Practice

Alastair has a commercial disputes focussed practice encompassing High Court litigation (predominantly the Business and Property Court and Commercial Court) and international arbitration (ICSID, ICC, UNCITRAL, LCIA), with particular expertise in banking and finance, financial services, energy and natural resources, company disputes and insolvency.

Much of Alastair’s practice has an international flavour, and he is therefore experienced in dealing with issues of foreign law and working with foreign clients, lawyers and experts.

Practice areas

International arbitration

Alastair has experience of significant arbitral proceedings under ICSID, UNCITRAL, ICC and LCIA rules with UK and foreign seats, and expert determinations (both led and as sole counsel). These include representing:

  • the Government of Rwanda in ICSID proceedings concerning alleged breaches of the Rwanda-USA bilateral investment treaty: Bay View Group LLC and The Spalena Company LLC v. Republic of Rwanda, ICSID Case No. ARB/18/21.
  • an Indian pharmaceutical manufacturing company in proceedings brought by a Canadian pharmaceutical importer (LCIA, London).
  • a foreign government in contractual disputes board proceedings in relation to allegations of fraud and bribery concerning a large international infrastructure project (Dubai / Paris).
  • a Philippines-based crypto-currency payments service provider in Malta Arbitration Centre proceedings against a Bitcoin trading platform and storage provider (UNCITRAL, Valletta).
  • a foreign government in expert determination proceedings concerning changes to the design of a gas extraction platform (London).
  • a foreign government in relation to compensation for delays in a gas to power project (UNCITRAL, Paris).
  • the Government of the Republic of Rwanda in a dispute concerning a gas extraction joint venture (ICC, Paris) (led by Richard Hill QC)
  • a major US corporate in a business sale dispute (UNCITRAL, Zurich) (led by Richard Hill QC)
  • a private equity business and its partners in a dispute with the estate of a former partner (LCIA, London) (led by Richard Hill QC)
  • a large exporter of fashion items in a dispute against a Middle-Eastern distributor (LCIA, London)
Banking & finance

A significant part of Alastair’s practice concerns heavyweight banking and finance litigation, including disputes concerning derivatives, syndicated loans, debt instruments, and private equity.

Alastair has appeared (both led and as sole counsel) in the Al Khorafi v Bank Sarasin Alpen (ME) Ltd proceedings, the most valuable claims brought before the Courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre.

Alastair has advised on and acts in relation to several claims arising out of the LIBOR and EURIBOR manipulation scandals, including Marme Inversiones (led by Pushpinder Saini QC) and  Deutsche Bank v Unitech where (led by John Brisby QC) he successfully represented Unitech in the Court of Appeal in relation to fraudulent misrepresentation claims arising out of LIBOR, and assignment / novation of interests in syndicated loan arrangements.

Company law

Alastair is regularly instructed to advise and conduct litigation in company law matters, including unfair prejudice claims under section 994 of the Companies Act 2006. He is a contributor to the OUP’s Annotated Companies Acts, contributes to Practical Law and gives lectures on company law issues.

Insolvency & restructuring

Alastair is experienced in giving advice and conducting litigation on corporate and personal insolvency matters, and has been involved in some of the most significant insolvency proceedings of recent times including Re Maud (representing an opposing creditor on one of the most valuable bankruptcy petitions even before the English court), Kaupthing hf, Nortel, and Kuwait Oil Tanker Company SAK v Al Bader.

Fraud – civil

Alastair has been instructed in a range of civil fraud cases (in addition to the fraudulent representation cases in relation to LIBOR referred to above), and he is experienced in obtaining ex parte injunctive relief.  Experience includes:

  • successfully obtaining injunctive relief to prevent former employees operating a competitor business with the claimant’s intellectual property.
  • acting in proceedings brought by a firm of solicitors against a former partner who had diverted client account monies.
  • acting in proceedings brought against and in relation to a former solicitor who purported to conduct litigation for a non-UK resident client for over 3 years, when in fact no such litigation was conducted at all.
  • obtaining urgent injunctive relief (freezing and third party disclosure orders) on behalf of a French company in relation to fraudulent payments made to accounts in the UK.
Chancery: commercial

A significant portion of Alastair’s work is in the Business and Property Court, generally commercial disputes with a mix of chancery issues, and applications for interim relief.

Financial services

Alastair has acted and advised on a large number of financial services disputes, including misselling and other regulatory disputes under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

Commercial dispute resolution

Alastair is regularly instructed on general commercial and contractual disputes in addition to the experience listed in relation to specific other categories.

Examples of recent instructions include:

  • acting for a company in proceedings against a UK university in relation to a contract for the recruitment of international students and allegations of immigration violations;
  • acting for exporters of fashion goods against former Middle-Eastern distributors;
  • acting for a company against former directors and employees who set up a competing business in breach of their fiduciary and contractual obligations;
  • acting for a landlord to obtain injunctive relief against former commercial tenants.
Trusts

Alastair’s instructions regularly involve issues related to the law of trusts. He was instructed in the long-running Walbrook Trustees v Fattal litigation involving numerous hearings, two of which were in the Court of Appeal.

Energy & natural resources

Since 2011 Alastair has been representing the Government of the Republic of Rwanda in proceedings in relation to gas extraction projects in Rwanda, and is currently representing the Government of Rwanda in ICSID proceedings in relation to mining concessions in the country.

POCA work & asset forfeiture

Alastair has represented and advised the Serious Organised Crime Agency (now the National Crime Agency) in relation to Proceeds of Crime Act forfeiture proceedings.

Professional discipline and regulatory law

Alastair has acted for several clients in professional discipline proceedings before the General Pharmaceutical Fitness to Practise Committee.  He has also advised and represented pharmaceutical clients in relation to regulatory matters.

Additional info

Cases of interest

Bay View Group LLC and The Spalena Company LLC v. Republic of Rwanda, ICSID Case No. ARB/18/21 (ongoing ICSID arbitration proceedings under the Rwanda – USA BIT concerning  alleged breaches of the FET standard and expropriation in relation to mining concessions)

Michel v Michel [2019] EWHC 1378 (Ch) (unfair prejudice proceedings in relation to a family business)

Marme Inversiones 2007 SL v Natwest Markets Plc [2019] EWHC 366 (Comm) (EURIBOR manipulation, trial judgment)

Re Maud [2019] Ch. 15 (bankruptcy petition, abuse of process, joint petitioners)

Marme Inversiones 2007 SL v Royal Bank of Scotland Plc [2016] EWHC 1570 (Comm) (stay of proceedings, jurisdiction)

Aabar Block Sarl v Maud [2016] EWHC 1016 (Ch) (Bankruptcy, abuse of process, opposing creditors)

Deutsche Bank AG v Unitech Global Ltd [2016] EWCA Civ 119 (Court of Appeal) (LIBOR manipulation; Anti-competitive practices; Credit facilities; Defences; Foreign currencies; Illegality; Interest rates; Interest rate swaps; Interim payments; Misrepresentation; Payment into court)

Aabar Block Sarl v Maud [2015] EWHC 3681 (Ch) (Bankruptcy petition, adjournment)

Allfiled UK Ltd v Eltis [2015] EWHC 1300 (Ch) (injunctive relief arising from breach of fiduciary duty, breach of confidence and breach of intellectual property rights)

Islamic Investment Company of the Gulf (Bahamas) Ltd v Symphony Gems NV  [2014] EWHC 3777 (Comm) (setting aside judgment on the basis of former solicitor’s fraud)

Deutsche Bank AG v Unitech Global Ltd [2014] EWHC 3117 (Comm) (payment into court where a successful rescission defence would lead to and order counter-restitution after trial)

Cruz City 1 Mauritius Holdings v Unitech Ltd [2014] EWHC 3131 (Comm); [2014] Bus. L.R. D25 (freezing orders / appointment of receivers over the assets of an Indian company and ancillary orders)

Aquavita International SA v Ashapura Minecham Ltd [2014] EWHC 2806 (Comm) (challenge to jurisdiction)

Deutsche Bank AG v Unitech Global Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1372 (Court of Appeal) (misrepresentations in relation to LIBOR; effect of novation on rescission in the context of syndicated loan agreements)

Deutsche Bank AG v Unitech Global Ltd [2013] EWHC 2793 (Comm); [2014] 2 All E.R. (Comm) 268; [2013] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 629; [2014] U.K.C.L.R. 15 (permission to amend and summary judgment considering wide ranging issues including unenforceability of credit and swap agreements under Competition Act 1988 s.2 by reason of LIBOR manipulation; illegality; effect of no set-off clauses; enforceability of guarantees)

Deutsche Bank AG v Unitech Global Ltd [2013] EWHC 471 (Comm) (amendments in relation to representations based on LIBOR manipulation)

Fattal v Walbrook Trustees (Jersey) Ltd [2010] EWHC 2767 (Ch); [2012] Bus. L.R. D7 (amendment, limitation, pleas of dishonesty)

Frankice (Golders Green) Ltd (In Administration) [2010] EWHC 1229 (Ch); [2010] Bus. L.R. 1608; Times, June 14, 2010 (whether review of gambling operating licences was a “legal process” for the purposes of the insolvency moratorium)

Walbrook Trustees (Jersey) Ltd v Fattal [2010] EWCA Civ 408; [2011] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 647 (Court of Appeal) (court’s jurisdiction in respect of administration of trust; severing beneficiaries’ rights

Tekdata Interconnections Ltd v Amphenol Ltd [2009] EWCA Civ 1209; [2010] 2 All E.R. (Comm) 302; [2010] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 357; [2009] 2 C.L.C. 866 (Court of Appeal) (contractual formation and battle of the forms)

Walbrook Trustees (Jersey) Ltd v Fattal [2009] EWHC 1446 (Ch); [2010] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 526) (appointment of receiver and manager over trust interests / joint venture)

Walbrook Trustees (Jersey) Ltd v Fattal [2009] EWCA Civ 297; [2010] C.P. Rep. 1 (Court of Appeal) (Henderson v Henderson estoppel)

Gallaher International Ltd v Tlais Enterprises Ltd [2008] EWHC 804 (Comm) (breach of contract in relation to international tobacco distribution agreement)

What the directories and judges say

Chambers and Partners

Banking and Finance

A promising junior making a name for himself by way of his busy commercial chancery practice, who has a particular focus on litigation in the banking sector. He has a well-rounded skill set and receives praise both for his advocacy style and his quality written work. Tomson is highly familiar with cases concerning manipulation of benchmark interest rates, having appeared in two of the leading cases concerning the subject.

“A very experienced senior junior, who’s very user-friendly and who pleads cases very well. He’s always looking to fight the case which is admirable.””

Company

A well-regarded junior who primarily practises in company disputes, but also has expertise in civil fraud, insolvency and other chancery matters. Strengths: “A rising star who can hold his own against silks.” “He’s extremely personable, calm under extreme pressure, and an articulate advocate.”

“Alastair Tomson is praised for his writing skills and for the fact that “he knows how to work in harmony with the client.””:

He is commercial, reliable and approachable, and has excellent client-handling skills.

Legal 500

Banking and Finance

‘An excellent junior, in court he can go toe to toe with QCs.’

Company and partnership

‘Very hard working, adept and intelligent.’

Judges

Mr Alastair Tomson had to shoulder the burden of continuing in his [leader’s] place, which he has done with marked ability”: Christopher Clarke J in Gallaher International Limited v Tlais Enterprises Limited [2008] EWHC 804 (Comm)

Foreign jurisdictions

Called to the Bar of the Dubai International Financial Centre, and to the Bar of the Republic of Rwanda for specific proceedings.

Publications

Contributor to ‘Annotated Companies Acts’ (2007, Oxford University Press, ed. Prof. John Birds), and ‘Annotated Companies Legislation’ (now in its third edition, 2013, OUP, ed. Prof. John Birds).

“No-assignment clauses and bank insolvency”, Corporate Rescue and Insolvency (CR&I) 2014, 7(6), 228-230 (co-authored with Andrew Rose).

Contributor to Practical Law Corporate.

Education & awards

MA King’s College, Cambridge (Archaeology and Anthropology / Social and Political Sciences).
Postgraduate Diploma in Law, University of Birmingham.
BVC Inns of Court School of Law (Outstanding).
Awarded Lord Mansfield, Lord Haldane and Kennedy Scholarships and Buchanan Prize by Lincoln’s Inn
Blackstone Chambers Mooting Champion, Inns of Court School of Law.
Allen & Overy Camm Cup Mooting Champion and Lady Barber Prize for Mooting, University of Birmingham.

Languages

Working knowledge of French; basic German and Bulgarian.