Thomas Roe KC has a vigorous and wide-ranging practice encompassing commercial and chancery commercial litigation, arbitration, civil fraud, insolvency, property law, constitutional and administrative law, and public international law.
The Legal 500 calls him ‘incredibly astute, quick thinking and impressively calm under fire’, while Chambers & Partners calls him ‘clever and reliable’, ‘tenacious’ and ‘delightful to work with’.
Tom appears regularly in the High Court—where he is a highly experienced trial lawyer—and in the Court of Appeal. He has appeared several times before the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and dozens of times before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. He has also appeared often before courts overseas, including the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal of The Bahamas, and the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean. Cases he has argued have been reported in (among others) the Law Reports, the Weekly Law Reports, Lloyd’s Law Reports, Butterworths Company Law Cases, the Wills and Trusts Law Reports, the International Trusts and Estates Law Reports, the Immigration and Nationality Law Reports, the Industrial Relations Law Reports, the Environmental Law Reports, and the Law Reports of the Commonwealth.
Much of Tom’s work is international. Regular clients have included, in addition to many businesses and individuals in England & Wales and overseas, the British Government and several overseas governments.
Tom is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
He is ranked in Chambers & Partners for Chancery Commercial and for Civil Liberties & Human Rights, and in Legal 500 for Administrative & Public Law and for Offshore.
Tom has huge experience across a wide range of contentious and advisory work in the field of commercial and chancery commercial litigation, including many corporate disputes. Some notable recent matters include:
Acted for a pharmaceutical developer, successfully resisting an application for security for costs—on the unusual ground of the merits of the claim as demonstrable on a summary basis—in this ongoing dispute arising from a contract to evaluate the efficacy of a new drug against brain cancers.
Acting for a state in a pending appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council concerning the legal issue of the extent to which a party that performs work under an apparent contract that is void for lack of authority on the part of the counterparty’s agent should nevertheless be entitled to recover in unjust enrichment.
Acted for defendants to claims alleging breach of duties as directors of a Thai company, and successfully obtained a stay of proceedings on forum non conveniens grounds in the light of change of circumstances, notwithstanding submission to the jurisdiction several years earlier.
Represented the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking, intervening in this leading case before the Supreme Court concerning the scope of the defence of duress in contract law.
Lux Locations Ltd v Zhang  2 Law Reports of the Commonwealth 620 (Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean)
Acting in this long-running commercial dispute arising from a huge land purchase transaction in Antigua. The case is reported in the LRC on the issue of the approach to a default judgment in a non-monetary claim. The Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean later gave leave to appeal to the Privy Council on the ground that the case raises issues of great public or general importance. The appeal to the Privy Council is pending.
Advised a Cypriot coal trading company as to its rights and remedies in a dispute under a 10 million MT coal contract.
Successfully represented the claimant company in this long and complex trial against its former directors arising from a management buyout, in which the issues included whether informed consent had been secured from the shareholders or a relevant group of shareholders.
Advised the directors of a Cypriot holding company of a Ukrainian retail conglomerate as to their obligations in the light of a worldwide freezing order served on a contractual counterparty
Advised the state water company of an overseas territory as to the lawfulness of its proposed work-arounds in relation to public procurement rules.
Advised construction risk insurance brokers on a substantial dispute with managing agents concerning entitlements to write insurance in the French market.
Acted for the successful applicant in this application—believed to be the first of its kind—for disclosure of the names of the underlying lenders of a loan arranged by an online peer-to-peer lending company, on the basis that on the proper construction of the contractual documents they, not the peer-to-peer company, were the applicant’s true contractual counterparties.
Acted as amicus curiae before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in this appeal concerning the extent of motor insurers’ authority.
Acted in this dispute concerning a restraint of trade clause in the entertainment industry.
Tom has experience of domestic and international arbitration under many regimes. He has been a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators for over a decade. Some arbitral cases on which he has recently worked as counsel and which may be mentioned include the following:
Represented a state-owned oil company in a multi-million-dollar ICC arbitration about expropriation of shares.
Advised as to a potential US $2bn LCIA arbitral claim arising from a sale of assets in the Russian energy sector.
Defended an overseas government in a multi-million-dollar LCIA arbitration arising from alleged breaches of duty in connection with its citizenship-by-investment programme.
Acting for the claimant in a US $9m ICC arbitration arising from coal trading contracts in the CIS.
Acting for a claimant in a US $23m international commercial arbitration under the rules of the London Maritime Arbitrators’ Association.
Tom is an experienced litigator and adviser in personal and corporate insolvency, and has appeared in many reported cases in the field.
Acted for the successful director in this corporate dispute concerning an alleged bankruptcy debt arising from the operation of the directors’ loan accounts, where the underlying issue was an allegation of unfairly prejudicial conduct.
Acted in this leading case in the Court of Appeal on the scope and limits of the court’s powers to wind a company up on the ‘just and equitable’ ground.
Badyal v Badyal  EWHC 467 (Ch)
Acted in this dispute concerning the winding up of a partnership with substantial assets in India, and the impact of orders of the High Court in Delhi on the English proceedings.
Acted in this appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning the proper approach to an allegation that a director apparently causing a company to bring a claim had in fact ceased to hold office.
Acted in this leading case in the Court of Appeal on the circumstances in which the court may infer assent by the shareholders of a company to conduct that would otherwise constitute a breach of a director’s duties.
Acted in this case in the Companies Court about the extent of directors’ duties to have regard to the interests of creditors when solvency becomes doubtful.
Tom has experience across a wide range of contentious and advisory work in the field of civil fraud litigation. Some notable recent matters include:
X v Persons Unknown (High Court, 2022)
Established England & Wales jurisdiction and obtained proprietary freezing orders and Bankers Trust disclosure orders against several European banks used as depositaries for the fruits of a sophisticated and extraordinarily successful advance fee fraud against a wealthy individual.
Appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in this case concerning fraudulent misrepresentations in connection with the procuring of valuable property transfers in Trinidad and Tobago.
X v Y Ltd (2021)
Acted in this High Court trial arising from allegations of undue influence and forgery to procure dividend waivers and other allegedly disadvantageous dispositions.
Advised the government of an overseas jurisdiction as to its civil claims against former government ministers for their involvement in allegedly corrupt transactions.
Acted in these proceedings seeking the setting aside on non-disclosure grounds of a freezing injunction granted in context of an alleged cryptocurrency fraud.
Estate of Ibru v Brown (Chief Master Marsh, Chancery Division, 2020)
Acted for the estate of a UHNW individual, successfully recovering judgment at trial for the recovery of what were claimed to have been substantial gifts made shortly before his untimely death.
Acted for the appellant in this successful appeal to the Privy Council against conviction for a complex property fraud in Montserrat.
Tom has experience across a wide range of contentious and advisory work in the field of property litigation. Some notable recent matters include:
Acted for property developers against the government in this appeal concerning the valuation methodology for compulsory acquisition of land for a runway extension in Anguilla
Acting in an ongoing claim in the High Court to recover disputed profit share arising from investment in German commercial property.
Acted in this appeal concerning the proper approach to accounting under ss 12-15 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trusts Act 1995.
Successfully acted in this long-running dispute between former business associates as to the ownership of property assets in India.
Acted for a developer in this appeal to the Privy Council in this dispute concerning ownership of 2,000 acres of prime development land in the Bahamas.
Acted for the successful appellant in this appeal based on evidence not deployed in the court below, concerning true ownership of property in India.
Acted against the government in this challenge to its assessment of compensation for the compulsory purchase of land from a leading Bahamas housebuilder.
Acted in this dispute before the Privy Council concerning whether or not a binding contract for the sale of land had been concluded.
Tom has long experience of most aspects of administrative law and human rights, and particular experience of advising on and arguing issues concerning constitutional law (and the interaction of constitutional and public international law), both in England & Wales and overseas. His practice covers both human rights and commercial and regulatory issues.
Until his appointment as Queen’s Counsel he was a member of the Attorney General of England & Wales’s panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown, in which capacity he argued many public law cases for the UK government. He continues to be instructed for the government. Examples of his work in these fields include:
Acted for the government of Trinidad and Tobago in this important appeal, successfully defending the constitutionality of its legislative responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. This appeal settles a controversy in the Court of Appeal of Trinidad and Tobago as to the nature and role of proportionality analysis in considering alleged interferences with the human rights protected under the Constitution.
R (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking) v Financial Conduct Authority
Acting for a group of MPs and peers in this High Court judicial review challenging the FCA’s response to the Swift review into its approach to swaps mis-selling.
Acted for the Home Secretary in this successful defence of the arrangements for the detention of women under immigration powers against allegations that they were discriminatory and infringed the common law right of access to justice.
Acted for the Attorney General in this appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council concerning apparent bias. The case is notable for the Judicial Committee’s rejection of the High Court of Australia’s test for apparent bias in Ebner v Official Trustee in Bankruptcy  HCA 63, 205 C.L.R. 337.
Advised and drafted proceedings for a group mounting a constitutional challenge to the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination laws of a Commonwealth country.
Acted for the government of Trinidad and Tobago, successfully defending a claim of unfairness contrary to the common law in the operation of disciplinary procedures in the prison service.
Advised and drafted pleadings in an overseas jurisdiction’s largest claim for malicious prosecution, the case arising from allegedly politicised decisions to bring and continue with baseless corruption charges.
Successfully defended the Home Secretary against a claim that the arrangements for overnight lock-ins at an immigration removal centre contravened religious rights under ECHR article 9 or were discriminatory.
Acted for the government of Trinidad and Tobago in this appeal in judicial review proceedings concerning the extent of the Minister’s power to suspend or revoke licences granted under the Petroleum Act.
Acted for the claimant before the Supreme Court in this case concerning the nature and limits of the ‘Zambrano’ principle in immigration law.
Acted for the claimant in this judicial review challenge to the BBC’s arrangements for monitoring its compliance with its duty of due impartiality.
Acted for the state petroleum company in this appeal concerning the relationship between freedom of information and the confidentiality of arbitral proceedings.
Represented Scunthorpe United FC in this judicial review challenge to allocation of funding for public works.
Acted for an intervener in this well-known case in the Supreme Court concerning whether the government needed legislative authority before triggering the UK’s exit from the EU.
Acted for the government of Trinidad and Tobago in this case concerning the circumstances in which a person has standing to make a complaint of a breach of a non-human-rights provision of the Constitution.
Dawson-Damer v Grampian Trust Company Ltd (2017) 20 I.T.E.L.R. 722
Acted for the government of the Bahamas in this dispute in the Supreme Court of the Bahamas about the compatibility of the Bahamas’ very strict rules on confidentiality in discretionary trusts with fair trial rights.
Acted for the government of Trinidad and Tobago in this appeal about the nature and extent of the ‘polluter pays’ principle in environmental law.
Successfully defended the Home Secretary’s policy of using prisons for the immigration detention of time-served foreign national offenders against challenge for alleged inconsistency with ECHR rights.
Persuaded an expanded panel of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to depart (by a majority) from its own earlier decision as to its powers in death penalty cases where it was not seised of a claim for constitutional relief.
Tom has many years’ experience in public international law. In 2011 he wrote, with Professor Matthew Happold, Settlement of Investment Disputes under the Energy Charter Treaty (Cambridge University Press), which remains a leading work on that subject. He has often been called upon to advise governments as to their obligations in international law. Recent examples of work in this field include:
Advising the UK government about the compatibility of several provisions of intended legislation with UK treaty commitments (2020-21)
Advising a department in the Northern Ireland Executive about the proper construction of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.
Advising an overseas government about the compatibility of a major reform of drugs policy with international treaty commitments, and about its practical options (2020-22).
Advising an overseas government as to its obligations under the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters in connection with certain financial products being marketed in its territory (2020).
Acted for the Home Secretary (led by Sir James Eadie QC in the Supreme Court, but as leading counsel in the Court of Appeal and the High Court) in this case concerning whether the Refugee Convention applies to the UK’s Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus and, if so, with what implications for the rights of persons claiming asylum there.
Advising an African NGO as to its prospects of successfully challenging laws criminalising homosexual acts in the light of the state’s constitutional law and international treaty commitments.
Thomas is able to accept instructions directly from members of the public, companies and other entities through the public access scheme (also known as direct access). Thomas has acted, advised and drafted pleadings and documents for a number of individuals and small and medium sized businesses on a direct access basis. He is happy to accept instructions on a direct basis in appropriate cases. If you wish to instruct Thomas on a direct basis, please speak to the clerks.
For more information on public access, please see the Bar Council website.
“Very erudite, extremely intelligent and a really fine performer in court.” - Chancery: Commercial
Chambers & Partners 2024
“I have always been incredibly impressed by his ability to understand complex matters in such difficult time constraints - it is astounding. He is also talented in his drafting and makes legal issues extremely digestible for everyone.” - Civil liberties & Human Rights
Chambers & Partners 2024
‘Thomas’s advice is precise and to the point. He answers clients’ questions meticulously and uses clear language, which helps clients understand complex legal issues. As an advocate, he is alert with the ability to identify the key issues and evidence favouring his client. Very knowledgeable in his area of expertise, easily approachable and down to earth.’ - Caribbean – The English Bar Offshore
Legal 500 2023
"Has very strong legal skills allied to an excellent ability to apply that knowledge to meet the client's needs." - Chancery: Commercial - London (Bar)
Chambers and Partners 2023
"A well-respected practitioner when it comes to government work." - Civil Liberties & Human Rights - London (Bar)
Chambers and Partners 2023
'Thomas' written arguments are well-structured, rigorously thought-out and logically unimpeachable.' Ranked: Tier 3 - Administrative and public law (including elections) - UK Bar
Legal 500 2023
"He is clever and reliable." "Thomas is really tenacious in a fair way and he won’t take ridiculously small points." - Civil Liberties & Human Rights - London (Bar)
Chambers & Partners 2022
"has an awful lot of experience as an advocate which really shows. He makes high-quality submissions and is particularly good on technical points of law.." - Chancery: Commercial - London (Bar)
Chambers & Partners 2022
‘ A determined and dogged advocate. ’ Leading Silk - Administrative and public law (including elections)
Legal 500 2022
‘ Incredibly astute, quick thinking and impressively calm under fire. ’ Leading Silk - Offshore
Legal 500 2022
"He is delightful to work with and a good and thoughtful lawyer. His advice is always succinct." "Tom is very intelligent, client-friendly and commercial." - Chancery: Commercial
Chambers and Partners 2021
‘Highly intellectually able and knowledgeable in the field.’ - Leading Silks - Offshore
Legal 500 2021
‘A determined and dogged advocate.’ - Leading Silk - Administrative and public law (including elections)
Legal 500 2021
"An absolute pleasure to work with, I consider him to be a real gentleman. His legal skills are second to none and he found creative legal strategies. He is very amenable and receptive to creative thinking and to finding those solutions to difficult problems." Dispute Resolution: Commercial Chancery
Chambers & Partners 2020
“He turns cases around.” Administrative and Public law
Legal 500 2020
"He is very intellectually able and cuts through the detail to pull out the key elements of a case. He is a tough fighter, tenacious on his feet and will push for the best possible outcome for his client." "Tom is very thorough, hard-working and versatile." - Civil Liberties & Human Rights
Chambers & Partners 2019
"An extremely user-friendly barrister who takes the time to get to know clients and their businesses and therefore truly understands commercial objectives. He is meticulously thorough and will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of the best outcome for clients. His drafting and advocacy skills are equally impressive." - Chancery: Commercial
Chambers & Partners 2019