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Jeffrey Thomson
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Jeffrey specialises in marine and energy insurance and reinsurance, shipping and international trade.

A barrister and a Lecturer in Law at City, University of London, Jeffrey has a particular interest and experience in advising on insurance coverage issues, subrogated claims and liability defences, in connection with marine (hull and machinery, mortgagee’s interest, builder’s risks/BAR, cargo, loss of hire, marine liability, protection and indemnity/P&I) insurance; offshore and onshore energy (construction and operational) insurance; war risks, terrorism and political violence insurance; aviation insurance; business interruption, product liability and professional indemnity insurances.

Jeffrey began his practising career at Hardwicke, and then worked for several years as an employed barrister with some of the London Market’s leading marine and energy (re)insurance disputes teams at Barlow Lyde & Gilbert LLP and Norton Rose Fulbright LLP. He began his academic career in 2014, and has lectured in marine insurance law on The City Law School’s Maritime Law LLM in Piraeus, Greece, and Cass Business School’s MSc Shipping, Trade and Finance. He rejoined Hardwicke as a practising member in order to cultivate the complementary aspects of advisory and academic legal work.

Insurance Coverage

Advising on insurance coverage issues is at the core of Jeffrey’s practice. He advises on coverage across a wide range classes of business, including marine, energy, terrorism and political violence, business interruption and loss of hire, product liability, terrestrial property insurance, and public liability.

Examples of marine insurance coverage work:

  • M/T Brillante Virtuoso (Com): claim against war-risks hull insurers arising from a fraudulent conspiracy by owners to destroy the vessel via an attack by fake Somali pirates.
  • Subrogated claim against hull and IV insurers of M/T Erika (Comogli 1988 / Institute Time Clauses Hulls (1/11/95) terms), arising from the breaking apart and sinking of vessel in 1999; incident also resulted in extensive oil pollution damage to the French coast and lengthy criminal proceedings.
  • Claim against hull and machinery reinsurers on coverage, under London Standard Drilling Barge Form and Mobile Unit Shift Addendum, arising from the total loss of a jack-up drilling rig during wet-tow in the Sea of Okhotsk, involving alleged breaches of marine warranty surveyor provisions in relation to the tow.
  • Claim against hull and machinery insurers and brokers, involving issues of breaches of post-inception condition survey warranty and effect of ‘claims leader’ clause.
  • London arbitration of claim for sue and labour expenses incurred in raising a sunken vessel, under marine hull insurance on Institute Standard Dutch Hull Form (1/9/84) and IV policy.
  • Claims against marine liability reinsurers (in excess of US$0.5 billion) arising from the explosion of a fuel storage facility in Puerto Rico.
  • Claim against hull insurers for towing expenses following a grounding incident; key issues related to whether the vessel was necessarily / reasonably removed for the purpose of the Association of Average Adjusters Rules of Practice, and whether the tow expenses were covered as sue and labour.
  • Claim under operational hull and sub-sea equipment policy written on International Hull Clauses (1/11/03) terms, arising from deterioration of FPSO mooring legs during normal sea conditions; issue concerning latent defect exclusion.
  • Claim under Builders’ Risks policy on ICRB CL351 (1/6/88) terms, arising from constructive total loss of buyers’ supplied items following cancellation of the shipbuilding contracts.

Examples of terrorism / political violence insurance coverage work:

  • Claim against sabotage and terrorism reinsurers arising from pipeline damage caused by an ideologically motivated terrorist group, involving issues of pre-contractual non-disclosure and misrepresentation and potential claims for misrepresentation against brokers.
  • Claim under terrorism and political violence reinsurance covering hydrocarbon field against Operators Extra Expense (OEE) & Control of Well losses; issue concerned whether a per-well sub-limit applied.

Examples of business interruption / loss-of-hire insurance coverage work:

  • Claim under Loss of Charter Hire Insurance ABS 1/10/83) LPO 454 arising from damaged thrusters on semi-submersible drilling rig; issue as to number of separate accidents/occurrences for purpose of applying time deductible.
  • Business interruption policy coverage dispute with specialist shipyard, arising from explosion on vessel under construction resulting in knock-on delays to construction of multiple vessels.
  • Potential claims by leisure business under business interruption cover for losses suffered as a result of the McCann abduction, raising issues as to scope of ‘loss of attraction’ cover and the extent of broker’s duties in obtaining cover.

Examples of product liability insurance coverage work:

  • Claim under excess marine liabilities reinsurance policy, covering, inter alia shiprepairer’s legal liability (on LSW 169A terms) and marine products liability, for claims against builders in relation to sinking of superyacht in adverse weather / seas.
  • Product-liability policy coverage dispute relating to third-party claims against pharmaceutical manufacturer, raising issues relating to pre-contractual non-disclosures, brokers’ duties under financial services legislation and as a matter of London-market practice to allow insurers access to records (QBD, with Paul Reed QC).

Examples of property insurance coverage work: 

  • Cayman-Islands arbitration of insurance claim under property all risks and business interruption policy, arising from hotel damaged by Hurricane Paloma; key issues included damages for delay in indemnifying, whether insurers’ had a duty to cooperate, and micro-organism exclusions (with Paul Reed QC).
  • Coverage dispute under a property policy following a house fire: key issues included the availability of damages for delay in indemnifying, faulty materials exclusion, breaches of statutory duty by insurers under the Financial Services & Markets Act 2000 and ICOBS 8.1, and the issuance of court proceedings following a determination by the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Examples of public liability coverage work:

  • Claim against public liability insurers under the Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Act 1930, raising issues as to a lack of timely notification of the third-party claim, and a settlement agreement entered into with the assured prior to their insolvency (with Paul Reed QC).

Construction Insurance

Advising on construction insurance matters, particularly in relation to energy and offshore risks, is a key part of Jeffrey’s practice.

Examples of construction insurance work:

  • Claim under offshore construction all risks / Welcar reinsurance policy for physical loss and/or sue and labour expenses arising from loss of underwater pipelines during bottom pull operation.
  • Claim for replacement of oil-insulated submarine power cable following loss of oil pressure during laying, under marine cargo and construction policy incorporating the Lloyd’s SG policy form and Institute Cargo Clauses (1/1/63).
  • Claim relating to costs of remedying pipeline drill holes and welding defects under offshore construction all risks / Welcar reinsurance policy.
  • Seele Austria GmbH Co v. Tokio Marine Europe Insurance Ltd [2009] (TCC, with Paul Reed QC), construction all risks insurance dispute relating to Paternoster Square development, raising issues (amongst others) as to whether damage above the policy excess is an element of an assured’s cause of action; whether delay costs are ‘consequential losses’; how indemnity applies to global settlements; and multiple proximate causes.

Insurance Funded Disputes

Jeffrey has substantial experience in advising on insurance-funded disputes, including subrogated claims and insurance-backed defences in relation to marine and offshore risks.

Examples of insurance funded disputes work:

  • Marine liability insurance-backed defence of claims arising from damage to submarine fiber-optic cables in Indonesian waters (English and Singapore courts), raising forum non conveniens issues (amongst others).
  • Subrogated claim by hull insurers against charterers arising from sinking of bulk carrier in extreme, monsoon-related weather; issues related to seaworthiness, negligence of master, and breach of safe port provision in charterparty; whether insured owners could grant waiver of subrogation; whether insurers were prevented from pursuing subrogated claim because it would prejudice owners’ interests.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Jeffrey’s insurance practice also covers professional indemnity insurance disputes.

Examples of professional indemnity work:

  • Dispute under the Law Society’s Minimum Terms and Conditions of Professional Indemnity Insurance, raising issues as to whether third-party claims should be aggregated as “similar acts or omissions in a series of related matters or transactions”, and whether a direction to maintained cover ought to be given.
  • Claim by mortgage lenders against solicitors arising from negligence in the completion of mortgage loans, raising issues under the the Law Society’s Minimum Terms and Conditions as to the correct year of indemnity and meaning of ‘Successor Practice’, and as to insurers’ duties under Qualifying/Participating Insurer’s Agreement.

 

Shipping & International Trade

Jeffrey advises across a broad range of shipping, carriage, and international trade disputes.

In relation to marine vessels and contracts of carriage, he has experience with issues such as demurrage, off-hire clauses, safe port warranties, sea- and cargo-worthiness, speed and consumption, contractual time-bars, damage caused by non-conforming cargos, and ship-sale disputes.

Jeffrey also advises on carriage by air disputes, such as those arising under the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions.

In relation to international trade and commodities sales contracts, Jeffrey has worked on matters arising under GAFTA and other trade association rules, and on issues such as the right to reject cargos, the measure of damages, the time for opening letters of credit (eg, vis-a-vis the contractual delivery range), the conformity of letters of credit, performance bonds and guarantees, sale-contract demurrage terms, frustration and force majeure clauses.

Examples of shipping and international trade work:

  • Claim by owners against charterers and guarantors in LMAA arbitration, arising out of the early redelivery of a Capesize dry-bulker under amended NYPE-form timecharter; key issues included the quantification of damages in the absence of a market to re-fix the vessel.
  • Claim against carriers under amended Gencon form, arising from damage to project cargo of electric turbines by stevedores during loading; issues were as to the effect of “FIOST L/S/D” on the allocation of risk under the Hague Rules, and as to declarations of value in bills of lading.
  • Claims and cross-claims between offshore contractor and trenching sub-contractor, relating to delays and losses arising from loss of trenching machines, and related claims for hire under charterparty for support vessel.
  • M/V Away Day of Emsworth (Adm): claims by mortgagees against purchasers, for theft/conversion of a mortgaged vessel, and against guarantors; key issue involved obtaining jurisdiction for the conversion claim under the Brussels Regulation.
  • M/Y Antares, Jones v. Conwy CBC (Adm): Claim by owners for damage to yacht caused by capsizing of a mooring pontoon; issues related to causation, applicability of res ipsa loquitur, and the effect appointing independent mooring contractors.
  • Claims by owner of Second World War German naval vessel against shipyard for negligent design and conversion work, raising bailment and misrepresentation issues.Claim by purchasers of M/Y Melchior of Beaulieu against builders arising from the failure of a propeller shaft coupling while vessel was attempting to enter a lock.
  • Claim by air cargo interests against former solicitors for failing to issue claims arising from theft of a shipment of electronic equipment from a warehouse under the Warsaw-Hague regime; issues included whether the warehouse was within ‘the aerodrome’ and breaking limitation.
  • Claims by air cargo interests againsts carriers / freight forwarders under the Warsaw-Hague regime for the total loss of a cargo of fruit due to failure to maintain temperature during air carriage.

Commercial Arbitration

Jeffrey has advised and acted in relation to numerous arbitral proceedings arising from marine and construction insurance policies, contracts of carriage, and international commodities sales contracts.

Examples of his commercial arbitration experience appear under sections of this profile relating to Insurance, Shipping and International Trade.

He is a supporting member of the LMAA.

Commercial Litigation

Examples of Jeffrey’s commercial litigation experience are included under sections of this profile relating to Insurance, Shipping and International Trade.

Languages

French (bilingual)

Professional Associations

London Maritime Arbitrators Association (Supporting Member)
Chartered Insurance Institute
British Insurance Law Association

Publications

Details regarding Jeffrey’s publications can be found here.

The recently published Research Handbook on International Commercial Contracts (Andrew Hutchison and Franziska Myburgh (eds), Edward Elgar 2020) includes a chapter by Jeffrey Thomson in which he sketches a history of the law of marine and commercial insurance contracts in England. The varying fortunes of ‘private ordering’ — the extent to which London’s merchant-insurers created, adjudicated upon and enforced their own rules — serves as the study’s main guiding thread.

In this article, Jeffrey outlines the main topics covered in the chapter, and comments further on the extent to which private ordering remains an important feature of the current London insurance market (eg in relation to topical issues like the Covid-19 pandemic and the market’s exposure to cyber risks).

Qualifications

1999 BCom, McGill University (Economics & Finance)
2003 LLB English & French Law, King’s College London
2003 Maîtrise en droit privé, Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
2018 Associate Fellow, UK Advance HE

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