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Tom Vonberg

Called 2004

Tom is instructed nationwide in complex and high value injury litigation by the leading firms of solicitors and insurers in the field.

Tom has spent more than a decade advising and appearing at court in respect of catastrophic injuries to the brain and spine, other severe and life changing orthopaedic injuries and in cases of fatality.

His specialist expertise extends to associated insurance coverage disputes, products liability and professional negligence.

Tom is ranked as a leading barrister in both Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 where he is most recently recommended as "organised, meticulous in his attention to detail", "able to simplify complex technical issues" and with an "impeccable manner with clients". Previous editions have described him as "a highly approachable and impressive advocate","well known for his handling of high-value personal injury claims", "very good on his feet", "bright and good on tactical issues","adept at handling product liabilty cases" with "experience of appearing in multi-party litigation", "pragmatic with an excellent eye for detail" and "very good with clients."

Tom has significant advocacy experience and he is comfortable arguing the most challenging cases before Judges. He has conducted countless final hearings as a junior and worked with leading QC's in cases of importance. He has appeared successfully in the Court of Appeal.

Before coming to the independent bar, Tom was an employed barrister in commercial disputes at an offshore law firm.

Tom is also a barrister at the top ranked set Devereux Chambers, London.

Specialist in complex or high value injury litigation, professional negligence, insurance coverage disputes including where fraud is alleged.

Chambers and Partners 2020
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Areas Of Expertise

Areas of Expertise
Personal Injury
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Tom has significant experience of the full range of injuries including brain, spinal, amputation and fatalities. Tom has also worked on a number of multi-party actions in relation to products liability, air and road accidents and in respect of injury and illness abroad.

The following is a selection of past and current cases.

Brain Injury

Acted for the claimant in an occupiers' liability claim in the High Court. The claim settled at JSM for £1.4m. Led by Rob Weir QC. Instructed by Foot Anstey LLP.

Acting for claimant who sustained head and bowel injuries when riding pillion on a motorcycle. Instructed by Stewarts Law LLP.

Defending in an RTA claim in the High Court. The claim settled on the first day of trial for £1m after the claimant made a concession of contributory negligence. Led by Andrew Hogarth QC.

Acting for the claimant in a bike vs. van collision involving issues of contribution surrounding the wearing of a cycle helmet. With Andrew Axon. Instructed by Thompsons.

Acting for the claimant passenger in a head on collision resulting in polytrauma. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Acting for a claimant brain injured during a military fitness excercise class. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Defending a claim for £1.25m following hotel fall resulting in subdural haemorrhage requiring craniotomy. The claimant alleged profound cognitive disability and an inability to leave home unattended. She discontinued her claim and agreed to repay all interim payments following surveillance including of her running and weightlifting at the gym. Instructed by Kennedys Law LLP.

Defending RTA claim for diffuse brain injury. Instructed by Kennedys Law LLP.

Spinal Injury

Acted for the claimant who sustained crush injuries at work requring percutaneous stabilisation. Led by Steve Killalea QC. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Acted for a claimant who sustained spinal and urological injuries following an RTA. The claim settled at JSM for £1.9m.

Acting for claimant knocked from her motorbike resulting in spinal and open book pelvic fractures. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Acting for a claimant tyre fitter who sustained traumatic brain injury, brachial plexus injury and spinal fractures when an HGV fell from its jacking points. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Acting for a teenage claimant who sustained spinal fractures in a roll over RTA. Significant care needs are anticipated. The defendant has alleged dishonesty in view of alleged capabilites seen in surveillance.


Acted for the claimant after her husband was killed when his bike was struck by a public bus. Claim settled following JSM and was approved in the High Court. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Acted for claimant when his daughter was killed by a speeding driver as she emerged from a bus shelter. Defended unsuccessfully on the basis that the deceased acted deliberately. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Acting for the claimant and three dependent children following the death of their father as he filtered through traffic on his motorbike. Instructed by Trade Union Legal LLP.

Acting for husband of wife killed when crossing the road outside a supermarket. Contribution alleged for failing to use a zebra crossing. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Acted for the claimant against Thomas Cook Tours whose wife died from legionnaires' disease contracted on holiday. 

Acting for a claimant following her husband's death when a sign fell and struck him during high winds at a railway station.

Acted for a dependant minor following the death of his father in a joyriding accident. The claimant bettered his own Part 36 offer by £300 at trial. Tom appeared alone against a leading QC.

Acted for the family of a young man killed following a tyre blow out on a coach trip. Instructed by Thompsons.

Products liabilty and group claims

Acting in "vaping" claims against e-cigarette seller following the explosion of Lithium-ion batteries. The claims have been brought under The Consumer Rights Act 2015. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Advising claimants regarding methylisothiazolinone (MIT) contained in cosmetic products and the liability of producers under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Instructed by Leigh Day.

"MS Boudica". Actied for 35 claimants in claims under the Athens Convention brought in the Admiralty Court against Fred Olsen Cruise Lines following widespread sickness on a cruise ship. The claims were widely reported in the press. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Acting for a family against their home insurer after they were contaminated by penicillium aspergillus spores which had not been eradicated by contractors after a sewage escape. Claim included a direct action for breaches of ICOBS (Insurance Conduct Business Sourcebook).

Acting for multiple claimants who were supplied a bodily piercing aftercare solution contaminated with psuedomonas aeruginosa. Claims have been issued against the supplier and producer under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

Acted for 15 student claimants, plus the estates in 3 fatal accident claims, against a tour company under the Package Tour Regulations following the roll over of a safari coach in Swaziland, South Africa. The accident was widely reported internationally.

Other cases of interest

Howlett and another v Davies and Ageas Insurance Ltd [2017] EWCA Civ 1696; appeared for the successful insurer in the first ever Court of Appeal authority to consider the term "fundamental dishonesty" in the context of injury claims.

Acted in a secondary victim claim for the witness to a catastrophic injury sustained when a lift failed and fell several floors. Led by Rob Weir QC. Instructed by Slater Gordon LLP.

Instructed by the Insurance Corporation of the Channel Islands to advise on the allocation of damages in a £20m claim against a local authority for child abuse. Issues included the occurrence of damage, policy trigger wording and aggregation. With Andrew Burns QC.

Acted for the claimant in a stress at work claim against the probation service. With Robert Glancy QC.

Acted for the claimant who suffered amputation at work by the rotating arm of a waste silo. Led by Rob Weir QC. Instructed by Hugh James LLP.

Acted in the Isle of Man for the claimant on a public access basis in a claim for post-concussion syndrome brought against an employer. The claim settled for £775k at mediation.

Amendola v Keeling and Ors. Appeared for the claimant in an action to join a party out of time at the compulsion of an Article 75 insurer pursuant to Clause 14.1 of the Uninsured Drivers' Agreement 1999. Leading QC for the insurer.

Civil Fraud
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Tom's work in civil fraud spans injuries, insurance policies, professional neglgience and other commercial situations.

Tom appeared unled in the Court of Appeal for the successful insurer in Howlett and another v Davies and Ageas Insurance Ltd [2017] EWCA Civ 1696. This was the first ever Court of Appeal decision on issue of "fundamental dishonesty" in the context of injury claims.

Tom has acted for insurers in many other motor fraud cases at first instance and on appeal.

He also has significant experience of fraud against policies of insurance and in cases involving professionals. He was instructed in Morkot and others v Watson & Brown [2014] EWHC 3439 (QB) which concerned "gifted deposits" in the property market.

Whilst at the employed bar, Tom was part of the team instructed by a trustee defendant in the Alhamrani v Alhamrani litigation which was one of the longest ever running breach of trust claims in an offshore jurisdiction.

Clinical Negligence
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Tom had undertaken many clinical negligence claims across the full range of medical disciplines and often involving multiple experts. He has experience of catastrophic injuries in the clinical context. He has spoken to medico-legal associations and to firms in-house on the law around patient consent, material contribution and acquired brain injuries. He has, where other juniors may not have, significant experience of clinical negligence trial advocacy. Some examples of current and recent work appear below. 


Acted for a doorman following a fight in which the claimant struck the kerb after a single punch. The dispute surrounded the causation of catastrophic brain injury as between the fight and the subsequent surgery. Led by Rob Weir QC.

Acted for a female firearms officer in which a postpartum sphincter injury was not repaired resulting in incontience and an inability to return to work. The claim settled following exchange of joint reports.

Acted in the High Court for a professional ballerina who sustained division of a tendon during bunion surgery. The claim settled following the exchange of pleadings. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Acted for a personal trainer who underwent incorrect lower limb facial repair (as opposed to fasciotomy) resulting in crippling injuries. The claim settled two weeks before a 5 day High Court trial. Led by Rob Weir QC. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Acting for defendant clinics (MYA, Surgicare etc) in various cosmetic surgery claims including bariatric surgery and breast surgery). Instructed by Kennedys Law LLP.

Acting for the defendant trust at the interim payment hearing for a child who suffered profound hypoxic ischaemic brain damage and four limb dystonic cerebral palsy. Instructed by Capsticks.

Diagnosis and treatment

Acting for an 8 year old girl in her High Court claim against the hospital for mismanagement of acute promyelocytic leukaemia and sepsis. 

Acted for a protected party who sustained presusre sores followng a prolonged period of neglgience. The settlement, which included a claim for 24 hour nursing care, was approved in the High Court and an anonymity order made in view of the decision in X v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust [2015].

Acted for the NHS Trust in the defence of a claim following an alleged failure to follow a "nil by mouth" direction resulting in a patient fatality after she aspirated on her own vomit. Instructed by Kennedys Law LLP.

Acting for various claimants in "missed diagnosis" claims including breast cancer, rectal adenocarcinoma, peritoneal cancer, endocarditis and streptococcus sanguinis and left frontal glioblastoma. A number of these claims concern fatalities.

Acting for a defendant care home in respect of claims for sub-standard care. Instructed by Reynolds Porter Chamberlain.

Professional Negligence
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Professional liability work forms a substantial part of Tom's practice. He is often instructed by the insurers of legal and financial professionals. He also acts for claimants against their own lawyers as well as brokers of financial products. The following is a selection of current and recent cases.


Acted for the claimant insurer against a claims handler in the High Court for neglgient handling of 50,000 motor insurance personal injury claims. Instructed in relation to valuation evidence. The claim settled for £7m. With Richard Harrison. Instructed by Hogan Lovells.

Acted for the  "buy to let" claimants who were successful at trial in the High Court against their former solicitors. The claims concerned breaches of fiduciary duty in buyt to let transactions.

Acted for the investor in "sale and rent back" property transactions. Claim concerned the scope of a solicitor's duty to advise on the valiidty of contracts in the abscence of a written retainer.

Successful claim against a firm of solicitors for the convenyance of an incomplete barn conversion where the vendor was a limited company.

Representing many claims and defences where the underlying action was for personal injury and following which lawyers have been sued for all manner of reasons. This includes, negligent advice, negligent conduct (often resulting in strike out or court sanctions) and undersettlement. 

Financial and other professionals

Acted in the High Court defending IFA's in respect of Investors in the Protected Asset TEP Number 2 Fund. The claims arose following reclassification of an investment fund from low to high volatility. Intructed by DWF.

Obtained wasted costs against a claimant solicitor following his interim costs application post settlement in a broker's neglgience claim. Instructed by Reynolds Coleman Bradley LLP.

Acting in defences to broker's neglgience claims where there are alleged breaches of the Insurer's Code of Business Sourcebook (ICOBS). Matters include the arrangement of fleet motor policies to professional indemnity cover.

Advised in "Keydata" claims against the professional indemnity insurer whi argued aggregation following the mis-selling of financial products by brokers. With Colin Wynter QC.

Acted for one defendant in a twelve defendant claim for architect's negligence following structural issues wth an office tower built in The City of London.

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Tom has been instructed in all manner of insurance coverage disputes. He undertakes work on points of discrete insurance law but also where the underlying claims concern personal injury or professional liability.

General insurance

Acted in a successful appeal to the Financial Ombudsman Service against refusal of indemnity under household policy on grounds of non disclosure for an underlying injury claim in excess of £1m. Instructed by Wilkins Beaumont Suckling, London.

Acting for Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance in a pre-action disclosure application for documents against third party insurer following avoidance of a policy of motor insurance. Led by Rob Weir QC;

Instructed to defend a claim by a bar owner for business interruption flooding. The claim was pleaded at more than £1m and settled, following interim hearings, for £20,000 costs inclusive.

Acting for a construction company in the High defending a Part 20 claim following property damage at a commercial premises.

“Buncefield”. Tom was instructed in relation to a number of property damage and injury claims arising out of the Buncefield explosions.

Advising the Insurance Corporation of the Channel Islands as to the alliocation of damages in a £20m claim against the local authority following child abuse. Issues concerned occurence of damage, policy trigger wording and aggregation. Led by Andrew Burns QC.

Amendola v Keeling and Ors. Appeared for the claimant in an action to join a party out of time at the complusion of an Article 75 insurer purusant to Clause 14.1 of the Uninsured Drivers' Agreement 1999. Leading QC for the insurer.

Acted for a premiership rugby player against his income protection provider regarding an indemnity dispute. Led by Richard Harrison.

Motor Fraud

Howlett and another v Davies and Ageas Insurance Ltd [2017] EWCA Civ 1696; appeared for the successful insurer in the first ever Court of Appeal decision concerning "fundamental dishonesty" in the personal injury context. Tom has acted at many trials for insurers where the policy has been avoided for non-disclosure and/or misrepresentation and in instances where the insured is suspected of dishonesty or fraud. He also has experience of costs issues, such as wasted costs applications and third party costs orders, which arise out of failed claims.

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Chambers and Partners 2020 - Band 2 (Personal Injury)

A respected junior, well known for his handling of high-value personal injury claims and insurance coverage disputes. He has experience appearing in multiparty litigation, and has appeared unled before the Court of Appeal. He is also adept at handling product liability cases.

Strengths: "He's organised, meticulous in his attention to detail and has an impeccable manner with clients. He's able to simplify complex technical issues to provide clear and sound advice."

Legal 500 2020 -Tier 3 (Personal Injury)

Pragmatic with an excellent eye for detail.

Chambers & Partners 2019

"A highly approachable and impressive advocate."

"He's very bright and good on tactical issues. He always goes the extra mile, is very easy to deal with and is very good with clients."

"He's professional and performs well even under pressure."

Legal 500 2019

"He has an excellent eye for a realistic prospect and is very good on his feet."

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Howlett v Davies- interview with Lexis Nexis following Tom's success before the Court of Appeal arguing fundamental dishonesty.

Please follow this link to view the article.

This article was first published on Lexis®PSL Personal Injury on 15 November 2017

Personal Details

LLB, University of Durham.

Authorised by the bar standards board to conduct litigation.

Public access qualified.

Professional Associations

Personal injuries bar association.

International bar association.

Professional negligence bar association.

British insurance law association.

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