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Tom
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Tom Vonberg

Called 2004

Tom has significant advocacy experience in a broad range of litigation at all levels of tribunal. He has conducted countless final hearings as a junior and worked with leading QC’s in cases of importance.

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

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

Tom is also a barrister at Devereux Chambers, London.

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

Areas of Expertise
Clinical Negligence
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Tom has undertaken many clinical negligence claims in the full range of medical disciplines and often involving multiple experts. He has spoken to AvMA and in-house on a diverse range of topical issues. The following is a sample of his representative litigation.

  • Orthopaedic; Personal trainer v Epsom & Ewell Trust; Lower limb surgery resulting in crippling injuries. Settled two weeks before 5 day High Court liability trial. Led by Rob Weir QC, instructed by Irwin Mitchell London.
  • Orthopaedic; Lansley v Heatherwood And Wrexham Park Hospital NHS Trust. High Court. Division of tendon during bunion surgery performed on ballerina. Case settled following exchange of pleadings. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell London.
  • Obstetrics; Firearms officer v Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; High Court. Failure to repair sphincter injury postpartum resulting in incontinence and an inability to return to work. Settled following joint reports. Instructed by Pattinson Brewer London.
  • Obstetrics; Titchener v Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. Failure to diagnose pre-eclampsia and perform a caesarean section soon enough. Instructed by Pattinson Brewer London.
  • Brain injury; Whelband v (1) Marvell (2) Blue Anchor Leisure (3) East Midlands Ambulance NHS Trust (4) United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS; defence of doorman following a fight. Dispute on causation of catastrophic brain injury as between the fight and the subsequent surgery. Led by Rob Weir QC.
  • Bariatrics; Kaur v (1) Surgicare Limited (2) Mr Kumar (3) NMI Healthcare Limited. Defence of clinic in claim for negligent gastric band surgery. Successfully obtained full indemnity from D2 & D3.
  • Pressure Sores; GP (A protected party by his litigation friend) v Homerton University NHS Hospital Foundation Trust. High Court. Claim included the cost of 24 hour nursing care following a prolonged period of negligence. Settlement approved by Master Roberts and an anonymity order was made in light of the decision in X v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust [2015]. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell, London.
  • Sepsis; Miss A (by her litigation friend) v Epsom & Ewell St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust. High Court. Claim on behalf of an 8 year old girl against the hospital for mismanagement of acute promyelocytic leukaemia and sepsis.
  • Sepsis; Mrs R v GP. Claim against the GP for failure to diagnose sepsis following a cat bite and leading to amputation. Settled following ADR.
Insurance
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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.

Motor fraud

  • Motor fraud; 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, which arise out of failed claims. In 2017 one of Tom’s cases is due to be heard in the Court of Appeal regarding the correct interpretation of CPR 44.16 and “Fundamental Dishonesty”.

General insurance

  • Non disclosure; Besley v Canopius. Successful appeal to the Financial Ombudsman Service against refusal of indemnity under household policy for underlying injury claim in excess of £1m. Instructed by Wilkins Beaumont Suckling London.
  • Declaratory proceedings; Mitsui v (1) Jolil & (2) Southern Rock. Insurer’s pre-action disclosure application for documents against third party insurer following avoidance of a policy of motor insurance. Led by Rob Weir QC;
  • Property damage; Kouhazarhi t/a The Butterfly Lounge. Instructed to defend a claim by a bar owner for business interruption flooding. Pleaded at more than £1m and settled, following interim hearings, for £20,000 costs inclusive. Acting for construction company in Leeds District Registry defending a Part 20 claim following property damage at commercial premises. “Buncefield”. Tom was instructed in relation to a number of property damage and injury claims arising out of the Buncefield explosions.
  • Allocation of damages; “Family X”. Acting for the insurer in a £20m claim against the local authority following child abuse. Issues concern occurance of damage, policy trigger wording and aggregation. Led by Andrew Burns QC.
  • Sport; Acting for a premiership rugby player against his income protection provider regarding an indemnity dispute. Led by Richard Harrison.
Personal Injury & Fatal Accidents
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Tom has experience of working with the leading firms and insurers. His practice involves complex and high value personal injuries, clinical negligence litigation at all levels and acting as a junior in catastrophic injury claims.

He 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 product liability, air and road accidents and in respect of injury and illness abroad.

Some cases remain confidential. The following is only a selection of his recent representative litigation.

  • Brain Injury; Mr A v A Hotel. High Court. Occupiers’ liability. Settled at JSM for £1.4m. Led by Rob Weir QC, instructed by Foot Anstey.
  • Brain injury; Zaczkowsski v (1) Mehmood & (2) Gardner. High Court. For defendant in brain injury claim. Case settled on first day of trial for £1m after concession of contributory negligence by the claimant. Led by Andrew Hogarth QC.
  • Spinal Injury; Black v Durowoju. High Court. Settled at JSM for £1.9m.
  • Spinal Injury; Priestley v Elland Steel Structures. High Court. Crushing injury sustained at work. Led by Steve Killalea QC, instructed by Irwin Mitchell Leeds.
  • Multi party accident abroad; Sweeney & 15 Others. High Court. Bus crash in Swaziland. Serious injuries and fatalities. Widely reported in South Africa and the UK.
  • Illness abroad; “MS Boudica”. Admiralty Court. Athens Convention. Acting for 35 Claimants in their claims against the operators of a cruise ship in these well publicised illness claims. Package Tours Regulations 1992 apply.
  • Allocation of damages; “Family X”. Acting for the insurer in a £20m claim against the local authority following child abuse. Issues concern occurance of damage, policy trigger wording and aggregation. Led by Andrew Burns QC.
  • Amputation; Hennessy v Greenwaste Recycling. Amputation at work by the rotating arm of a waste silo. Led by Rob Weir QC, instructed by Hugh James LLP.
  • Orthopaedic; Potter v Rossiter. Multiple leg fractures following RTA. Leg shortening and PTSD. Ogden 7 future loss in issue. Settled following Defendant Part 36 three weeks prior to trial. Instructed by NewLaw, Cardiff.
  • Secondary victim; (1) Pomrey (2) Davies v (1) Marks & Spencer PLC (2) Thyssenkrupp Elevator UK Limited. Claim by relative and witness to catastrophic injury sustained in a lift crash. Led by Rob Weir QC, instructed by Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP.
  • Military; Soldier H v MOD. Gunshot wound sustained during live firing exercise. Issue whether non-negligent hearing loss was a novus actus for the purpose of quantum of the military pension. Settled at JSM. Instructed by Foot Anstey.
  • Product liability. Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) in cosmetic products. Advised in relation to the liability of cosmetic producers. Instructed by Leigh Day London.
  • Coach crash; “Bestival Coach Crash”. Inquest. Instructed by the family of Michael Molloy tragically killed following a tyre blow out. Rule 43 report by Coroner to Minister of Transport regarding tyre legislation. Case covered in the national press. Instructed by Thompsons Liverpool.
  • Fatality; A minor v Aviva Insurance; on behalf of dependent minor which unusually went to a contested quantum trial. C narrowly beat his own Part 36 offer. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell London. Leading silk for D.
Professional Negligence
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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.

Motor fraud

  • Motor fraud; 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, which arise out of failed claims. In 2017 one of Tom’s cases is due to be heard in the Court of Appeal regarding the correct interpretation of CPR 44.16 and “Fundamental Dishonesty”.

General insurance

  • Non disclosure; Besley v Canopius. Successful appeal to the Financial Ombudsman Service against refusal of indemnity under household policy for underlying injury claim in excess of £1m. Instructed by Wilkins Beaumont Suckling London.
  • Declaratory proceedings; Mitsui v (1) Jolil & (2) Southern Rock. Insurer’s pre-action disclosure application for documents against third party insurer following avoidance of a policy of motor insurance. Led by Rob Weir QC;
  • Property damage; Kouhazarhi t/a The Butterfly Lounge. Instructed to defend a claim by a bar owner for business interruption flooding. Pleaded at more than £1m and settled, following interim hearings, for £20,000 costs inclusive. Acting for construction company in Leeds District Registry defending a Part 20 claim following property damage at commercial premises. “Buncefield”. Tom was instructed in relation to a number of property damage and injury claims arising out of the Buncefield explosions.
  • Allocation of damages; “Family X”. Acting for the insurer in a £20m claim against the local authority following child abuse. Issues concern occurance of damage, policy trigger wording and aggregation. Led by Andrew Burns QC.
  • Sport; Acting for a premiership rugby player against his income protection provider regarding an indemnity dispute. Led by Richard Harrison.
Notable Cases
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Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence

Tom has experience of working with the leading firms and insurers. Some of his cases remain confidential. The following is only a selection of his recent representative litigation.

Serious and Catastrophic Injury

  • Brain Injury; Mr A v A Hotel. High Court. Occupiers’ liability. Settled at JSM for £1.4m. Led by Rob Weir QC, instructed by Foot Anstey.

  • Brain injury; Zaczkowsski v (1) Mehmood & (2) Gardner. High Court. For defendant in brain injury claim. Case settled on first day of trial for £1m after concession of contributory negligence by the claimant. Led by Andrew Hogarth QC.

  • Spinal Injury; Black v Durowoju. High Court. Settled at JSM for £1.9m.

  • Spinal Injury; Priestley v Elland Steel Structures. High Court. Crushing injury sustained at work. Led by Steve Killalea QC, instructed by Irwin Mitchell Leeds.

  • Amputation; Hennessy v Greenwaste Recycling. Amputation at work by the rotating arm of a waste silo. Led by Rob Weir QC, instructed by Hugh James LLP.

  • Orthopaedic; Potter v Rossiter. Multiple leg fractures following RTA. Leg shortening and PTSD. Ogden 7 future loss in issue. Settled following Defendant Part 36 three weeks prior to trial. Instructed by NewLaw, Cardiff.

  • Secondary victim; (1) Pomrey (2) Davies v (1) Marks & Spencer PLC (2) Thyssenkrupp Elevator UK Limited. Claim by relative and witness to catastrophic injury sustained in a lift crash. Led by Rob Weir QC, instructed by Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP.

  • Military; Soldier H v MOD (2014). Gunshot wound sustained during live firing exercise. Issue whether non-negligent hearing loss was a novus actus for the purpose of quantum of the military pension. Settled at JSM. Instructed by Foot Anstey.

  • Aviation; Pilot v (1) Skytech UK & (2) Helicopter Technology Company US; helicopter crash due to defective rotary blades occurring in the UK but maintenance carried out in the US. Led by Rob Weir QC, instructed by Foot Anstey.

  • Fatality; A minor v Aviva Insurance; on behalf of dependent minor which unusually went to a contested quantum trial and at which the claimant beat the defendant’s and (by just £300) his own Part 36 Offers. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell London. Leading silk for D. 

Clinical Negligence

  • Protected party/early onset dementia & impaired life expectancy; GP (A protected party by his litigation friend CP) v Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust: Settlement approval for substantial damages paid to a protected party on account of mental incapacity. Claimant suffered pressure sores rendering him immobile and contributing to early onset of dementia and impaired life expectancy. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell, London (August 2016).
  • Orthopaedic; Personal trainer v Epsom & Ewell Trust (2015); Lower limb surgery resulting in crippling injuries. Settled two weeks before 5 day High Court liability trial. Led by Rob Weir QC, instructed by Irwin Mitchell London.

  • Orthopaedic; Lansley v Heatherwood And Wrexham Park Hospital NHS Trust. High Court. Division of tendon during bunion surgery performed on ballerina. Case settled following exchange of pleadings. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell London.

  • Obstetrics; Firearms officer v Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; High Court. Failure to repair sphincter injury postpartum resulting in incontinence and an inability to return to work. Settled following joint reports. Instructed by Pattinson Brewer London.

  • Obstetrics; Titchener v Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. Failure to diagnose pre-eclampsia and perform a caesarean section soon enough. Instructed by Pattinson Brewer London.

  • Brain injury; Whelband v (1) Marvell (2) Blue Anchor Leisure (3) East Midlands Ambulance NHS Trust (4) United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS; defence of doorman following a fight. Dispute on causation of catastrophic brain injury as between the fight and the subsequent surgery. Led by Rob Weir QC.

  • Bariatrics; Kaur v (1) Surgicare Limited (2) Mr Kumar (3) NMI Healthcare Limited. Defence of clinic in claim for negligent gastric band surgery. Successfully obtained full indemnity from D2 & D3.

Multi-party litigation and accidents abroad

Insurance

 

The following is a selection of Tom’s recent cases. Some matters remain confidential.

  • Indemnity; A Computer Company Ltd v Carraig Insurance Company Limited. High Court. Part 20 claim for an indemnity under a policy of insurance. Instructed by DWF LLP London.

  • Aggregation; Brokers v Their Professional Indemnity Insurers. High Court. Insurer argued aggregation following mis-selling of “Keydata” financial products. Led by Colin Wynter QC.

  • Non-disclosure; Insured v Canopius Underwriting Limited. Financial Ombudsman Service. Successful appeal to FOS following insurers refusal of indemnity for reasons of non-disclosure under a household policy in a personal injury claim  of over £1m. Instructed by Wilkins Beaumont Suckling London.

  • Declaratory proceedings; Grosvenor v Southern Rock. High Court. Pre-action disclosure in catastrophic injury case of documents relied upon by insurer to void policy of motor insurance.

  • Property damage; Tom has acted for a number of insurers in the defence of claims for property damage and consequential loss.

  • ICOBS; Craschcare v various insurers. Advising the crashcare group on multiple claims against insurers for breach of regulatory requirements in respect of their own policyholders and third party claimants.

  • Motor claims; Tom has substantial experience acting for insurers where the policy has been successfully voided for non-disclosure and/or misrepresentation and in instances where the insured is suspected of dishonesty or fraud.   

Professional negligence. 

The following is a selection of Tom’s recent cases. Some matters remain confidential. 

Financial

  • Investment advice; Investors in the Protected Asset TEP Number 2 Fund. High Court. Defending IFA’s against investors following reclassification of an investment fund from low to high volatility. Instructed by DWF London.

  • Broker’s negligence; Rat Race (Events) Limited v Towergate Underwriting Group Limited. Wasted costs obtained against claimant solicitor following his interim costs application post settlement. Instructed by Reynolds Coleman Bradley LLP London.

  • ICOBS; several defences to broker’s negligence claims involving alleged breach of ICOBS in matters ranging from arrangement of fleet policies to professional indemnity cover.

  • Brokers’ indemnity claim; “Keydata”. Claim against professional indemnity insurer who argued aggregation following the mis-selling of financial products by brokers. Led by Colin Wynter QC.

Solicitors 

  • Conveyancing; Stone v Steed & Steed Solicitors. Successful claim against solicitor for conveyance of an incomplete barn conversion where the vendor was a limited company;

  • Sale and Rent back; Investor claim. Scope of solicitor’s duty to advise on the validity of contracts in the absence of a written retainer.

  • Buy to Let; Morkot & Ors v Watson Brown Solicitors {2014] EWHC 3439 (QB). Breach of fiduciary duty in buy to let transactions. Tom drafted pleadings in the successful test case.

  • Personal injury; Tom has acted in a number of claims and defences where the underlying action was for personal injury and following which lawyers have been sued for all manner of reasons such as negligent advice, negligent conduct (often resulting in strike out or court sanctions) and undersettlement.  

Claims handlers; Southern Rock Insurance v Claims Manager (anon). High Court. Negligent handling of 50,000 motor insurance personal injury claims. Instructed in relation to valuation evidence. Settled for £7m. Led by Richard Harrison, instructed by Hogan Lovells London

Fraud

Tom’s work in civil fraud spans injuries, insurance policies, professional negligence and other commercial situations. He generally acts for the defrauded party.

Since 2014, he has acted at first instance trial in more than twenty motor fraud cases and on appeal in two of those. All of these cases have been won for Tom’s instructing insurer.

He also has significant experience of fraud against other policies of insurance and in cases involving professionals. He drafted the pleadings against solicitors 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 long running Alhamrani v Alhamrani litigation.

Articles & Publications
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Howlett v Davies- interview with Lexis Nexis. Please follow this link to view the article.

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

Personal Details
Education

LLB, University of Durham, Authorised by the bar standards board to conduct litigation, Public access qualified

Professional Associations

Personal injuries bar association Professional negligence bar association Professional negligence lawyers association British insurance law association

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