People

Thomas Plewman QC

Year of Call: 2009; South Africa 1993 Silk: 2016; South Africa 2008

Email: thomas.plewman@brickcourt.co.uk Direct phone: 020 73793550

Clerk: Julian Hawes Phone: 020 75209803 julian.hawes@brickcourt.co.uk

Thomas Plewman QC

Year of Call: 2009; South Africa 1993 Silk: 2016; South Africa 2008

Email: thomas.plewman@brickcourt.co.uk Direct phone: 020 73793550

Clerk: Julian Hawes Phone: 020 75209803 julian.hawes@brickcourt.co.uk

"A very hard-working, tenacious barrister who is incisive and clear-thinking in his advice." "His brain is working many steps ahead of everyone else in the courtroom."
- Chambers & Partners 2018

"He is fantastic value, with a great track record on accountancy cases." "Highly commercial and very authoritative in court.
- Chambers & Partners 2017

Overview

A highly regarded South African silk who moved to London in 2010.  His substantial advocacy experience quickly translated into a practice specialising in large commercial trials across a wide field, laying the basis for his appointment as a QC in 2016 after less than 6 years of London practice. Chambers and Partners describe him in 2018 as a "very hard-working, tenacious barrister who is incisive and clear-thinking in his advice." "His brain is working many steps ahead of everyone else in the courtroom."

He has an extensive commercial litigation practice and appeared in cases listed in The Lawyers’ top 20 for each of 2017, 2015, 2013 and 2011 - Holyoake v Candy (2017, Ch), Cattles Group v PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP (2015, settled after opening submissions filed),  Deutsche Bank AG v Sebastian Holdings Inc [2013] EWHC 3463, British Sky Broadcasting Limited and Others v Office of Communications [2012] CAT 20.  In 2017 he acted in amongst others Holyoake v Candy, with claims for conspiracy and duress of £130 million; in the investment management company dispute Signia Wealth v Dauriac, as well as a claim for an indemnity arising out of the catastrophic failure of an an industrial printing press in Contact Print and Packaging Ltd v Travelers Insurance Company Limited (on all of which judgments are awaited). He acts for Goldman Sachs in its dispute with Novo Banco over the effect of Portugues resolution measures applied to a failed bank, which will be heard in the Supreme Court in 2018, and reprsentes the erstwhile Financial Director of RSM Tenon Inc in proceedings brought by the FRC under the Accountancy Scheme.  In 2016 he appeared in the Court of Appeal in Novo Banco v Goldman Sachs and acted for Baker Tilly in professional negligence claims brought by Exsus Travel, for some of the shareholders of Omega Group Limited in the trial of unfair prejudice claims brought against the company in  the BVI, for  Autonomy Corporation Limited in its actions to recover losses from erstwhile directors and others arising from Hewlett Packard's £8bn acquisition of Autonomy and for Ticketus LLP in its attempts to recover the losses suffered on the advance purchase of Rangers’ season tickets following the Club’s liquidation. His breadth of experience equips him to act across wide ranging commercial fields, from banking and company law to competition, and auditors’ and solicitors’ professional negligence to breach of copyright and confidential information

Recent cases include:

  • Signia Wealth v Dauriac (2017, Ch, judgment awaited)
  • Holyoake v Candy [2016] EWHC 3065 (Ch) with the judgment following the 2017 trial awaited;
  • Goldman Sachs International v Novo Banco SA [2016] EWCA Civ 1092
  • Exsus Travel Ltd v Baker Tilly [2016] EWHC 2818 (Ch)
  • CH Trustees v Omega Services Group Ltd (BVI HC 0037/2015)
  • Cattles Group v PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP – claims brought by Cattles and its subsidiary Welcome Financial Services attempting to recover damages of £1.6 billion from PriceWaterhouse for failing to detect its failing business model two years earlier than they did;
  • GB Minerals Holdings Ltd v Short  [2015] EWHC 1387 (TCC), obtaining permission to bring contempt proceedings for making false statements under statement of truth;
  • ALG v Grant Thornton and others – acting for Grant Thornton in defeating ALG’s attempt to hold it responsible for $200m of losses following its failed AIM listing, alleging breach of its duties as reporting accountant;
  • Sarclad Ltd v APT Technology [2014] EWHC 2640 (Ch), involving claims for breach of copyright and appropriation of confidential information following an underlying dispute over agency commissions and alleged corrupt payments in China;
  • Astra Finance Inc v Reed Smith LLP, a claim for solicitors professional negligence in the running of a ship-building dispute;
  • QOGT Inc v IOGT Ltd [2014] EWHC 1628 (Comm) – relating to the termination of a fund’s investment management agreement after the joint managers fell into dispute with each other;
  •  Deutsche Bank AG v Sebastian Holdings Inc [2013] EWHC 3463, and [2014] EWCA Civ 1100 - the £8bn dispute over foreign exchange trading losses suffered by a company owned by Norwegian billionaire, Alexander Vik;
  • Cavendish CF LLP v KIMS Propco Ltd [2014] EWHC 1282 (Ch), defeating claims for a corporate finance success fee on a private hospital development;
  •  Fortress Value Recovery Fund I LLC v Blue Skye Special Opportunities Fund  [2013] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 973 and [2012] EWHC 1486 (Comm) – claims in conspiracy relating to the restructuring of the $200m Blue Skye investment fund;
  • British Sky Broadcasting Limited and Others v Office of Communications  [2012] CAT 20;
  • Goldentree Finance Ltd v Collis and Whitehead 2012 (Unreported); claims for breach of directors’ fiduciary duty and mismanagement;
  • Bethell Construction Limited v Deloitte and Touche [2011] EWCA Civ 1321,establishing limitation defences against auditors negligence claims;
  • Erlson Precision Holdings Ltd v Hampson Industries Plc  [2011] EWHC 1137 (Comm)  involving claims for fraudulent misrepresentation on sale of a company;
  • Everton Football Club Company  Limited v Sail Group Limited  [2011] EWHC 126 (QB) defeating claims for breach of an alleged contract for a pre-season football tournament.

In South Africa he acted in many fields including:

  • auditors’ professional negligence, regularly acting for the big 4 firms including Thoroughbred Breeders' Association v Price Waterhouse 2001 (4) SA 551 (SCA) and Axiam Holdings Ltd v Deloitte & Touche 2006 (1) SA 237 (SCA), and  both for and against the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors
  • insurance, including Van Zyl NO v Kiln Non-Marine Syndicate No. 510 of Lloyds of London 2003 (2) SA 440 (SCA), Coetzee v Attorney's Insurance Indemnity Fund 2003 (1) SA 1 (SCA) and David Trust v Aegis Insurance Co. Ltd 2000 (3) SA 289 (SCA)
  • company law, in a number of shareholders disputes in private arbitration, in scheme of arrangement proceedings including the De Beers / Anglo American restructuring in 2001 and in the derivative action proceedings in  Joseph Forman Holdings (Pty) Ltd and another v Forim Holdings [1999]  3 All SA 204 (W)
  • in confidential information and corporate espionage disputes including the damages claims brought in Frangos v Corpcapital which were resolved three weeks into the trial and the underlying Anton Piller proceedings 2004 (2) SA 643 (T) .
  • banking disputes, acting for Standard Bank, FirstRand and Investec, including in the Commission of Inquiry into the fall of the value of the Rand; and in NBS Boland Bank Ltd v One Berg River Drive CC 1999 (4) SA 928 (SCA)
  • in large mining disputes, including the 2009 arbitration Kumba Iron Ore Ltd v Mittal Steel over the rights to the Kolomela mine and the platinum rights dispute Bafokeng Tribe v Impala Platinum Ltd 1999 (3) SA 517 (BH) as well as acting for Anglo American in the silicosis claims brought against it by employees of its subsidiaries mining;
  • software development disputes including the claims bought by Old Mutual against Accenture and by Neil Harvey and Associates against Medscheme Holdings Ltd;
  • telecommunications, representing Vodacom against the Independent Communications Authority;
  • intellectual property, including obtaining injunctions against patent infringement  in Pfizer Ltd v Cipla-Medpro 2005 BIP 1 (CP) and acting for Pfizer in the subsequent damages claims, patent amendment proceedings to avoid revocation in Smithkline Beecham Biologicals (SA) v Chiron Corporation  (2009, unreported), trademark proceedings in Levi Strauss & Co v Coconut Trouser Manufacturers (Pty) Ltd 2001 (3) SA 1285 (SCA)  and  copyright claims in Morris v Benson and Hedges 2000 (3) SA 1092 (W).

He continues to advise English clients on South African law and acted as an expert witness in proceedings in Jersey in Investec Trust (Swizerland) S.A. v the Philip Gutman Family Trust and in South Africa as an expert witness on English law in arbitration proceedings relating the Qindao aluminium frauds.

About

Awarded silk in 2016, he is also a Senior  Counsel  for  the  Republic  of  South  Africa, having taken silk there in 2008. He relocated to London taking up  tenancy at Brick Court  in 2010.  

Thomas was engaged in substantial commercial litigation throughout his 16 years of practice in Johannesburg, in both courts and arbitration, and has rapidly developed a commercial trial practice in London including a number of the largest cases in recent years.

practice areas

Thomas acts in commercial, professional negligence and arbitration matters.

Commercial

Commercial Litigation

He acts in substantial commercial trials across a wide compass.  In 2017 he acted in amongst others Holyoake v Candy, with claims for conspiracy and duress of £130 million; in the investment management company dispute Signia Wealth v Dauriac, as well as a claim for an indemnity arising out of the catastrophic failure of an an industrial printing press in Contact Print and Packaging Ltd v Travelers Insurance Company Limited (on all of which judgments are awaited). He is  heavily engaged in financial services disputes, acting in 2016 in Goldman Sachs International v Novo Banco SA [2016] EWCA Civ 1092 on which the appeal to the Supreme Court will be heard in 2018, in misselling claims brought by an individual against Barclays Bank and acting for an Australian foreign exchange dealer against Citibank in claims for losses suffered on the 2015 Swiss Franc revaluation; spent most of 2013 and 2014 acting in the $8 billion dispute in Deutsche Bank AG v Sebastian Holdings Inc [2013] EWHC 3463, and its aftermath including the application in the Court of Appeal for security for the  judgment [2014] EWCA Civ 1100; and before that in Fortress Value Recovery Fund I LLC v Blue Skye Special Opportunities Fund  [2013] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 973 and [2012] EWHC 1486 (Comm).  

Judgments in recent cases include the security for costs and abuse of process application in Holyoake v Candy [2016] EWHC 3065 (Ch); the jurisdiction appeal in Goldman Sachs International v Novo Banco SA [2016] EWCA Civ 1092, acting for shareholders in unfair prejudice claims in the BVI in CH Trustees v Omega Services Group Ltd (BVI HC 0037/2015),  a successful application for permission to bring contempt proceedings in GB Minerals Holdings Ltd v Short  [2015] EWHC 1387 (TCC ); the successful defence of claims for repudiation of an investment fund management agreement, QOGT Inc v IOGT Ltd [2014] EWHC 1628 (Comm), and resisting a corporate finance success fee in Cavendish CF LLP v KIMS Propco Ltd [2014] EWHC 1282 (Ch). 

Judgments in other cases  include:  Sarclad Ltd v APT Technology [2014] EWHC 2640 (Ch); British Sky Broadcasting Limited and Others  v Office of Communications  [2012] CAT 20; Brit Inns Ltd (In Liquidation) v BDW Trading Ltd 145 Con LR 181; Erlson Precision Holdings Ltd v Hampson Industries Plc  [2011] EWHC 1137 (Comm)  and  Everton Football  Club Company  Limited v Sail Group Limited  [2011] EWHC 126 (QB).

Professional Negligence

For more than 10 years, Thomas was briefed in most of the big auditing cases for the big four auditing firms in South Africa as both a junior and a silk. Having a first degree in accountancy and economics, he is very well-versed in underlying accounting issues. After commencing practice in London he continued that specialisation.  He is acting for an the erstwhile Finance Director of RSM Tenon in the FRC proceedings brought against him under the Accountancy Scheme and for Baker Tilly (now RSM) in professional negligence claims brought against it by Cayton's Law. In the last two years he has advised on FRC claims against Grant Thornton; and acted in Exsus Travel Ltd v Baker Tilly [2016] EWHC 2818 (Ch), in the £1.6bn claim in Cattles Limited v PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP which settled after opening submissions were filed in October 2015 in American Leisure Group v Grant Thornton (dismissed for failure to comply with interlocutory orders in April 2015) and in Festive Products v KPMG (settled in 2014). Earlier cases include Bethell Construction Ltd v Deloitte and Touche [2011] EWCA Civ 1321. He is acting in 2017 in a number of ongoing claims and FRC proceedings.

Recent South African cases include Axiam Holdings Ltd v Deloitte & Touche 2006 (1) SA 237 (SCA) (concerning auditors duties to third parties). He also appeared in the leading case on auditor's contractual liability, ThoroughbredBreeders Association v Pricewaterhouse 2001(4) SA 551 (SCA). In addition he acted regularly in South Africa for the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors and SA Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Insurance

Recent insurance cases include Contact Print and Packaging Ltd v Travelers Insurance Company Limited (on which judgment is awaited); and Brit Inns Ltd (In Liquidation) v BDW Trading Ltd 145 Con LR 181. Thomas regularly acted in insurance matters in South Africa.   Reported judgments of insurance cases in which he acted include Van Zyl NO v Kiln Non-marine Syndicate No 510 2003 (2) SA 440 (SCA) and David Trust v Aegis Insurance Co Ltd 2000 (3) SA 289 (SCA).

Arbitration

Thomas Plewman SC regularly acted in arbitration matters in South Africa, including as the junior silk for Sishen Iron Ore Company in a well-publicised arbitration over long term ore supplies to ArcelorMittal South Africa, in which Sishen defeated ArcelorMittal's claims to be contractually entitled to a substantial portion of the new Kolomela iron ore mine.

Since moving to the UK he has continued to act in both South African and UK arbitration claims.

Reported Cases

Holyoake v Candy [2016] EWHC 3065 (Ch);

Goldman Sachs International v Novo Banco SA [2016] EWCA Civ 1092

Exsus Travel Ltd v Baker Tilly [2016] EWHC 2818 (Ch)

CH Trustees v Omega Services Group Ltd (BVI HC 0037/2015)

GB Minerals Holdings Ltd v Short [2015] EWHC 1387 (TCC )

Sarclad Ltd v APT Technology [2014] EWHC 2640 (Ch)

QOGT Inc v IOGT Ltd [2014] EWHC 1628 (Comm)

Cavendish CF LLP v KIMS Propco Ltd [2013] EWHC 722 (Ch) and  [2014] EWHC 1282 (Ch)

Deutsche Bank AG v Sebastian Holdings Inc [2013] EWHC 3463 (Comm) and  [2014] EWCA Civ 1100

Fortress Value Recovery Fund I LLC v Blue Skye Special Opportunities Fund  [2012] EWHC 1486 (Comm) and  [2013] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 973

British Sky Broadcasting Limited and Others  v Office of Communications  [2012] CAT 20

Brit Inns Ltd (In Liquidation) v BDW Trading Ltd 145 Con LR 181

Bethell Construction Limited  v  Deloitte and Touche [2011] EWCA Civ 1321

Erlson Precision Holdings Ltd v Hampson Industries Plc  [2011] EWHC 1137 (Comm)

Everton Football  Club Company  Limited v Sail Group Limited  [2011] EWHC 126 (QB)

L G Blower Specialist Bricklayer Ltd v Reeves and another [2010] 1 W.L.R. 2081 (CA)

Prebble v Costa [2010] EWCA Civ 717

Qualifications

B  Com  (UCT,  cum  laude);  LLB  (Wits,  cum  laude);  BCL  (Oxon).  Graduated  as  top  LLB  student  in  his  year  and was  awarded  a  Rhodes  Scholarship  for  South  Africa  in  1990.

Directory Quotes

  • "A very hard-working, tenacious barrister who is incisive and clear-thinking in his advice." "His brain is working many steps ahead of everyone else in the courtroom." (Chambers & Partners 2018)
  • "He is fantastic value and has a great track record on accountancy cases." "Very easy to work with and has a very clear style in court." (Chambers & Partners 2018)
  • "Incisive and clear-thinking in his advice, both orally and on paper." (The Legal 500 2017)
  • "A very experienced barrister, who is measured, clear and pragmatic." (The Legal 500 2017)
  • "He is fantastic value, with a great track record on accountancy cases." (Chambers & Partners 2017)
  • "Highly commercial and very authoritative in court." "Thomas is a very hard-working, tenacious barrister who is incisive and clear-thinking in his advice, both orally and on paper. He is a robust cross-examiner who offers clear and pragmatic advice to clients." (Chambers & Partners 2017)
  • "A very hardworking, tenacious barrister, who is incisive and clear-thinking." (The Legal 500 2016)
  • "Very knowledgeable." (The Legal 500 2016)
  • “A well-regarded advocate with particular experience in financial services, banking, professional negligence, intellectual property and mining law. His heavyweight presence in the London market follows on from his success as a commercial silk in South Africa.” (Chambers & Partners 2015) 
  • "Extraordinarily good." "Pugnacious, straightforward and straight-talking."(Chambers & Partners 2015) 
  • “Handles a heavy commercial litigation caseload. His strength lies in acting for financial services companies in high-value negligence claims.” (Chambers & Partners 2015) 
  • "His knowledge is excellent, as is his advocacy. He shows good judgement as to how to engage with judges and he is good tactically." "He is fantastically good value because he's really experienced and happy to get involved with the clients." (Chambers & Partners 2015) 
  • "A persuasive and subtly dominant advocate who picks apart the other side’s case with precision." Legal 500 2015)
  • "A pugnacious yet charming man, with very persuasive qualities and a very client-friendly approach." (The Legal 500 2014)
  • “Senior counsel at the South African Bar and now a junior at Brick Court, Thomas Plewman SC has a great track record as a litigator. Sources who have seen him in action in the UK say Plewman is ‘highly analytical, very clever’ and possessed of ‘very good judgement.’” (Chambers & Partners 2013)

Languages

Afrikaans


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