Vincent Nelson QC has appeared regularly in the High Court, Court of Appeal, House of Lords and Privy Council in England. In the last three years his commercial law practice has required him to spend a substantial period of time in the Caribbean in Jamaica, Trinidad, Belize and in offshore jurisdictions such as Grand Cayman, where he has represented and advised clients such as Fortis (a major energy supplier in Canada), Glencore (the international commodity brokers), Royal Bank of Canada, BAT, Citibank, Belize Bank.
He is also the author of the leading standard legal textbook The Law of Broadcasting and Entertainment (pub. Sweet & Maxwell).
Some of Vincent’s most recent areas of work include the following:
- October 2010 – Appointed by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to inquire into the management and financial conduct of the Petroleum Company of Trinidad (“Petrotrin”), a major multi-million dollar supplier of oil and gas to the USA. This inquiry was completed in December 2011.
- December 2010 – Appointed by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to inquire into a US$1bn construction cost overruns on a gas-to-liquids project undertaken by Petrotrin. This inquiry was completed in December 2011.
- January 2011 – Engaged by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago as lead counsel in three separate major actions against former directors of state owned organizations in respect of negligent breaches of directors’ duties in the management of the companies involving the losses in excess of US$100m.
- February 2012 – Commissioner of Taxpayer Audit and Assessment v Cigarette Company of Jamaica Limited; Privy Council decision on anti-tax avoidance provisions legislation. The decision is of particular interest because the legislation in question is similar to many in England and Hong Kong, among other places.
- March 2012 – Sans Souci v VRL (Privy Council). The interpretation of a judgment and the subsequent order where there may be a conflict between the two.
- October 2012 – Appointed to represent the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in the Commission of Inquiry into the financial collapse of CLICO, the largest financial conglomerate in the Caribbean, with interests in the United States and Europe. The portion of the inquiry in which Vincent Nelson was involved lasted until July, 2013.
Vincent Nelson’s commercial law practice comprises the bulk of work undertaken by him, with an emphasis on the following:
- Large-scale multi-party commercial litigation;
- Commercial contracts: Senior junior, and subsequently leader, in long running litigation relating to Equitas and in The Society of Lloyd’s v Jaffray, the longest, most complex, litigation to have been heard by the Commercial Court and Court of Appeal.
- Commercial fraud. Represented, among others, local government authorities in High Court proceedings involving complex fraudulent misrepresentation claims (including interim preservation of assets of the fraud by means of freezing injunctions over defendants’ assets)
- Represented government body in the landmark case Ashworth v MGN, which defined and extended the boundaries of the commercially important Norwich Pharmacal Order.
- Represented her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in the complex area of Value Added Tax litigation. He represented the Government, inter alia, in cases involving complex European VAT carousel fraud which potentially exposed the Government to in excess of £5billion in lost revenue. He has also established a practice in tax litigation in Jamaica. He has recently represented Carreras International in litigation against the Jamaica Customs and Excise, successfully overturning a Revenue Court award of GBP41 million against Carerras
- Regulation: represented Government Regulators (inter alia, Commission for Social Care Inspection) and regulated bodies (Thames Water) in major test challenges to their powers under regulation legislation. He has also represent BEL, an electricity utility subsidiary of Fortis (Canada) in a challenge to government regulation of the electricity industry in Belize.
- Commercial judicial review: Represented commercial bodies in judicial review challenges in the area of commercial law regulation in Jamaica and Belize.
- Construction litigation: (professional negligence, management contracting, and project management). Has acted in wide-ranging disputes such as hotel construction disputes: he has recently represented an international premium brand hotel in a dispute regarding Rose Hall Development on the North Coast of Jamaica in a US$50 million action. He has also represented Sans Souci (a premium brand hotel subsidiary of British American Tobacco) in a construction arbitration, which, following a challenge in the Jamaican courts is on appeal to the Privy Council. He has also represented major private developers in land and construction disputes in Jamaica, one of which (Morrison v Phipps) is on appeal to the Privy Council. He has also represented and advised major local authorities on development projects (Brent County Council and Gloucester County Council in the UK).
- Banking/finance: guarantees, letters of credit, financial services law. He has represented national and international banks in disputes on promissory notes, banking guarantees and general bank loans. He has also represented Belize Bank Limited in a major constitutional challenge to the powers of the Government of Belize in regulating Banks.
- Company Law, including directors’ duties and insolvency. His most recent representation involves pre-emption rights, the transfer of shares and the rectification of a company’s share register
- Partnership disputes.
- General contractual disputes.
- Passing off disputes.
- Breach of confidence/Freedom of Speech.
- Media contracts and regulation. Throughout the middle 1990s and into 2000 Vincent Nelson has represented some of the leading media companies in the UK and internationally, including Sony, SBS/Viasat, Fox, National Geographic. He has also been the first choice counsel for Taylor Wessing LLP who represent leading European satellite media company.
- Representation of sportsmen and women before disciplinary tribunals. Vincent Nelson has represented, inter alia, Diane Modahl, the first European athlete to have proven that her doping samples had produced a false positive result.
- Arbitration. Vincent Nelson has advised on and been involved in multi-million pound arbitrations.
- Telecoms: represented and advised, inter alia, LIME (a leading Caribbean subsidiary of Cable & Wireless) in a series of actions against Digicel
Selected Cases Prior to 2010
ACB v The Government of Belize and Belize Bank (2007): The Supreme Court of Belize
A constitutional dispute concerning the borrowing powers of the Government of Belize.
Mersey Care NHS Trust v Ackroyd (CA)  EWCA Civ 101
The freedom of the press and the protection of whistleblowers.
Thames Water Utilities Ltd v Ministry of Defence (CA)  EWCA Civ 1620
A leading test case with widespread repercussions in respect of the powers of water utilities under the Water Industry Act.
Six Continents Hotels Inc v Event Hotels GMBH (QBD)  EWHC 2317 (QB)
A leading case on hotel franchises and the interpretation of complete contract clauses.
Mersey Care NHS Trust v Ackroyd  EWHC 107 (QB)
Brooklyn House Ltd v Commission for Social Care Inspection (DC)  EWHC 1165 (Admin)
A test case regarding the Regulators Powers under the Social Care Act regulating private nursing homes and hospitals.
National Commercial Bank (Jamaica) Ltd v Hew (PC)  UKPC 51
Undue influence in commercial banking contracts.
Mersey Care NHS Trust v Robin Ackroyd (CA)
Disclosure of journalistic sources.
Ashworth Hospital Authority v Mirror Group Ltd (CA)  1 WLR 515
The leading case on freedom of speech and the important disclosure principles enshrined in Norwich Pharmacal Orders.
Society of Lloyd’s v Jaffray (CA)  All ER (D) 399;  EWCA Civ 1101
At the time, the longest, most complex case ever to have been heard before the Commercial Court. The case involved principles of commercial fraud and the powers of regulators.
PPC v The Palms (Turks & Caicos) (2008)
On appeal to the Privy Council from Turks & Caicos.