Thomas advises and conducts advocacy on a wide range of international and commercial disputes. Most notably, he acts as counsel in investment treaty disputes between states and foreign investors, including matters at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) and under other arbitration rules. Additionally, Thomas' public international law work has included acting for an inter-governmental organization in international court proceedings and advising governments on investment treaty negotiations. He also works on disputes before the English Courts.
Thomas is ranked as an "Associate to Watch" for International Arbitration in Chambers UK, which has described him as an "incredibly smart and capable" lawyer who "is impressive in presentations at hearings and is amazing in the cross-examination of expert and fact witnesses." In addition, he is ranked as a Rising Star for Public International Law by The Legal 500 UK.
- Barrister, England & Wales
- MRes, University of Reading, 2012, with Distinction, Masters of Research in Law
- LL.B., King's College London, 2011, Law with Transnational Legal Studies
Investment Treaty Arbitration – ICSID and ad hoc
- Acted as counsel to nine investors in a dispute with The Republic of Zimbabwe arising from breaches of a bilateral investment treaty, in Bernhard von Pezold & Ors v. The Republic of Zimbabwe. Our clients were awarded restitution and damages (alternatively $196 million in damages), plus their full legal costs and interest. During the annulment phase, we successfully resisted Zimbabwe's applications for a stay of enforcement, and for the award to be annulled. ICSID arbitration, Case No. ARB/10/15.
- Acted as counsel to investors in a dispute with The Republic of Zimbabwe arising from breaches of a bilateral investment treaty, in Border Timbers Ltd & Ors v. The Republic of Zimbabwe. Our clients were awarded restitution and damages (alternatively $125 million in damages), plus their full legal costs and interest. During the annulment phase, we successfully resisted Zimbabwe's applications for a stay of enforcement, and for the award to be annulled. ICSID arbitration, Case No. ARB/10/25.
- Acted as counsel to an Italian investor in respect of an investment dispute with the Tanzanian Government arising from alleged breaches of a bilateral investment treaty. Concerned investment in an agriculture project. The outcome is confidential. Sunlodges Ltd and Sunlodges (T) Limited v. The United Republic of Tanzania. UNCITRAL arbitration. PCA Case No. 2018-9.
- Acts as counsel to the investors in an ICSID arbitration relating to the expropriation of a substantial aquaculture enterprise by The Gambia. West African Aquaculture Ltd et al. v. The Republic of The Gambia. ICSID arbitration. ICSID Case No. ARB/18/10. Ongoing.
- Acted as counsel to a UK investor in respect of an investment dispute with Montenegro arising from alleged breaches of a bilateral investment treaty and domestic foreign investment legislation. Concerned investment in an upstream oil and gas project. The outcome is confidential. Medusa (Montenegro) Ltd v. The State of Montenegro. UNCITRAL arbitration. PCA Case No. 2015-39.
- Acts as counsel to the Republic of Armenia in an ICSID arbitration arising from a property investment in Yerevan. The claimants allege that Armenia failed to protect their investment from fraud and bankruptcy issues. Edmond Khudyan and Arin Capital & Investment Corp. v. Republic of Armenia. ICSID arbitration. ICSID Case No. ARB/17/36. Ongoing.
- Acts as counsel to Indian investors in an ad hoc arbitration against Bosnia and Herzegovina. The arbitration concerns an insurance company in which the claimants had invested. Aggarwal, et al v. Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ad hoc arbitration. PCA Case No. 2018-03. Ongoing.
- Acts as counsel to Barbadian investors in an ICSID arbitration against Venezuela. Saint Patrick Properties v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. ICSID arbitration. ICSID Case No. ARB/16/40. Ongoing.
- Acts as counsel to a US telecommunications company in an investor-State dispute against Colombia arising from Colombia's termination of the investor’s concession. The proceeding is being brought pursuant to the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. Neustar, Inc. v. Republic of Colombia. ICSID arbitration. ICSID Case No. ARB/20/7. Ongoing.
- Acted for a Canadian investor in relation to a multibillion-dollar dispute with the United States under the NAFTA. This was part of a broad litigation strategy, which encompassed other Steptoe teams. The matter was resolved in our client’s favor.
Technical Assistance to States on Public International Law Matters
- Acted for the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (an inter-governmental organization) with respect to their submissions to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, in Case No. 21, Request for an advisory opinion submitted by the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission.
- Engaged by several states to advise on their investment treaty negotiations, including (most recently) negotiations with the European Union.
- Serves as a member of the Steptoe team appointed by the Government of the People’s Republic of China to the panel of law firms that will be instructed to defend it in investor-state disputes.
Commercial Arbitration and Court Litigation
- Acts as counsel to the claimants in an ICC arbitration against an Eastern European State and one of its State-Owned Entities. The dispute arises from a contract for the sale of specified quantities of a particular ore over a number of years. The claimants allege that the respondents failed to deliver the required amounts of ore, in breach of the contract. ICC arbitration. Ongoing.
- Acted for an African bank in a dispute with its former Chief Executive over the alleged breach of an arbitration agreement: ad hoc arbitration under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. Also acted on the bank's related application for an anti-enforcement injunction in respect of the alleged breaches: High Court and Court of Appeal in England.
- Advising ExxonMobil Corp. on public international law issues in US litigation brought against certain Cuban state-owned entities under the Helms-Burton Act.
- Acts as counsel to investors on the enforcement of various ICSID awards in England.
- Moderator, DRIG-Steptoe Oral Argument Workshop, American Society of International Law, October 6, 2020
Counsel, Mock Pre-Hearing Conference, Young ITA Roundtable Virtual Conference, June 17, 2020
- "The Role of Investor-State Arbitral Tribunals in the Development of Terms of Art also Existing in Customary International Law," McCoubrey Centre for International Law's "Making International Custom More Tangible" Conference, Hull, UK, July 3, 2015
- "The Adoption of Terms of Art in Bilateral Investment Treaties and its Consequences," ASIL Conference, Denver, CO, November 14, 2014
- "Curing Textual Indeterminacy in International Investment Treaties," International Institute for Academic Development Conference, Batumi, Georgia, August 23, 2014
News & Publications
October 26, 2020
October 9, 2020
October 17, 2019
December 4, 2018
November 26, 2018
November 6, 2018
November 2, 2018
September 15, 2017
August 29, 2017
July 15, 2016
Investor-State Arbitration Series
September 23, 2014
- Chambers UK, International Arbitration (2019-2021)
- Legal 500 UK, "Rising Star," Public International Law (2021)
- Legal 500 UK, Public International Law (2018-2021)
- Legal 500 UK, International Arbitration (2021)
- Lord Denning Scholarship, Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn
- Hardwicke Entrance Award, Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn
- Richard R. Baxter and Hardy C. Dillard Memorial Awards (Jessup Moot 2009, KCL team)
- Institute For Transnational Arbitration (ITA), Young ITA Thought Leadership Chair (2019-present)
- The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn
- Denning Society
- LCIA Young International Arbitration Group
- Young ICSID
- Young Public International Law Group