) where an investment bank has decided to underwrite corporate bonds that will contravene the bank’s public climate-related commitments; and (ii) where the prospectus or any other investor documentation related to a corporate bond contains incomplete, inaccurate or misleading disclosure of climate-related risks associated with the bond (with Oliver Assersohn, instructed by the Environmental Defenders Office)
    • Standard Chartered Bank v Kazzaz [2021] DIFC CFI 088 (3 November 2021): Sole counsel for Standard Chartered in a claim to enforce judgments of the Singapore International Commercial Court for USD 1.1 million. Obtained a worldwide freezing order for the bank in support of the claim (instructed by Al Tamimi & Company)
    • First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC v Larmag Holding B.V [2019] DIFC CA 010 (23 March 2020): Acting for a Dutch property investor in an important case defining the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts over financial institutions which offer limited financial services in the DIFC. Involved consideration of the regulatory treatment of recognised members of NASDAQ Dubai under DIFC financial services law (with Michael Black KC and instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
    • CCUK v Barclays Bank Plc: Acting for a US financial institution in a USD 1 billion claim against a UK bank, which included allegations of various breaches of the bank’s regulatory obligations in relation to the sale of the payment break plan feature associated with many credit card products (with Stephen Cogley KC, 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 in relation to directors’ duties and the preparation of accounts for financial institutions

     

    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 company law or trusts .

    Current and recent instructions include:

    • Chemical Express SRL v PPG Industries SARL (Claim No: BL-2022-001864) (ongoing): Sole counsel for a global supplier of paints, coatings, and specialty materials defending a EUR 2.75 million claim in the English High Court, trial listed for 6 days in February 2025) (instructed by Bird & Bird LLP)
    • Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation v Sprite Aviation No. 6 Designated Activity Company (Claim No. CL-2022-000384) [2023] EWHC 1758 (Comm) (ongoing): Acting for Saudia, the Saudia Arabian flag carrier, in a USD 10 million claim in the Commercial Court to recover maintenance reserves under an aircraft lease agreement (with Steven Thompson KC, instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright LLP)
    • Jet2.com Limited v Smartlynx Airlines SIA (Claim No: CL-2023-000254) (ongoing): Acting for Jet2.com in a claim in the Commercial Court against two lessors for substantial indemnities and/or damages arising out of the lease of four aircraft to support Jet2.com’s operations (with Edward Cumming KC, instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright LLP)
    • Ambra Limited v Fiman Limited (Claim No: 2021/ORD/069) (ongoing): Acting for two corporate service providers and an individual defending a complex claim in the Supreme Court of Gibraltar arising out of investment losses sustained by the claimants in two Cayman funds, trial listed for 15 days in November 2024 (with David Brownbill KC, instructed by Signature Litigation (Gibraltar) Limited)
    • The Serious Fraud Office & Anor v Litigation Capital Ltd & Ors [2021] EWHC 1272 (Comm): Junior counsel for a bespoke litigation funder, Litigation Capital Limited, in a trial listed for 10 weeks before Foxton J, which involved allegations of fraud and dishonesty and complex competing proprietary claims. Part of long running and exceptionally complex proceedings brought by the Serious Fraud Office in relation to the property of Dr Gerald Smith arising out of a historic fraud (with Rupert Bowers KC, instructed by Keystone Law LLP)
    • Larmag Holding B.V. v First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC [2019] DIFC CFI 054 (30 August 2021); [2019] DIFC CFI 054 (2 September 2022): Acting for a Dutch property investor in a successful claim before the DIFC Courts arising out of the fraudulent acquisition of USD 70 million corporate bonds. The Court has made a proprietary injunction, pre and post-judgment freezing orders, and a passport order in support of the claim and has recently made a debarring order against the fraudulent defendant (with Michael Black KC, instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
    • Cesfin Ventures LLC v Al Ghaith Holding Company PJSC [2020] DIFC ARB 017 (24 March 2022): Acted for a bank in relation to a contempt application against its customer for breach of a DIFC Court freezing order, successfully resisting an application for joinder and document production (instructed by HFW Middle East LLP)
    • Al-Saqabi v Merrill Lynch International [2021] DIFC TCD 006 (1 June 2022): Sole counsel for Merrill Lynch in the successful strike out of a USD 120 million claim by a Kuwaiti businessman (instructed by HFW Middle East LLP)
    • Standard Chartered Bank v Kazzaz [2021] DIFC CFI 088 (3 November 2021): Sole counsel for Standard Chartered in a claim to enforce judgments of the Singapore International Commercial Court for USD 1.1 million. Obtained a worldwide freezing order for the bank in support of the claim (instructed by Al Tamimi & Company)
    • Confidential matter (2020 to 2021): Advised a syndicate of banks on a claim to recover USD 1.5 billion in sums owed under restructured facility agreements (with Tom Montagu-Smith KC, instructed by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP)
    • AELF MSN 242, LLC v Surinam Airways [2021] EWHC 3482 (Comm); [2022] EWHC 544 (Comm): Sole counsel for Surinam Airways in a USD 7 million claim in the Commercial Court arising out of an aircraft lease agreement, which generated two important judgments on submission to the jurisdiction and service of proceedings on a state-owned carrier under the State Immunity Act 1978 (instructed by Bird & Bird LLP)
    • AMRA Leasing Ltd v DAC Aviation (EA) Ltd [2022] EWHC 1718 (Comm): Sole counsel for a Kenyan company specialising in humanitarian air services in an application in the Commercial Court to set aside a US$12 million default judgment arising out of various aircraft leases (instructed by Bird & Bird LLP)
    • Arabian Construction Company WLL v Credit Suisse Bank [2019] DIFC CA 008 (29 March 2020): Junior counsel for a Kuwaiti company in 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 KC and Matthew Watson, instructed by Global Advocacy and Legal Counsel)
    • Advised on a proposed USD 600 million claim against an African state (with Tom Montagu- Smith KC, instructed by Omnia Strategy LLP)
    • Advised 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)
    • Tabari v Tabarak Investment LLC [2018] DIFC CFI 016 (30 April 2020); [2018] DIFC CFI 016 (24 August 2020): Acted for the Claimants in an important case concerning the costs consequences of a late application to the Joint Judicial Committee (with Tom Montagu-Smith KC, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard (Middle East) LLP)
    • Advising a prominent international businessman in a potential claim between parties to a joint venture (with Edward Cumming KC, instructed by RPC)

     

    Tom has also:

    • Appeared for a claimant seeking permission to serve out in a claim in support of foreign proceedings
    • Appeared for judgment creditors in multiple CPR Part 71 hearings for the examination of foreign judgment debtors
    • Drafted a defence and counterclaim in a claim for alleged unpaid fees arising out of a contract for the provision of financial technology services
    • Advised 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 Advised on security for costs against foreign resident companies
    • Assisted in the preparation of witness evidence for a claim by an insured against an insurance broker
    • 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

    In addition to standalone company law work, many of Tom’s commercial cases involve aspects of company law.

    Recent experience includes:

    • Ambra Limited v Fiman Limited (Claim No: 2021/ORD/069) (ongoing): Acting for two corporate service providers and an individual in defending a complex claim in the Supreme Court of Gibraltar arising out of investment losses sustained by the claimants in two Cayman funds, trial listed for 15 days in November 2024 (with David Brownbill KC, instructed by Signature Litigation (Gibraltar) Limited)
    • Arbitration in the energy sector in East Africa (ongoing): Acting for a local party in a shareholders’ dispute arising out of a project to run a power plant in East Africa (instructed by Steptoe & Johnson LLP). Arbitration seated in New York and governed by the AAA Commercial Arbitration Rules.
    • Arbitration in the oil and gas sector (ongoing): Acting for a state development fund in a shareholders’ dispute arising out of a project in the oil and gas sector in East Africa (instructed by Michelmores LLP). Arbitration seated in London and governed by the LCIA Arbitration Rules.
    • Everest Alliance v Maslovskiy & Ors (Re Petropavlovsk) (BL-2020-000992): Junior counsel for an activist shareholder, Everest Alliance, in an application for injunctive relief in relation to the composition of the board of a FTSE-listed Russian gold mining company after a contested AGM for the company (case covered extensively in the financial and general press) (with Francis Tregear KC, Gregory Banner KC and Caley Wright, instructed by Enyo Law LLP)
    • Advising a prominent international businessman in a potential claim between parties to a joint venture (with Edward Cumming KC, instructed by RPC)
    • Advising on a potential claim under the Financial Markets Test Case Scheme 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
  • Crypto and digital assets

    Tom is co-author of the disputes chapter in Crypto and Digital Assets Law and Regulation published by Sweet and Maxwell in December 2023.

  • 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:

    • Confidential matter (2020 to 2021): Advised a syndicate of banks on a claim to recover USD 1.5 billion in sums owed under restructured facility agreements (instructed by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, 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 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
  • Partnership and Joint Ventures

    Tom’s experience includes:

    • Arbitration in the energy sector in East Africa (ongoing): Acting for a local party in a shareholders’/joint venture dispute arising out of a project to run a power plant in East Africa (instructed by Steptoe & Johnson LLP). Arbitration seated in New York and governed by the AAA Commercial Arbitration Rules.
    • Arbitration in the oil and gas sector (ongoing): Acting for a state development fund in a shareholders’/joint venture dispute arising out of a project in the oil and gas sector in East Africa (instructed by Michelmores LLP). Arbitration seated in London and governed by the LCIA Arbitration Rules.
    • Advising a prominent international businessman in a potential claim between parties to a joint venture (with Edward Cumming KC, instructed by RPC)
    • Drafting advice on a potential contribution claim by a partner against now bankrupt ex-partners Drafting advice on a draft limited partnership agreement
  • Public International Law

    Public international law issues (both contentious and advisory) are a core focus of Tom’s practice.

    Chambers and Partners (UK Bar 2024 and Global 2024) recommend Tom as a leading junior in Public International Law. He is described as having “a growing public international law practice which sees him act in both contentious and advisory matters” and as having “significant knowledge of investment treaty matters and acting for state entities”.

    A public international law client also reported that “Tom is extremely bright, reliable and good value. He knows what lawyers and clients want and can be trusted to deliver”.

    Current and recent instructions include:

    • Investor v African State (ongoing): Acting for an African State in a USD 100 million investment treaty arbitration arising out of widescale civil unrest. Arbitration seated in Geneva and governed by the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.
    • Cengiz İnşaat Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S v. Libya (ICC Case No. 21537/ZF/AYZ): Acted for the State of Libya in 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, instructed by MS-Legal).
    • AELF MSN 242, LLC v Surinam Airways [2021] EWHC 3482 (Comm); [2022] EWHC 544 (Comm): Sole counsel for Surinam Airways in a USD 7 million claim in the Commercial Court arising out of an aircraft lease agreement, which generated two important judgments on submission to the jurisdiction and service of proceedings on a state-owned carrier under the State Immunity Act 1978 (instructed by Bird & Bird LLP).
    • Confidential matter (ongoing): Advising a State on a potential claim to recover cultural heritage taken during colonial times.
    • Investor v Central Asian State: Advised a litigation funder on the enforcement of a potential investment treaty arbitration award against a Central Asian State (instructed by Omnia Strategy LLP).
    • Advising on state immunity issues in the context of a proposed USD 600 million claim against an African state (with Tom Montagu-Smith KC 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’s experience included:

    • Tethyan Copper Company Pty Limited v Islamic Republic of Pakistan, ICSID Case No. ARB/12/1: 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
    • Mid-East Sales v United Engineering and Trading [2014] EWHC 1457 (Comm): Represented Pakistan in English High Court proceedings to set aside a default judgment entered against the state
    • 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
  • Trusts, Probate & Estates

    Trusts and estates disputes form a major part of Tom’s practice. In addition to his practice at XXIV Old Buildings, 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:

    • Morina v Scherbakova (PT-2018-000247, PT-2019-000932): Acted for the Claimants in a complex and high-value dispute over the estate of a deceased Russian businessman (with Elspeth Talbot Rice KC, Tim Akkouh KC, Andrew Holden and Sparsh Garg, instructed by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP)
    • Wilmot-Smith v Burstall [2023] EWHC 962 (Ch): Sole counsel for defendant trustee and executor in defending claim for disclosure of documents (instructed by RPC LLP)
    • Confidential matter in the DIFC Courts (2018 to 2019): Junior counsel in a large and complex trusts dispute before the DIFC Courts relating to the ownership of a major family-owned conglomerate with interests in the hospitality, real estate and retail sectors (with David Brownbill KC and Tom Montagu-Smith KC, instructed by Clyde & Co LLP)
    • Liga Lemberga v Serillo (PTC) Limited & Others (2019/ORD/40): Acting (with David Brownbill KC, instructed by Signature Litigation LLP) for a major trusts and corporate services provider in a claim by a beneficiary in the Gibraltar Courts which concerns the proper scope of the court’s supervisory jurisdiction over trust administration
    • Schwartz v VGV (UK) Limited (PT-2019-001066): Acted (with Edward Cumming KC, instructed by Withers LLP) for a trusts and corporate services provider in resisting urgent interim relief in the English courts by a beneficiary, including appearing unled against a KC
    • Acting in a family dispute before the Isle of Man Courts concerning a complex trust and corporate structure (with Elspeth Talbot Rice KC and Elizabeth Weaver, 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 (with Elspeth Talbot Rice KC, instructed by Mishcon de Reya LLP) Advising on the preparation of witness evidence for major offshore pension trust litigation (with Andrew Holden, 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, 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

Other information

  • Recommendations

    International arbitration: Counsel

    “As reliable as he is talented, Tom is emerging as a powerful advocate and has a glittering future ahead

    The Legal 500 UK Bar 2024

     

    “a truly excellent barrister who has been doing a good volume of arbitration work, and has established his name in this field” 

    can manage very large cases very well

    The Legal 500 UK Bar 2023

     

    Public International Law

    “has a growing public international law practice which sees him act in both contentious and advisory matters. He has significant knowledge of investment treaty matters and acting for state entities”

    Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2024

    extremely bright, reliable and good value. He knows what lawyers and clients want and can be trusted to deliver.

    Chambers Global 2024

     

    Aviation

    handles a range of complex disputes in the aviation industry

    Tom’s written work is very good and he is equally strong on his feet

    Tom is a joy to work with. A highly intelligent and effective advocate. His in-depth knowledge of the law is particularly impressive

    Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2024

     

    “highly effective advocate, with an exceptional depth of experience and expertise in the aviation sector”

    The Legal 500 UK Bar 2024

     

    “highly effective advocate” 

    “an exceptional depth of experience and expertise in the aviation sector”.

    The Legal 500 UK Bar 2023

     

    enjoyable to work with and a first-choice junior for airline work

    Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2022.

     

    Tom is really likeable and a team player. He generates ideas and really contributes. He is a highly intelligent and effective litigator, is highly responsive, and a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend.

    The Legal 500 UK Bar 2022

     

    “a busy year handling disputes in the aviation industry”.

    “[a]n effective advocate with a really impressive level of detail and expertise. He knows the law in depth and is able to relate it in a clear, effective manner”.

    Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2021

     

    “rising star in the field”

    has exceptional knowledge of the law, and is a very effective advocate“.

    The Legal 500 UK Bar 2021.

     

  • 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
    • Co-author of the disputes chapter in Crypto and Digital Assets Law and Regulation (Sweet and Maxwell, December 2023).
    • “Referring to legislation in finance documents: more than you bargained for?” [2023] 3 JIBFL 162 (co-authored with Edward Cumming KC).
    • Central banks or sovereign wealth funds as investment treaty arbitration claimants?” [2016] 10 JIBFL 592 (co-authored with Lucas Bastin KC).
  • 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.