Tom Bird has a broad commercial practice with a focus on shipping, commodities, marine insurance, energy/offshore and aviation. He is recommended as a leading junior by The Legal 500 and Chambers UK where he is variously described as “very responsive, personable, very good with clients”, “commercial”, “tenacious and talented”.
Tom has represented clients in the Commercial Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. He is equally at home in arbitration (including LMAA, LCIA, ICC and GAFTA). 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. He recently acted for the shipowners in The Alhani, an important decision on the scope of the Hague Rules time bar.
"He's knowledgeable and good at managing the client's expectations. (...) He's careful, thorough and he gets all the points."(Chambers UK, 2020)
"He's concise, responsive, extremely intelligent and a pleasure to work with."(Chambers UK, 2020)
"A rising star who knows his stuff, is very thorough and has a nice, engaging style in court."(Chambers UK, 2020)
"He is very responsive and commercial in his approach, which is appreciated by clients."(Legal 500, 2020)
"His command of the relevant law is impressive and his advocacy skills are first-class."(Legal 500, 2020)
"A calm and sound strategic mind matched with a sympathetic approach to the underlying commercial issues."(Legal 500, 2020)
"Intelligent, commercial and a nice guy too."(Legal 500 Asia Pacific, 2019)
"He pays detailed attention to all issues, is good on his feet and is very approachable."(Legal 500, 2019)
"He is tenacious and talented."(Legal 500, 2019)
..."He's very responsive, personable, very good with clients, very impressive as to his obvious academic professional skills and has the rare quality of combining that with a great personality."...(Chambers UK 2019)
..."He is really going places." "He is a pleasure to work with and very responsive."...(Chambers UK, 2018)
..."He is very responsive and commercial in his approach, which is appreciated by clients"...(Legal 500, 2017)
"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."(Chambers UK 2017)
"Very commercial"(Legal 500, 2016)
..."One to watch ... He's bright, he's user-friendly, he's accessible and he has good judgement."...(Chambers UK 2016)
Tom specialises in all aspects of shipping. He has acted for broad range of international clients in disputes arising out of bills of lading, voyage charters and time charters both in the Commercial Court and in arbitration. He has extensive experience of most types of claim – including unsafe ports, unseaworthiness, piracy, deviation, off-hire disputes, bunker quality/quantity claims, early/late redelivery cases – and is familiar with most standard form charterparties. Recent cases include:
Commodities disputes form a substantial part of Tom’s practice. He has acted for clients before a wide range of arbitral bodies (including ICC, LMAA and LCIA) and trade association tribunals (including GAFTA, FOSFA, and the LMA), as well as the Commercial Court. He has acted for traders, insurers and exporters, and has particular experience in sugar, grain, oil, LPG and metals. Recent cases include:
Tom has experience in a broad range of shipbuilding cases, ranging from warranty claims to complex delay and disruption disputes.
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:
Tom has acted as sole and junior counsel in a wide range of aviation disputes. In Chambers UK he is praised as a "lawyer with a tremendous knowledge of the aviation sector, who is user friendly and exceptionally bright". Tom 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:
Tom has experience across a wide range of commercial disputes. Recent instructions include:
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 and has advised extensively in issues arising out of the bankruptcies of Hanjin Shipping and OW Bunker.
..."He's very responsive, personable, very good with clients, very impressive as to his obvious academic professional skills and has the rare quality of combining that with a great personality."...(Chambers UK, 2019)
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).