a highly motivated and commercially minded junior barrister

Tom Vonberg
Year of Call 2004

Tom is an English barrister based in London and the North of England.

He has a significant amount of advocacy experience in a wide variety of litigation at all levels of tribunal. Tom has conducted countless final hearings as a sole advocate. He has also worked with senior QC’s at Devereux Chambers and elsewhere in cases of particular importance.

Tom’s principle areas of work since he has been at Devereux have involved complex or high value injury litigation, professional negligence and all manner of insurance coverage disputes, particularly where there has been dishonest conduct or non-disclosure. Increasingly, whether at the costs-budgeting stage or after trial, Tom receives instructions where legal costs are contested. A particular theme in Tom’s professional negligence work of late involves claims against lawyers for negligent conduct of litigation. 

Tom acts equally for claimants and defendants. He is routinely instructed by many of the well-known law firms and insurers who are active in his specialist fields.

Before coming to the independent bar, Tom was an employed barrister in commercial disputes at a leading offshore law firm. There he dealt with a number of cross-jurisdictional cases, many of which concerned financial misconduct. Now, in independent practice, Tom is at ease working with document heavy cases or where there are a number of instructed lawyers or experts. Tom is approachable and available to his clients whenever he is required.

In addition to London, Tom has a home in North Yorkshire and he spends some of his time in the legal centers of Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham. 

Tom is an active member of a number of professional organisations and where he is developing valuable professional contacts. His memberships include, the Professional Negligence Bar Association, the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association, the British Insurance Lawyers Association and the Young Fraud Lawyers Association.

Tom has provided further details of some of his representative litigation in the pull down menus below. Party names have been redacted where cases remain confidential. Examples of his very recent work are included in this overview section.

Injury

Current or very recent personal injury and clinical negligence instructions have included:

  • Multi-party claim on behalf of seriously injured students and in respect of fatalities following a bus crash abroad. Tom is acting without a leader and liability has now been compromised, whilst quantum continues to be litigated in the High Court;
  • Product liability claim following helicopter crash in the UK but where maintenance was carried out in the U.S (led by Rob Weir QC);
  • Fatal accident claim on behalf of a dependent minor and which, unusually, in 2014 went to a contested quantum trial and at which the claimant beat the defendant’s and (narrowly) his own Part 36 Offers;
  • Catastrophic spinal and brain injury claims; Tom has been led by both Steve Killelea QC, Rob Weir QC and Pete Edwards in chambers on high value matters which have included, variously, arguments over contribution or Health and Safety law;
  • High Court defence of a brain injury claim where there was compelling surveillance evidence and which settled on the first day of trial (led by a silk outside chambers, Andrew Hogarth QC);
  • Numerous claims and defences in clinical negligence and especially in the fields of obstetrics, orthopedics, cardiology, accident and emergency, cosmetic and dental surgery. Commonly, these cases involve tricky issues of causation and this is a topic he lectured on in 2014 to a national law firm. He is currently acting for a claimant along with Rob Weir QC in a lower limb orthopeadics case where the clinical outcome has led to a complete loss of mobility. Recently Tom has acted successfully for private surgeons in London who have been sued for “disappointing outcomes” following cosmetic surgery;
  • Successful defences at trial to motor insurance fraud. Over the last few years Tom has been instructed by a number of insurers who appreciate combative advocacy and a forensic attention to the detail of the case.

Professional negligence

Professional negligence work also forms a substantial part of Tom’s practice. Most often he is by instructed by Defendants, although he has acted for Claimant’s in a number of cases against other lawyers and, in particular, brokers. Cases during 2013 and 2014 of interest are:

  • Several defences to broker’s negligence claims involving alleged breach of ICOBS in matters ranging from arrangement of fleet policies to professional indemnity cover;
  • Defences of IFA’s, typically sued for alleged negligent assessment of the client’s risk profile;
  • Solicitors negligence claims for negligent conduct and under-settlment and often in the context of personal injury litigation;
  • Multi-party conveyancing claims against Solicitor’s complicit in obtaining lending by way of “gifted” deposits;
  • Claims against a conveyancing Solicitor in the East of England for negligently advising completion, without ensuring adequate contractual protection, when the development was incomplete and the developer subsequently went into liquidation;
  • Claims handlers negligence – settlement at an undervalue, claims brought by the insurer. 

Insurance

Tom is often involved in discreet of insurance law disputes but it is of use also as a cross-over expertise in his his personal injury and professional liability work. Recent instructions have included:

  • Successful appeal to the Financial Ombudsman Service against insurer’s refusal to indemnify insured under household policy against an underlying claim for in excess of £1m;
  • Insurer’s pre-action disclosure application of documents against third party insurer, for the purpose of declaratory proceedings to avoid a policy of motor insurance pursuant to Section 152(2) of the RTA 1988 (with Rob Weir QC);
  • Defence to Part 20 Claim for an indemnity claimed by a computer company against their insurer;
  • Brokers’ indemnity claim against PI insurer where the argument was as to aggregation following mis-selling of Keydata financial products (with Colin Wynter QC). 
  • Coverage issues following property damage. The largest series of claims Tom was involved in followed the Buncefield explosions.
  • Personal Injury

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    Zaczkowski v (1) Mehmood (2) Gardner (2012) High Court, with Andrew Hogarth QC. For defendant in a catastrophic brain injury claim. Drafted pleadings following admission by the insurer and negotiated a deduction for contributory negligence. Case settled on the first day of trial for £1m gross.

    Black v Durowoju (2012), High Court, with Peter Edwards: drafted Schedule of Loss in spinal injury claim which settled at JSM for £1.9m three weeks prior to trial.

    Whelband v (1) Marvell (2) Blue Anchor Leisure Ltd (3) East Midlands Ambulance NHS Trust (4) and United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS (2011), High Court, with Robert Weir QC: defence of doorman following a fight and catastrophic brain injury. Dispute on causation of injury between the fight and the clinical negligence claims.

    Mr A v A Hotel (2013), High Court, with Robert Weir QC: brain injury and Occupiers’ Liability. Settled at JSM. Liability and quantum were to be tried together in June 2013.

    A Child v (1) Kasparavici (2) Aviva Insurance Limited (3) Esure Services Limited (2012), High Court: for child in claim under Fatal Accidents Act 1976 following the fatality of his father who was run down by joy riders.

    Soldier H v MOD (2013): Gunshot wound caused negligently by own side during live fire exercise. Whether hearing loss was a novus actus interveniens for the purpose of the quantum of the military pension loss.

    Alcock v Ensco Offshore UK Limited (2012): Accident on an Offshore Installation in Polish waters.

    Putland v (1) Doukas (2) Prima Tek Limited (2012), before HHJ Yelton: Three day trial in which the claim was for crush injuries sustained in a forklift accident and the counterclaim for breach of a tenancy agreement. The claim was won and the counterclaim defeated.

    Brown v A Campion (2011): Loss of a chance of fight purse for professional Muay Thai boxer.

    Jennifer Liddell v (1) Featherstone (2) Privilege Motor Insurance (2011):  for Police Officer in her claim as a rescuer of fleeing criminals injured by their own negligence. Wagner v International Railway 232 N.Y. 176 (1926) successfully relied on.

    Hayes v Espro Ltd T/A ES Promotions (2012), High Court: Defence to injury claim drafted on the basis that the claimant was not at work during a team building exercise.

    Miss S v Mickley Stud Ltd (2012): for employee who was seriously injured whilst training racehorse at successful stud. Animals Act 1971.

    A Student v London Restaurant (2012); pre-inquest advice to family following the death of their daughter from a peanut allergy.

    Murthay v Nicholls (2012), Recorder Malek QC: For the defendant in a two day trial following motorway pile up and where the counterclaim was run on the basis of Res Ipsa Loquitur. Defeated the claim and won the counterclaim.

    (1) Pomrey (2) Davies v (1) Marks & Spencer PLC (2) Thyssenkrupp Elevator UK Limited (2012), with Robert Weir QC, instructed by Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP: lift accident at work causing serious injuries. Instructed to act for both the claimant and the secondary victim under the rule in Alcock & Ors v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police [1991] 4 All ER 907.

    Hennessy v Greenwaste Recycling Ltd (2011), with Robert Weir QC, instructed by Hugh James LLP:  Amputation at work by the rotating arm of a waste silo. Employer a company in administration.

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  • Clinical Negligence

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    Kaur v (1) Surgicare Limited (2) Mr Kumar (3) NMI Healthcare Limited (2012): Defending clinic in claim for negligent gastric band surgery. Successfully obtained full indemnity from D2 and D3.

    Mrs F v (1) Epsom Ewell & St Hellier NHS Trust (2012) High Court: for the claimant personal trainer following crippling injuries sustained during surgery to close a fasciotomy. Instructed alongside the country’s leading Surgeon, and advisor to UK Athletics, in this field.

    Mrs F v Dr Patel (2012): For claimant following loss of vision during root canal dental treatment during which there was a leak of hypochlorite solution.

    Mr R v Dr K (2012): Use of controversial Green Light Laser treatment in NHS practice to treat enlarged prostates.

    Mr D v Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust (2010): Failure to treat a pro golfer suffering from an eye injury sustained during an acid attack at a nightclub.

    Deardon v Dr D (2011): For claimant widow following the premature death of her husband due to a misdiagnosis. Claim settled at the JSM.

    Mrs J v Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (2012), High Court: Obstetric and colorectal injury leading to a total cessation of work as a close protection officer. Breach of duty not supported until Claimant experts were provided further imaging results. Defendant admitted liability following the letter of claim.

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  • Professional Negligence

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    Rat Race (Events) Limited v Towergate Underwriting Group Limited (2012): Broker’s negligence. Defeated application for interim payment on account of costs pursuant to CPR 47.15 and obtained wasted costs against the Claimant.

    Investors in the Protected Asset TEP Number 2 Fund (2013): Defending IFA’s against investors following regrading of investment fund from low to high volatility.

    Purchaser v Conveyancing Solicitor (2013): Solicitor’s negligence in the conveyance of an incomplete barn conversion where the vendor was a limited company.

    Buy to Let v Various Solicitors (2010): For multiple claimants suing their solicitors for mortgage fraud by way of gifted deposits. Lenders claims previously settled on confidential terms in the High Court.

    Alhamrani v Alhamrani (2006), Royal Court of Jersey: Whilst an employed barrister, acted for family members in the longest running trust litigation ever seen on the island.

    A Child v Worcester County Council (2011), with Robert Weir QC: claim against local authority for failure to remove child into care.

    Southern Rock Insurance Company Ltd v Endsleigh Insurance Services Limited (2011): Claims handler negligence. Instructed by the claimant to consider the historic injury settlements concluded by the claims handler.

    Sale and Rent Back Investor v Watson Brown Solicitors (2013): Scope of Solicitor’s duty to advise in the absence of a written retainer.

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  • Insurance & Reinsurance

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    Mrs PB v Canopius Underwriting Limited (2012), Financial Ombudsman Service: Household Insurance. Instructed to advise and draft appeal documents to the FOS following the insurer’s refusal to indemnify client, in underlying claim for in excess of £1m, for reasons of non-disclosure. Meaning of “occupied” in issue.

    Grosvenor v Southern Rock (2012), with Robert Weir QC: CPR 31.16 pre-action disclosure application in catastrophic injury case. Disclosure of documents by insurer relied upon in declaratory proceedings entitling them to avoid a policy of motor insurance pursuant to Section 152(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

    A Computer Company Ltd v Carraig Insurance Company Limited (2013): Part 20 Claim for indemnity under a policy of insurance.

    A Broker v A Professional Indemnity Insurer (2013), High Court, with Colin Wynter QC: aggregation of claims following the mis-selling of Keydata financial products.

    Buncefield Claims, High Court, instructed by Parabis Law LLP: instructed by the insurer in a number of insured loss and rehousing claims following the well documents fire at a Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal.

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Memberships & Associations

PNBA, PNLA, BILA, YFLA, APIL

Education

Durham University, LLB

 

Personal interests

Sports and entrepreneurship