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Thomas Leary

Tom Leary has a broad commercial practice in line with Chambers’ profile. He acts in a wide range of commercial disputes and has represented clients in the High Court (Queen’s Bench and Chancery Divisions), the County Courts and arbitration, including CCMCs and a range of interlocutory applications (e.g. freezing injunctions, relief from sanctions and extensions of time).

Tom is regularly led as junior counsel in High Court litigation and heavy arbitrations, including the Waterfall III insolvency litigation, a six-week hearing of a US$200m+ claim against a Caribbean state for breach of a development agreement and an energy dispute concerning the supply of off-shore borehole drilling.

Prior to commencing practice at the Bar, Tom studied law at Oxford, Leiden and Toronto. He also worked as the editor of the official law reports for a variety of off-shore jurisdictions and as the Judicial Assistant to Lord Mance in the Supreme Court.

Recent Cases

Tom's recent work includes:

  • The Waterfall III insolvency litigation (led by Stephen Atherton and Tony Beswetherick).
  • US$2m+ share-purchase dispute concerning payments out of an escrow account.
  • £2m+ energy dispute concerning the supply of jack-up barge for off-shore borehole drilling.
  • £800,000 High Court claim concerning an alleged mutli-stage boiler room fraud involving the sale of "fancy" coloured diamonds.
  • Six-week arbitration concerning a US$200m+ claim against a Caribbean state for breach of a development agreement, expropriation of concessions, breaches of lease and defamation (led by John Passmore QC).

Specialisations: 

  • General Commercial
  • Arbitration and Related Applications
  • Banking & Finance
  • Shipping, Commodities & International Trade
  • Company & Insolvency
  • Civil Fraud & Asset Tracing
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Public Law & Human Rights

Specialisations: 

General Commercial

Tom’s experience of general commercial disputes includes:

  • US$2m+ share-purchase dispute concerning payments out of an escrow account.
  • £800,000 High Court claim concerning an alleged multi-stage boiler room fraud involving the sale of "fancy" coloured diamonds.
  • Application for worldwide freezing orders in support of an arbitration concerning a US$12m credit facility (led by Michael Ashcroft QC).
  • Application for worldwide freezing orders in support of an arbitration concerning an investment fund facility (led by Tim Hill QC).
  • Six-week arbitration concerning a US$200m+ claim against a Caribbean state for breach of a development agreement, expropriation of concessions, breaches of lease and defamation (led by John Passmore QC).
  • Acting for a national provider of telecommunication services in relation to potential claims under several telemetry agreements.
  • Acting for a corporate client in relation to termination of a contract for the provision of internet marketing services.
  • Acting for brokers in relation to a substantial claim for commission arising from the sale of a superyacht.
  • Advising a debt-cancellation charity on the potential illegality of major bank loans (amounting to US$1.8b+) to State-backed African companies.
Arbitration and Related Applications

Tom’s experience of arbitration and related court applications includes:

  • US$300+m UNCITRAL Arbitration in a dispute under a drilling services contract (led by Duncan Matthews QC and Edward Ho).
  • Six-week arbitration concerning a US$200m+ claim against a Caribbean state for breach of a development agreement, expropriation of concessions, breaches of lease and defamation (led by John Passmore QC).
  • Application for worldwide freezing orders in support of an arbitration concerning a US$12m credit facility and in support of an LCIA Award (led by Michael Ashcroft QC).
  • £2m+ energy arbitration concerning the charter of a jack-up barge for off-shore borehole drilling.
  • Application for worldwide freezing orders in support of an arbitration concerning an investment fund facility (led by Tim Hill QC).
  • Arbitration concerning damage to a chemical tanker following overpressurisation of the cargo tanks during loading (assisting Charles Kimmins QC and Thomas Corby).
  • Five-week arbitration concerning a US$500m+ dispute arising out of the construction and delivery of semi-submersible drilling rigs from Chinese to Brazilian interests (as a pupil).
  • ICSID and ICC arbitrations involving the Governments of Pakistan and Balochistan and concerning a dispute about a joint venture agreement for the exploration of minerals (as a pupil).
  • Assuranceforeningen Gard Gjensidig v The International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund 1971 [2014] 2 Lloyd's Rep 219: concerning a freezing order in support of claims arising out of an oil spill in Venezuela (as a pupil).

 

Banking and Finance

Tom’s experience of banking and finance includes:

  • Waterfall III insolvency litigation (led by Stephen Atherton QC and Tony Beswetherick).
  • Application for worldwide freezing orders in support of an arbitration concerning a US$12m credit facility and in support of an LCIA Award (led by Michael Ashcroft QC).
  • Advising on the potential illegality of major bank loans (amounting to US$1.8b+) to State-backed African companies.
  • Application for worldwide freezing orders in support of an arbitration concerning an investment fund facility (led by Tim Hill QC).
  • Drafting submissions for an international bank in a High Court dispute arising out of a revolving loan and overdraft facility.
  • Advising Joint Liquidators in respect of preferences and transactions alleged to have been made at an undervalue.
  • Crédit Agricole Corporation and Investment Bank v Papadimitriou [2015] UKPC 13: concerning the test of constructive knowledge for the purposes of determining whether a bank is a bona fide purchaser of assets without notice of a prior interest (as a Judicial Assistant to Lord Mance).

 

Shipping, Commodities and International Trade

Tom’s experience of shipping, commodities and international trade includes:

  • Arbitration concerning damage to a chemical tanker following an explosion during discharge (led by Tim Hill QC).
  • Application for worldwide freezing orders in support of an arbitration concerning a US$12m credit facility for the purchase of goods (led by Michael Ashcroft QC).
  • £2m+ energy arbitration concerning the charter of a jack-up barge for off-shore borehole drilling.
  • Advising cargo interests in respect of a US$14m+ dispute over a consignment of steel coils following the hijacking and release of the vessel and raising issues of jurisdiction and sub-bailment (with David Lewis QC).
  • Arbitration concerning damage to a chemical tanker following overpressurisation of the cargo tanks during loading (assisting Charles Kimmins QC and Thomas Corby).
  • Acting for the defendant in a US$22m+ FOSFA arbitration arising out of an alleged failure to complete loading or accept cargo.
  • Claim for contribution arising out of a fatality during life-boat testing (led by Malcom Jarvis).
  • Advising brokers on interim measures in relation to a substantial claim for commission arising from the sale of a superyacht.
  • British America Tobacco Denmark A/S and others v Kazemir Transport BV; British America Tobacco Switzerland SA v H Essers Security Logistics BV and another [2015] UKSC 65: concerning the jurisdiction of the English court in relation to successive carriers under the CMR Convention 1958 (as a Judicial Assistant to Lord Mance).
  • Bunge SA v Nidera BV [2015] UKSC 43: concerning the construction and application of the GAFTA Default Clause and the application of The Golden Victory [2007] 2 AC 353 (as a Judicial Assistant to Lord Mance).
  • Bunge SA v Nibulon Trading BV [2014] 1 Lloyd's Rep 393: concerning the relationship between the discretions of first-tier tribunals and boards of appeal to admit claims that are time barred under the GAFTA arbitration rules (as a pupil).

Tom regularly drafts submissions for and appears in arbitrations under the LMAA, GAFTA, FOSFA and LCIA terms in respect of a broad range of shipping and commodities disputes, including:

  • Charterparty disputes
  • Bill of lading disputes
  • Seaworthiness
  • Demurrage
  • Unsafe ports
  • Dangerous cargo
  • Performance disputes
  • Off-hire
Company & Insolvency

Tom’s experience of insolvency includes:

  • Acting as junior counsel in the Waterfall III litigation, arising from an application for directions in the Lehman Brothers insolvency and raising issues of contributory rights, fiduciary duties and recharge liabilities (led by Stephen Atherton QC and Tony Beswetherick).
  • Advising a Trustee in Bankruptcy on the merits of an appeal and a contribution claim of £11m+ arising out of alleges breaches of fiduciary duty by a company director.
  • Advising Joint Liquidators in respect of preferences and transactions alleged to have been made at an undervalue.
  • Trustees of the Olympic Airlines SA Pension and Life Assurance Scheme v Olympic Airlines SA [2015] UKSC 27: concerning the meaning of "establishment" in EU Regulation 1346/2000 on Insolvency Proceedings (as a Judicial Assistant to Lord Mance).
  • Jetivia SA v Bilta (UK) Ltd [2015] UKSC 23: concerning whether the illegality defence bars claims by a company against its directors for breach of their duties and whether section 213 of the Insolvency Act 1986 has extra-territorial effect (as a Judicial Assistant to Lord Mance).

Tom regularly appears in the High Court and county courts to make insolvency applications related to (or seeking):

  • Administration orders
  • Statutory demands
  • Rectification of register or extensions of time
  • Winding-up petitions
  • Ending administrations
Civil Fraud and Asset Tracing

Tom’s experience of civil fraud and asset tracing includes:

  • Advising a Trustee in Bankruptcy on the merits of an appeal and a contribution claim of £11m+ arising out of alleged breaches of fiduciary duty by a company director.
  • £800,000 High Court claim concerning an alleged multi-stage boiler room fraud involving the sale of "fancy" coloured diamonds.
  • Application for worldwide freezing orders in support of an arbitration concerning a US$12m credit facility and in support of an LCIA Award (led by Michael Ashcroft QC).
  • Application for worldwide freezing orders in support of an arbitration concerning an investment fund facility (led by Tim Hill QC).
  • Advising Joint Liquidators in respect of preferences and transactions alleged to have been made at an undervalue.
  • Advising on the potential illegality of major bank loans (amounting to US$1.8b+) to State-backed African companies.
  • Advising on the liability of an international charity to its institutional funders for potential fraud by its foreign partners.
Energy & Natural Resources

Tom’s experience of energy & natural resources disputes includes:

  • Acting as sole counsel for the claimant in an on-going £2m+ energy arbitration concerning the charter of a jack-up barge for off-shore borehole drilling.
  • Acting as junior counsel for major national oil company in an on-going US$300+ million UNCITRAL Arbitration in a dispute under a drilling services contract (led by Duncan Matthews QC and Edward Ho).
  • Six-week arbitration concerning a US$200m+ claim against a Caribbean state for breach of a development agreement, expropriation of concessions, breaches of lease and defamation (led by John Passmore QC).
  • Five-week arbitration concerning a $500m+ dispute arising out of the construction and delivery of semi-submersible drilling rigs from Chinese to Brazilian interests (as a pupil).
  • ICSID and ICC arbitrations involving the Governments of Pakistan and Balochistan and concerning a dispute about a joint venture agreement for the exploration of minerals (as a pupil).
  • Assuranceforeningen Gard Gjensidig v The International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund 1971 [2014] 2 Lloyd's Rep 219: concerning a freezing order in support of claims arising out of an oil spill in Venezuela (as a pupil).
Public Law & Human Rights

Tom regularly undertakes public law and human rights work, including pro bono work through the Bar Pro Unit and A4ID. His recent work includes:

  • Acting for Latin American market traders at a Public Inquiry concerning a Compulsory Purchase Order pursuant to a controversial £60m+ redevelopment in Tottenham and raising issues of cultural and property rights (with Monica Feria-Tinta).
  • Assisting the Commonwealth Secretariat in creating a Legal Knowledge Exchange Portal for countries throughout the Commonwealth.
  • Advising on the potential illegality of major bank loans (amounting to US$1.8b+) to State-backed African companies.
  • Advising on the potential liability of an international charity to its institutional funders for potential fraud by its foreign partners.

Tom’s experience of international and domestic public law and human rights, during his time as the Judicial Assistant to Lord Mance, includes:

  • United States of America v Nolan (judgment pending): concerning whether the collective redundancy consulting and information obligations imposed by section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consilidation) Act 1992, implementing the EU Collective Redundancies Directive, applied to the redundancies resulting from the jure imperii decision of the United States to close a US Army watercraft repair facility at Hythe.
  • R (on the application of Bancoult No 2) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (judgment pending): concerning whether the judgment of the House of Lords in R (on the application of Bancoult No 2) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs should be set aside on the alleged ground of material non-disclosure by the respondent and, if so, whether the appellant should be permitted to adduce fresh evidence at the rehearing of the appeal.
  • Keyu and others v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and others (judgment pending): concerning whether there is a legal duty (under the ECHR or customary international law) to hold a public inquiry into the historic killing of unarmed civilians by a patrol of Scots Guards in Batang Kali, Malaysia. A further issue was whether the UK continued to have legal responsibility for the actions of the Scots Guards following Malaysian independence in 1957.
  • In the matter of an application by JR38 for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) [2015] UKSC 42: concerning the Article 8 implications of publishing photos from which children suspected of criminal activity could be identified.
  • R (on the application of Evans) and another v Attorney General [2015] UKSC 21: concerning correspondence between The Prince of Wales and government ministers and the legality of using the power under section 53 of the Freedom of Information Act to override tribunal decisions.
  • Pham v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] UKSC 19: concerning statelessness and an order depriving the appellant of his British citizenship.
  • R (on the application of Catt) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and another; R (on the application of T) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2015] UKSC 9: joined appeals concerning the power to retain personal data for police purposes under Article 8 ECHR.
  • R (on the application of Rotherham MBC and others) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills [2015] UKSC 6: concerning a challenge to the distribution of funds provided form EU Structural Funds and the public sector equality duty.
  • Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill: Reference by the Counsel General for Wales [2015] UKSC 3: concerning whether the Welsh Assembly would, under the Government of Wales Act 2006, have legislative competence to enact the Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill.

Education and Career: 

Career

Judicial Assistant to Lord Mance (2014-2015)

Pupil at 20 Essex Street (2013-2014)

Editor of the law reports for the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar and Guernsey (2012-2013)

Education

Kaplan Law School: BPTC (2011-2012)

University of Toronto: LLM (2010-2011)

Leiden University: Year abroad studying European and public international law (2008-2009)

Christ Church, Oxford: BA (Hons) Law with Law Studies in Europe (2006-2010)

Scholarships and Prizes

Walter Wigglesworth Scholarship, Lincoln's Inn (2013)

Winner of the Atkin's Court Forms 75th Anniversary Inter-Inn Mooting Competition (2012)

Winner of the Lincoln's Inn BPTC Mooting Competition (2012)

Canadian Rhodes Scholars Foundation Scholarship (2010-2011)

Lord Mansfield Scholarship, Lincoln's Inn (2010)

Hardwicke Entrance Scholarship, Lincoln's Inn (2010)

John V. Lovitt Prize for Jurisprudence, Christ Church, Oxford (2008)

Lovells Scholarship, Christ Church, Oxford (2007-2010)

Slaughter and May Prize for Constitutional Law, Oxford University (2007)

Publications: 

Non-Party Intervention in Investor-State Arbitration: Bernhard von Pezold v Republic of Zimbabwe, case comment in The Journal of World Investment & Trade (forthcoming).

20 Essex Street case update: ‘“Won’t you stay another day”: Supreme Court hands MPs vote to start BREXIT process’, January 2017 (co-authored with Gordon Nardell QC)

20 Essex Street case update: 'I think I'd better leave right now: Brexit and the prerogative power'. November 2016

20 Essex Street case update: 'As good as gold? Investor-state arbitration pays off for Canadian mining company', April 2016

The Insurer's Obligations of Good Faith and the Insurance Act 2015, in The Modern Law of Marine Insurance: Volume 4 (co-authored with Christopher Hancock QC).

First Thoughts on the Judicial Interpretation of Private International Law Instruments at the EU Level: a talk for a conference in Aberdeen on cross-border litigation in Europe.

Appointments and Society Memberships: 

  • The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn
  • COMBAR
  • ICC
  • LCIA Young International Arbitration Group
  • YSIAC
  • London Shipping Law Centre
  • The Commercial Fraud Lawyers Association 
  • Young Fraud Lawyers Association (YFLA)
  • London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association
  • Bar Pro Bono Unit
  • Bar Human Rights Committee
  • A4ID