Tom Bird

Called: 2011

Practice Overview

Tom Bird has a broad commercial practice with a focus on shipping, commodities, aviation, insurance and reinsurance. Chambers UK recommends him as “a rising star ... He's responsive, accessible, bright, tenacious, and user-friendly."

Tom has represented clients in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. He is equally at home in arbitration. His significant cases include appeals to the Supreme Court in The DC Merwestone – a marine insurance dispute concerning the fraudulent device doctrine – and Stott v Thomas Cook, the leading case on the exclusivity of the Montreal Convention and its relation to EU law.

  • What the directories sayView More

    • "Tom is a rising star. He's responsive, accessible, bright, tenacious, and user-friendly."

      "A lawyer with a tremendous knowledge of the aviation sector, who is user friendly and exceptionally bright."

    • "Very commercial"

      (Legal 500)
    • ..."One to watch ... He's bright, he's user-friendly, he's accessible and he has good judgement."...

      (Chambers UK 2016)
  • Insurance & Reinsurance K View More

    Tom specialises in insurance and reinsurance law. Having spent time on secondment at a leading London insurer and reinsurer, he has both knowledge of the market and experience of most classes of (re)insurance (including marine, property, professional indemnity, aviation and commercial combined). Recent cases include:

    • Versloot Dredging BV v HDI Gerling Industrie Versicherung AG (The DC Merwestone) [2013] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 131. (Comm), [2015] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 32 (CA). A marine insurance dispute raising issues as to the meaning of 'perils of the sea' and the fortuity requirement, the effect of the Inchmaree clause, and the fraudulent device doctrine. Tom acted for the owners in their appeal to the Supreme Court.
    • Atlasnavios-Navegacao LDA v Navigators Insurance Co Ltd (The B Atlantic). Tom acted for the underwriters (with Guy Blackwood QC and Simon Rainey QC) defending a $20 million claim for the CTL of a vessel under a policy of war risks insurance (the vessel was detained in Venezuela after 132 kg of cocaine were found attached to her hull). 
    • Ram Recycling v DRC and Others (2013). Tom acted (with Guy Blackwood) for Lloyd's syndicates in a multiparty Commercial Court dispute involving issues of actual/apparent agency, broker negligence, material non-disclosure and misrepresentation. The case settled before trial on favourable terms to the underwriters.
    • Ted Baker Plc v AXA Insurance UK Plc [2013] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 129. Tom assisted Tim Marland and Stephen Cogley QC in a claim under a commercial combined policy issued to a clothing retailer covered loss of stock and consequential or business interruption loss caused by theft by an employee. The case raised points of construction, estoppel by convention and rectification. 
  • Shipping & Maritime K View More

    Tom specialises in dry shipping and commodities. He has acted for broad range of international clients in disputes arising out of contracts of affreightment (bills of lading, voyage charters and time charters), cargo claims and the international sale of goods. He is also advising on and acting in claims arising out of a contract of carriage by road, including both domestic carriage and international carriage governed by the CMR Convention; and advising on and drafting submissions in disputes concerning unpaid hire, laytime and demurrage, detention, unsafe ports, and bunker quality / quantity.

    Illustrative cases include:

    • ADM Asia-Pacific Trading PTE Ltd v PT Budi Semesta Satria (2015). Acting with John Russell QC for sellers in dispute arising out of the sale of 66,000 mt of soybeans.
    • Carlos Soto SAU v AP Moller-Maersk A/S [2015] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 537. Acted as sole counsel for successful claimant in Commercial Court trial arising out of damage to a consignment of frozen swordfish.
    • Proton Energy Group SA v Orlen Lietuva [2014] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 100. Tom (led by Chirag Karia QC) acted for the successful sellers in a Commercial Court trial arising out of a contract for the sale of crude oil.
    • LMAA Arbitration. Acting for defendant tug-owner in a claim arising out of a charterparty on the Towcon 2008 form involving issues of tow-worthiness.
    • LMAA Arbitration. Acted with John Russell QC for the charterers in an unsafe port claim by the owners for US$2.4 million.
  • Aviation & Travel K View More

    Tom has acted as sole and junior counsel in a wide range of aviation disputes. He has been instructed in a number of cases of significance to the aviation industry. He has also advised and acted for airlines in passenger claims brought under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 and the Montreal Convention (particularly where the disputes raise matters of general principle), as well as issues arising under: the Air Navigation Order 2009; the Equality Act 2010; and the ATOL Regulations.

    Illustrative cases include:

    • Stott v Thomas Cook Tour Operators Ltd [2014] AC 1347. Tom and John Kimbell QC acted for the successful airline in an appeal to the Supreme Court concerning the exclusivity of the Montreal Convention and its relation to European law and human rights.
    • Huzar v Ltd [2014] 4 All ER 587. Tom acted with Rob Lawson QC for the appellant airline. The issue in the appeal was whether a delay caused by an unexpected, unforeseen and unforeseeable technical problem can ever amount to an extraordinary circumstance for the purposes of article 5(3) of Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations, or long delays of flights.
    • Dempsey v Sylmar Aviation & Services Ltd (2015, Technology & Construction Court). Claim arising out of work carried out to a Cessna 152 to obtain certificate of airworthiness.
    • McLarty v Thomas Cook Airlines Ltd and Ors (2015). Personal injury claim arising out of an alleged jet blast incident. Tom acted for defendant airline.
  • Insolvency & Restructuring K View More

    Tom has been instructed in a range of insolvency and cross-border insolvency matters (his work has included advising on whether the English courts have jurisdiction to make bankruptcy orders against foreign nationals). Tom is familiar with the Cross Border Insolvency Regulations 2006.

     Illustrative cases include:

    • OW Bunkers (2014). Advising shipowners on a wide variety of issues arising out of the insolvency of the OW Bunker Group in November 2014.
    • Challenge to Individual Voluntary Arrangement. Advising a creditor on a challenge to an IVA under s. 262 of the Insolvency Act 1986 on the grounds that there was material irregularity and/or unfair prejudice.
    • Injunction to Restrain Winding Up Petition. Acting (with Jeremy Richmond) in a without notice application to restrain the presentation of a winding up petition in the context of a dispute over unpaid commercial invoices.
    • Setting Aside Statutory Demand. Acting for the successful applicant in an application to set aside a statutory demand. The application raised issues as to the test under Rule 6.5 of the Insolvency Rules 1986, the meaning of a "liquidated debt", the applicability of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, economic duress and undue influence.
    • Extra-territoriality of the Partnership Act 1980. Advising on whether the Partnership Act 1890 has extraterritorial effect where an agreement between the parties was expressly governed by English law.
  • Shipbuilding K View More

    • LMAA Arbitration Acting with Lionel Persey QC for the buyers in arbitration concerning disputes, including delay and disruption claims, arising out of the construction of a 6th generation semi-submersible with a contract value in the order of USD 600 million.
    • Yacht Sale LMAA Arbitration. Tom acted for the buyers in a claim for damages of more than €2 million arising out of the construction and sale of a custom-designed fast-sailing yacht.
  • Commercial Dispute Resolution K View More

    Tom has experience across a wide range of commercial disputes. Examples of recent instructions include:

    • PHP Tobacco v British American Tobacco (Caribbean) (2016). Acting for the claimant in substantial Commercial Court proceedings arising out of the sale and distribution of cigarettes in Martinique and Guadeloupe. 
    • Honda Motor Europe v AB Skandiatransport (2015). Acting as sole counsel for claimant in a case arising out of a contract for the storage of cars at the applicant’s facility in Sweden. 
    • Purits v National Commodity Operators SA (2014). Acted as sole counsel in the High Court for the successful claimant in a claim under a series of loan agreements and a contract of guarantee.
    • Proton Energy Group SA v Orlen Lietuva [2014] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 100. Acted for the successful sellers in a Commercial Court trial arising out of a contract for the sale of crude oil.
    • Johnson v SCRM Ltd (2013). Acted for the successful defendants in a contractual claim brought by a backing singer against the rock band Primal Scream. 

"... a rising star. He's responsive, accessible, bright, tenacious, and user-friendly."

(Chambers UK 2017)

"Very commercial"

(Legal 500)


MA (Cantab) Theology, Starred Double First
GDL (City University), Commendation
BPTC (City University), Outstanding


Barstow Scholar, City University (2011).
Astbury Scholar, Middle Temple (2010 and 2011).
Theological Studies Prize, Cambridge (2009).
Bateman Scholar, Trinity Hall, Cambridge (2009).



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