“Outstanding in international arbitration” The Legal 500
David Brynmor Thomas QC is a globally recognised specialist in the conduct of complex, high-value, international commercial litigation and arbitration.
He has extensive experience in handling disputes arising from long-term commercial relationships and construction projects across a range of industries, including energy and natural resources, transport and other infrastructure, manufacturing, ship-building and aviation. He has been counsel on cases involving projects and other assets in the United Kingdom, India, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.
David also appears in arbitration applications for injunctive relief in support of arbitrations, on challenges to awards on jurisdictional and procedural grounds, and on the enforcement of international arbitration awards.
David is an Honorary Professor in the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London, where he teaches International Construction Contracts and Arbitration. He is a co-editor (with Brekoulakis) of the Global Arbitration Review Guide to Construction Arbitration.
He has been appointed as an arbitrator in institutional and ad hoc arbitrations on more than 50 occasions.
David is a former Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, having represented the Chartered Institute at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group on International Commercial Arbitration for its work on amendments to the UNCITRAL Model Law and the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. He is also a member of the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Commission on Arbitration.
David originally qualified and practised as a physician before changing to law. David was a law firm partner at Herbert Smith, specialising in International Arbitration and Construction disputes, before practising at the independent Bar. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2019, only 8 years after being called to the Bar.
David is recommended by:
Acting for a developer fund in claims brought by its tenant and in consequent claims against its contractors and professional team, resulting from post-completion defects at the headquarters building of a media company in London.
Acting for the project manager in disputes arising from the refurbishment of a listed corporate headquarters building in London.
Acting for the developer of a shopping complex in relation to claims brought by tenants and consequential claims against its contractor and architect following a fire that destroyed the complex.
Acting for the contractor in an adjudication as to delay and disruption of a project for a paper mill in England
Acting for the developer of a local authority headquarters building in enforcing, by arbitration and related proceedings in the TCC, an agreement for lease of the building.
“David is an extremely experienced and highly regarded international arbitration lawyer. He is so thoughtful and knowledgeable.” Chambers & Partners
“Excellent and definitely one to watch.” Legal 500 2015
Chairman of an ICC Tribunal in an arbitration in relation to the sale and exploitation of Intellectual Property rights, subject to the law of Ohio, London seat.
Chairman of an LCIA Tribunal in an arbitration in a dispute arising from a corporate transaction in Unkraine, subject to English law, London seat.
Chairman of an ICC Tribunal in an arbitration arising from the sale of shares in a major telecommunications company, subject to the law of Barbados, Bridgetown seat.
Chairman of an ICC Tribunal in an arbitration relating to ownership of gas exploration and production licenses in Asia, subject to the law of Pakistan, London seat.
Chairman of a DIAC Tribunal in an arbitration arising from a major construction project in the UAE, subject to the law of Dubai, Dubai seat.
Co-arbitrator in an ICC arbitration airising from a major rail project, subject to the Law of Turkey, Lausanne seat.
Co-arbitrator in an ICC arbitration arising from a geothermal project in Asia, subject to the law of the Philippines, Singapore seat.
Co-arbitrator in an arbitration under the Rules of the ICC of a dispute arising from tax indemnities on a major infrastructure project between German and Albanian parties, subject to the law of Albania, Vienna seat.
Co-arbitrator in an arbitration under the Rules of the ICC between US and Indian parties, in relation to a joint venture dispute, subject to Indian law, Paris seat.
Co-arbitrator in an arbitration under the Rules of the LCIA between a bank and an Eastern European state authority, relating to the bank’s fee following the arrangement of funding for infrastructure works, subject to English law, London seat.
Sole arbitrator in an LCIA arbitration between a Polish vendor and a Chinese purchaser, in a dispute arising from a contract for the sale of goods to China and a related advance payment guarantee, subject to English law, London seat.
Sole arbitrator in an arbitration under the Rules of the LCIA between a German party and a Saudi Arabian party, in relation to an engineering project, subject to English law, London seat.
Sole arbitrator in an arbitration under the UNCITRAL Rules, appointed by the LCIA, in relation to an exclusive distribution agreement for the sale of goods in the United Arab Emirates, subject to English law, London seat.
Co-arbitrator in two related arbitrations under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules between parties from the United Kingdom, the Philippines the British Virgin Islands and Iran, relating to a share purchase agreement and a related guarantee, subject to English law, London seat.
Co-arbitrator in an arbitration under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules in relation to a shareholders agreement, subject to English law, Geneva seat.
Co-arbitrator in an arbitration subject to the UNCITRAL Arbitration rules, between a Russian and Mongolian parties, subject to Public International Law and the law of Mongolia, London seat.
Sole arbitrator in an ad hoc arbitration between an US corporation and a bank in the Gulf Region, subject to English law, London seat.
Sole arbitrator in an ad hoc arbitration between Swiss and Georgian parties, subject to English and Georgian law, London seat.
Sole arbitrator in three ad hoc arbitrations of partnership disputes, nominated by the same relevant professional body in all three arbitrations, subject to English law, London seat.
David is qualified in England and Wales. In addition to English law, he has experience of various other applicable laws, including those of:
He also has significant experience of matters involving questions of Public International Law and European Union Law.
In addition to litigation and arbitration in London, David has conducted arbitrations, either as counsel or as arbitrator, with seats in:
Acting for a major aero engine manufacture in consolidating two ICC arbitrations as to the pricing of a long-term maintenance contract with a national airline; and subsequently conducting and settling the consolidated arbitrations.
Advising an aero engine manufacturer in relation to claims for the repayment of engine incentive payments following the cancellation of orders for civil jet aircraft, including choice of forum for the claims.
Advising an aero engine manufacturer in relation to claims arising from the retirement of a fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft by an airline, where the order in which aircraft were retired affected obligations under, and the profitability of, a “power by the hour” engine maintenance agreement.
Acting in an ICC arbitration for a jet engine manufacturer in disputes against an airframe manufacturer arising from the cancellation of a Regional Jet Aircraft development programme.
Acting in an ICC arbitration arising from the post-conflict decontamination and remediation of a city centre site in the Middle East.
Acting in an LCIA arbitration relating to the consequences of a failure of regulatory approvals for an environmental project. The arbitration effectively involved allegations of bad faith against a public authority, arising from an express contractual obligation that the parties to the project would act towards one another in good faith.
Acting for the supplier as Claimant in an LCIA arbitration in relation to the supply and installation of a biofuels plant in Eastern Europe. As well as significant technical expert evidence the arbitration involved the direct impeachment of the Respondent’s chief executive on the basis that he had tendered dishonest evidence, inconsistent with direct representations made by him to a funding bank.
Advising a Spanish contractor in relation to force majeure and related issues following the delay and disruption of a desalination plant in India by successive tropical storms.
Acting for the contractor in a dispute as to the development and implementation of moving block signalling technology on a mass transit rail project.
Advising a mass transit authority in relation to delays to a communications upgrade for trains on a mass transit railway.
Acting in an ICC arbitration in relation to the construction and functioning of a plant in Asia for the manufacture of plastics, including related injunction proceedings to seek to prevent the calling of on demand bonds on the basis that such call was fraudulent.
Acting for an Italian joint venture in relation to the repudiatory breach of a contract to construct a dam in Kenya following the delayed grant of export finance and allegations that the Engineer to the project had subsequently demanded a bribe from the joint venture.
Acting for an Italian joint venture in relation to a project for the development of a highway in Taiwan.
Advising on, negotiating and drafting numerous arbitration, jurisdiction and choice of law provisions.
Drafting and negotiating the dispute resolution scheme for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
Drafting and negotiating dispute resolution provisions for the decommissioning of some of the United Kingdom’s nuclear reactor fleet.
Reviewing and advising on possible amendments to the Rules of an industry specific arbitration association and on possible expedited or small claims rules.
Acting in two ICC arbitrations between Japanese and Danish parties in relation to the underperformance of flue gas desulphurisation technology at two coal fired power stations. One arbitration arose from a consortium agreement whereas the other was in relation to a contractor – subcontractor relationship. The two arbitrations were distinct, with only one common arbitrator, so as to avoid issues of set-off across contracts being raised.
Acting for an Indian petrochemical corporation in an arbitration under the UNCITRAL Rules relating to a major oil refinery in India.
Acting for an energy major in a shareholders dispute, following delay to an LNG project by a contractor.
Advising an energy major in relation to the interpretation and application of limitations and exclusions of liability following delay to an LNG project in North Africa.
Acting for an oil corporation in relation to the interpretation and application of a ‘carry’ agreement for investments in infrastructure the UK North Sea, in particular the characterisation of “Capital” and “Operating” expendidture.
Advising the charterer of an deep sea drilling ship in relation to allegations, in Russia and in Norway, that the main charter was invalid; acting in relation to efforts by the ship’s sub-charterer to avoid the sub-charter based upon allegations made in relation to the charter, and coordinating separate injunction proceedings in Scotland in relation to monies received by the ship’s drilling manager but not accounted for by it to the client.
Acting for a deep sea drilling contractor in an LCIA arbitration arising from the sale by it of three shallow water drilling barges.
Acting for an oil and gas corporation in a dispute as to regasification charges on the import of LNG
David is regularly recommended as a leading arbitration lawyer in various directories including Chambers Global, Chambers Europe and Chambers UK; Who’s Who Legal; and Legal 500
“Excellent at dealing with the cross-border aspects” Chambers & Partners 2019
“Thoroughly professional and very accessible” Legal 500 2018
“Outstanding in international arbitration.” Legal 500 2015
“David is an extremely experienced and highly regarded international arbitration lawyer. He is so thoughtful and knowledgeable.” Chambers & Partners 2015
“A highly efficient, responsive and effective arbitrator.” Legal 500 2014
‘He provides excellent advocacy, clarity of thought and is an absolute pleasure to work with’ Legal 500 2014
“He has real knowledge and experience of the whole arbitration process.” Chambers & Partners 2014
“One of the top arbitration practitioners in London” Legal 500
“Lauded as one of the UK’s leading arbitration advocates, David Brynmor Thomas presents a daunting challenge for any opposing counsel.” Chambers Global 2009
Described by a leading directory as having a “particularly sophisticated understanding of the international arena” and identified as one of the 45 leading arbitration lawyers aged under 45 globally.